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12/8 Presentations

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Overall, today's presentations were excellent. Among the best was Brian's presentation on the Pittsburgh Pirates. Not only was his PowerPoint visually attractive with few words and great use of pictures, but he also specified that he was using the Goal Attainment Approach and he based his whole organizational analysis around this approach, therefore putting a different spin on his presentation. I feel that taking this approach to my organizational analysis may have made it a bit easier to construct and also made it easier to follow when reading and explaining it. The other presentation that really stuck out to me was Alyssa's on Pop Warner. This was of interest to me because I had never heard of Pop Warner and listening to her presentation broadened my horizon a bit. I really enjoyed the presentations that were on unfamiliar topics; they kept me intrigued through the entire presentation. Being unfamiliar with the YMCA is mainly why I chose that as my topic, I wanted to take this opportunity to learn more about the YMCA as a business organization.

12/3 Presentations

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Todays presentations were some of the best we have had so far I think. I feel that the presentations are getting better and better as the days go on because the class has more ideas to draw off of seeing as we have already watched so many presentations. There are a number of different topics that we can talk about in ten minutes to try and give the class a good feel of our organization, and I think that the class is really beginning to realize which points are the strongest, such as showing an organizational chart and describing recommendations, in showing the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of their organizations. Today I think that Parker's presentation about the Fargo-Moorhead Baseball Team was among the best of the presentations because he had a number of good references to the book and from growing up around the team he knew a lot of inside information which helped his presentation out greatly.

12/1 Presentations

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The presentations today were very interesting to watch because there was a good diversity of organizations; small town baseball team, professional football teams, professional football organizations, college athletic team, and a major sport product manufacturer. The only critique I have is that there was too much writing on a lot of the slides. I think PowerPoint presentations are much more effective if the main points are highlighted on the slides and then the person reads from note cards or re-calls from memory. The women's gymnastics presentation was very good because it did not have too much writing on the slides, thus making you listen to the speaker more so you could get the information. On the opposite side, every presentation today had very good pictures. Pictures keep the class looking at the slide, and in a sense, keep them listening to presenter until the end.
Today's presentations were very informative I thought. Kristin's presentation on the Nike Brand was of special interest to me because I wear a lot of Nike, Jordan, apparel and because it was nice to learn about the structure of a larger organization. Everyone so far has done local college or professional sport teams or national sport organizations so it was a nice change of pace to hear about a global product manufacturer. For a company so large, with so much information and organization structure and culture, Kristin did a very good job of summing it up into a ten-minute presentation so the class could get a good sense of how Nike operates. Seeing as I am the last person to go I have not completely put together my presentation yet and watching everyone else's presentations each day is giving me many ideas on what exactly I want to include in my presentation to give the class the best feel as to how the organization I chose operates.
My philosophy about organizational effectiveness at the beginning of the semester was very vague. After reading over it again I still feel that everything I said at the beginning of the semester, such as setting challenging yet attainable goals, setting departmental goals, and using the internal processes approach, are ways that organizational effectiveness should be accomplished. One thing that I still agree with, but even more so than before, is the importance of an organization being goal oriented. I do not feel that an organization should judge its effectiveness based solely upon the achievement of their goals, however, setting challenging goals is instrumental for an organizational. Without setting those goals there is not much hope of moving forward with the organization and every organization constantly needs to be thinking into the future or they will get left behind the competition. Goals that are challenging, yet attainable help a company to stride towards bigger, better things. Although setting challenging goals is important to an organization, I feel that this alone does not accomplish organizational effectiveness. After going through this entire course I have decided that top-notch leadership is one of the most important factors to organizational effectiveness. Good leaders have the ability to motivate employees and turn a failing company around. They set the pace and culture for an organization. Without a good leader goals will likely not be attained and a company will not have someone to follow. Having someone you trust and can rely on is very important because it helps to guide your company and keep everyone going in the same direction and keep everyone on the same page. There are many different factors that affect leadership, such as actors, processes, culture, structure, and environment, and the leader must know the proper ways to handle these different organizational contexts and how to use them to their advantage. Another key factor to organizational effectiveness I have come to realize through out this course is the importance of having the power spread through the organization. As I discussed in the last paragraph is it important to have great leadership, but that does not have to be limited to one person. If a complex organization only has one leader it is likely that the organization will fall behind because it will be slow in getting things accomplished. By having leadership spread throughout the organization and having great leaders for employees to look up to and follow and go to if they have questions or concerns the organization will run much more effectively and efficiently. Lastly, I feel that the culture of an organization is of great significance when considering organizational effectiveness. I feel that it is very essential that each and every employee, from the top men to the bottom men on the totem pole, understands and works by the organizational culture. By having a great organizational culture in tact and having your company make decisions and work based on that culture any company will be running smoothly and effectively.
I thought that the first days presentations went very well. Watching their presentations gave me some great ideas on what exactly to include in my presentation. Watching them also made me realize how important it is going to be to practice my presentation a couple of times and get the timing down right. Overall I thought that Andre's presentation on the Gopher Men's Basketball Team and RJ's presentation on USA Track and Field were the two most prepared presentations. They both really gave me an understanding of how those organizations were structured and how they ran. I felt that these two presentations had all of the necessary information, such as structure, environment, leadership, culture, politics, and suggestions for improvement, to give the class a good feel on just how each organizations organization went about its business. In general I feel that the presentations that provided the class with the most useful information, rather than history and irrelevant facts, were the presentations that came across as the best.
Decision-making is a crucial element to any sport organization. Decisions, whether they are minor or major, are going to need to be made on a daily basis. How everyone from owners, to managers, to security guards at games handles these decisions is going to effect the entire organization. The book describes decisions in two categories, programmed and nonprogrammed. Programmed decisions are those that are made on a regular basis, for example how many items a sporting good manager orders for the next week of business, a coaches decision as to what play to call next during a game, how many security guards to have on staff during an event or game, and so on and so forth. Nonprogrammed decisions are more unique because they do not arise as often or in most cases, it is an issue that has never arisen before. An example of a nonprogrammed decision would be if the Vikings should move their team to Los Angeles when their contract with the Metrodome expires. People with more power usually make these nonprogrammed decisions while middle managers or people with less power usually make the programmed decisions that are more routine. According to Slack and Parent decisions are made under three types of conditions; certainty, risk, and uncertainty. Making decisions under the condition of certainty is the most ideal because the decision maker knows her options and the costs and benefits of them, it is "simply a matter of making the appropriate choice" (p. 259). In a condition of risk the decision maker has an idea of what the alternatives are and a good idea of what the costs and benefits are but is not absolutely certain about everything. This seems as if it is the most common condition under which sports organizations operate. There is hardly a case where you know everything and are certain about every aspect, it is more likely that you know a good majority of the information, if you have done your homework, then it is down to the decision maker to make the call based on their judgment. A good example of a risk decision-making situation would be the Vikings potentially moving to Los Angeles. There may be pros and cons to going and staying but nothing is certain, such as how many fans will follow, or how football will be accepted there, or would it be more profitable to build a new stadium in Minneapolis, the heart of the Vikings franchise? With so many risks the decision is going to be a difficult one to make. The last condition under which decisions are made is the uncertainty condition. In this case there is no history to help base decisions on and there is basically no information about the potential outcomes. This is the hardest type of decision to make because it could be a complete success or it could be an udder failure and could potentially cost that person their job. An example of such an uncertain decision would be health and fitness franchises, such as Snap Fitness, taking their businesses internationally. While they may think that Europe has extra money to spend and they are a very fit society, most people in Europe may not be willing to spend the dollars Americans do to stay fit and maybe people in Europe do not believe in physical fitness as a way of life as we do here in America. To make a good manger you have to be able to make decisions under any circumstance. Managers need to be able to research and analyze data in order to make effective decisions. A manager who is able to make the important decisions under uncertain and risky conditions is the manager that is going to impact and help an organization for the better. A manager who can make the routine decisions under certain conditions is one that is going to be seen as an okay manager just doing their job. The problems with making decisions, as a manger is that there is not always one right decision. Some questions that need to be asked are 1.) Should the managers values and ethics get in the way of their decision making process or do they need to completely abide by the organizations values and ethics? 2.) Should second and third opinions be asked when making big decisions or should upper management do what they think is best?

Leadership

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Organizational context, such as actors, culture, structure, and environment impact leadership in many ways. Strong leaders are critical in every organization. A good leader can lead, inspire, and direct an organization and its employees toward achieving the organizational goals. To describe how the different organization contexts can impact leadership I am going to use the United States Logrolling Association (USLRA) as an example. The actors, or the board members, change from year to year, but not dramatically. Each year only about three people change roles. The actors are voted in and out, making their leadership even more important because the people voting them in are counting on them. Due to the fact that the same people are usually on the board it is easier for them to be stronger leaders. They are able to gain the trust and knowledge and skills and build it over the years. In organizations where leaders are constantly being changed I feel it is hard for them live up to their full leadership potential. By adapting to your members and the processes of the organization the leaders are able to become stronger and stronger. The culture of an organization also impacts leadership dramatically. If a new leader joins an organization, he or she must adapt their leadership style to the culture they are now surrounded by. Also, when starting a new organization it is up the leader to form a culture for that organization. The USLRA is a very new organization, and therefore, is still in the culture forming stages. I feel that the president now is attempting to define the culture in which she wants the USLRA to be run. We have open lines of communication, the board is very informative, and all decisions are run by the members before being made. The structure of an organization impacts leadership depending on how tall or flat it is. The flatter an organization is the more crucial it is to have one leader making most of the decisions and running the company. The taller a company gets, the more important it is to have a few leaders so that everyone within the company can have a good relationship with at least one leader. The USLRA has a very flat structure and therefore we have one primary leader, the president. Every member gets to vote on important decisions and new rules and regulations to be voted in or out, however, ultimately it is up to the leader to inform everyone of these voting's and lead them in making the appropriate vote. Leadership can be impacted by the environment in many different ways. External environmental factors can affect an organization and force the leader to change leadership styles. The leader will have to take what the environment gives them and adjust. Also, when times get hard it is up the leader to guide his organization through the tough times and keep them motivated and strong. It is crucial that the leaders establish their own values within the company and stand by their decisions so their employees have someone to stand by as well. Another way to view environment in a sport organization is how competitive the market is. For instance the USLRA does not have any competitors, making the environment much more relaxes. The Minnesota Vikings, being in a very competitive market may require a different type of strict, more aggressive leadership due to this competition. Questions: Which organizational context has the most impact on leadership? To what extent does length of leadership role impact ones ability to lead well?

Organizational Change

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Just as it is important for a sport organization to be able to handle conflict, it is just as important for a sport organization to be able to deal with change. How effectively and efficiently a sport organization deals with change can define how successful a sport organization is. Sport organizations are constantly changing, but what Slack and Parent focus on in chapter 12 is planned change, changes an organization implements and executes to try and better its position in its market. There are two types of changes discussed; radical change, which is a very extreme change, and convergent change, which involves changing something just a bit to make it better. Slack and Parent discuss four main areas of change; technological change, a change in the products of services, structural and systemic changes, and people changes. An example of technological change would be a technological advancement in the equipment used to make a sporting good. Say for instance a new machine came out that made the manufacturing of snowboards more efficient; the employees would have to adapt to this changed technology. Change in products or services would involve a sport becoming more popular and needing to have more floor space in a store and needing to be advertise that product more. As snowboarding becomes more popular stores are going to want to allot more space to snowboards within their store and then they are also going to want to advertise the fact that they have snowboards more. Structural and systemic changes involve changes within an organization. If snowboarding is growing at a rapid rate then perhaps departments need to become more specialized and more departments need to be developed. From this, employees need to be appointed to positions of authority and know what their duties are. Lastly, people change involves adjustments in the way people act around each other. There are many perspectives on change discussed by Slack and Parent including population ecology, resource dependence, the life cycle approach, institutional theory, evolution and revolution, and contextualist approach. While all of these perspectives on change may be valuable to an organization the resource dependence strategy seemed the most important to me. If a manager can effectively manage his resources and adjust his organization in response to environmental changes an organization is in good hands. Resistance to change and how an organization deals with this resistance will set an organization apart from others. Change will be resisted for reasons such as self-interest, lack of trust and understanding of the changes, differing assessments of change consequences, and the cost of the change. Being able to deal with this resistance and implement change within an organization will make anyone an effective, valuable manager. By using a few of the ideas in the book together I feel change can be executed effectively. The first thing that must be done is to educate and communicate with employees the changes that are to be implemented. By informing every one of the changes that are to be made and why they are being made you will most likely gain the support of your employees. After that, participation and involvement are crucial. Slack and Parent talk about involving those groups who are most likely to resist change. By involving those groups you are most likely going to help them commit to the process and therefore avoid problems. After getting all of the employees on board and involved it is very important to facilitate and support change. By supporting your employees you will help to rid any fears they may have. A supportive atmosphere will allow for employees to be open with their oppositions or challenges with the change and discuss them so they do not come into play later down the road. Along the way negotiation may be necessary if there are larger groups of people who are opposed to the change. By negotiating you are showing your employees that you are willing to work with them and you value their opinions. Although there are other strategies discussed by Slack and Parent I feel these are the most important strategies to effectively implementing change. My questions involving change are what ways can change benefit an organization and in what ways can it deter an organization? Once you have decided on a need for change how do you go about dealing with that resistance to change when there are so many different ways to do so?
Conflict is present in every organization; the organizations that deal with it correctly are the ones that stand out from the crowd. One definition of conflict is a "breakdown in the standard mechanisms of decision making so that an individual or group experiences difficulty in selecting an action alternative" (Slack and Parent, p. 217). When I think of conflict I normally think of negativity, fighting, and inefficiency within organizations. However, some conflict in the workplace is healthy. Granted, to much conflict in any organization is going to lead to less being accomplished, but no conflict is not going to force any organization to change, which is necessary to not get left behind in today's competitive economy. It is up to management to recognize potential conflict, approach conflict when it is present within their organization, and deal with is appropriately. As stated at the beginning, how a company deals with conflict really defines a company as a whole. There are many different strategies to dealing with conflict but a few that I feel are very essential are authority, increasing resources, separating or merging conflicting units, job rotation, and superordinate goals. With the proper authority just about every situation should be able to be solved. For instance if two players on a team are not getting along well and cannot resolve the issue on their own the coach may need to step in and fix the problem for them. One, or maybe both of the players, may not agree with how the coach handles the situation but due to the fact that he has more power the players will most likely respect his decision and the problem will be solved. Another method of dealing with conflict, increasing resources, is necessary in certain cases I feel. Often times subunits may begin to argue if they do not have their own equipment, or own office space, etc. If it is at all possible, giving separate subunits their own area and supplies will essentially make them feel more important and probably less likely to start arguments with units. This idea ties into separating or merging conflicting units. If subunits are not getting along it is crucial to physically separate them so they cannot argue anymore. On the other hand, sometimes it is best to merge units together to avoid more conflict. An example of this would be when two competing companies merge to avoid the competition and potential loss of business for one company. Sometimes it is easier to merge and work together as a stronger force. When there begins to be issues between employees doubting the work ethic and difficulty of another's job, job rotation is the method to use. By having employees temporarily switch positions they are able to gain an understanding of what the other does and thus appreciate them more and they will be less likely to be so hard on each other. The last conflict resolution strategy I am going to discuss is the use of superordinate goals. Each subunit is usually going to have their individual goals they need to accomplish, however, if there are not higher level goals' that each sub unit is working for it can create conflict. By establishing one more broad, basic goal that all of the subunits are working for it is easier for units to get along because they are all working on the same page. The questions to ask when thinking about each of these conflict management strategies are what strategy would work best for the situation your company is in and is it ideal to switch the strategies up every once in a while or stick with the same conflict management strategies all the time?