Learnings from EMBA Series 3 Classes

I attended Session 3 of Executive MBA classes last Friday and Saturday. This week we had one Organisational Behaviour and two Managerial Accounting Sessions. I wrote down what I learned and what happened from my own perspective.

The Assignments

During this week, we submitted our first individual assignment in Business Analytics and also a team assignment in Managerial Accounting.

The individual assignment in Business Analytics focused on statistics. The case data in question contained customer satisfaction data at a call center of an insurance company. The questions we answered included describing the data using the standard statistical summary (mean, mode, standard deviation etc.) and explaining what they meant, looking for interesting things in the data. We also took a look at the data to see if the data conformed to normal distribution and calculated confidence intervals for a given data type.

We used the data to try out Hypothesis test to decide which whether two check similarity between two variables. Finally, using single and multi-variable regression models we checked which questions that call centers ask have an effect on the ratings of the customers.

I used R to do most of the calculations, but the rest of my team preferred Excel.

For the team assignment, we divided the tasks up into accounting, review, and submission. As a team we felt it went pretty okay with a rating of 3 (on 1-5). After the sessions we reviewed what went good and what we can improve for the next time. The lack of proper-planning caused the extra 2 points, it seems. For the next time we unanimously agreed that we will proactively work on assignment to reduce last-minute crunch.

Organisational Behaviour

We discussed “Motivation and Persuasion” during the session. First some of my EMBA colleagues presented about “Givers and Takers”. We all answered some survey to get an idea of what percentage of “giver/taker/matcher” personality we have in each of us. I got 53% Giver, 40% Matcher and 7% Taker.

The discussion/articles we read propose that organisations work most effectively when most of the employees behave generously toward their colleagues. But at the same time people need to manage their genrosity by watching out on not becoming too timid to ask for help, carve out specific times to help others and have right amount of empathy to not to give away to emotional appeals.

Later the session turned towards motivation and Persuasion. First we watched a video of Sir Alex Ferguson, a repetitive theme during OB sessions. He had the motivation type nick-named “hair dryer motivation” – which means yelling at a close distance. In the discussion followed, the class had different ideas, some of them disliking the style, most of them agreeing with the type, in the context of sports/football. We also looked at Al Pacino’s speech from the movie
“Any Given Sunday” and Google Ireland’s recruitment video.

Key Takeaways:
– Money, often touted as “hygiene factor” in motivation, can work as a motivator in some cultural contexts.
– ‘Up or out’ strategy in the companies will cause more problems to the employees.
– Every company has “Finders” – people who find work, “Minders”- who manage the work(ers), “Grinders” – who do the work.

Managerial Accounting

We had 2 sessions of Managerial Accounting with Prof. Murray. We discussed 4 cases in total during the sessions with topics: Direct and Sunk costs, Contribution, Cash flow and profitability, and strategic decision making. The cases and discussions in the class ranged from Cycles to Cigars to Cars! One of the most important discussions in the class explored how to get out of the “middle”. When can company doesn’t have cost structure to compete with low cost competition and at the same time doesn’t have the same brand equity to compete with high-value competitors, the company gets stuck in “the middle”.

The professor also explained the Porter’s five force analysis – a framework for analysing the competition. These forces,listed below, determine the profitability of an industry.
– Threat of new entrants
– Threat of substitutes
– Bargaining power of suppliers
– Bargaining power of buyers
– Industry rivalry

Key takeaways:
– Formulate assumptions, but keep validating them by considering the context & behaviours.
– Managers focused only on accounting numbers will make bad decisions.
– Examine *all* possible alternatives.
– Don’t make a decision about the future based on bad decision in the past.

I kept fighting through the accounting concepts, but this week I started with another book Accounting for Non-Accountanting Students that started to help me a bit more. I also had one-on-one with Prof. Murray, who explained most of these concepts applied to software business lingo, which helped me a lot!

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