Throughout the course of my life so far, I have discovered that I am confident in my abilities to lead - it is something that I am comfortable with. Whether by choice or through election, I have held several leadership roles such as Deputy Head of House, CEO in my Young Enterprise group, and several Class Representative roles since the beginning of my tertiary education. From these experiences, I have gathered the ability to address large groups of people with confidence, tackle new challenges and take initiative in complex situations. When it came to picking a managerial position for the team aspect of the course, to me it seemed logical to use this experience to explore my ability and reactions to being a follower rather than a leader. I must admit that while at times it has been difficult, this course has required me to develop existing skillsets, to reflect meaningfully on the challenges presented to me during the semester, as well as the acquisition of more knowledge from a variety of academic readings. As I look over my progress through this course, I can see that what I have learnt is to become a more effective learner. It is my hope that by the end of this summative journal, I have been able to articulate, explore and discuss what I have learnt from this course, using the tools that were at my disposable during the semester as evidence to support my ideas. These tools include, but are not limited to, my reflective journals, my experiences as a team member and the academic articles that were required readings throughout the semester.
Over twelve weeks, I have had to develop existing skillsets in order to overcome challenges that arose in the context of my team and which ultimately affected my learning.
As I mentioned previously, my intention was to capitalise on the safe environment of this course to explore the possibilities surrounding my ability to be a “map-reader” rather than the “driver”. This strove from my previous successes and comfort in such “driver” roles in addition to my own consideration about my future transition into the working world; it would be naïve of me to think that I would be given such a position right out of university, or that I will have the luxury of always being in charge. Therefore, this course was the perfect opportunity to see how I would cope not being at the helm (Thompson, The possible birth of a Death Star?, 2013). As a consequence of having made this choice, when I felt that decisions that were not informed and reasonable were being proposed, rather than being able to outright reject the idea, I learnt that I had to be cautious in my approach to the situation. This was so that I didn’t come across as undermining our CEO or other members using what Christensen (2010) describes as “power tools”, which offer up negative connotations, and risk alienating my teammates. As evidenced by several of my journal entries, I am a person who is engaged in social situations (Thompson, Getting the ball rolling , 2013) and in situations where I feel that mistakes are being made, it was hard for me to regulate the delivery of my opinion (Thompson, Typical Tok'ra, 2013). As such, I had to alter my approach to the situation so I did not come off as too negative, which also serves to ruin my emphasis on cultivating a comfortable team environment (Thompson, Typical Tok'ra, 2013). For example, when it came to advertising and PR expenditure for the Mike’s Bikes simulation, while I wanted to instantly cut the proposed costs by at least half, I had to be able to show my team members that it was the logical thing to do (Thompson, Salt & Burn , 2013). This meant that I had to use my confidence, which comes from being a leader in various situations and my previous knowledge of accounting and business practice to show that in fact, the proposed decision would not be beneficial. This has been difficult to come to terms with at times, as expressed in my journal, because I believe in listening to the contributions of my peers and building an engaging environment whereby individuals do not feel that they and their ideas are not taken seriously (Thompson, War and Games, 2013).
From this experience, I have come to an understanding of how I use my existing skills to not only develop myself as an individual in a team, but also as a learner. I have learnt that while I started in this course as someone who had an unclear decision-making process (Thompson, Getting slapped with some baader-meinhof, 2013), I have managed to strengthen my ability to use data to not only support my ideas, but to supplement my decision-making. (Thompson, Tea. Earl Grey. Hot., 2013)
Throughout this course I have refined my ability to reflect so that rather than superficially covering many topics in a journal, I am now able to meaningfully reflect and thereby, become a more effective learner.
For example, while I noted in my earliest journal that I had come across reflection as a way to engage with current experiences and learn (Thompson, The road so far, 2013), what I had thought was reflection in my previous experiences, are likely to have been facetious when compared to the nature of my journals in this course. This is because in this experience, I had been given readings that addressed slightly differing ways in which reflection and therefore, learning could be achieved. These were Bloom’s taxonomy (as cited in Nentl & Zietlow, 2008), Daudelin’s four stages of reflection (1996) and Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle (1976). By using each of these models to address and analyse issues that arose throughout the semester, I have had to alter how my approach to thinking and understanding issues. For instance, in my journal entitled, Tea. Earl Grey. Hot. (2013), I used Daudelin to reflect on ways in which Warp Speed Bikes could sustain its positive-values creating position, analysing the situation – looking towards previous actions which may have led to the current situation and forming hypotheses about how to approach and understand the issue so as best to achieve the beneficial outcomes and then coming to a course of action. In regards to my learning, I think that this shows how I have been able to narrow my focus to one issue that arose during that week of the course, allowing me to be able to explore the context of the situation in a way that was not shallow and varied. This is particularly true in one of my earliest journals, which showed my attempt at using Bloom’s taxonomy as a way of learning. While I had harboured the notion that it would somehow be easier to ultise this model and achieve higher levels of learning, faster – now, as a more informed learner, I would go so far to say that it was harder to achieve the higher levels of learning. This was because in order to reach the higher tiers of learning, synthesis is required, which is the ability to “form a new whole” through the collation of various parts. In my utilisation of this model, I had the tendency to cover too many topics in a journal entry lacking adequate levels of depth and insight. There was also my struggle to form meaningful links between the different perspectives and experiences in such a way that showcased that I had learnt something versus comprehending it (Thompson, Pack Dynamics, 2013 & Thompson, Getting slapped with some baader-meinhof!, 2013). Using Daudelin’s model helped me to cultivate this ability, aiding me through practice of breaking down one issue over several weeks, so that when it came time to attempt Kolb’s experiential learning cycle in my last journal, I found that I could reach the stage of abstract conceptualisation more easily (Thompson, The possible birth of a Death Star?, 2013).
Due to my experiences of trial and error in terms of utilising the reflection models available to me, I have become a more effective learner.
Lastly, through the academic readings provided, I have learnt to become a more effective learner through the acquisition of knowledge. This idea has been briefly mentioned, if not discussed, throughout this essay however, it has been a vital part of my learning journey and as such should be appropriately addressed.
Kolb (1976) relays in his article the importance of “opposing perspectives, action and reflection, concrete involvement and analytical detachment [which] are all essential for optimal learning” highlighting that differences in perspectives are vital to learning. Reading through my journals, it can be seen that attempts were made to attempt to achieve this, not only by reviewing my own reactions through different perspectives but also the actions of my peers. By doing this, I was able to explore further the reasons for my behaviour, revealing to me underlying assumptions that I held – pressing me to examine them in greater detail than hand I decided not to take this course and coming to theories about what I could do in the future should similar situations occur so that I can take better actions (Thompson, The possible birth of a Death Star?, 2013). From the team readings of week 2, I gathered the importance of having team contracts and discussing contingencies as well expectations individually that team members held. As a consequence of this, it allowed for greater cohesion and understanding between team members and due to the teacher-free agreements, individuals were more likely to take ownership of their actions and its consequences (Oakley, Felder, Brent, & Elhajj, 2004).
While as Christensen (2010) points out, that holding onto one’s goals and what they stand for is important, I feel that way about helping others and I think that in some ways, the Blue ocean strategy (Kim & Mauborgne, 2004) reading complimented this in its emphasis of innovation. From this I mean that while I may have a broad strategy that focuses on helping others, sometimes I forget that in order for this to occur, I myself need to be innovative and constantly re-adapting how I understand and evaluate situations to be as able to helpful as I can be. Another way of putting this, is that I need to be more consistent in moving from Model I to Model II in my approach to issues, from single-loop to double-loop learning, because as Argyis puts it, “those who wish to gain credibility not only must learn the new skills, but also must internalize a new set of values” (Argyris, 1982).
I would like to think that after completing this course, I can say that because I have acquired knowledge via reading various article and been able to implement these in my own experiences, I have become a more interactive and effective learner with the ability to take different perspectives to issues and how by altering governing variables I can achieve outcomes that are more fulfilling.
As I move towards completing my tertiary education, I am confident that what I have learnt from this course will aid me in the future, whether it be in other courses I take or when I am plunged into the world of working professionals. This semester, I have learnt to be an effective learner through further development of my skillset, acquiring various trinkets of knowledge that I have implemented in practice (and will continue to do) as well as the ability to meaningfully reflect on my own actions and those of others in the face of challenges that I have encountered. I know that often as soon as individuals complete a class, they move on without looking back however, I definitely consider what I experienced this semester as an enjoyable and intriguing learning curve. It has not only taught me about management within dynamic contexts through theory, but also about myself in how I use that theory in my own interactions.
Argyris, C. (1982). The executive mind and double-looping learning. Organisational Dynamics , 11 (2), 5-22.
Christensen, C. M. (2010). How will you measure your life? Harvard Business Review , 88 (7/8), 46-51.
Daudelin, M. W. (1996). Learning from experience through reflection. Organizational Dynamics , 24 (3), 36-48.
Kim, W. C., & Mauborgne, R. (2004). Blue ocean strategy. Harvard Business Review , 82 (10), 75-84.
Kolb, D. A. (1976). Management and the learning process. California Management Review , 8 (3), 21-31.
Nentl, N., & Zietlow, R. (2008). Using bloom's taxonomy to teach critical thinking skills to business students. College & Undergraduate Libraries , 15 (1-2), 159-172.
Oakley, B., Felder, R. M., Brent, R., & Elhajj, I. (2004). Turning student groups into effective teams. Journal of student centred learning , 2 (1), 9-34.
Thompson, E. V. (2013, August 30th). But now its time for me to go, the autumn moon lights my way. Auckland.
Thompson, E. V. (2013, August 16th ). Getting slapped with some baader-meinhof. Auckland .
Thompson, E. V. (2013, August 2nd). Getting the ball rolling . Auckland.
Thompson, E. V. (2013, August 9th ). Pack Dynamics . Auckland .
Thompson, E. V. (2013, September 27th ). Salt & Burn . Auckland.
Thompson, E. V. (2013, October 5th). Tea. Earl Grey. Hot. Auckland.
Thompson, E. V. (2013, October 11th ). The possible birth of a Death Star? Auckland.
Thompson, E. V. (2013, July 29th ). The road so far. Auckland.
Thompson, E. V. (2013, September 20). Typical Tok'ra. Auckland.
Thompson, E. V. (2013, August 23rd). War and Games. Auckland.