Posts Tagged 'insight'

3 New Case Study Insights I Learned By Not Participating In Class

I’ll admit, last week I wasn’t able to prepare for my management course case study.  Luckily, every student drops his/her two lowest case study grades when the semester ends, so I decided to sit out the case discussion and drop that score.  I wanted to observe the case debate, so I stayed and watched my classmates banter about Cisco.  I observed a few new insights about case studies I hadn’t realized before; things I normally miss when I’m frantically crafting a rebuttal to a classmate’s statement that I only managed to hear half of.  So in no particular order, I present my (newly observed) case study insights:

  1. Not participating allows you to actually listen to the debate.  When I’m normally participating in a case, I divide my attention between listening to whoever is speaking and hurrying to craft a coherent response to any points he or she happened to make.  Therefore, I often only hear bits and pieces of my classmates’ statement(s), and end up crafting my response based on those limited pieces I managed to absorb.  Having had the opportunity to hear the entire case study dialogue helped clue me into the direction the professor was guiding the conversation.  There is a purpose to the questions he asks about the case, and the answers frequently require reference back to the assigned chapter we read.  Sitting back and listening to the case also helped reveal my next insight.
  2. The discussion can often get disjointed, but the professor always reels it back in.  I give our professor a lot of credit during the case studies.  There are some times when a classmate may have an answer to an earlier question in mind and then answers that previous question instead of responding to the professor’s recent query.  Other times, he or she may try to fumble through an answer, when it’s clear little time went into preparing for the case.  Whenever things start to get off track or out of hand, the professor always does a good job of circling the class back to the main discussion topics.  This helps keep everyone focused, and prevents us from spending 40 minutes arguing over trivial details.
  3. Your arguments must be well-crafted.  While observing the discussion, I witnessed the majority of the class disagree with one other student over a question the professor had asked.  The professor wanted to know whether the decisions an executive team made in the case succeeded because of their business skill or because of luck.  The majority of the class thought it was due to the executives’ skills, and they made sure to let their single opponent know how they felt.  The issue I observed wasn’t that the lone student’s argument was incorrect or his points weren’t valid.  His problem was that he didn’t clearly organize his thoughts before (attempted to) convey them to the rest of the class.  As an “outside observer,” I felt the lens through which he viewed the case was very different from the rest of the class.  But this student wasn’t able to recognize that difference between their arguments, tailor his response to illustrate that point, and then successful convey it to his classmates.  The two sides just talked past one another and never managed to get on the same page.  To me, this insight seems especially useful for prospective managers.  A manager cannot assume his or her employees are always aware of the perspective the manager has approached the problem or issue from – people cannot read minds.  Managers need to ensure they clearly convey their ideas, perspectives, and requests, so that everyone is on the same page and can work together to accomplish their goals.

The class only has two case studies remaining, and I’m excited for both of them.  Our discussions have recently started turning into engaging debates, with a lot of vigorous back-and-forth dialogue.  I’m hoping these last couple case studies provide as much useful insight as the previous six have, and those insights can be incorporated into my future managerial roles.

Here are some articles I found interesting this week:

“Wealth or Waste? Rethinking the Value of a Business Major” – Educators, universities, and even some businesses are beginning to question the effectiveness and value of business degrees.  If you’ve earned a business degree (undergraduate or graduate) do you feel your experiences have adequately prepared you to work and contribute in the business world?  Share you perspective in the comments section below.

“Microsoft’s Master Plan to Beat Apple and Google” – I love business strategy.  And it seems like it’s been a while since the marketplace had heard any significant positive news coming from Microsoft.  So I found this article about their strategies for overtaking Apple and Google absolutely fascinating.  Whether or not the strategies work, I’m impressed with the vision the company is exhibiting and the dramatic shift it’s taking with its products.