This week has been rather interesting for my experience in the simulation. Our group collectively decided that we needed to make bigger risks in order to attempt to catch up with the teams at the top of the leader board. We have always been a consistently above average team with constant success through safe decisions, but this has resulted us being on the cusp of the top ‘tier’ of teams, seemingly falling further away from the ones that continue to climb. On first glance, it looks like our risks may not have initial success but only time will truly tell how they play out. As for my role as R&D director, this week required for me to decide on a new plan for future products in order to catch up with some of the teams at the top of our world. The main issue I actually faced for this week was that I actually did not initially know how to make a big risk in terms of design decisions, and this was something I had to learn from and reflect through the week.
I found the Davies and Easterby-Smith (1984) reading particularly interesting and relevant to my experiences this week, especially their discussion surrounding the different between learning and development. They see learning as taking place through a shorter time period, whereas development is made in relation to promotion and could be considered a far more reflective process which is only noticeable over longer periods of time. Through 9 weeks of this course I can make no doubt that I have learnt significantly. In the simulation I have gained significant confidence in my role and would say that I have become efficient in some of my decision making, through the way that calculations can be made quicker and with more confidence, due to familiarity and consistency with decision making in the role. However, this is also one of the problems that I can link to my difficulty in seeing what ‘risks’ could be made in my role. I have learnt how to do the role and a lot of the functions contained within it, but my development is limited to the extent that I am simply making calculated, rational decisions rather than attempting to push the boundaries and continually learn in my role. The Argyris (1991) discussions from the other week seem very relevant in this regard. Here, I would be an example of a professional who has stopped learning - once I learnt how to do the jobs in my role in a manner which was successful, I stopped learning further how to do them even better. In regards to Kolb (1976), I have therefore learnt in response to external cues of the previous environments in the simulation, but the need for risk-taking in order to gain perceived success shows that my development, could have still reached higher ‘stages’.
Another interesting point raised by Davies and Easterby-Smith (1984) was the discussion surrounding management development in response to external business environments. In the experiments, it was noted that managers who worked in more volatile and turbulent business environments, suggested that they had developed more than those who did not. This in turn suggests that the amount of turbulence and change in the company’s economic environment was reflected in their internal environment, and why the managers in monopolistic environments experienced less development. I can find some relation to this through my experiences in the simulation so far. In the first few weeks of the simulation, when our team was doing relatively well, and not considerably far behind the leaders in the class, I felt that I was not learning all too much through the simulation. Since we have decided to play catch up and take risks, in response to a more turbulent and changing environment in our world, I have had to continue learning. This, I believe would reflect a new stage of develop for myself, comparative to where I was towards the start of the semester.
As the R&D director of my group, I have previously questioned my importance to the team, but it is in roll-overs such as this week that I realise that my role can be significantly important. The future implications are obviously rather significant; you can’t realistically see the results of your decisions until two rollovers away – in order to see that the design is successful, and then that the product actually sells well too. In the later days of the week our team was able to discuss a reformed strategy in an attempt to catch the teams ahead of us. My ‘risky’ decisions ended up being ‘out of the box’ designs which I had to learn how to do correctly. These were more so learnt in hindsight rather than something which was able to be taught before they were made, due to the reflective nature of the simulation. Although these decisions have not paid immediate success this rollover, they are able to in future ones if we continue to execute successfully. This has lead me to believe that for this week just been I have had to assume ‘executive’ responsibilities when offering suggestion for the design projects submitted for our group, and for the final decisions of the specs which the final products contain (Katz ,1955). In hindsight, I would say that I learnt a considerable amount in my role this week, particularly because our team found itself in a situation where we had to think differently and apply a new strategy. This in turn resulted in me learning more within my role.
Argyris, C. (1991). Teaching smart people how to learn. Reflections, 4(2), 4–15
Davies, J., & Easterby-Smith, M. (1984). Learning and developing from managerial work experiences. Journal of Management Studies, 21(2), 169--182. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6486.1984.tb00230.x
Katz, R. L. (1955). Skills of an effective administrator. Harvard Business Review, 33(1), 33--42.
Kolb, D. A. (1976). Management and the learning process. California Management Review, 8(3), 21--31