The team I am working in has chosen to collaborate with Aflex Hose Ltd company for our Enterprise Project module that aims to discover, assess and analyze the chosen company's organisational culture. There was the number of the factors that influenced my own decision to work with this particular external partner:
Aflex Hose Ltd company was established more than 30 years ago as has proved its place as a primary innovator and manufacturer of PTFE hoses in the industry. Therefore the company's position in the UK's market as well as in the world's market is stable. As discussed and researched in various scientific works the stability and continuous success (Aflex Hose Ltd has just announced further site expansion and all the employees' wages raise) should derive from the balanced organisational culture (Drucker) that makes it particularly interesting to look into company's inner content, its staff, network and culture.
Furthermore having some private contacts with three company's employees all working in different departments I have received an informal feedback and complaints on the overall company's structure, human resource management and especially the lack of the corporate events and good communication between all the employees. These finding deepened my personal interest in finding a proof or refutation of the notion I described above.
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Being mainly concentrated on different issues and managerial specifications in the Cultural industry though the University studies, it makes the Enterprise project particularly stimulative and innovative because I am going to apply my knowledge and skills to a completely different environment- manufacturing industry where new managerial techniques may apply because of the more commercial and tangible context of the company's product.
It is worth of highlighting that after studying Aflex Hose Ltd. goals and mission's statement it was made clear that the company's general aims match the aims of our Project by applying entrepreneurial skills to a new context and simultaneously bringing innovation to company's work environment; on one hand by exploring and using an analytical and organisational culture's evaluative approach of 'Competing Values Framework' that is totally new to me, and on another hand helping the company to maintain healthy organisational culture by proposing and possibly bringing some necessary changes to its inner culture that should bring qualitative changes to its working environment resulting in high employees motivation and will to support company's mission; throughout this Project I will highly positively contribute to my own entrepreneurial skills and knowledge by gradually examining different entrepreneurial perspectives and ways of cumulating relevant knowledge and experience as well as applying skills developed prior to Project.
The key dates for our Project are as follows (Project Proposal, 2010, p. 2):
4/10- 25/10 - Initial Stage. Collection of all available information about Aflex Hose Ltd ( company's official web-site, Search Engine, well-known employees);
12/11 - Meeting with Aflex Hose Ltd. General Manager.
18/11-18/12 - Literature Review and Methodology Understanding of the Competing Values Framework tool for Organisational culture's research, questionnaires modification.
18/12/2010- 31/01/2011 - Questionnaires distribution& Collection.
01/02- 28/02 - Analysis of the results and drafting the report.
01/03-23/03/2011- Presenting the report on the Organisational Culture of Aflex Hose Ltd. to general managers, making a list of the proposed activities and getting feedback from the company's management.
Our team consists of only two people: myself and Maria Kolovou. It emerged far earlier before the Project started in September 2010, firstly as the friendship and only then as the team that proved its stability and efficiency in a number of the projects both at the University and externally. It is highly important for the successful team work that all the members know each other very well: everybody's strengths and weaknesses and especially understand the role and the task of another team player as well as the overarching aim of the work. The team is the single whole. (Drucker) Based on the mutual trust the responsibility is equally divided between the two of us and therefore making us feel less stressed and resulting in a more productive collaboration.
My own role in this Project was neatly discussed together with Maria in order to contribute as much as possible to our own priorities. Entrepreneurial activity is embedded by continuous learning, the continuity and indissolubility between entrepreneurship and learning studied by Jason Cope showed various stages in this process. My prior to start learning can be mainly characterised by the studies I undertook in my University years on the Managing Performance programme especially knowledge gained from the Cultural Entrepreneurship module where I already tried to apply my attainments to particular context and discussed the Managerial issues related to that subject as well as analyzed the outcomes through gaining feedback from my tutors. Drawing attention to the experience I got from part-time work in my School and University years the highly valuable skills I gained were ones from Administrator's work in a busy Beauty salon in Latvia where I particularly learned how to effectively manage my time as well as to solve the conflicts among the employees. Turning to University studies the Collaborative Process modules were the great foundation for the issues connected with team work where the outcomes proved that 'trust, respect, and shared experience impact on the quality of the learning experience' (Cope, 389) of the whole team and each single individual. The personal empirical discovery for me was the value of the conflict and its possible positive contribution to the group's work when the 'emotional relationship conflicts [ is] stimulating higher-level forms of entrepreneurial learning'. My current job of an Interpreter is the perpetual entrepreneurial work each single day that can be described as the cycle of Time-Management, continuous learning that 'builds upon what was learned in an earlier period' (Cope 378) and variety of Ethical issues connected with the sensitive information I have to work with. All the described formed my personal set of psychological attributes that should complement or reinforce the ones that another team-player has in order to succeed in future collaborative projects.
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As the Enterprise Project started the new stage of learning was entered: learning during the Process. My own and Maria's 'prior learning [was][...] a definitive factor in shaping the entrepreneurial 'learning task' once the [Project was set]' (Cope, 379). In the dynamic learning perspective the main task for both of us is the adaptability to the external circumstances that may change, for example, delays in important meeting with company's managers, the deadlines prolongation due to non-completion of the task for the phases start. Looking in the predominant contextual learning modes proposed by Gibb (Cope, p.387), I can distinguish ' that of learning by problem solving and opportunity taking' as the core for the Project we have chosen, because the main overarching purpose of our Project is to make a list of the activities for organisational culture's amelioration in Aflex Hose Ltd. as well as single problem-solving during the Project. 'Learning from making the mistakes' mode' is also relevant to the Project but on much more later stages when the overall performance feedback will take place and we will be able to evaluate our own activity in the company.
Consulting the Project Proposal Form (Project Proposal, 2010, p.1) I have taken the roles that will definitely consolidate the skills necessary for me as the future Manager:
All modes of communication with the external partner;
Questionnaires distribution, collection and analysis;
Report writing on findings and making a list of the proposed activities;
Even Socrates emphasized the significance of the use of the professional language that is based on the gained learning experience and the apprehension that the language used has to be clear to interlocutor or recipient otherwise the communication fails. (Drucker, 429). Therefore I have to make sure I studied and can fluently use the terms that Aflex Hose Ltd managers use in order to 'speak their language' that is not only important in terms of keeping the sense of the talk but also establishing good personal contact that are based on the psychological guidelines that affect all stimulas and external impressions. (Drucker, 430).
It was agreed in our team to use the study of the Competing Values Framework proposed by Cameron and Quinn (1999) for our Aflex Hose Ltd. employees' survey to research the organisational culture. I primarily relied on Maria's experience of using this tool in past and having achieved good results. It significantly facilitated the methodological part of the Project and saved time for its implementation, because Maria will transmit her experience of using and assessing the survey forms to me and we also stay aware of any constraints that might be faced during this stage's implementation since Maria has refined the content basing on her previous usage of this research.
Services in diagnostics of corporate culture are offered by a huge number of companies in world's market, however the study is frequently based on arbitrary questionnaires which have been not adhered to a certain typology. As a result of that research the customer receives a set of comments and recommendations instead of a diagnosis with a certain type of organizational culture found with its numerical parameters.
The typology of Cameron and Quinn is based on Competing Values Framework that has been taken as a ground for researches of organizational cultures in thousand organisations over the last ten years. Except a completely new technology, authors have offered an open standard questionnaire (OCAI, Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument) that can be used as a tool for diagnostics of both a current and a preferred (future) condition of the company's culture. (Oseyko, 2009).
The criteria of the success of fail of our Project in Aflex Hose Ltd. is the positive or negative feedback from the company's management on our overall performance that should be proved in written form (as agreed in Letter of Agreement). The notable success can be reached if the company accepts one or all of the proposed activities for culture's amelioration and we will be able to re-apply the already gained knowledge from this case. 'Learning is a process involving repetition and experimentation that increases the entrepreneur's confidence [...] and improves the content of his stock knowledge' (Cope, p 384).
I have identified the major personal outcomes for me as an entrepreneur in this particular Project as follows:
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Personal development by leading the roles I have chosen. I have never participated in similar Projects and for me almost all the entrepreneurial learning will be 'the affective mode of learning' [...] or 'by direct experience' (Cope, 381). My performance is not assured from the errors but it is valuable 'higher-level' entrepreneurial learning that can result in revaluation and further transformation (Cope, 383) of strategic thinking before starting future career.
Study the project team and its organisation (Enterprise Module, p.9).
Explore the relationship management with the external partner. The context of Aflex Hose Ltd. is very complex and dynamic due to the company working on global market (USA, Europe, Asia (Aflex Hose Ltd. 2005)) and the employees in higher departmental positions tend to think globally as well. Therefore I can predict some possible limitations and 'critical learning events' due to managers' and supervisors' high work pressure and unavailability to fill in their own and their subordinates' questionnaires that are crucial for accurate survey results. In that case I will have to create very 'sensitive and ethically right' strategy of communication with them when stressing the importance of the Research in whole. In such critical events it is needed to get lost and find the right action collaboratively, but these 'critical experiences have the capacity to create 'reflection-for-action' that is a key tool for successful manager.