Time to Reflect – The DCU Business School Next Generation Management Immersion Course: Day Five

In Business Education, DCU Business School, MBS in Marketing, MSc in Business Management, MSc in E-commerce, Next Generation Management, Uncategorized on November 10, 2009 at 7:57 pm

“The national-security expert Gregory Treverton has famously made a distinction between puzzles and mysteries. Osama bin Laden’s whereabouts are a puzzle. We can’t find him because we don’t have enough information. The key to the puzzle will probably come from someone close to bin Laden, and until we can find that source bin Laden will remain at large….The problem of what would happen in Iraq after the toppling of Saddam Hussein was, by contrast, a mystery. It wasn’t a question that had a simple, factual answer. Mysteries require judgments and the assessment of uncertainty, and the hard part is not that we have too little information but that we have too much. The C.I.A. had a position on what a post-invasion Iraq would look like, and so did the Pentagon and the State Department and Colin Powell and Dick Cheney and any number of political scientists and journalists and think-tank fellows. For that matter, so did every cabdriver in Baghdad.

The distinction is not trivial….If things go wrong with a puzzle, identifying the culprit is easy: it’s the person who withheld information. Mysteries, though, are a lot murkier: sometimes the information we’ve been given is inadequate, and sometimes we aren’t very smart about making sense of what we’ve been given, and sometimes the question itself cannot be answered. Puzzles come to satisfying conclusions. Mysteries often don’t.” Malcolm Gladwell, “Open Secrets“, January 8, 2007, Dept. of Public Policy, The New Yorker.

The last day of the DCU Business School Next Generation Management Immersion Course started with a review of the Google Case Study given as an assignment earlier in the week. The key objective was to demonstrate to students that by merely using the evidence within a case and thinking through the questions methodically, they can start to address business challenges and problems. 160+ students is not an ideal environment for case review and discussion however over 30 student contributed to the answers and many agreed that they knew more than they thought although equally many agreed that it seemed easier on retrospect but feared that their assignment submissions were less than ideal. Such is life. Fortunately, much of what we teach in business schools is about solving problems but the excitement in business still remains, for some of us at least, in the randomness of it all – untangling these mysteries when they come along is the fun part.

As the remainder of the immersion course sessions were delivered by others, I finished by showing them Baz Luhrman’s “Sunscreen” video on YouTube – unfortunately, they will only realise how true the musings in this video are at the end – I might show them this then too.

Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.

The case review was followed by library database practical sessions delivered by the business libraries, David Meehan, in DCU Library. Previously, these sessions were optional and less focussed. This year, each student must attend practical sessions on using GMID, FAME and Nexis. These are essential research tools particularly for environmental scanning, competition benchmarking and for subject domains for which academic journals are not current i.e. most leading edge technologies. Each student could choose a different country and two companies for the GMID, FAME and Nexis exercises respectively. A key part of their assignment is not just to find data but provide CONCLUSIVE evidence that THEY can use the databases – this is not as easy as it seems. These databases are priceless in the context of business research. Awareness and training is directly related to usage and usage directly related to license renewal. I accept that universities can’t afford expensive databases that aren’t used but it is an academic crime to lose a service due to lack of awareness and training – everybody loses, including faculty researchers…invest the time.

DCU Library

The day ended with attendance at the University’s Orientation Session in the Helix. A suitable place to finish an Immersion Course in DCU….in twelve months time, that’s where they’ll graduate!

So was it a success? We’ll have to wait until the end of semester when the students, and indeed I, have had some time to reflect…of course, this is an assignment too!


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