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Presentations 12/10

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Today was our last day of presentations and I think today's presenters ended on a good note. In one of the earlier presentation days, a classmate presented on the Minnesota Twins and said he believed they were a very effective organization and he did not really have any recommendations for them. It was very interesting to hear a completely different perspective by Andrew today in the first presentation about the Twins. Andrew raised good points about the Twins' comparatively low revenue, low team value (solely in terms of money), and their lack of a World Series appearance since 1991. When considering these factors the Twins don't appear to be as effective of an organization as originally presented. I think the move to Target Field will help the Twins greatly with the first two points Andrew mentioned. Although I focused on Andrew's presentation, the rest of today's presentations were good too. I found it especially interesting that the leadership in the Chicago Blackhawks organization was able to raise season ticket sales from about 3,000 to 14,000 in a year! One thing I also learned today was that the YMCA was an international organization; I am not sure why, but I had just never thought of that as a possibility.

Presentations 12/3

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I really liked the variety in today's presentations. It was nice to see professional teams, local teams, national governing bodies, youth programs, a corporate fitness chain, and an association. The presentation quality was fairly good today; everyone seemed well-versed in their respective organization. One fact I found intriguing was from the presentation on the U.S. Olympic Committee; they have had six different CEOs in a very short period of time. For such a large and important organization, you would think their CEO would be around for a long time. It is surprising the turnover rate is so high and it seems to suggest there are deeper problems within the organization that need to be addressed. I was also fascinated that the First Tee organization Chris presented on relies on over 3,000 volunteers. I imagine that there must be very strong leaders in the organization to recruit and retain so many volunteers, year after year.

Presentations 12/1

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Today's presentations were overall pretty good. Some of the presentations ran long and the PowerPoint presentations were heavily loaded with text. Beyond that small complaint, I think they all presented good information about their respective organizations. The Steelers presentation brought up a very interesting point that they are choosing not to utilize social media. I have spent most of the semester in my public relations class discussing the role of social media in society. It is a very useful public relations tool for organizations to utilize, for free! I think Nathan was right in suggesting that as an opportunity for the Steelers to enhance their public image and widen their fan base even more. I think Alyssa and Emily also offered great recommendations for their organizations. The Lunkers have the opportunity to increase ticket sales by targeting tourists and Under Armour has the opportunity to increase their market share by increasing the amount of advertising for their women's clothing. These recommendations are both realistic and appropriate suggestions to improve the organizations.

Last week during the organizational analysis presentations, one of the presentations sparked my interest; the presentation was about the Minnesota Twins. The student who was presenting said he didn't really have any recommendations for change for the Minnesota Twins organization. While I agree that the Twins have a very legitimate and reputable organization, I don't think they are perfect. As brought up by Dr. Kihl after the presentation was finished, the Twins are currently working to diversify the organization.

According to their website, "the Minnesota Twins have made great strides this year in ensuring the diversity of Twins baseball in our community. Throughout the 2009 baseball season, the Twins have participated in many events and programs to promote diversity on the field, in the stands, in the front office and in our community." Some of the events and programs the Twins have participated in include the Asian Media Access Annual Gala, the Cinco de Mayo Fiesta, Native American Heritage Day, Celebrate our Diversity Day, the 13th Annual Hispanic Marketing Midwest Conference, the "Home Runs for Hope" event, a formal meeting with the Minnesota Black Chamber of Commerce, placing three teams representing the Native American Indian communities in the Reviving Baseball Inner Cities (RBI) program, and holding the Twins Summer Reading Program at the Academia César Chávez Charter School.

I believe diversification is something the Twins need to continue to work toward, especially in the front office and in the community. Whether intentional or not, I think the players themselves are fairly diverse. We have players from many different backgrounds and upbringings - all just as talented as the next guy. Moving on to the fans in the stands, I think the Twins could do a little better in this area. There are fans from all different backgrounds, but the very dominant group of people is middle class, white folks. This is not representative of the surrounding Minneapolis and St. Paul communities. To address this problem, I think the Twins organization could do some research as to what is preventing other groups of people from attending games. If they can understand what is preventing them from coming, they can find better ways to overcome those obstacles. Beyond the community of fans are communities of potential partners and vendors. From what I learned talking to Dr. Kihl, the Twins are working to get more food vendors from within the surrounding communities; vendors with food that will meet the demands of fans from all different backgrounds. Also, I believe the Twins are trying to diversify their front office; I'm not sure how they are going about it, but I would guess it begins with hiring practices.

According to their website, "The Twins are committed to providing equal opportunity for all cultures, including -- but not limited to -- areas of employment, vendor utilization, philanthropic giving and community relations. This commitment will allow us to grow as an organization in a manner consistent with the values and traditions of our community." This type of change is exactly what we talked about during Chapter 12: Organizational Change. Although I have no insider expert opinion, I would venture to guess there are employees trying to lead the charge for diversity. I would also guess they are facing some conflict as a result of trying to make this change.

 

Who do you think is leading the organization toward this change?
What kind of conflict do you think has already come up or will come up in the future?
How do you think this change will affect the culture of the organization?

Presentations 11/24

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Today we had four new sport organization presentations; they were on the Minnesota Gopher Men's Hockey Team, Nike Incorporated, Adidas Group and the Minnesota State High School League. The presentation I enjoyed the most was Kristin Dockery's on Nike Incorporated and their connection to the Jordan Brand.

Kristin reported that Nike's mission statement is "to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. If you have a body, you are an athlete."  I had never heard or read Nike's mission statement before, but when I heard it today, I felt like it fit right in with how Nike runs their organization. Their main slogan is "Just Do It." This slogan implies that it doesn't matter what excuses you could make, you just need to get out there and do it. When Kristin made that point, I was reminded of Matt Scott's Nike Commercial (Can be viewed http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=obdd31Q9PqA). One other thing Kristin pointed out was the creation of the Jordan Brand and how it allowed Nike to capture a new market. This new brand exemplified Nike's innovation for every type of athlete.

Overall, I think she did a great job presenting information that is relevant to Nike's effectiveness, and she presented it in a well organized manner.

                Through everything we have studied in this course, I have gained a solid foundation of the different components that make up and organization and ultimately determine if the organization is effective. These components include an organization's goals, structure, environment, power distribution, conflict, change strategies, decision making strategies, culture, leadership, and their approach to politics within. As I referenced in my original effectiveness blog entry, Slack and Parent point out that, "Effectiveness is...paradoxical in nature. As such, one of the best ways to summarize the various approaches that have been presented may be to suggest that each is useful under different circumstances" (Slack & Parent, pg 55). I still hold strong to the fact that there are so many variables that factor in to organizational effectiveness, and there are innumerable combinations of those variables that can result in successful organizations. It is difficult to pinpoint one formula for success.

                Based on what I have learned this semester, I still think the strategic constituencies approach described in the textbook is the best approach to evaluate effectiveness. "The extent to which the [organization] is able to satisfy the criteria used by each group to evaluate it will determine its effectiveness" (Slack & Parent, pg 47). Constituency groups, or stakeholders, can include owners, employees, players, fans, the community, media, leagues, and sponsors. These stakeholders are the individuals and businesses that invest time, talent and money in the organization.

                In my original discussion of effectiveness, I left it up to leaders within the organization to determine what constituents were most important and deserved to have their goals met first and foremost. I think I may have assumed these leaders needed to be employees or owners within the organization, but now I believe they can come from any group of stakeholders. Any stakeholder group can have a heavy influence on the different components of an organization and can therefore determine effectiveness. For example, the owner of an organization may put an emphasis on achieving the goal of making a profit. This would cause the organization to strive toward achieving that goal and whether they did or not would determine their effectiveness. The fans of a sports team may emphasize creating a culture of superstition and tradition. The organization may then focus on creating that culture through all the little things that they do, and their effectiveness will be based upon their success in creating that type of culture.

                As I mentioned, I began by thinking only paid employees of the organization could determine structure, goals, conflict and other components of an organization. I think that is the easiest and most well traveled route, but demands from other stakeholders like fans, media and sponsors can influence those factors; it is usually just a little more difficult.

                In summary, my basic philosophy on organizational effectiveness hasn't gone through any radical change throughout the semester, but I have gained insight into all of the different elements that play into effectiveness and who has the power to affect those elements. All stakeholders to an organization have some power in determining how the organization is run, and therefore determine if the organization is effective. Stakeholders are the ones that invest time, talent and money into the organization. If they approve of how the organization is being run and what they are accomplishing, they will continue to support the organization and the cycle of approval and support will continue.

Questions for the class:
1. Can you think of a specific instance when the media directly affected the way an organization operated?
2. Which do you think has more influence on the culture of an organization: the internal environment (owners, employees) or the external environment (fans, media, sponsors)? Why?

Nov 19 - Presentations

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Today we had five presentations about different sport organizations: USA Gymnastics, Gopher Men's Basketball, the Minnesota Timberwolves, USA Track & Field, and the Minnesota Twins. All of the presentations were informative and well prepared. The two that I would like to comment on are Gopher Basketball and the Minnesota Twins.
I'm sure many others agree, Andre's presentation was very well put together. His experience in the organization helped to give him insight into the inner-workings of the organization and really enhanced his presentation. I was pleasantly surprised to learn the motto of the team is "God, family, academics, basketball." I think that motto sums up what the Gopher Men's Basketball organization is all about. I think this is something we would have missed out on if we didn't have an insider reporting on the organization.
The Minnesota Twins presentation was interesting to me because I considered using the organization for my project. I thought the presentation was overall well done, but it was missing one major recommendation for change that is already being implemented. Dr. Kihl brought it up and I read about it online a few weeks ago. Though the Twins organization operates pretty smoothly, the organization lacks diversity. They are currently working on creating a more diverse team of employees and interns while reaching out to different minority communities in the Twin Cities area. This is a major change for the Twins organization.

Decision Making

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1.      Decision making issues included the recall on the drink, lack of structure in chaos control situations or no procedure, and too much participation from too many members of the organization in making the decision.

2.      The conditions in which this decision was made were high pressure and priority and were time constrained do to the urgency and risk involved.

3.      Using the Carnegie model we addressed this as a high uncertainty issue also with high risk and a high possibility of failure. Therefore, in order to take a conservative approach while also being responsible to our company we decided a coalition formation of upper management along with a crisis control team was necessary. The crisis control team would research as much information about the issue at hand and form possible solutions as to why this problem is occurring. From there upper management would make the decision that best suits the situation both from a socially responsible standpoint and keeping the best interest of the company in mind.

MLB substance policies

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Objective:

To rid MLB of performance enhancing substances while educating current and future players about the effects these drugs have.

 

Current Culture: 

·      The current MLB culture seems to be if you are going to use these substances, do not get caught.  The MLB culture should be we will not allow these substances to be used at all.

·      Current culture has little reason to change.  Until enough fans revolt and stop going to games and watching them on TV it will be difficult to get MLB to make major changes in their current culture.  If this revolt happens change will happen swiftly because profits will be affected.

 

Unfreeze:

·      Stricter clubhouse rule similar to ones in place within the NBA

·      Adopting an independent drug control policy like the World Anti Doping Agency's, that includes more strict tests and more random testing, also increased random testing

·      Allow players to come forward with drugs they plan to take within a season and ask questions about what is acceptable and what is not, similar to a policy in place in place in the NFL, allowing for more open communication

·      Hold mangers and owner responsible for failed players, with substantial fines, this could have the effect of regular users not be able to sign with a team because owner and managers would not be willing to accept the risk of having that player, very effective scare tactic to prevent use

·      Encourage player, managers, owners and MLB to speak out against players that have tested positive

 

Change:

·      Using motivational style speakers to talk with players on an annual basis about the effects the even minimal substance abuse can have, include in this group former players that have used

·      Create a voted in committee within MLB made of multiple stakeholder groups that will continually evaluate drug policies and create formalized procedure to handle situations, this committee must be kept independent from the commissioners office or MLBPA to ensure more impartiality

·      Create a recognizable, anti-substance logo for the committee that could be a symbol for change within the MLB culture

·      Include language in contracts that will allow players and players managers to lose a percentage of there salary for the rest of their contract if they do test positive, a percentage would be more effective then a set amount because players salary ranges are extremely large and this would take a more equitable amount from each offender

·      Require players in the off-season to make appearances at schools or with youth groups to encourage non drug use, hopefully by talking about it the message will resonate with players more effectively

 

Refreeze:

·      Make rules permanent with committee review to modify slightly

·      Make rules that effect all levels of an organization, players, managers and owners this will lead to self policing of drug abuse situations

·      Offer rewards to players and managers for providing proof of other players substance abuse

·      More open communication about what is acceptable and allowing players to ask more questions about what is acceptable


Andre Phillips
David Dahlstrom
Rebecca Picha
Ryan Hooser

                Though I'm not sure if Slack and Parent's book ever gives a specific definition, culture is comprised of the values, beliefs, stories, symbols, rituals, basic assumptions, and shared understandings that are unique to an organization. All sport organizations have a distinct culture, some more evident than others. While reading the chapter, I found it very difficult to think about the culture of sport organizations I am not a part of. I think it is very hard to evaluate or pin point an organization's culture when you are on the outside. The book states, researchers who study organizations' cultures "find it necessary to immerse themselves in the organization they are studying" (page 275). With that being said, keep in mind that examples given in the book, by me, or by classmates may not be entirely accurate if the author of those examples was not a part of the sport organization themselves.
                The chapter talks about thick and thin cultures. Thick cultures are those "in which the members of the sport organization agree about the importance of certain values and employ them in their daily routines" (page 280); thin cultures are those that do not hold common values. Thick cultures seem to have the more positive connotation. They are organizations that have a rich history and heritage. They have been around for quite some time and their culture has been continually reinforced and therefore strengthened. An example of an organization with a thick culture would be Nike. The organization has been around for a long time, and the members of the organization seem to agree on the importance of certain values.
                Slack and Parent describe stories about organization's beginnings as important messages that gain importance and guide what an organization will place value on. Additionally, symbols are also important to culture. Within Nike's thick culture, they have many symbols that combine to make up the culture of the organization. The name "Nike" is a part of the culture itself, and the Nike swoosh only strengthens that culture. Language also factors into culture; it serves "to strengthen the...organization by providing commonality, and to separate the [organization] from others who do not communicate in this way" (page 277). Using jargon serves as a way to exclude those that are not a part of the organization. Ceremonies are an important component of culture as well. They are evidence of what organizations value. I am not an expert on Nike, but if they had a ceremony for the top sales representatives or fired those whose numbers were not high enough, that would be indicative of the organization valuing high sales numbers. The last part of culture that the book mentions is the physical setting. This basically describes the floor plan of the organization's office(s). An open floor plan versus closed-door offices can greatly affect the culture of an organization. Other rituals can also factor in to the physical setting. For example, having a routine coffee break that allows employees to socialize can do a number on creating a "thicker" culture.
                Based off of the information about culture I learned from this chapter, my questions for the class are as follows:
1. Is there ever an advantage to having a thin culture?
2. Can you think of an organization that is relatively new/young that has a thick culture? How do you think they developed that culture so quickly?
3. Is it possible for those on the bottom of the hierarchy to determine the culture of an organization, or is it primarily upper management that has that power?