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Blog from July, 2014

A first look at the CVs

I've spent a couple of hours tonight looking through the CVs. Here are some facts and patterns (I have tended to round numbers).

There are 103 folk with CVs. With six people in a team, that means there will probably be about 18 teams. Most with six members and some with five members.

A very large majority of students managed to get a Shareholder Value (SHV) of $25 or more. The breakdown is:

  • About 52% of students got a SHV between $25 and $35
  • About 20% of students got a SHV over $40
  • About 20% of students got a SHV under $25

This last fact is somewhat surprising. The figure is normally significantly less than that; e.g., 5% or less. So, I am wondering what has happened; was it something I did or said that stopped students from continuing to strive to become proficient with the simulation. 

The distribution looks like this:

At first I wondered if it was a GPA related thing. There is a bit of correlation, but not much.

  • Every student with a GPA of 6, or higher, got a SHV over $25
  • Many of the highest SHVs came from students with GPAs under 5 ... that somewhat mucks up the correlation idea.
  • Most of the students who did not get a SHV close to, or over $25 had GPAs of 3 or less; is it a kind of threshold concept problem.

Is it because the class is at a very convenient time: normally, the class has been at 'odd' times, so students have had to really want to take the class.

I'm not sure of the root cause yet.

Because of the number (well percentage) of people involved, the question of "What is the appropriate thing to with students who materially miss the $25 SHV?", is particularly salient. When we are talking about one or two folk, it is easier to manage the the people and the teams involved. But with these numbers it could be that ever team has someone who has not demonstrate proficiency with SoloMike and some teams might end up with two such people. I wonder how the folk assembling the teams tomorrow will deal with challenge; we have never had to contend with such a large group of people who did not reach the base level of proficiency.

Will there be any comments on this post before they start assembling teams tomorrow .... time will tell.

 

 

Should and must and $25

Every semester, a few students (say, as in this semester, about half a dozen  out 120) ask the question “What happens if I don’t get a Shareholder Value of $25 when practicing with SoloMike”. I am not going to dwell on the types of reasons for not being able to get to $25, suffice to say there are many reasons from leaving the task too late, through to not having enough experience/understanding yet. When the class is small (around 40 students, it’s easy to deal with this issue on a 1-to-1 basis, as there is normally only one or two student who asks.

But as there are more students asking this semester, I’m going to explicate the thinking on the $25. It is not a secret by any means.

As noted elsewhere, it is problematical for individual students and teams when members do not have a basic level of understanding of the simulation (and in many ways, getting a $25 SHV acts as a reliable proxy measurement of that understanding). A large majority of the students can—and do—succeed in passing that benchmark. Most would not say it was easy. It takes some time/effort/determination/systematic thinking/etc. to get there.

Clearly, I think that basic understanding is important. Hence, all the paperwork saying that you should get a $25 SHV (and I’ve now tweaked the PDF of the CV form to be consistent—thank you  Reem Al-Hilali for making me aware of that discrepancy).

So, why do I not say “You must get $25”, why do I say “Should”.

Scattered throughout the course documentation (wiki), there are a number of points where it says “This may not be the course for you”. You need to make a judgement call. This is another one times. Most people can get to $25. If you cannot do that, you really need to be questioning if this is the right course for you. Do you have what it takes to do well in this course?

If a student does not get $25, and everyone else in their team does, how are the team-dynamics going to shape up. What might be the impact on the way the team distributes marks/grades at the end of the course? That student is possibly going to be ‘on the back foot’ from their first encounter with the team. I am sure you can work through many potential consequences yourself.

I’m I going to fail someone for not getting $25. No, you should be able to do it if you expect to be successful. Are there consequence of not doing. Yes. Can those consequences be overcome—by some people yes, by others no.

Now some students do not like teams. Yet, because they want to be better at working in teams they do the course anyway (even though at first glance perhaps it’s not for them). They are prepared to put in what it will take to be successful even though it does not come easily. They make that choice. It’s not me saying “You must like teams to do this course”.

So, if you cannot get $25 I will not be saying “You must get $25 to do this course”. No. You need to think the issues through—be reflective—and make a considered choice .

 

I want to mention three things regarding the learning journals.

First, many of you had problems creating your learning journal in the right place. I spent some time moving pages around. To make life a little easier, next week when you do your learning journal go to Week 02 Learning journals - 2014. Then click the CREATE→Blank Page→Create. That should ensure your page is created in the appropriate folder. The following week, you'll go to Week 03 Learning journals - 2014 and create you learning journal there ... and so on for the rest of the semester. If you create your journal in the wrong place, you can move it yourself. Click on Tools→Move.

Secondly, almost as many people created their pages with the wrong (or no) labels. For next week the labels you should add to your page are: journal 2013 week02
you can copy and paste the text into the label dialogue box. In some ways, this requirement (aside from making the administration of the wiki easier) is like Van Halen and the brown M&Ms. Missing labels suggests there may well be other–more serious–problems with the work arising from a lack of attention to detail.

Finally, and thinking of that attention to detail, remember when you are providing feedback there are minimum standards to which you must adhere.

 

I have been reading through the learning journal entries as they come in. Most are okay, but a few a downright poor; they display no evidence of engagement with the course material ... given the available information my assumption, which may be incorrect is that they did not care.

Which I find odd. 

I imagine that when the teams are formed, everyone will be looking at the journal entries of everyone in their team as they start to jockey for position. I wonder what team members will make of folk who 'blow off' the learning journals. What sort of tone will that set for the team work and what sort of peer evaluation they might get at the end of the course (and how much of the group grade they might get).

At this point, I am reminded of Goffman's classic book The presentation of self in everyday life ... it's a good read if you have time.

When looking at those very poor journals a bigger concern is that on the basis of what I have read, I find it hard to imagine how those students will be able to do a passable final summative learning journal. 

 

References

Goffman, E. (1971). The presentation of self in everyday life. Harmondsworth: Penguin.
 

It was an odd day in MGMT 300. As I was talking to the students, I became increasingly concerned that many of them had not done this week's readings; the conversation just wasn't at the right level.

Yes, there were some good/interesting/useful ideas coming out, but the level just ... the degree of participation is what I expect for a stage 3 class, but the intellectual depth felt 'off'.


When I tested my assumption, it turned out that a large majority (maybe as many as 90%) had not done the readings. I was rather discombobulated by this, and I never really got the conversation going again--instead I drifted into a rather poor attempt at 'saving' the class by becoming somewhat 'lecture like'. Not the best response.

So, I'm sitting here wondering what I might have done differently. First, what might I have done (what might I do in the future), to get a higher uptake with the readings.  Secondly, when a class--as a whole--has not done the expected pre-work what is a more helpful (in the long term) response.

I think I might take these themes up with the class at our next session.

It's kicking off

This year's iteration of MGMT 300 is underway, and I the look of the class. There are a few people I recognise and regard as 'good eggs' and there are a few people who–based on their participation today–are probably going to do well. Yes, a good start.

It was a shame that nobody was able to name Kolb's learning cycle (2007). As Emma pointed out I had planned to give 5-bonus marks to the first person who correctly named it.

Still, there will be other opportunities for folk to get bonuses. Last year, I gave some extra marks for the best contributor to the wiki (as distinct from doing learning journals). That did not work too well; I did award the bonus, but even the best contributions tended to emphasise rather mechanical matters (e.g., typos) and did not create new insights or add extra value for the class. So, I will not be making the same offer this semester.

I think the reason is that students become so engrossed in the competitive challenges presented by the simulation, that they have little energy left to do extras. Perhaps some of the current class will comment on that.

 

References

Kolb, D. A. (1976). Management and the learning process. California Management Review, 8(3), 21–31.
 
The work of a CFO

Over the years, I've come to realise, that unlike the other roles (CEO, Marketing Director, etc), most people appointed as CFO are less certain what is the work of a CFO.  This short note, is intended to give a little extra guidance to those people 

This, is just one view of what a CFO in the world of MikesBikes. It is not the only view, and it is not necessarily the best view. But for those who struggle with what to do, it is a reasonable starting point.

 

Crudely, the CFO is there to make sure the books balance. 

 

More specifically, the CFO holds other members of the team to financial account. For example, The Marketing Director might say, "If you give me $10.2m, I will deliver sales of $28m". Or, the R&D Director might say, "If you give me $5m, I will develop a new racer that can be manufactured for $200 and has the specs that the Marketing Director says she requires". In other words, the CFO elicits financial commitments from all team members. 

Based on those commitments, the CFO then works out if the company can afford all those commitments, and if it can not, then she either (a) finds extra money–e.g., by borrowing or by getting new equity–and/or, (b) re-negotiates team members'; e.g., I can't give you $10.2, but how much can you deliver if I can manage $9m.

Essentially, this is a budgeting process where team members are accountable for the costs and (sometimes) for revenue.

The CFO will very quickly figure out which team members are the most able at delivering on their promises.