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1. Terms of reference
This individual reflective report has been intended for the module tutor. I have been asked to prepare the report in informal structure taking heeds of only the headings specifically identified for this report by the supervisor, therefore not taking into account the formal report scenario and using the researcher name as first person using I, me, etc. It was also advised to use as much simple writing style as possible. This report is prepared by me as a reflective work on my previous group assignment of Business Plan for Master of Business Administration course. The objective of this report is to reflect on how well I and my team mates functioned while undertaking the project. When writing a reflection paper on project experience, the point was to include my thoughts and reactions to the reading or experience.
I express my gratitude to my supervisor, advisor and mentor MR Graham Hall for his commitment. I also want to acknowledge my friend Musroor Rafiq who contributed to the success of my report, helped and guided me through discussion. My special appreciation goes to him for positive criticism throughout the report. I am grateful for valuable co-operation and moral support.
I have been asked to include the clear identification of topic and how team focused and allocated to achieve overall aim of the business plan. Also to include is the background and data collection such as knowledge and understanding in related core business areas (Gillie, 2010). Later this knowledge has to be analyzed by applying theory and concepts to evidence and critical incidence that shaped the work. This work has to be evaluated by providing insightful interpretation of findings from individual and team perspectives, applying soft skills in evidence in team work (Gillie, 2010). In this report, I am going to describe my own role in helping the team to achieve its goal in relation to the team report and the practical negotiation exercise. Also I will provide evidence of my contribution to the cohesiveness of the team and how I facilitated the completion of the team goals working individually. This reflective report gives me an opportunity to reflect and discuss my achievements while completing the project (Whited, 2005). In Reflective essay body paragraphs, I'll describe the process that I have used to work on the project. I'll define this process from its starting point to the end stages (Gillie, 2010). My reflective report would disclose information about points, both strong and weak. In the middle of this report I'll share my positive and negative experiences, as well as my feelings about working with others.
Business plan was a group activity and has been completed while working in a team (A&) of five students namely Mubashir Shafiq, Amit Madan, Dilip Dhirrwani, Shubham Parashar and Vaibhav Birajdar. Our business plan was on fish farming in Wales and main aim of the plan was to prepare report on setting up a fishing farm in some area in Wales which could farm and sell best variety of rainbow trout fishes of salmon fish family. During our business plan, our team went through the four stages of forming, storming, norming and performing (Gillie, 2010). To achieve positive synergy and to create effective environment, we had set our standards of behaviors and ethics and included them in team contract to reinforce them. The dissertation/business project was divided into three components: group project report, group presentation and individual report. We were allowed to make a group of five persons. As soon as groups were allocated topics to work on, first team meeting took place to discuss the task in hand, our strengths and weaknesses and how to allocate different duties among us to focus upon (Levin, 2004). There was atmosphere of calm and politeness in the team meeting and all members felt highly committed to the business plan. It was decided to collect the data collectively (Sugars, 2005). Search was started together. We searched the websites, library catalogues and indexes for data details. We visited the local shops to collect as much information helpful as possible. After our initial research, duties were assigned with mutual understanding and according to the individual strengths of each team member. My strong area was marketing and accounting, therefore I was assigned with the duty of collecting, analyzing and evaluating marketing and financial aspects of the business plan.
5. Data collection
The thing that helped me the most is the keeping record of all the events and whatever happened during the whole process (Gillie, 2010). My initial thoughts on the subject was disappointing as I thought it was a difficult topic that had been assigned to us but as the time passed I started taking interest in it and in the end felt really excited on completing the task in time and within planned estimates. I started my research with clear instructions by my team and it was ensured that research would have enough empirical data for investigation and it also would meet university criteria. I was highly committed and interested and felt integral part of the team. Having same cultural background as other team members also helped me to fit in the team (Levin, 2004).
‘Grow model' technique (Gillie, 2010) was applied for achieving goals and solving future problems. This technique not only helped me informing how far I was away from goals but also assisted me in removing obstacles and providing options for progress. The first task for me was to collect the marketing and financial data available online on websites, available at library catalogues and by searching books, articles, magazines and latest journals. Before commencing the research process, it was important to understand the organisational structure of fish farms in Wales. Careful study was conducted with the help of other team members (Bryman and Bell, 2007). Before visiting a couple of fisheries, consent was acquired from them to carry on research. From my previous experience in making thesis in my Bachelors studies, I knew the importance of planning research design. Design and research framework was wisely generated to collect data and analyse it later (Saunders et al. 2009). This research design incorporated research aim and objectives, research methodology, data analysis techniques which were all linked together. Timescale of research was planned after organising all the ideas (Saunders, 2009). This schedule focused upon targets of completing the research within the estimated time. This timescale was useful in investigating research and other specific requirements. Gnatt chart (Bryman and Bell, 2007) was applied for this research to assist in keeping record of the process. It was also valuable in coordinating detailed tasks and provided graphical illustrations. The main benefit of this chart was to keep the data sought within the research scope throughout the research period. Bell's six points' parameter method (Bryman and Bell, 2007) was applied to narrow down the research material which also helped in directing the research on right path. Various data collection tools and techniques were recognised. Only those methods were selected which were fast but cheap and could be used to collect vast amount of data in less time, because of time constraint and financial issue. Specific and relevant material was focused upon in order to minimize collecting irrelevant data (Saunders et al. 2009). Both primary and secondary research methods were included in carrying out research. The collection of data was collected with a purposeful and focused approach. Both qualitative and quantitative data was gathered (Saunders et al. 2009).
6. Problems faced
There were many problems faced during conducting the research, both personal and group. The first issue faced by the team was lack of knowledge of the fish farm study. The team members apart from me were also inexperience of research process. They hadn't done any kind of research before as this was new to them. The other issue was the lack of critical analysis during research process. Perhaps, this problem occurred because we divided the work and assigned it to different group members working individually. Less research was done on every individual's part and there was lack of critical judgements on each other's work. This was because we wanted to avoid the conflicts and ruffles. There was no involvement of critical thinking which made our presentation look descriptive. The next significant problem faced by the team was inconsistent decision making. The process of decision making was unsystematic although we had only five members in a team. Interruptions was one of the major issues during decision making as group members tend to speak out their opinions in-between other's conversation. To overcome the problem, brainstorming technique was introduced to involve each and every member in effective decision making. I along with my other team members faced many difficulties while carrying out the research. Bad weather conditions, financial difficulties, poor time management, very less information on fish farms and unavailability of some important data are few of the research problems. I was responsible for quite of lot of report writing. It was good for me to get practice at writing, at proof reading, editing, etc. as it was a little time consuming. I did have a sense of achievement when a report was finished.
The main strengths that I personally had were my educational background in business management studies and a little experience in research studies. Hard work, utilizing my abilities to the maximum and good understanding of the topic was among the few qualities that helped me in achieving my personal goals. There was strong team coordination at the later stages of the project and communication and cooperation among team members increased by considerable margin. Helpful behaviour and effective decision making provided help in better team working and improvement of overall project. These strengths can be used to avoid threats, convert weaknesses into more strength and make good use of opportunities (Dyer and Dyer, 2007).
8. Learning experience
During the research I was able to apply many of the topics I have learned during my MBA studies. I also made my previous experience to its full use. The most important thing I learned during my project was how to work effectively in a team. Cooperation and coordination among team members increased considerably in the later stages of the business plan. This helped in improving our communication skills and polishing our other soft skills (Midura and Glover, 2005). We learned that everyone can do their own part to work towards a common goal and that there doesn't need to be just one distinct leader (Dyer and Dyer, 2007). Each person can have their own share in helping to lead the group. The most obvious thing that I discovered was the advantage of working as part of a group (Levin, 2004). I learned that good teamwork is the key to success in design activities when time and resources are limited. As everyone had their own point of view, many different ideas could be produced and I found the energy of group participation made me feel more energetic about contributing something (Gillie, 2010). My knowledge and experience of information technology has also improved. By using the latest version ‘2010' of Microsoft Office Files to prepare and document my work, I have learnt quite a few new advancements and updated my knowledge with latest file extensions. I used tele/video-conferencing for the first time in my life and found it very exciting and helpful. I observed a number of learning situations during my research. Having completed this project, I have learned how to better argue a point in discussion. Using facts and example, my arguments have become much better. The project taught me and my team members to be good team members, cooperative and helpful. I felt a change as my researching skills increased considerably. I can better understand the topic and use a variety of sources for search purposes which will help me a lot in future research process. I can create a conclusive argument that can set a tone of the entire project. Using latest techniques of researching and arguing, my paper will seem clearer and my arguments more apparent. I have also updated my accounting knowledge by working on new accounting principles. I was responsible for quite of lot of report writing. It was good for me to get practice at writing, at proof reading, editing, etc. I did have a sense of achievement when a report was finished. And finally my computer skills have also improved from writing reports and through having 24-hour access to the computer. These skills are not great, but in comparison to my own skills before working on this project they have progressed well.
9. Areas of Improvement
There are few areas that need to be taken into account. Time management was very poor during the research process. Every team member felt lazy while working on the assignment. They didn't keep record of the time. Time management needs to be improved in the future. Other weak area that has to be improved is analytical skills. Being from India where analytical skills are hardly taught in schools and colleges, proved difficult to analyse the project properly. The area of critics of team needs some perfection as well. Team members hardly criticised each other mainly because they didn't want to get into arguments with each other. Though discussed many a times this issue still needs to be considered. The presentation skills of the team were very weak that resulted in lower marks than expected. All the members presented parts of the report which seemed more descriptive. Experience gained from this project will definitely help to improve the above mentioned areas in the future.
There are few important points need to be considered here. It is important to conclude whether objectives have been achieved or not. There are few problems that I have faced during my project but I overcame most of them by utilizing my strengths and by the help and support of my team members. The outcome of the project was positive. I have learnt a lot doing this project. The situation in the start was difficult because of lack of knowledge in many areas but as a team member I have worked hard to learn many new things, update few and changed my views completely on some. There are many things I did well and many things I can do well in my future projects. The most important thing I have learnt from this project is how to work effectively and efficiently in a team. The most interesting thing that I have learnt is how to apply personal strengths to exploit many opportunities. Overall, I really enjoyed this project. I was glad that I was able to do my share of helping my team's effectiveness. I was able to apply my studies to a real life situation. I've learned so much about research that I have not experienced before. The change that I felt and the experiences I have gained will definitely benefit me in the future and can be applied in professional life.
Bryman, A. and Bell, E. (2007), Business Research Method (2nd Edition), Oxford University Press.
Saunders, M; Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A. (2009), Research methods for business students (5th Edition), Pearson Education.
Dyer, G. and Dyer, J. (2007), Team building: proven strategies for improving team performance (4th edition), John Wiley & Sons
Midura, D. and Glover, D. (2005), Essentials of team building: principles and practices, Human Kinetics
Sugars, J. (2005), Instant Team Building, McGraw-Hill Professional
Levin, P. (2004), Successful teamwork for undergraduates and taught postgraduates, McGraw-Hill International
Gillie, B. (2010), Reflective Practice: Writing and Professional Development (3rd edition), SAGE Publications
Whited, A. (2005), Arrive: A Reflective Journal, Lead + Learn Press