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Collaborative Learning in Organizations

Published May 10, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Collaboration and collaborative learning are processes that integrate people, systems, and technology.  They exist in organizations where there is trust, decentralization in the decision making process, and that practice openness and fairness in their communication systems.  This configuration is designed to satisfy the needs of the whole rather than a need for one individual’s participation to spearhead the decision making process in an effort to protect their own interests.  Collaboration offers a way for organizations and communities, for example, to address pressing issues like housing, crime, poverty, employment, and education.  Collaboration can be as simple as a conversation among associates, a motivational presentation to the public, or as complex as a structured project where participants are required to update information in real time (Blevins, 2001).  This research takes a look at the collaborative learning process and organizations that work together to obtain greater resources, help improve ineffective conditions and systems, and to achieve higher levels of recognition and rewards in a highly competitive marketplace.

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A Closer Look

More organizations are joining people together in creative ways to help tackle issues that lie beyond the parameters of any one individual.  Peterson’s (2001) research reveals that in today’s global arena, employees that work together in collaboration can make the difference between a company’s failure and success.  To achieve a level of success, collaborative efforts must consist of the following components: (a) a shared vision, (b) clear and open communication, and (c) the establishment of genuine trust among the collaborators.  Working together cohesively builds stronger relationships that provide a foundation for further collaborative efforts because they are now more adept in finding solutions.  His study concludes that effective business collaboration can bring people together to increase performance and productivity for a competitive advantage (Peterson, 2001).

The ability of collaborative groups to persevere in doing constructive work also depends upon their success in resolving issues.  The key roles in collaborative efforts are trust and good communication during each phase of the process, especially when issues like mutual respect, attributions, political processes, expectations, and consensus are addressed.  In addition, organizations learn to work in a collaborative effort despite of such barriers like gender, race, and age.  In other words, complicated stereotypical effects that favor one demographic category over another have less determinate influences on the various gatekeepers who can obstruct the collaboration process (Peterson, 2001).

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Organizations Demonstrating Collaborative Cultures

The American Cancer Society is one of the largest nonprofit organizations in the US.  Despite their size, the quality of their work, and maintaining a stellar reputation, they are an organization that believes they can only carry out their mission effectively by developing collaborative partnerships with other organizations.  For example, their teaming with Yellow Cab and United Checkers Cab, as well as other programs like Look Good Feel Better, helps bring awareness to raise funds for breast cancer research and other related patient programs.  As a result, they have pioneered a variety of approaches to promote collaboration with local, grassroots organizations to reach their public health goals (Mattessich & Murray-Close, 2001).

Scholastic institutions that address education and youth development within poverty-stricken regions are another example of collaborative learning at an organizational level.  These firms learned to collaborate with national nonprofit organizations to comprehend local needs and helped establish a reputation among the local populace to achieve their goals.

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Fink’s (2007) research is focused on another driving trend that motivates firms to implement tools of collaboration.  These firms have adopted electronic communication tools as a means to facilitate collaboration.  These include the implementation of systems like discussion boards, instant messaging, and groupware.  These tools are used to facilitate communication and coordination without time and space limitations.  His studies focus on the organizational view of the impact and role of e-collaboration.  In this case, e-collaboration is conceptualized as a change-oriented capability that enables a firm to identify, integrate, and apply its knowledge assets to meet competitive demands.  In this context, e-collaboration potentially has three organizational roles: (a) coordination, (b) learning, and (c) innovation associated with efficiency or competitive impacts.  His study concludes that organizations in less dynamic business environments need e-collaboration for operational purposes, emphasizing coordination components, whereas companies in high-velocity business environments utilize e-collaboration for strategic purposes, emphasizing the learning and innovation roles (Fink, 2007).

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Conclusion

Shankman (2013) describes successful organizations as institutions that are comprised of people who work together in an atmosphere that is conducive to stability, good cheer, and led by leaders who are almost always the role models for the change they seek (Shankman, 2013).  Community leaders and inhabitants who engage in collaboration efforts to accomplish tasks can improve their civic conditions but also reinforce social fibers and increase the regions’ capacity to become more distinguished.  In conclusion, collaboration builds stronger relationships and can enhance social conditions in creative ways.  It offers communities a tool for improvement and introduces innovative opportunities to tackle issues.

References

Blevins, R. (2001, ). A study of association between organizational trust and decision-making, communications, and collaboration in comprehensive, regional institutions of higher education. ProQuest Dissertations and Theses. Ann Arbor, MI, USA: ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing. Retrieved April24 2013, from http://search.proquest.com/docview/304707494?accountid=32521

Fink, L. (2007, Jul-Sep). Coordination, learning, and innovation: The organizational roles of e-collaboration and their impacts. International Journal of E-Collaboration. Hershey, PA, USA: IGI Global. Retrieved April 24, 2013, from http://search.proquest.com/docview/222376102?accountid=32521

Mattessich, P., & Murray-Close, M. (2001). Collaboration: What makes it work. St. Paul, MN: Wilder Publishing.

Peterson, M. (2001, February). International collaboration in organizational behavior research. Journal of Organizational Behavior. Chichester, US: Wiley Periodicals Inc. Retrieved April 24, 2013, from http://search.proquest.com/docview/224884660?accountid=32521

Shankman, P. (2013). Nice companies finish first. New York, NY: Palgrave MacMillan Publishers.

 

The Management of Change

Published April 26, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Change is an accepted reality in the survival of organizations and plays a significant role in the longevity of a company. It requires organizations to incorporate new practices.  Simply put, change means doing things differently. Change management leaders are looking to achieve goals and objectives from the implementation of strategic planning.  In designing the change process, executives must connect their objectives with the experiences of the past that led to the necessity of change.  In addition, leaders must tune in and engage in active listening to personnel in order to reconstruct and comprehend from the input, the way they perform, and use their intellect to assist in the management of change. Employees in this instance become involved as peers and confidantes who can challenge, alter, or replace the assumptions and goals of upper management (Neilissen & Martine van Selm, 2008). In other words, staff members become co-producers in the communication process that leads to the designated change.  This research examines various elements that organizations procure in the planning and execution of change and the methods they implement to help them achieve their goals.

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Change Mechanisms

Yarberry (2007) suggests that at the core of change management, information and general control is required to support business functions. He postulates that while change control is conceptually simple, the mechanisms implemented and observed require attention to detail as well as support. His research concludes that change management cycles must address the following questions: What is the size and significance of the change? Who is requesting the change? Is the end goal possible to achieve? Is there urgency? What are the obstacles? How many people will be required to complete the project?  Full change management is a bureaucratic experience and a complicated process. If the tasks are coalesced and the participants meet regularly, it can be made to work efficiently. Creating templates, workflow plans, and good communication will help make the process more effective (Yarberry, 2007).

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Stanley’s (2007) research extrapolates that management development and organizational change are deeply connected. His studies suggest that management development is often focused on technical and professional skills rather than the more complicated contexts of change which include the structural, cultural, political, emotional, and psychological influences involved in change. The regularity and intensity of change that most organizations are subject to highlights the importance of effective management development. Some of the greatest challenges an enterprise faces are from ineffective leadership and a lack of effective organizational change. This includes the recruitment of individuals, retaining (and most important) the development of strong managers, and creating a successful management team (Stanley, 2007).

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Change Programs

Efficient programs of change must be highly effective at communication. Merrell’s (2012) research suggests that there are six components that influence the success of change. The ability to: (1) lead, (2) communicate, (3) learn (4) measure, (5) involve, and (6) sustain the organization during and after the process.  To elaborate on these components further, leaders must first, for example, present a clear vision with intents and purposes to inspire confidence in the workplace.  In addition, the best decisions occur when executives are better informed. This is achieved by involving the personnel who are affected by the change with their input and feedback.  Good communication fosters the learning process and helps to motivate employees. Next, staffers must engage in the learning process to acquire knowledge and the necessary skills needed to make adaptations.  In addition, establishing a system that incorporates the use of metrics can help define and support improvement with clear measurable goals.  Some of these goals include staying on target and within budget. Leaders can then analyze the process and progress of the change program. The finish line, however, does not occur upon completion of the change management project.  In fact, the change must endure.  This is accomplished by reviewing the entire system, processes, policies, technology, and structures necessary that support and sustain the organization in the post-change world (Merrell, 2012). Organizations that conceive and create an effective plan and execute change well are most likely the institutions that will outperform their peers.

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Conclusion

The role of change is the key to the survival of any organization. Research conducted by Hammoud (2008) purports that managers can achieve long-term business goals and objectives through carefully constructed strategies. Empirical evidence suggests that high failure rate is due to a leader’s inability to incorporate projects in alignment with established business strategies. Technology, focus on customer service, and a new global marketplace are some of the driving forces that lead organizations to embark on change. These significant elements affect the fluctuation of customer needs, buying patterns, markets, and channels (Hammoud, 2008). Organizations that develop an efficient action management plan and execute change successfully, by doing so on time and within budget, engaging in effective communication that fosters understanding, and achieving stated goals, will most certainly produce an environment that is conducive to maintaining success and longevity.

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References

Hammoud, M. S. (2008). Assessing project success: Comparing integrated change management and change management. Ann Arbor, MI, USA: ProQuest, UMI Dissertations Publishing. Retrieved April 10, 2013, from http://search.proquest.com/docview/304835611?accountid=32521

Merrell, P. (2012, Summer). Effective change management: The simple truth. Management Services. Enfield, UK: Institute of Management Services. Retrieved April 10, 2013, from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1027234230?accountid=32521

Neilissen, P., & Martine van Selm. (2008). Surviving organizational chage; how management communication helps balance mixed feelings. Bradford, UK: Emerald Group Publishing, Ltd. Retrieved April 10, 2013

Stanley, C. (2007). Managing change through management development: An industry case study. The journal of management development. Bradford, UK. Retrieved April 10, 2013

Yarberry, W. (2007, Mar/April). Effective change management: Ensuring alighment of IT and business functions. New York , UK: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. Retrieved April 10, 2013, from http://search.proquest.com/docview/229584201?accountid=32521

Intrapreneurship Analysis

Published March 6, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Entrepreneurial leaders are visionaries that possess a variety of characteristics and skills needed to be successful. Some of these talents include a deep passion to develop and articulate a vision, the ability to create a sound plan that include strategies to maintain and goals to achieve.  In addition, an entrepreneur must have a comprehension of the organization’s culture, structure, and procedures to understand how to navigate productively in a rapidly growing entrepreneurial organization. For example, an effective entrepreneurial leader requires the ability to adapt and manage change efficiently to stay ahead of competitors with aspirations to dominate the market. Risk taking is another important element for an entrepreneur.  Businessman Richard Branson (2011) has a simple philosophy, “Screw it, just do it” (Branson, 2011). This displays an unwavering tenacity to continue moving forward with goals regardless of the risks involved.

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In addition, entrepreneurs must face and answer certain questions before embarking on an entrepreneurial venture to insure the best chances of success. For example, do they possess or have access to enough capital for their investment; is their family supportive; is there a need for this product or service?  Furthermore, they must ask themselves is there a sense of urgency to embark on this venture. In other words, what is the intent or driving force behind the enterprise? It is also essential that an entrepreneur identify their strengths and weaknesses to ascertain where they require support in areas like marketing, accounting, sales and administration (Inc The Staff of Entrepreneur Media, 2010).

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Branson shares four simple principles he follows that have been instrumental in overcoming failures and achieving extraordinary levels of success as an entrepreneur. They are: 1) live in the moment; 2) become a good steward by helping others; 3) have fun; and 4) never give up (What I learned about entrepreneurship from Richard Branson, 2011). Another important component is to not lose sight of the vision and keep focused on opportunities, or challenges that present new opportunities. Finally, a successful entrepreneur should have a keen eye on trends and fluctuations in the market to help give them a better edge on the competition and what changes are required to help keep them on track to achieve their goals.

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References:

What I learned about entrepreneurship from Richard Branson. (2011, November 22). Retrieved February 14, 2013, from ProQuest Central: http://search.proquest.com.proxy-library.ashford.edu/docview/1030937503?accountid=32521

Branson, R. (2011). Losing my virginity: How I survived, had fun, and made a fortune doing business my way (Updated ed.). London, UK: Crown Publishing Group.

Inc The Staff of Entrepreneur Media. (2010). Start your own business (5th ed.). Canada: Entrepreneur press.

Sir Richard Branson: An Entrepreneurial Knight

Published March 1, 2013 by Mayrbear's Lair

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Introduction

When one hears the term entrepreneur, an image emerges of an individual who organizes and operates a business that involves certain risks.  One of the most successful examples of entrepreneurs in the modern age is Sir Richard Branson.  This charismatic visionary makes running a business seem effortless and fun.  In addition, he displays a disciplined work ethic that is focus-driven, illustrates an adventurous spirit, and demonstrates a passionate devotion to business that is unwavering.  Although he takes many risks that can fail, Sir Richard Branson is recognized as one of the highest achievers in the world of entrepreneurs.

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Entrepreneurship

Today’s successful entrepreneurs require more than just luck and diligence.  They require an ability to create in a demanding environment of high uncertainty and risk that necessitates flexibility and the capability of learning from failure.  Furthermore, an entrepreneur brings to the arena a host of components that include resources, labor, and other various skills and materials.  The most renowned entrepreneurs, like Sir Richard, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, are driven by an internal force with an inherent need to make a difference in the world while escaping the confinements of bureaucracy (Ries, 2011).

Entrepreneurship is the process of creating something new of value by devoting time and effort in the venture.  Entrepreneurs pursue their business endeavors with passion and enthusiasm.  This drives the engine that attracts success and monetary rewards.  Four behavioral characteristics identify the entrepreneurial spirit: 1) creating a vision; 2) organizing and steering economic structures and social networks; 3) combining resources in innovative ways; and 4) accelerating with the acceptance of uncertainty, setbacks, and failure (Ries, 2011).

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Sir Richard Branson

Sir Richard Branson is an exemplary illustration of an entrepreneur and an esteemed business leader.  He is also a humanitarian that is proactive in politics.  His innovative and groundbreaking ventures demonstrate a fearless maverick style that supports risk taking.  His many successful achievements include founding the Virgin Group Company with branches that extend into the media; airlines and rail; wine and mobile phone services; and a trustee of several charities including the Virgin Healthcare Foundation and Virgin Unite.  In December of 1999, The Queen of England honored him with a knighthood for his services to entrepreneurship.  Not afraid of adventure or failure, this internationally renowned explorer has been involved in numerous world record breaking attempts, including the first hot-air balloon to cross the Atlantic.  Consistent with his lively ambitious and expansionist attitude, Sir Richard’s latest enterprise is Virgin Galactic, a space tourism company that will take passengers into suborbital space (Entrepreneur, adventurer and businessman Richard Branson challenges financial profesionals to have a ‘planetary point of view’, 2006).

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Virgin Galactic

The Branson Philosophy

Sir Richard is also one of the most respected entrepreneurs in the world.  His philosophy, “Oh, screw it, let’s do it” (Branson, 2011, p. 14), drives his ambitious spirit as the locomotive to his success.  He recommends four simple principles that can help us achieve higher levels of success:

  1. Live in the moment – In the world of business, quick decisive actions can have big pay offs.
  2. Have fun – Chances for success is much greater when you do what you love and are joyful doing it.
  3. Give back – Show good stewardship and help others even if it is minimal and do so with gratitude and appreciation.
  4. Never give up – The word defeat is anathema in any endeavor (What I learned about entrepreneurship from Richard Branson, 2011).

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The Branson Centre

Recently Sir Richard opened the Branson Centre, a facility in the Caribbean committed to developing entrepreneurship.  The Centre offers a mentorship program to help budding entrepreneurs with networking and exposure, and assists with the coaching and financing aspects of their needs.  Jamaicans lack technical support, adhere to a complicated tax structure, and are in need of additional capital.  The Centre offers an arena to launch new entrepreneurial businesses to stimulate job creation and provide opportunities for locals to improve their communities and fuel their economy (Branson Centre, 2011).

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Conclusion

Sir Richard’s humanitarian endeavors and his concerns for environmental impact are inspirational leadership qualities in an entrepreneur.  For example, one company called Seascape Caribbean is focused on the restoration of the coral reefs in the coastal region and another, Leanne Talbot of Island Cycle, is dedicated to recycling waste into usable products.  (Branson Centre, 2011).  Sir Richard’s innovative ideas and contributions help enable economic freedom for the employers of the future and support the creation of new jobs.   In conclusion, as the founder of many successful business ventures that continue to create opportunities with environmental consciousness, Sir Richard Branson remains one of the most commendable visionary entrepreneurs and humanitarians of the modern era.

References

Entrepreneur, adventurer and businessman Richard Branson challenges financial profesionals to have a ‘planetary point of view’. (2006, October 15). Retrieved February 14, 2013, from ProQuest: http://search.proquest.com.proxy-library.ashford.edu/docview/447141732?accountid=32521

Branson Centre. (2011, September 13). Retrieved February 14, 2013, from ProQuest Central: http://search.proquest.com.proxy-library.ashford.edu/docview/888611281?accountid=32521

What I learned about entrepreneurship from Richard Branson. (2011, November 22). Retrieved February 14, 2013, from ProQuest Central: http://search.proquest.com.proxy-library.ashford.edu/docview/1030937503?accountid=32521

Branson, R. (2011). Losing my virginity: How I survived, had fun, and made a fortune doing business my way (Updated ed., p. 14). London, UK: Crown Publishing Group.

Ries, E. (2011). The lean startup: How today’s entrepreneurs use continuous innovation to create radically successful businesses. New York, NY: Random House, Inc.