What am I learning? J. Greenawalt-Blog for MBA 890


This is my journal for MBA class 890. Each week, I have included a snapshot of the module for the week as well as a brief synopsis of my learning. I shared pictures, cartoons, videos, and personal stories on how I related to items in the course. This journal is my take and view on what we did, how I viewed it, and what I learned.

Week 1: Introduction to the Course and Each Other

Module for Week 1


Updating Your Profile-I I appreciate that Professor. Beck asks people to create a profile in Canvas if they have not already done so. This should be something that everybody is required to do before they can even access all the functions in Canvas. Many business websites have profiles of major leaders. This profile set up is great practice for someone who hasn't done that yet for a company website. Somewhere down the line individuals may be asked to create a profile for marketing to upload to the company webpage. I have included a snapshot of my profile from Canvas.

Introduction to the Course and Each Other-This discussion board would be a fantastic introduction to any LVC MBA course. I have had several classes with several of the people in this class. Even though we have spent time together in other classes, I have learned new things about some of these individuals. In addition, the simple questions of "what do you expect from this course" are logical. We all chose the class for a reason and if you cannot explain effectively why, maybe another course should be pursued. I am hoping this course adds to my professional development as a leader. I am involved in negotiations, conflict resolution, and problem solving every day. I need to find out what I do not know that could make me more effective as a leader.

Power, Influence, and Perception-TED Talks were introduced to me through previous classes in the Lebanon Valley College MBA program. The site is just as addicting to me as Pinterest or Facebook. There are many interesting topics from influential speakers. I like that the TED Talks are incorporated into this week. It is easy to learn from a format that I like plus it sparked my interest. Each assigned TED Talk gives a unique perspective on perception as well as influence and power. I did not have to agree with the views but I have learned or see things differently from each one. From Liu, it was that people are illiterate to power. With the Norris TED Talk it is simple in that communication is considered influence and be careful how you use it to provoke the influence you are seeking. Lastly, from the Lidksy presentation, it was perception is all in how you decide to shape it.

Week 2: Assessing Ourselves

Module for Week 2


Self Assessments-I do not like taking personal assessments tests usually but the ones for this week were short and not time consuming. I wrote in my weekly assessment that I think my answers could differ at any given time depending on what I am experiencing in my life. After viewing the You Tube video below, that most likely may not be the case. Assessments typically measure interests, personality, values and strengths-these things typically do not change. I wants others to tell me too what I do well and my opportunities for growth. The outcomes of the assessments were interesting and I learned from each one. The one take away was from the creativity assessment. I realized that idea formation, sharing and execution sparks creativity. I viewed it as something that is part of what I can do to make something physically look attractive. Creativity, especially in work, is different than the physical appearance of creativity.

Personal SWOT Analysis

Personal SWOT-The personal SWOT analysis was a bit challenging this week. It is easy for me to state what I am good at doing but difficult to say where I fall short. I never did a SWOT analysis on myself and I learned what opportunities I have to tackle in the future. I also enjoyed assessing my threats. Figuring out what external factors could interfere or have an influence was an interesting exercise.

Week 3: Conflict


The Upside of Conflict-Conflict gets a bad rap. Individuals view it as fighting, uncomfortable, and sometimes confrontational. What I have learned from my work, my experience, and by watching this week's Ted Talk, is that conflict is an opportunity. It is the chance for people to work and think together. Conflict can be productive if it is done respectfully and without personal criticism. I realized by reading some of the discussion boards this module that my classmates have great insight concerning conflict. Specifically, recognizing that some people are good at conflict and others resist it. If people feel "heard" they might be apt to participate in discussions surrounding conflict.

Conflict: Peer Review Articles-I like when I can learn or think differently from others. One of the posts included training for leaders on conflict resolution. This made me realize that at my own place of work we are not adequately teaching managers how to effectively manage conflict. This could be extremely helpful with new leaders and even teach seasoned leaders new tricks. On a regular basis, I spend time coaching leaders on dealing with employee conflict. Educating staff about conflict resolution is an opportunity for leaders to use the type of training in all facets of their life. The only time some of these leaders face conflict directly is when I coach them on how to do so.

Conflict: Primary Research-This exercise was assigned to my group. I learned something new by interviewing my professional. The "one down" approach for conflicts is what he introduced to me. "One down" is a reference to a western gun fight that if someone puts their gun down first, the other person tends to lower their weapon too. In conflict, if someone calms down and approaches the situation civilly, the other party tends to de-escalate too. Since the emotion lessens, conflict resolution can start to occur. The meeting becomes productive rather than reactive to tempers. This makes sense to me. I practice this at work. I know through my HR experience that if I stay calm when dealing with an upset person that they too will remain calm or they will eventually calm down. If I engage with them and raise my temper or emotion to their level, neither one of us will hear each other and the session could turn into something that is not pleasant. By staying calm, the other person eventually simmers down because I am not giving them a fight. When people are calm, they tend to listen better and can rationalize their wants better so a resolution can be successfully reached.

Conflict: Online Professional Research-Listening was mentioned in the research as an approach. The longer I am a professional in the working world, the more I realize how many people do not listen. Of course, this is not unique to work. Interrupters and people who talk over each other are common. It is disruptive and creates road blocks. Also, one post mentioned that a group in conflict needs to agree on what the issue is. This is such a simple concept that I have not considered in relation to conflict resolution until this module. You cannot solve what is not clearly acknowledged as the issue. Someone listed a Ted Talk to share with a group. I could be utilizing Ted Talks at work more readily than I do. I present often at meetings and trainings. Maybe I am working too hard when there is a wealth of great Ted Talks at my fingertips to share with leaders.

Looking at Conflict Differently

This TED Talk below from Clair Canfield points out that things that cause us conflict tend to have meanings that are not obvious. One example he uses is how the chore of doing the dishes caused conflict with his siblings, parents, roommates, spouse, etc. He points out the conflict was not about actually doing the dishes but about others not caring enough about him to do the dishes. He points out understanding ourselves and what we can do to get the change that we want. He also expresses that conflict has loss. I can relate to the dishes conflict-this was one of the only chores that my sister and I had to do as kids. We were spoiled and my mom liked to do everything plus she was a control freak so she did not want us touching anything. My mom came home at 4:45 everyday. Almost every week day, my sister and I stood in the kitchen and argued about whose turn it was or we tried to negotiate with the other one to get out of doing the dishes all together. These transactions usually occurred at 4:30pm, 15 minutes before my mother was due home. We usually worked together to get the dishes done so they would be finished before my mother arrived home.

WEEK 4: Problem Solving & Decision Making


Problem Solving and Decision Making-The Tom Wujec TED talk for this week resonated with me because I am a visual learner. Draw out the steps for me and I am engaged, ready to tackle whatever you throw my way. If you simply try to explain something to me, most likely it takes me some time to understand what you are trying to accomplish. This is mainly with complex problems. Most employee relations situations that I deal with do not need visuals but believe it or not, some do. Especially those involving emails or some type of correspondence. I need to see what was written to make sure the message was adequately conveyed. Sometimes the receiver's emotions can change the meaning of the original intent of the sender. So much is occurring with changes at work due to a hospital integration. I could have benefited from the visual of using the collaborative visualization. We had attempted collaboration that I interpreted as silo driven rather than mission focused. Change is difficult and people wanted to maintain the integrity of the legacy systems. Some instances it made sense to keep the legacy systems and in other instances, it did not. It became difficult for others to see things differently. Maybe collaborative visualization could have assisted with helping others to see the progression from current process to new.

Peer Reviewed Journals, Primary Research, and Professional Online Research-Again, compared to last week, I liked seeing what others found in their searches. I want to post on the Coffee Shop or Optional to Share discussion boards to find out how others found their research. I like to learn new ways of doing things ( I am sure, in fact 100% positive this is not the first time I have mentioned this on this blog!). I learned that I easily confused problem solving and decision making. As a member of the senior leadership team at work I should know the difference! There were a few references to human resources in the discussions. Hello! That is what I do so I was eager to comment and provide feedback. I love to coach-if the person is willing to accept the coaching.

This might have helped me to understand the difference between problem solving and decision making. Source: http://idv.sinica.edu.tw/tyuan/evernote/difference_between/Difference%20Between%20Problem%20Solving%20and%20Decisi.html
Source: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-EYCFKRKGI1k/UYEyUb6BTPI/AAAAAAAACfg/C_-pJI7O9Q0/s1600/problem-solving-decision-making-cartoon.jpg
When I started my journal for this week, this situation from our 2016 Myrtle Beach came to mind. The picture on the left is the kids of our group trying to figure out what to dig. They started digging with no rhythm or reason. The older kids thought they needed direction. Some of the holes looked like letters or had circular shapes so the question was what are we making? We have all day at the beach so let's dig in the sand all day because we could not go in the water due to the jelly fish that invaded the shore line! Do you know how hot it gets in South Carolina in August? The jelly fish were so bad you could not even sit by the water. Okay, I digressed. The kids problem solved until they figured out they could spell out "Trump." None of them can tell you why the decision was made to spell Trump but it seemed like a good idea at the time-the way most bad decisions start!

Week 5: Book Review Posters


Book Review & Poster-For my own poster, I found myself relating to many of the 7 fatal flaws described in the book. What I enjoyed about the book the most was the various picture and word scenario problems throughout the book. These scenarios, the author has used in many workshops and seminars. It was interesting to see how I perceived the problems compared to how the author observed how different types of thinkers respond to the problems. Of all the flaws listed, I am an over thinker. I also found myself demonstrating other thinking flaws with some of the scenarios including leaping and downgrading. Both leaping and downgrading, at least for me, is quitting to get to the end quicker. With leaping, I jumped to the conclusion without uncovering the problem. With downgrading, I figured out "work arounds" to finish the problem solving quicker to continue reading the book.

For the book I read, I shared the problem solving scenarios with my daughter. She was a lot quicker in solving them. She is not prejudiced or biased by her experience. She can see things quicker, in my opinion, because she doe not have personal experiences to be a barrier to her thinking.

Classmates' Book Review Posters-I enjoyed the posters that other students created. Each one was laid out differently. All of them were easy to follow and summarized the material concisely. I did not necessarily agree with everything I read from the books that were reviewed for resolving conflict and negotiations. A common them of the books was keeping emotions "in check" when faced with conflict and/or negotiations. This is easier said than done especially since we get so emotionally involved in our work. It is hard not to get emotion because we spend so much of our time working. We are invested so when that investment is challenged, it is hard not to emotionally defend it.

PROBLEM SOLVING-Below is a problem solving wheel for kids. This decision wheel could also apply to dealing with conflict. It is easy and it makes sense. Would this be effective in the workplace? Adults could learn from this wheel. One choice listed below that could be detrimental in the workplace is to ignore it. This could cause issues to fester and get worse if the situation involves conflict. Rock, paper, scissors may make more sense in some instances rather than spending hours of time each week in unnecessary meetings. What do you think? Is rock, paper, scissors silly or does it make sense?

Source: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/cb/79/25/cb7925092bf38b65b53b327a049de38e--conflict-resolution-activities-self-regulation.jpg

Week 6: Negotiating


Negotiations Introduction-The William Ury Ted Talk message was not clearly portrayed at least not to this audience. It was confusing to me and did not answer the question for me on how he arrived at the title of the Talk of "Getting from No to Yes". I expected there to be steps or a way to get there. I did however, still learn something. The concept Ury presented in regards to getting people to the balcony is a negotiating "time out" and makes perfect sense. The Margaret Neale Ted Talk is an excellent portrayal of a power struggle that started before negotiations could occur. The best part about this Ted Talk is that words were not part of the equation since the horse cannot speak but the communication between horse and person occurred through energy. Both the horse and the person could not negotiate any of their moves until their energy towards each other changed.

Peer Reviewed Journals, Primary Research, and Professional Online Research-I like reading the different types of research that everyone uncovers. It is interesting. I wish we added other types of discussion questions by now to provoke more critical thinking and maybe even foster constructive conflict. There was a lot of agreement but not a lot of healthy disagreement. Especially with the conflict week, constructive conflict should have been encouraged more in the discussions as a learning exercise.

I have been in negotiations where the talks have felt like this cartoon below. This especially occurred with the one union that I worked with who had changed their representation from the state office. The rep was accustomed to negotiations in Philadelphia and other areas where tactics were cutthroat. He came to Lebanon and did not get the same kind of fight. He realized quickly his attack tactics not only made my side of the table uncomfortable but it also made his side of the table uneasy. He knew if he did not change his style with this group quickly he would lose his side of the table which would break down negotiations. He adjusted and we worked quite well together.

Source: http://under30ceo.com/win-at-negotiations-with-these-simple-tricks/

The YouTube video below is a very quick negotiations where they do a lot of things in a short period of time that cut to the chase but also do not resolve anything. One side of the table quickly brings up past losses to out the other side, pastries are offered and then the negotiations gets started. Neither side really wants to talk and the session ends abruptly. I have sat through meetings like this too. Maybe you can relate....

My Negotiation Experience-I have to negotiate on a regular basis at my job. I may negotiate about things during employee relations meetings, strategic planning, and leadership meetings. The most energy charged negotiations that I have ever done was while I spent 8 years at public wastewater plant with a union. We went through 3 union contract negotiations, the last one stayed open for 2 years. The final negotiations that occurred while I was there kept going due a power struggle between 1 Board member and the union. The Board member was an insurance sales person who pushed very hard for high deductible health insurance. The union did not have a deductible previously. What this Board member proposed was ludicrous. He had management take an "all or nothing" approach. This tactic literally shut down the talks and everything stalled. The Board member wanted to lock out the union and take a hard stance to the negotiations. The trust that did exist between union and management was broken-this relationship was built over many years of working together and this Board member managed to break it down in a matter of months. This is one of the reasons I left that job. When I resigned, the negotiations was not finished. It continued for another 6 months. The union and management are about to negotiate again. Good luck to them!

Week 7: Creative Applications to Problem Solving

Creativity in Problem Solving Introduction-The Ted Talk from this week taught me that fear holds back creativity. I know I cringe when someone starts discussing creativity at work. I guess I may have been one of those people for years who only contributed creativity to the arts rather than looking at it as something that occurs in other areas of life like thinking. I did not, however, get how the fear of snakes story in the Talk equated to creativity-the story did not evoke creativity for me. It seemed like an exercise in helping someone overcome a fear but maybe I am being narrow minded in that I did not get the creativity but I did get the message of self-efficacy.

Creativity in Business-I chose to talk about Budweiser and how they have used their creativity in their marketing strategy and campaigns. Their marketing team is problem solving all the time to figure out how they can successfully market to the climate of the world today. Things like culture and political issues can affect how people are currently seeing the world. Budweiser, or more appropriately Anheuser-Busch, has been able to consistently use the lab puppy and the Clydesdale in their message. The company has many other creative advertisement campaigns that have been relevant to the times. When service men and women were coming home and deployed for Iraq, they had a commercial depicting people applauding the returning service people in the airports. For 9/11, they aired a one time commercial of the Clydesdales trotting into NYC to salute and pay respect to the city. They have also done public service a duty by addressing drinking and driving in commercials. Whatever the message, the Anheuser-Bush executive marketing team problem solves to get to those concepts by using their creative thinking skills to convey a message to their audience.

Behavioral Interview Questions-At my current job, we frequently use behavioral interview questions to find out how individuals have used creativity in their business experience to problem solve. This includes questions like tell us how you came up with a new way to solve a problem and what was the best idea or most innovative solution you came up with at a job. These questions are telling for us and give us insight to many facets of someone's problem solving skills as well as whether or not they can think "outside of the box." Below are examples on how and what to ask or discuss to uncover behavior at work including creativity in problem solving.

Source: http://www.sawyoo.com/postpic/2010/05/examples-of-behavioral-interview-questions_291869.png

Here is a cute YouTube video that shows how a group demonstrates excellent teamwork by using creativity for problem solving.


This exercise was a refreshing way to talk about what I have learned in the class. I enjoyed seeking out fun things to post on here to relate to what we covered in the course for that particular week. Some of those items were not related to business but in my view, they did not have to be. The same concepts used in business can carry over to personal experiences outside of work and vice versa. The class overall was very interactive and I enjoyed the contact with the other students.

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