Monday, December 7, 2015


When looking back at this course, I would definitely consider it a positive experience. The lessons that had the largest impact on me and my learning were the ones involving the principal-agent model and bargaining. both of those lessons, I feel, were the ones that were able to both make me look at something or concept in a new way, as well as learn brand new information. As far as the lectures, I found them interesting most of the time, but i would sometimes lose interest when they would get too theoretical. I found the excel homework to be extremely useful. They usually took me about half an hour to an hour depending on how familiar I was to to subject matter, and I very rarely found them too difficult that i couldn't take a break and come back to it to figure out where I was going wrong. The other thing I found useful about the Excel homework was that i was able to revisit it after it was discussed in class, and with my new understanding go through the problems again. That was my main review tool for the exams. Blogging was one of my least favorite aspects of the course. The questions or prompts themselves were fine, the problem is that I don't consider myself a good writer and found it difficult to articulate my thoughts about each subject to the level I feel is required by this course. That being said , I did find the project more compelling. I think the reason for that is because the subject was one that interested me and I was able to work at a pace that allowed me to revise and improve my work enough to be at the level of the course. My struggle with the project came from being unfamiliar with how to treat the source material, which I now understand better after the you explained in class. In the paper I shied away from disagreeing with the source material, where i should've rather challenged it and questioned it. Overall the project was a positive, quality experience for me, and i hope to build on it in the future. As for ways i can see the course improving, the lectures seemed to hinge on there being students there, as it was supposed to be a discussion, however that wasn't always the case. While maybe mandatory attendance is too far, some way to incentivise attendance would improve the discussion aspect, and thus the course as a whole.

Friday, November 20, 2015


One reputation I have with my family is not a very positive one. I am constantly told that I am unable to make a decision. Anything from what movie we watch to where we go out to eat to where we go on vacation, I just don’t want to get involved. When a decision affects others equally or more than it affects me, I like to remove myself from the decision-making process. I developed this reputation over time, because being in the middle child of two brothers means that I don’t really have to make a decision. I was always able to just ask one of my brothers to make the decision, or say ‘I don’t know/care’ and have the decision made for me. I’ve never been one to be too strongly opinionated, I prefer to just go with the flow and sit back and let others decide things that don’t have a big effect on me.
While I’ve been doing this for basically my entire life, my family has only recently caught on within the past couple of years. They think it’s pretty funny most of the time, and try to use it against me, by forcing me to decide things. This is fair however, because I had been using it to my advantage for a while, by saying, every now and then, that it was my turn to pick where we eat when there was some place I really wanted to eat. However, to this day I try to take as little responsibility as possible, and my family tries to get me to make every decision possible, and it balances out somewhere in the middle.

I try to work on making decisions, every once in a while but for the most part being non-committal hasn’t necessarily negatively impacted me in any major way. It’s not like I hate making decisions, it’s really just that I prefer not to make them when they have little effect on me and affect others. Most of the time it’s a benefit that I’m not expected to take responsibility for any of the decisions made. Although when it does backfire and they try to force me to make a decision, it’s not always the best. Overall, while most would see it as a negative, I feel my reputation for being indecisive is fairly neutral and benign.

Friday, October 30, 2015


I want to start off by saying that I despise conflict and actively go out of my way to avoid it. And while I don’t get involved in conflicts often, the one I am going to talk about is rather interesting as it relates to chapter 8, interpersonal and group dynamics, very well.

The conflict revolved around my junior varsity high school soccer team. And while it would be reasonable to assume that conflicts would happen often on a sports team, just by the nature of competition, this conflict had nothing to do with our play. There were multiple circumstances that ultimately lead to the conflict, which all happened before the season’s games even began. It started with the creation of the team, all of whom tried out for the varsity team and didn’t make it, so we were placed on the JV team. The problem with this is the age difference, 75% of the team was juniors who saw this as an opportunity or a stepping stone to then tryout again the next year and hopefully get onto the varsity team. The other 25% were seniors who didn’t make the cut to get onto the varsity team, and were given the option to join the JV team to be leader or role models for the juniors. This lead to some of the seniors slacking off during practices or not showing up at all. Another factor that lead to the conflict was the choosing of the team captains, which was done by a poll of the players, rather than by the coach. And with 75% of the team being juniors, a junior captain was picked over a senior.

All of this culminated in one practice, before the season began, when during a scrimmage, one of the senior players went in for a hard tackle on a junior player. This resulted in harsh words being tossed out on both sides, eventually the coach and the rest of the players got involved to break it up but not before the damage could be done. Practice ended there and the next day meetings were made between the juniors and the coach, and the seniors and the coach, in order to figure out how to fix the issue. From the junior’s side, we were frustrated with the seniors’ effort and dedication to the team, and we felt that they were wasting our time by not putting in the same kind of effort that we were. On the other side, the seniors were most likely frustrated about not making the varsity team, and since it was their senior year, some of them might have been feeling a bit of senioritis and concluded that they didn’t need to put in 100% effort. The seniors also probably resented the fact that the captain was a junior as they had been told by the coach that they would be the leaders or role models on the team.

The resolution was a team-wide meeting where we discussed many of our differences. Much of the discussion focused on things seen in Argyris and Schön’s Model 2, like what our personal and team goals for the season are. This discussion gave every player a better understanding of their role and expectations on the team, and we came together as a team and had a successful season.

This whole conflict could have been avoided in several ways, in my opinion. The person who I look at who could have diffused this situation before it even escalated into a problem was the coach. He is a very laid back coach, who wants to be friends with everyone, and while that’s good and my circumstances, it’s not ideal when coaching a team. Relating it to chapter 8, he has, what I would consider, a very passive style of coaching. If, instead, he had chosen for higher advocacy, meaning telling players what he expects from them, or him choosing the captain himself, there would have been much lower chance of conflict. Or if he had taken a higher inquiry approach and asked what the players were looking to get out of being on this team, he would have potentially seen the low work ethic of the seniors coming and some something to remedy it before it became an issue. All in all though, each side could have acted better to potentially have avoided conflict, but in the end the conflict was resolved fairly cleanly, without any lasting repercussions. 

Friday, October 2, 2015


        The concept of ‘Illinibucks’ is an interesting one, because basically it looks at how students value time and the differences between those valuations. By permitting students to jump to the front of the lines of things very important to them, the university is allowing them to reveal how they value their time and what is most important to them. This, in turn, means that students will be comfortable with waiting for things that aren’t as important to them. By putting the power and choice in the students’ hands would greatly increase student happiness at no cost to the university.
        Once the concept of Illinibucks is established a few questions arise. First, how are the Illinibucks allocated, are they distributed every week or are they given out at the beginning of the semester? To answer this all one must do is look at the original purpose of Illinibucks: to provide ease and increased happiness to students. In order to do maximize students’ happiness, one would think students’ should have the most options, and therefore giving out a lump of Illinibucks at the beginning of the semester is a superior strategy. Another question that arises is pricing of Illinibucks. If the price is too low then there is an overabundance of Illinibucks and the point of Illinibucks is completely ruined because instead of students using them on things that are important to them they use them, they will be used flippantly. While if the price is too high, Illinibucks just will not be bought or used. Similarly to price, the quantity of Illinibucks distributed is also a big deal for similar reasons. If the quantity is too high frivolous use will ensue, while if the quantity is too low Illinibucks will become very valuable but potentially costly. At very high prices or low quantities there could potential for hoarding of Illinibucks to begin, or, at the very least, there is possible that students will be disincentivized to do things that involve Illinibucks because they don’t see it as being worth an Illinibuck. For these reasons the price and quantity of Illinibucks has to be just right or the entire idea behind them is ruined.
        When I think about how I would spend my Illinibucks, it becomes fairly clear why they are not a real thing. First, let me explain the two ways I see Illinibucks being useful: One, the convenience of skipping the line at Starbucks to get your coffee a couple minutes faster, versus two, the convenience of registering for classes early, without worrying about them being closed. One has the instant gratification and time from not waiting in line, the other is the practicality and ease of mind of being able to not worry about classes. In my experience, in all of my time on campus, the amount of time I have spent waiting in any one line is not enough to warrant the use of an Illinibuck. What I feel I would use my Illinibucks on would be class registration, and this is where I feel the problem comes in. I have a feeling many people on campus feel the same way as me as far as what would be the most efficient and useful way to use their Illinibucks. If this is the case then the entire purpose behind Illinibucks in this scenario is gone, because, like when I was talking about the pricing and quantity of Illinibucks, too many people use their Illinibucks on the same thing. Every student can’t be the first person to sign up for classes, and when students are asked to prioritize whether they want to wait in line a bit less or sign up for classes first, a majority will pick class registration and the whole Illinibuck system falls apart.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Success and Teamwork

My Example of being part of a successful team is a fairly straight forward one. In high school I played soccer for 4 years and in those four years I managed to be a part of two fairly successful teams, my sophomore year and my senior year. The book talked about basketball and how coordination between players is necessary, and this is also the case in soccer, and it was very apparent during the two successful seasons that cohesion and everyone being on the same page was a major factor in our success. While there are many parallels in the two seasons, they were far from identical. Structurally, within the team both were a one-boss arrangement, with our coach being the boss, but that is pretty much where the similarities end. My sophomore year coach had been the varsity coach for several years before stepping down to the sophomore level to spend more time with his kids. What this meant was that he brought his varsity philosophy to the sophomore level, meaning he had ultimate authority on everything from formation to positions and tactics. This is very different from my senior year, where the varsity coach was the one who replaced the old varsity coach, essentially swapping positions. What the new varsity coach brought to the team was different than what I had experienced sophomore year in that, while still being a one-boss arrangement, he very rarely put himself in a place of complete authority or power, rather it in many ways was like an all-channel network with the coach leading the discussion and having the final say. An example of this is when our season began on the wrong note and we were struggling, we, the players, decided it was time for a change in formation, and came to the coach with this idea it was implemented and had a positive effect. This is an example of on of Katzenbach ad Smith’s characteristics of a high-quality team, that we held ourselves collectively responsible. This sort of thing would not have happened under my sophomore year coach, as he wanted to play ‘his system’, and everyone had to fit into ‘his system’ rather than finding a system that fit the team, meaning he was holding himself solely responsible for the success of the team. I believe that both years’ structures were good and both had their strengths and weaknesses. The first reason they worked for each of the coaches is because the team configurations fit their personalities, one being all about control and the other being more relaxed and open to experimentation. The second reason I think the two systems worked is because once we had gone through our sophomore year where we had learned ‘the system’ and understood it and learned more about the game in general, we were then able to make adjustments and apply what we had learned from our time under a strict system to then be more creative with a more hands off approach.

The thing I have not mentioned yet is how successful each of the teams were, because the success was relative to several factors. My sophomore year our team went undefeated in the regular season, 20-0, my senior year we only won 4 games in the regular season, but we were able to win regionals. The book talks about structures and how success is determined. In the case of both of my teams, Success was evaluated and determined in very different ways. Sophomore year, winning was the only form of success, our coach made sure every practice and every game that it was expected of us that we win, and in the end we did. Varsity year our expectations were no different, but after struggling at the beginning of the season, we had to reevaluate our goals. There was a team wide discussion where we as a team discussed where we saw ourselves heading and what could be done, if anything, to turn our season around, which culminated in a regional win. This is another example of a characteristic of a high-performing team, the ability for a team to shape purpose in response to a demand. Out of these two seasons, while to 20-0 run was fun, I feel as though me and my team succeeded more my senior year than my sophomore year. Being able to overcome unforeseen obstacles and push through tough times made that regional win that much more rewarding than the 20-0 record. In both of these cases the coach gave the team a direction, and if that works, as It did my sophomore year, fantastic, however if things don’t go quite as well as expected it is not just up to the coach but the entire team to create achievable goals so that success is still able to be achieved.

Friday, September 18, 2015


There are generally two ways for one to be opportunistic. The first way is largely positive, and it is the approach of seizing chances when they are presented to this person. The positive connotation of an opportunist is someone who is proactive and ambitious, a real ‘go-getter’. The second sort of opportunism is viewed as negative. This is the approach of preying on the less fortunate or exploiting some weakness or flaw. This negative view of opportunism can often be described as selfish and sometimes immoral. The latest example I have seen where this negative view of opportunism can be clearly seen is with the case of shell getting permission to drill in the arctic since climate change has melted the ice. An oil company drilling in the arctic is an egregious form of opportunism, as they were a main contributor as to why they are even able to drill there in the first place; Shell seems to be taking a ‘by any means necessary’ approach to how they go about getting oil and therefore money, while in the mean time they seem to be metaphorically defiling ground zero for climate change with seemingly no remorse.

This begs the question of is what Shell is doing wrong. Is being opportunistic wrong? In the example of Shell’s drilling, I may feel that Shell is in the wrong and they shouldn’t drill, but someone high up at Shell must feel differently for them to give the OK for the drilling to begin. I think in the most general sense what separates opportunism that is good and opportunism that is whether or not there are victims. Everyone is inherently an opportunist, the difference between most peoples’ opportunism and a decision Shell’s opportunism is that when most people take advantage of an opportunity it doesn’t negatively affect people, or if it does it’s the case where it negatively affects the other people who were trying to take advantage of the same opportunity. In the case of Shell’s opportunism, it comes at the cost of every single person on the planet, as global warming, in one way or another, affects everyone. So when it comes down to it, the presence of victims is most relevant when considering whether an opportunity is worth seizing.

In the case of my own experience of someone not being opportunistic, my father’s kindness and generosity spring to mind. My father is a tinkerer, and loves to work on pretty much anything mechanical, as evidenced by his nine motorcycles and seven generators. And while the motorcycles don’t present my opportunistic moments, whenever the power goes out, the generators come out. My dad offers generators to anyone who needs one, free of charge. Not taking advantage of this opportunity to make some money might seem strange, but my dad wouldn’t have it any other way. As to why he does it, I feel this is a perfect example of a just being a ‘good citizen’, and just feeling like it’s the right thing to do. Also, relating it to what I had been talking about earlier about the two types of opportunism, if my dad did have people pay for the generators, I don’t think those people would feel like they were being victimized or taken advantage of, and would therefore be viewed as a positive form of opportunism.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Post 2: Organizations and Transaction Costs

     My experience with an organization is with my internship last summer that had me working for a part manufacturer and distributor for cars, trucks, boats, and wind turbines. My role at this company was as part of the marketing team, which was in charge of cataloging the products among other things. The structure of the company was rather interesting for a few reasons. First, it is a German company, with the building I interned at being one of the main manufacturers and distributors in North America. The second reason the structure was interesting is rather specific to the marketing team in that because of our area of expertise and the equipment we were using we were similar to a support staff for the rest of the office in many ways. Because of these two reasons, I had very much a first person view of the benefits and failures of a hub and spoke style structure of running a company, both internationally and internally. Internationally, it was nearly flawless, the language barrier was a non-issue and hardly ever was there a need for direct communication over-seas, at least from what I could see, and our branch was fairly autonomous, without much need for direction. The only problem I ever saw encountered was when having to deal with time sensitive cases, however those were few and far between and hardly the norm. Thus leading me to believe that hub and spoke, at least at an international level, can be conducted fairly successfully. When it comes to the same kind of system internally within the building I was interning, hub and spoke somewhat surprisingly encountered more hiccups and had its flaws revealed. As an intern as part of a ‘support staff’ as I described it before, I was the spoke to a much larger spoke and therefore my perspective may be a bit skewed. However, from my experience there was large amounts of information and data flow lag which set many deadlines behind. The difference that I saw between the international hub and spoke and the internal one was the reliance that people placed on each other. The amount of times I was asked to stop what I was doing to help with something else in another department meant that now what I had to put on hold what I was doing previously as well as get caught up on a new project and do that. This lead to deadlines being pushed back and inefficiencies that couldn’t be avoided without changing the entire system. My experience has lead me to believe that hub and spoke system works much better when the more autonomous and self-sufficient the spokes are.
     As far as transaction costs go, being an intern I had very limited interaction with customers. However, one of the few projects that did have me interacting people outside of the company had me interacting with some suppliers for parts that we would then be passing on to consumers. This project had me emailing suppliers to get them to sign documents making sure they were producing their product in an appropriate way that meets our standards. While many companies complied, there were several companies who refused. For these companies the transaction cost of signing the documents and doing business with us was too high. The only problem with this though, is that several car manufacturers (i.e. Ford, GM, etc.) had told us that we needed to do business with several of these companies who weren’t submitting the signed documents. In these cases, our company was forced to bear the transaction costs of doing business with the noncompliant companies, meaning our company was taking on the uncertainty and risk by continuing to do business with the other uncooperative companies.