Everything has a beginning and an end, but it's what you achieve that will justify whether your deeds have been fulfilled. Marketplace6 is a business simulation game that required groups to sell computers by coordinating different business functions. My group comprised of six members from different diverse cultural and ethnic background (four Chinese, one Thai and one African). This array of diverse background was heighted in the difference of team-working, strategy and decision decisions. This is a reflective essay that seeks to elucidate my role within the game, highlighting my overall grades, performance from an operational, tactical and strategic level. There will also be comparison from my team members' contribution and their time spent playing the game.
Decision making is crucial to every business, this means having to face both risk and uncertainty, which needs to be strategically managed to enhance the smooth utilization of resources. The group and mine decision making processes will be explored with key concepts, theories and models and examine its strategic impact on the business. Example, some decisions were made through brainstorming, others comprised more strategic and careful consideration. Furthermore, this essay also reflects on team-working, roles, team effectiveness and cohesion. It will also consider the impact of how team-working impacted on business strategy. Theories and concepts is used to give a vivid account of how the team work impact playing this game. Furthermore, conclusions are drawn on how this learning process has helped me understand practical class-based concepts, techniques and theories which serve as a guide to my future, decision influence and team-working.
2. EVALUATION OF CONTRIBUTION
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The synergy of any group work is on how the correlation of individual performance can contribute to the overall purpose and aim of the intended objective. Firstly, I was unanimously voted for by the team to lead them, this required additional function which I was ready to take on. This section will evaluated my contribution which I have divided into cross industrial view point, from an operational, tactical and strategy contribution to the team.
2.0 AREAS OF CONTRIBUTION
I was specifically in charge of the manufacturing function; I opted to head the position of the manufacturing department because of my understanding of production and inventory management which I acquired from my major in strategic supply chain management. This position demanded numerous risk and uncertainty, especially in production, inventory management consumer preferences, waste and deflects.
FIG 1 INDUSTRIAL VIEW OF AN ORGANISATION
In the operational duties, my role was to factor in risk of under producing and over producing to meet market demand. I worked side by side with all functions specifically, human resource, marketing, accounting because their decisions would pre-determine how to organize daily activities. For instance, the human resource recruitment of sales force determined the quantity of the number of computers to produce; this form of process approach to managing the business demonstrated techniques like TQM, lean production and lean supply chain. My position as the leader also meant explaining vivid information of daily planning and strategies of manufacturing such as reducing waste and defects, optimum stock level and operating capacity.
The tactical role I played also focused on customer demands and preference, I worked with the marketing head in selecting components, pricing and advertising to target segment. I occasionally benchmarked operations with competitors to learn some strategies such as expanding into more segments and inventory management.
The first strategic decision I recall was the choice of aligning the business to a cost leadership strategy. According to Porter (1980), this strategy can earn high profits by charging before competitors because of low operational cost (Johnson et el, 1998). Notwithstanding, the strategy was to put the business in a situation to increase rapid market share. I was engaged in determining long-term growth, such as, factory location, increase in research and development expenditure, increase in factory capacity from 25-50. Some strategic make-buy decisions including, purchasing warranty and variance study.
2.1 TEAM CONTRIBUTION AND GRADES
My total time spent was 710.43, my cumulative balance score was 0.02. (Please see appendix 1). Three of my team mate had higher point than I; this was because it took me ample time to understand how the game worked. Even though, I occasionally printed instruction from profession help and quarterly performance, I sought more advice from friends in the initial stages of the game which has contributed to my low personal grades. I also spent much time verbally interpreting and justifying decision during meeting rather than self tutorial. My quarterly contribution was helpful as in charge of manufacturing and a leader of the group. Some roles I played included nominating and communicating the strategy to be used, encourage role-playing of an absent member and pre and post planning of meeting. According to the activity log, my contribution wasn't adequate in quarter 1-5 but increased in quarter 6-8, this is because password log-in was usually in team member's name not mine. However, this no excuse for my lack of practice and time spend on the game.There was several things I could have done differently in this game. Firstly, I should have done practiced to understand how consumer preference affects brand choice. Groups who had the test market right captured the segments and increased market share. But the choice to spend less on components parts resulted in brand unsatisfaction in some quarters. Secondly, some forecast were poorly done, that resulted in unwanted inventory and cost, such decision required innovative decisions but was treated as a return decision in most cases. I could have calculated projected demand properly to trace sale trend in each segment before production. I invested less on R&D until the lecturer advised of its importance to brand quality. I strength think my team members appreciated my total contribution. I was present at every meeting, even though I was seldom late for some; I encourage members to foster a participative communication system of discussion to solicit all views. Example, quarterly investments were decided collective decisions. by all members. In the group assignment, I dedicated myself to final editing and collating; it resulted in a 64% mark. I also role played for a team member who was stuck in China because of the volcano in Ireland. Due to the process approach practiced from quarter 1-5 before the Easter break, quarter 6-8 decisions were done effective without a marketing head.
Always on Time
Marked to Standard
Decision making is defined as 'choosing between alternatives', which reflects the idea that if there is only one alternative to choose from, there is no decision to make (Rollinson 2008, chap. 9, P. 249). Two main issues cropped up in group decision making; the first one involves aggregating individual judgment in the group into a single representative judgment for the entire group and secondly, how to build a group choice from individual choice whiles balancing and representing the overall strategy of the business (Saaty 2008).
3.0 Decision-making conditions
Selecting an appropriate decision is a countenance for risk, certainty and uncertainty. Some decisions were made under these three models which (William et el 1990) described as decision environment
Decision-making under Uncertainty- Determining demand capacity for various quarters were done under uncertainty. Indeed outcomes of some decisions made losses in some segments. Example, over producing in a saturated competitive segment and test marketing in quarter two.
Decision under certainty - The group adjusted replenish and target point of inventory from 100-200 in seasonal quarters and vice verse. This is because of probabilities in making gain in peak seasons and low in low seasons. I was cock sure of profits in high demand seasons.
Decisions under risk- In this situation, payoff are not guaranteed and probability is usually based on previous outcome (Huczynski et el 2007). Example was opening a new sale office in Europe in quarter 6 when most competitors had already saturated the market.
3.1 Ethical decision-making Model
According to Trivino, (1986) individual reacts to an ethical dilemma with cognitions determined by his or her cognitive moral development stage. The moral development stage determines how an individual thinks about ethical dilemmas, in deciding what is right or wrong in a given situation. However, cognitions of right and wrong are not enough to explain or predict ethical decision-making behaviour. Situational variables arising from job context and the broader culture also moderate behaviour. Some of mine approach to decision portrayed my philosophy and way of life, as a conservative individual; I opposed some spending habits, and agreed more in investing after each quarter. I twice opposed an over budgeted advertisement and long-term long
3.2 Game theory- It relates to how firms and individuals interact rather than act (Jenkins and Ambrosini 2002, P. 91). This theory can be used to analyze some decisions involving the overall cooperate strategy. The choice of target market (traveller and cost cutter), prove to be a competitive and everything from prices, brand, sales was consistently monitored. Pricing decisions were made to peg that of our competitors like GreenCom and PC Global. Competitors were checked for features, quality, cost and innovation. As a cost leader strategy, imploring the use of mistrustful or exploitative alternatives to give the best outcomes help you to compete. Example Ryan Air, operations is characterized by fierce competition from Easy jet and change in strategy from one ripple to the other. The coopetition mind-set in game theory also provided a win-win and win-lose strategies when GreenCom sold R& D certificate for high speed internet (Brandenburger, and Nalebuff, 1995)
3.3 Strategic decision model- Although researchers like Mitzberg have argued about the instructed and messy decision making process, strategic decision making is still recognized as a technique that covers three major phase with sub-routines and sub-phases (Schwenk 1995).
Decision Recognition Routine : Opportunities, problems, crises
Diagnosis Routine: information relevant to opportunities, problems and cries
THE DEVELOPMENT PHASE
3.The search routine: number of activities are used to generate solutions and problems
4.The design routine: ready solution are identified and modified to fit problem and solution
Screen Routine: more alternative are sorted and scanned quickly
Evaluation-choice routine: alternative chosen by process or judgment
Authorization Routine- using appropriate authority to implement decision
FIG 2 Adapted from Journal of Management, Strategic Decision Making (1995) by Charles Schwenk
In the identification phase, deciding on the quantity of computers to produce each quarter became a routine practice for the group because, the number of unsold units and targeted a limited production for available quarter. If there were problems, views of my team members were solicited for solution through innovative choices such increasing and motivating sales force. The development phase search for solutions from marketing, by consider target market preference on component, price, brand design and advertising medium. This will indicate why the brand refused to sell in the target market. The selection phase, defined modifying the production to product less to test a new brand. The span of authority rested with me as the manufacturing head.
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This technique implores the use of quantity and quality idea generation to achieve desired outcomes. Brainstorming reduces dependence on a single authority figure, stimulates ideas, encourages open sharing of ideas and enhances the participation of group members (Furnham 2000). It was utilized for naming the company name; D-Tek, brand names (Zelus, Themis and Aurora) and advertising slogans. Although, it was time consuming ideas generated enhanced how decision were taken, with maximum cooperation and creativity. Social loafing occurred in situations because some group goals were set by consensus, the degree to which group members perceive loafing impacted negatively on some decisions (Mulvey and Klein 1998). Example, when in quarter 1, the group fail to wrap up. Some ideas were solicited virtually from team members and brainstorming tasks had less interruptions and greater equality in participation among members (D'Souza and Colarelli 2010).
3.5 IMPACT ON BUSINESS STRATEGY
The effect of decisions resulted in some positive and negative outcomes. Lower operating cost and production cost was the strategy initiated by the business. However, using the game theory the group neglected competitors in the quarter 2 -5. Pricing decisions in cost cutter segment was priced lower than customer's price demand and competitors. This backfired due to lack of awareness for competition. Pricing is sensitive to consumers and the game theory approach to strategy is difficult to implement because of constant competitor monitoring. However, there was an achievement in benchmarking using this game theory; some competitors' success in the game helped the group benchmark brands, components choices and Research expenditure. Brainstorming served as a quicker outcome of vital decisions making processes. It also encouraged a process approach to team decisions and total quality management. TQM technique was practically evident when marketing department wanted brands names for modifying new brands, through brainstorming of ideas each member of department contributed effectively. Brainstorming also reduced the risk of blaming team members for company losses, and participation from some coy member helped the company to acquire its advertising slogans.
A team is defined as a psychological group whose members share a common goal (Buchanan 2007, pp. 378). The group was made up of six members who made decisions, plans, organizing and coordinating the business survival. However, teams are strongly task-oriented and have specific function to perform. The business simulation game demonstrated how the group became a team through team development, task, norms and roles.
The first stage of the game required deciding on team norms, this was straightforward for the group due to our common interest on all norms. (Please see appendix 2) for company norms. However, some decisions were made by consensus even though voting was initially agreed. Sometimes, members came unprepared for meetings; this prolonged meeting agenda, although the norms say otherwise. Practically, as the game proceeded, many of these norms were compromised because of the following reasons.
Time - the amount of disagreement to agree decisions required more time with less work done. Therefore, some norms were discarded unconsciously. Example this norm which says, 'If a topic is going beyond the allotted time, the team must decide to either table it for later or reconsider the agenda' never materialized.
Risk- this condition of alternatives were more and therefore different approaches were used rather than formalities. Moreover, the ability to avoid mistakes and outcomes were uncertain made norms difficult to adhere. During test marketing of the computers, the risk of stock out would have had a high implication on reputation; therefore, cost of overproduction was agreed by the group.
3.2 GROUP TASK
The game required various task to be performed by the group, some were routine and others were done in the initial state. Some of the tasks include the following:
Distribution of Work- Some responsibilities such as meeting planning, department structure and were shared task amongst members. A social networking alert site was set for liaising information and responsibilities to members. Meeting reminders such as SMS alert, phone calls were shared among members.
Acceptance of Additional Work- this happened when a team member were absent from usual meeting, a member's role was to ensure wrap up was always done and thoroughly check from errors. Virtual distributed work helped members participate via the Internet, guided by common purposes, roles and norms which hasten some decisions (Guido et el , 2005).
3.3 TEAM EFFECTIVENESS
According to Cohen and Baily, (2007) team effectiveness measures both the inward and outward criteria such as: performance effectiveness (productivity, efficiency), attitudinal outcomes (satisfaction, commitment and trust in management); and behavioural outcomes that included absenteeism, turnover or safety.
Performance Effectiveness - the team had high productivity spent on making decision and contribution, especially during meeting times. Cooperation in addition task was done without reproach by members. Furthermore, role playing ensured members were well informed about any decisions made in absence.
Attitudinal Outcomes- the process approach first adopted ensured relevant commitment of member in the leadership. Tasks were distributed fairly, not imposed and a contribution from each member was recognized as a puzzle to winning the game. Some team members lack of expression of English didn't coy them from contributing because of levelling acceptance of diverse views. 'Knowledge doesn't abound in one head', as the old saying goes, this adage propelled the team very often.
Behavioural Outcome- Generally absenteeism was low. Pre planning was done before meetings which included booking carrels, reminders and post planning. Although there were some late, absent and sick excuses, overall turnover was high. Some Behaviors improve group performance, such as weighting individual inputs according to knowledge and skill. Boundary management, the handling of relationships with other groups or individuals who provide inputs or absorb outputs from the group, is another task function is prove to be effective (Gladstein 1984). Motivation of team members was rewarded by 'swag pile' of confectionaries, this heighted moral and boosted quicker decision process.
IMPACT ON BUSINESS STRATEGY
According to Rollinson (2008) team working is essential success in fast business climate. Establishing norms in the beginning encouraged commitment to meetings and agenda for tasks distribution. Team-working eliminated silo between the members, fostered communication and participation. Members who had difficulties in their roles were helped through interpretation of functions, activities, outcomes, risk. Example, the number of sales force, quarterly customer demand and forecast became a collaborative discussion.
The accounting department prove to be a challenge because members repelled that position initially. However, through teamwork members agreed to help the nominee monitor purchases, transactions, investment and sales. Indeed, it encouraged careful spending and judicious use of resources as a result. Example, I notified the attention of the accountant in quarter 3, when an over expenditure of $100,000 was realised in advertising campaign, an emergency meeting was held to address the situation.
There were many techniques, theories and concepts, I leant from this game which has practically equipped me to understand business strategy, innovation, teamwork, decision making, strategic management, leadership and effective communication. This section draws an approach to relevant skills gained from the game.
This is defined as the adoption of an idea, it could be a system, policy, program, device, process that is new to the indivdiaul. It can happens through both internal and external environmental chages, and contritubutes to performance. I have learnt to create brands, forecast, price, through innovative teamwork. Internal and external benchmarking, a term commonly used in class taught the group how to appreciate competitiors, learn from mistakes and turn ideas into inniovations. Example, creating a social neteork communication was an idea of another group but was replicated due to its effectiveness, reliability of updating team members.
The success of an organization must involve the environment, the business and individuals performance. Real life strategy formulation and performance measurement such as sales growth, market share, financial and investments I enable me under some concepts like Ansoff's matrix, BSG, target marketing. Example, the Ansoff's model showed me how R&D investment in products in an exeisting market respond to high sale and limits the risk of new product failure, the group decisions considered long-term development over diverfication which is expensive.(Witcher and Chau 2010). Futhermore, rushing to design new brand were some mistakes the group encounted because the target segment preferences were not met. In the future I will ensure to use market research before design new products, also using acknowledging the product life cycle in developing new products.
Total Quality Management
TQM encourages produce value, through a variety of benefits: improved understanding of customers' needs; improved customer satisfaction; improved internal communication; better problem-solving; greater employee commitment and motivation; stronger relationships with suppliers; fewer errors; and reduced waste. (Powell 1995) Furthermore, this game highlighted the importance of this technique and has taught me to utilize this it in my future business or in a managerial position to foster performance.
In a nutshell, this practical simulation game is was worth the effort due to how communication and relationship was fostered with members.