Module: Innovating

 

 

Journal Reflection 1

 

If you have not already made your first journal entry, now is the time to start. For your Journal entry reflect on the following questions:

·         What skills does a manager need?

A manager is a vital part of an organisation. He has to be the liaison between the top leadership and the lower order staff. His job is to ensure that the organisational goals, objectives are implemented in the correct manner by the resources being utilised and directed in a way which is productive.

 

The three primary roles which managers need to perform in any organisation, irrespective of the kind of specialisation they are working in are as follows:

1.     Informative

2.     Interpersonal

3.     Decisional

 

Information role devolves around facilitating the collection and distribution of information between the team and the headquarters. The manager functions as an information source. He monitors the information pertaining to organisation’s impact on the outer world as well as literature, news, reports, reviews and researches pertaining to the organisational business, interest, development and he disseminates it to all the branches associated with him by arranging meetings and discussions as well as through emails. He also is responsible for communicating matters pertaining to his department and organisation with the clients or agencies outside by serving as a representative. In an interpersonal role, he or she has to deal with different kinds of people including permanent and temporary staff, subordinates and seniors, colleagues and he has to adjust himself according to these roles where he has to shuffle between being a leader, a listener, a conflict solver, a connection builder, a networker and so on. And in the position of being a leader, he may also have to take decisions regarding his team, staffing decision, performance reviews and appraisals, hiring and firing as well as represent his office as the head in official capacity where required.

As you can see being a manager is performing a complex job and a managerial candidate need to possess wide ranging skills. He need not possess technical expertise but he has to possess different set of qualities such as excellent communication and management aptitudes, able to cooperate and collaborate with different groups, good project management attributes. He should be having very good interpersonal skills, financial knowledge awareness, multitasking and problem-solving skills as well as should be well read and be in touch with what is happening in the world in local and global context.  So a manager should possess all these at the minimum and be inspiring and motivating to motivate his employees. He or she should have an extremely positive attitude towards the team and has to remain upbeat in the worst situations. He or she should be ready to share experience and expertise and develop the team.

 

·         What skills do I have and/or want to develop?

 

As a potential manager, I realise the need for continuous personal development. While I am very well read and am quite social and communicate well, where I would like to work on is how I can better coordinate activities. I know managers are supposed to multi task and we may need to organise and carry out activities. I would also work on practicing my planning skills as many activities many need to be conducted in parallel.

 

 

 

 

Journal Reflection 2

For your Journal reflect on the following questions:
·         What problems do I foresee for the group exercise?
·         How will I confront the wicked problem?

 

As part of our assignment, we were to take part in a group exercise based on inquiry based learning (IBL) which would help us discuss, explore, exchange and understand the concepts related to innovation in management. Inquiry Based Learning is a collaborative learning based approach by which students discuss and deliberate on solutions to open ended questions. The aim is to encourage self management, interaction with others, questioning, discoveries aboutoneself and others’s views on concepts and direct oneself and the group to find appropriate solutions through brainstorming.  Inquiry Based Learning is truly an exciting way of learning and through their discussions the students have to come out with a product, a method of how to do things or a mechanism or policy on issues. Because IBL is a group based exercise, it has its strengths and advantages. Through the use of collaborative and group based learning, students get to experience a simulation of a real life situation as in the business world, group work is an absolute necessity. Getting along with others, participating in discussions, ability to persuade and influence others are amongst the skills required to ensure that

 

Having said that group exercises do possess problems. When group exercises are not conducted properly or monitored or facilitated properly, they can lead to the following:

1. wrong or faulty decision making and even unfavorable decision making

2. inability to reach a consensus and hence failure to reach a decision.

3. Disagreements to such an extent that it leads to implosion of the group. (fao.org,2014)


What leads to such a situation?

1. Innovative thinking in groups need clearly focused goals and objectives. Lack of goals, lack of clarity of strategies and methodologies can lead to dissipation of energy and unproductiveness in groups. Unclear and confused goals will lead to confused meetings and discussions.

2. Wastage of time on lengthy and useless meetings without any purpose and may lead to wrong decisions as well as lack of input as people get distracted.

3. Conflicts due to difference in personalities and thinking as well as difference in understanding and appreciation of team goals, differences in styles of communications, linguistic and social differences.

4. Improper procedures and methodologies in place to direct group discussions

5. Difference in power between participants

 

This can occur at any stage of the group activity stage. Each group has members with diverse identities and view points and personalities, which m ay contribute to this kind of situation. Hence the group leader or facilitator has to take leadership, identify and recognise these problems and direct/re-orient the members of the group in the appropriate direction to ensure that decision making is effective (Fao.org,2014)

 

Out of these problems, the most serious which can arise is the wicked problem. These problems are of the kind which have never been faced before, unique and are nagging and may lead to new issues and there may be no long term solution in sight. Such problems require decisive leadership action. My approach to solve such problems to show persistent commitment to tackling this on long term basis, to understand that it is a not an isolated problem, to engage all the people who are related in any way to the problem, and to solve it in step by step, by making use of current and past information to make decisions and fine tune it, rather than pushing it down without thought. (www.dajf.org.uk, 2014)

 

Either of these could lead to interference in the pursuit of management and leadership goals and with respect to innovation, to critical decision making in the innovation process.

 

  Journal Reflection 3

For your Journal reflect on the following question:
         How will we decide the boundaries for our research?


As a group, for the inquiry based learning component of our course, we would need to define the limits of our research as the study of innovation is itself a very complex subject. There are numerous aspects of it which are each worthy of a whole study by itself. First and foremost, we need to identify what should be the kind of endpoint or takeaway we would need from our project and also determine as to in what form it should take: whether it is a product or process.  Based on that as a group, we will assign a leader, based on initial evaluation of strengths and qualities and a facilitator to take us through the group work. We will divide ourselves into small brainstorming groups. Each of the groups will focus on a specific set of issues pertaining to innovation and management and have a brainstorming session where each of these issues pertaining to innovation and technology are discussed and chart is drawn up on what are the issues worth more research. Once the different charts on the relevance of the issues are drawn up, the group leader has to determine as to what sort of a decision making process is going to be followed by the group.

 

There are two kinds of decision making mode seen in groups. In the first kind of decision making, all the members have the equal power to take a decision based on their personal interest and t here is no emphasis on communal group goal.  Only the interests of the individual members are given priority. The other model is where the group goal is given priority over the individual members and each member focuses on contributing effectively to the greater goal and subdues his  or her interest in that direction. Our group would focus on the latter, team based model but with key checkpoints where feedback by team members is allowed and feedback which is useful for the team is taken into consideration. As too much importance for individual members may interfere with the team goal and our aims which is to ensure a clearly delineated goal based research. Project.  (Uri.edu, 2014)

 

Based on the initial discussions, the group leader has to take a decision on the issues which would seem to be the most pivotal in the research.  A couple of issues are selected with some as potential ones to be researched just in case of any potential obstacles. Once the issues are decided, the leader explains to the group the reasons why these decisions are taken and he or she helps the group take ownership of the goal and cites reasons why these particular issues would be the best to be tackled and also delineates the way in which the problem is to be approached.  Thus, consensus building but with a definite strategy based on overall goal would drive the way we demarcate limits of the research. Methods to deal with potential issues, conflicts and procedural confusions are also laid in place so  that overall structure is there in place. Some methods of resolving conflicts would be focus on maximising or satisfying everyone as well as voting (majority)

 

 

Journal Reflection 4


For your Journal reflect on the following question:
·         How can I improve my contribution to the team?

Team work is very critical to the success of any group assignment. Our project for this term involved Inquiry Based Learning on a topic or issue related to innovation and management. This was entirely a student directed effort with minimal supervision by our course lecturers who just facilitated. Everything includes deciding a goal and executing it to completion had to be carried out by us.  Why team work is so essential is that working in groups helps members to learn from each other and build on skills which they previously lacked or where weak in. Team work helps in division of labour and helps in better management of resources and helps teams to complete a  task, more efficiently and effectively in the given time. Hence one important learning has been as to how effectively we can improve our contributions to the team. When individuals remain weak, the overall team function would be affected and achievements of team goals may be sabotaged.

So I have done self analyses of how I can better contribute to the team.

 

These are the areas on which I can work more:

1. Communication skills- Communication skills are very important to success on a team, especially if the team consists of members from diverse kind of backgrounds. In order to relate , discuss, exchange views, manage , carry out tasks and feedback, I feel I should have a better grasp of communication processes, including better ways of communicating with different kind of people on my team. This would me as it would help avoid unnecessary confusions and doubts which may hinder with the team work. In addition, it would help me generate a better sense of self esteem. I would be more confident in my dealing with others, and would be coming to them from a level of confidence rather than be shy and hesitant

 

2.Better planning skills – I find I am a little backward at planning the tasks which I have to do and this results in slightly chaotic approachment to completion of tasks. I would work on enhancing my planning skills so that I can keep track of all activities and ensure that I complete my given tasks on time. As any delay or unorganised action on my part, could disturb the functioning of the whole group aim.

 

3. Assertiveness – While it is great to be focused on team work and the greater good of everyone, it is very essential to not lose out on our own voice. As sometimes, healthy criticism may be good for the team as it would prevent it from making costly mistakes. So I would try to be more assertive so that I can point out relevant facts which needed to be paid attention to.

 

4.  Good listener- One of the essential skills of being a good team member is to listen carefully to what the other person has to say. I would consider this as a very vital skill to be learnt and I will also work on this aspect. (Dummies.com, 2014) (Eng.monash.edu.au, 2014)

 

 Journal Reflection 5

For your Journal reflect on the following question:

·         Are we working with common sense chat or analytical frameworks?

·         How are we making use of theory from Term 1?

Several approaches are there which can be used in undertaking analysis of innovation in management. As the process of innovation is related to cognition, therefore attempts to understand how the human ingenuity and cognition operates, would guide in the design of innovative systems. One is the CHAT (Cultural Historical Activity Theory) and the other is through the use of analytical frameworks. CHAT was originally developed by Russian Scientists and is aimed at understanding how human activities occur. They hypothesised that human activities are intrinsically connrected to their environments and social environments and are not just the outcome of spontaneous actions. CHAT analysis would take into account the entire system, under consideration such as teams, organisations,  the individuals, their social backgrounds and contexts, role of interfering factors, culture etc. At its very core, CHAT analysis involves studies of individual units called activity systems, each such unit being oriented towards a particular goal or object, involves the role of many rather than one, and is highly influenced by culture, society, rules. As such in our IBL based learning of issues related to innovation in management, it would be very useful for analysis as innovation itself is a product of human ingenuity which can be influenced by different factors. As many IBL learning involves case studies, this would be a great approach for analysis. In addition, it isbased on practice and is more oriented towards real life, helps in identifying patterns and making inferences and describing all the parts of a particular activity in its full depth. The various tools used in AT analysis are just various internal and external forms of the cognitive processes.

 

Analytical frameworks can be used to collect data and organise the patterns of analysis, skills, tools, existing knowledge, case studies into a kind of a library which can be then used for the analysis of your problem. While Analytical Frameworks are a very good way for modeling studies, AT would be a better method for the kind of analysis which we have in mind, which is a break down kind of analysis.

 

We are  making use of the theory we learnt such as the understanding of innovation and how it is influenced by social, cultural factors, technological developments etc. We also understand that innovation is something which comes along as a manager or a managerial candidate grows into his or her role. So, while are we conducting our IBL case study, we will be doing self evaluation as well as evaluation of our colleagues to study the changes in us as we get into the managerial role and take up innovation. We will be incorporating whatever we have learnt in the theory part in our practice IBL and we will use this as an opportunity to experience innovation in practice. We will be observing how or what other factors influence us in thinking out of the box as well as trying out various approaches to how we can spread innovation. We will also be making use of how networks are important to innovation processes. (ibm.com,2014) (thefreelibrary.conm.. 2014)

 

 

 

 

List of References:

Dummies.com. 2014. Ten Qualities of an Effective Team Player - For Dummies. [online] Available at: http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/ten-qualities-of-an-effective-team-player.html [Accessed: 7 Apr 2014].

Eng.monash.edu.au. 2014. [online] Available at: http://www.eng.monash.edu.au/current-students/download/groupwork.pdf_ [Accessed: 7 Apr 2014].

Fao.org. 2014. SD: People : Common problems in small group decision making. [online] Available at: http://www.fao.org/sd/PPdirect/PPan0009.htm [Accessed: 7 Apr 2014].

Ibm.com. 2014. Applying an analytical framework. [online] Available at: https://www.ibm.com/developerworks/library/ar-anframe/ [Accessed: 7 Apr 2014].

Thefreelibrary.com. 2014. Teaching analytical frameworks. - Free Online Library. [online] Available at: http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Teaching+analytical+frameworks.-a0121714117 [Accessed: 7 Apr 2014].

Uri.edu. 2014. Group Decision-Making and Problem-Solving. [online] Available at: http://www.uri.edu/research/lrc/scholl/webnotes/Group_DM.htm [Accessed: 7 Apr 2014].

www.dajf.org.uk. 2014. [online] Available at: http://www.dajf.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Keith-Grint-presentation.pdf [Accessed: 7 Apr 2014].

 

 

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