Entries in "learning management, teaching students"

January 24, 2008

proposed special interest housing for Case students

A great idea mentioned in the Case Daily on January 24 in the section "For Students":

Undergraduates interested in living together under the common theme of "Innovation and Entrepreneurship" are invited to contact via e-mail Ed Caner from the Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Program, or Gary Wnek from The Institute of Management and Engineering. An application for special interest housing will be drafted in early March, with Caner and Wnek as faculty advisers.

I hope some prospective management, accounting, and economics majors will investigate. I can envision several different themes for special interest housing in future years.... Click through to the Case Daily page to email the faculty advisors for more information.

June 21, 2007

benefits of daily writing

Liz Strauss has written a neat post on reasons to write which echoes my post from a while back about why I ask students to blog. Although management is often described as primarily an oral craft, I continue to insist to my students that the ability to write well is a great ace in the whole. That skill impresses others who value critical thinking and attention to detail, helps one make a good first impression, and sharpens the ability to think analytically and critically. All this is true not just for current students, but also for those who are already in the workplace. If you're not happy with your writing skills, then take Liz Strauss' advice, and begin a daily practice -- it can only yield positive rewards!

March 26, 2007

"wasting time" at the office

As an update on my entry from early last Friday morning, here's a link to the WCPN podcast of last Friday morning's 90.3 at 9 show during which I was one of the guests to speak on the topic of "wasting time at the office".

My "maiden" experience on the radio waves as a guest was quite enjoyable, particularly because I had the pleasure of meeting the Friday host, Regina Brett. The show's producer, Paul Cox, and assistant producter, Marie Andrusewicz, both helped me to settle in at the studio. I even learned how to use a "cough" button!

Here are some background links to information I mentioned during the segment:


The piece on wasting time at the office is in the second half of the podcast, and the first half is also worth listening to, with guests commenting on population loss in Cuyahoga county and how we can take action to counteract the current trends. One of the guests recommends this report, The Vital Center, from the Brookings Institute. The guest who was in the studio with Regina Brett and myself, Mark Rosentraub, has a number of worthwhile pieces published on the topic of urban and regional renewal, also worth reading:

March 21, 2007

is the world testing you?

I've been struck recently, in my observations of students and of others at work, by how powerful the drive to please others by meeting high standards can be. Sometimes, even when the standards are outrageously ridiculous, we just keep trying to leap over the bar, slamming our heads on the upper limits of reality, recollecting ourselves, and then leaping again. Especially for students, the semester can become a series of hurdles to run up to, leap over (or crash through), and repeat, without time to catch their breath.

It's so rare to see someone mature enough to approach a challenge or a set of really high expectations with calm consistency in their attitude and in their performance. What we often forget is that striving too much can actually reduce our effectiveness. Even hurdlers take a breather at the end of a race, before approaching the starting line for another 100 meters. Sometimes, they even drop out of a race, if they have crashed into the third and fourth hurdles, and fallen at the fifth.

What makes a difference between those who chase high expectations frantically and those who can approach them with calm consistency? Well, to an extent, maturity comes with age... and part of the reason is that the typical 40-year-old is less wrapped up in a desire to please others than the typical 20-year-old. There are some undergraduates who really don't care what I think of them, or what grade I give them, but most have almost a blind desire for approval and positive reinforcement. In some cases, there are signs of almost an addiction to the positive reinforcement of grades. I can only imagine what the voices in their conscience tell them when they fall short of their expectations for themselves, which sometimes are even higher than my expectations for them.

Even John Mayer now has a song about the pursuit of success and distinction, and the price we pay for giving in to the pressure that others (and our own internal voices of conscience and of compulsion) put on us to chase perfection in our work... it's an invitation to reflect on how to keep our own "vultures" at bay.

Here are the lyrics from the song "Vultures", off his latest album, Continuum, and a link to the album on iTunes.

Continue reading "is the world testing you?"

November 14, 2006

challenging students, supporting students: reflecting on the HR simulation

Have you ever read the research of Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi? He's the director of the Quality of Life Research Center at the Drucker School of Management (and he must know that the spelling of his name overwhelms people, because his bio on that site is labeled about Mike.)

Csikszentmihalyi's research over the last few decades has examined the role of flow in human life. Flow is a state of consciousness in which our attention is fully invested in the task at hand, and when we are in flow, time seems to disappear or to stand still. When we are in flow is when we do our best, most creative work. Flow is a natural high.

I don't often think about it this way, but my purpose as a teacher is to create the context in which my students can engage in learning management in a such a way that they experience flow. When I can do this -- when I can balance the challenge that students experience when they encounter new concepts or practice new skills against the support that they receive from me, from each other, and from their learning context -- that is when students get turned on to management. If they have that experience often enough, then they will become intrinsically motivated to learn more, and to pursue mastery of the field of management.

Of course, it would help a lot of I had had this revelation in August, rather than in November. There are signs in many student blog entries that the balance of challenge and support is out of whack. This is especially true with regard to the HR simulation. (Click through to read more.)

(With thanks to the Mutual Improvement Blog, which linked to this post on self-awareness and staying engaged, which, in turn, linked to this Kathy Sierra entry on keeping users engaged, which reminded me of what I had learned long ago, and then forgotten, about the research on flow.)

Continue reading "challenging students, supporting students: reflecting on the HR simulation"

November 02, 2006

managers can keep their top talent with strategic conversations

Here's an excerpt from Janet Cho's article in the Oct. 30, 2006, Cleveland Plain Dealer, entitled "Keeping the top talent":

Sandy Kristin Piderit, associate professor in organizational behavior at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, says managers absolutely have to initiate conversations with their best performers.

“You want to have a private conversation as soon as you sense that someone you consider indispensable may be thinking about leaving,” she said.

Piderit suggests an open-ended question such as, “What do you like best about working here?” and letting the employee bring up any negative aspects.

“It has to be the high performer’s decision at the end, but you want to open up the conversation before it’s too late and they have another job and they’re coming in to give notice,” she said.

“If you open up a conversation when you’re trying to retain somebody by saying, ‘I can only give you this much of a raise,’ you could offend them,” Piderit said.
To read or print the whole article, click here: Keeping the top talent: Star performers tire of jumping through hoops while others loaf.

September 05, 2006

are you looking for a better you?

In MGMT 250, we have begun the segment of the course which focuses on self-assessment and self-development. My students are thinking about how to make a good first impression on others, what their strengths are, and where they want to be in 5 or 10 years.

There are lots of supplementary resources out there to help people who aren't taking the course explore some of the same questions. One excellent guide which I just came across to some of those resources is the blog Lifestylism. If you're not sure what that means, just read the first entry in the blog, written back in July, 2004.

Another new resource is a spinoff from the increasingly popular site 43 things, which allows users to keep track of their goals and dreams and their progress toward achieving them, and helps them connect with others who have similar goals or dreams for support and mutual encouragement. (I have written about 43things before and about the sister site of 43things, 43 places, as well.) To celebrate the second anniversary of the founding of the Robot COOP, which houses the creators of 43 things, some of the key people in the COOP have launched a new blog called the Mutual Improvement Blog. It looks really fascinating.

And if those don't slake your thirst for advice about how to achieve a better you, you can always peruse my older entries tagged "careers", "networking", and "productivity", or "work-family balance".

Enjoy! And please be sure to let me know what your next steps toward a better you will be, and whether any of the links I recommended were useful.

August 01, 2006

Best Buy's best bet: Results Oriented Work Environment

I missed a really interesting NPR piece while I was out of the country, focusing on how Best Buy has implemented flextime. Here's the link to the audio of Wendy Kaufman's report. (The story is just over 3 minutes long, and includes an introduction by Renée Montaigne.)

Listening to the piece makes me long to learn more about how this change is really rolling out within the company. I assume that it is overseen by the company's top HR officer, Lori Ballard. I wonder how I could get connected to her for an interview that would let me write a little mini-case for my course next spring... any suggestions?

July 08, 2006

what is an organization?

David Pollard says it is "an instrument for doing something a particular way."

This is a great definition, very similar to the one I use in my introductory classes in organizational behavior. (I talk about an organization as a group of three or more people, working toward a common goal or set of goals, in a consciously coordinated way, on a more-or-less continuous basis.)

Pollard goes on with a provocative argument:

Organization does not mean order or structure. When we say "let's get organized" we are not saying let's decide how to structure ourselves, we're saying let's make ourselves an instrument to do something specific. The fact that the first step in so many new organizations is establishing a hierarchy shows how well we've been brainwashed to believe that 'anarchic' self-management is impossible, when it is the natural order. This is perhaps why Open Space is so subversive and unaccepted in the political and corporate mainstream -- if frees people from the false belief that they need someone else to impose order and structure on them in order to be an effective organism, an instrument of action.

What do you think? Can groups of people organize themselves organically, without hierarchy? Do you question that assumption that self-management is impossible in larger groups, or do you accept it unthinkingly? Do you believe that you can be effective outside of an authority structure imposed by others?

Be sure to click through and read the rest of Pollard's entry on the meaning of words, including community, family, freedom, and wisdom.

May 24, 2006

former students mentioned in the PD

O-Web Technologies has redesigned the website for one of their clients, Rascal House, so that it requires fewer clicks to order a pizza online. Henry Gomez wrote it up on Sunday, but I never got to read the paper that day because I was at graduation. I'm glad to have caught the entry when it was mentioned in the Case Daily!

I'm wondering, though if Case needs to hire O-Web to redesign the Case Daily so that each entry is a separate RSS feed, so that the relevant snippet of information can be bookmarked, rather than emailing everything to everyone each day, with the rather unhelpful email title of the date. Sometimes I end up with four or five different dailies in my inbox, each saved because one snippet is relevant, but I can't find the snippet easily -- so I delete them all in frustration!

April 28, 2006

farewell, MGMT 251 students

Yesterday was the last class of the semester for both sections of MGMT 251 students. As is our tradition, the teaching team spent most of the class session listening to students give "one minute speeches" in which they identify highlights of the course experience, and recognize classmates who contributed to their learning.

For many of the students, their team project performing an analysis of a local company as a potential employer was a highlight. Some students noted how much hope they felt about learning that the Cleveland area is still home to so many different types of employers that appeal to their desires for career opportunities and positive workplace cultures. The companies that were profiled included...

Continue reading "farewell, MGMT 251 students"

April 21, 2006

responsible capitalism: employee-owned companies, and how they support one another

Did you know that Ohio is home to a Center for Employee Owned Corporations? Are you planning to attend their conference today in Akron?

Companies with ESOPs suggest a more socially responsible variant of capitalism, where the interests of the stockholders and of the employees need not be divergent. When employees have a stake in the corporation, the long-term interests of investing in a particular region can be taken more seriously when members are elected to the board of directors, and when decisions about relocating facilities or changing working conditions for employees are considered.

Want to learn more?

Continue reading "responsible capitalism: employee-owned companies, and how they support one another"

April 19, 2006

managing impressions online

There's a recent thread in the Case Forums protesting the actions of a university staff member who has apparently used photos posted on Facebook as evidence in writing up a student for underage drinking. Case is by no means the first organization to use Facebook material as evidence... see this Wikipedia entry. It just brings home to me again how important it will be for us to make sure that future students understand the need to present themselves professionally when online.

April 10, 2006

how do you track your progress toward your goals?

No time for part 2 of the Anne Lamott blog today -- sorry. Things are humming in my life, but I'm hoping to find time tomorrow to write up my thoughts, before the vividness of the experience fades!

In the meantime, let me briefly mention that I have been experimenting lately (as you can see from the righthand column of my blog) with an online service called 43 things. On Thursday I will introduce it to my students in class, as a way of helping them to make sense of why the plans they set up for themselves last December may not have worked as intended -- and of helping them to stay focused on their goals, keep track of their progress, and give themselves credit for their accomplishments.

I really like the 43things system, even though it's less structured than a Getting Things Done approach or a Covey Seven Habits approach. For students who are online all the time, often from different computers, I think that using this kind of organizing might work even better than keeping a paper planner.

I'd be curious to learn how my readers track progress toward their goals.

  • Do you use a paper planner?
  • Do you keep your calendar on your computer?
  • Is it online so that you can access it from several different computers?
  • Or do you sync your computer with a Palm or other handheld, or with a cellphone or something?
  • How do you schedule things into your planner in a way that allows you to give priority to important but not always urgent tasks?
  • When you feel yourself getting into a cycle of fighting fires, how do you choose to respond so that you retain a sense of efficacy?

March 31, 2006

lectures via iTunes?

Jeremy Smith writes that Case has been accepted into Apple's iTunes University program, which sounds exciting... as long as it doesn't mean that students stop coming to my class.

I think this is great for large lecture classes, where students might not always get a chance to ask questions. For discussion oriented classes, though, nothing can really substitute for being in the room as the discussion happens. That's why I disagree with the highlighted principle in this teaching manifesto", which asserts that professors should not force or blackmail students "into coming to class through devices such as sign-up registers, pop-quizzes, unavailability of class material in print, etc. Design the course such that students who prefer so can follow the course without attending any lectures." I would argue that the way around that dilemma, at least in classes of under 50 students or so, is simply to avoid lecturing. Instead, work on problems, discuss cases, let students ask questions... then it is worth their while to come to class, and the incentives that you give them just provide some encouragement for doing so.

August 18, 2005

why I ask students to blog

Below is the beginning of the assignment instructions that I will distribute to the students in MGMT 250. If anyone has any comments or suggestions, I would welcome your thoughts!

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Here’s what Hillary Johnson said about blogging in Inc Magazine:

“Most people think of blogs as public diaries kept by the kinds of egotists who make loud, inappropriate political comments at family barbecues or hog the discussion at book clubs, or wannabe journalists who post inflammatory stories with no fact-checking. … For me, a woman who didn't graduate from Stanford and doesn't live in Silicon Valley, reading blogs by other entrepreneurs provides unexpected access to a virtual peer group.”

Students in MGMT 250 this fall will be offered the option of maintaining a blog and commenting on the blogs of other class participants. Any student who wishes to earn a B or an A for their final course grade will need to complete this assignment. There are three goals of this assignment:

° To encourage students to reflect on what they are learning and what they want to learn about the management of organizations and people
° To provide valuable practice in written communication and impression management
° To facilitate the development of connections among students and between students and course staff that will deepen the learning experience

Reflecting carefully on your own thinking is a very important skill to cultivate. Whether you are planning to enter management or any other professional field, your learning will not end on the day you graduate from college. You will need to engage in lifelong learning, which involves developing a sense of how to sort through different sources of information and distinguish between facts, well-reasoned judgments or conclusions, and poorly supported opinions. To encourage you to develop this skill in reflecting carefully on your own thinking, this course blogging assignment will challenge you to go beyond simply stating your opinion, or quoting a source that you respect and accepting its assertions at face value. In your course blog entries, we will challenge you to state not only what you believe about managing organizations and people, but also why you believe it. Developing your skill in articulating and advocating for your beliefs will help you become a more effective manager or professional.