In my December 2019 blog, I discussed how Santa Claus uses the management style of operational excellence to travel around the world on Christmas Eve. In keeping with the holiday theme for my December 2020 blog, I will talk about a businessperson who manages an organization and who is often associated with this season: Ebenezer Scrooge.
I’ve had the privilege of directing Saint Vincent College’s Master of Science in Management: Operational Excellence (MSMOE) program for nearly seven years. I want to share with you why I think now is a great time to pursue this degree.
A person’s task performance is, in essence, how well she or he accomplishes the crucial functions of a role (Borman & Motowidlo, 1993). This, of course, can be learning a concept for a student, serving the community in a positive way for a volunteer or doing a major job duty in the workplace for an employee. As someone who studies workplace behaviors, I can attest that it’s crucial for managers to recognize good employee performance.
I believe in Santa Claus. And I believe that he practices Operational Excellence. After all, embracing Operational Excellence (OE) is the only way that he would be able to fly around the world delivering presents in one night!
In last month’s blog, I wrote about traveling this summer with the band I play in. But this summer wasn’t all just fun and games! I also traveled for academic purposes (okay, maybe those trips were little fun, albeit exhausting, too). In August, I first went to Boston for the Academy of Management Annual Meeting, the largest conference of management academics in the world. Then I flew home for a few hours before driving out to Lexington, Kentucky, with some of our exceptional Master of Science in Management: Operational Excellence (MSMOE) graduate students. I love summer but, as I mentioned in a blog three years ago, fall is my favorite time of year. I think one reason why is that I can get back into a standardized routine with less traveling once the semester begins.
Many people who know me as a professor and researcher are often surprised that I also lead and play music with a jazz/early rock/horn band called Neon Swing X-perience. Likewise, many people that know me as the vocalist and trumpet player for the band might also be surprised of my academic career. Yet, through many years I’ve tried to balance both roles and this summer was no exception. While I taught a summer class, helped to effectively recruit one of the largest classes our Master of Science in Management: Operational Excellence program has welcomed and worked on a half dozen research publications, I also found time to tour with the band.
I was infatuated with trains when I was a child, so it’s no surprise that “The Little Engine That Could,” the classic children’s story told since 1930 and published in several book editions by Watty Piper, was one of my favorites – and one that I now love to read to my child.
Many scholars and educators have contemplated the importance of a liberal arts education, so I do not seek to presume that I am stating anything new in this month’s blog. Rather, this month I aim to reflect on my view of the importance and meaning of a liberal arts education.
This month’s blog is a little more philosophical in nature than some of my other blogs because I’m writing about miracles. Let me start off by saying that I am a firm believer in miracles. To me, a miracle does not have to be some big once-in-a-lifetime supernatural cosmic event (although those count too, I suppose). Instead, I believe that miracles can be “little things” that happen each day. Some people view daily life as though nothing is a miracle. Others view every positive thing that they experience as a miracle – even those things that are perhaps mundane. I like to think that I fall into the latter camp.
Recently, Dr. Gail Fairhurst (a friend, mentor and colleague of mine from the University of Cincinnati) visited Saint Vincent to give a guest lecture on her research. While her comments were primarily about how to be an effective leader through focusing on communication style, she also talked about the nature of problems that leaders must solve. I am reminded of some research of hers that I read in which she identifies problems as “wicked” when they are challenging to describe, difficult to solve and closely related to other problems. She and her colleagues term these to be problem “knots” because they are often tangled together in such a way that multiple problems relate to, confuse and add to each other (Sheep, Fairhurst, & Khazanchi, 2017).