A Quarter in Review
“No one is going to kill your ideas more than your own lack of confidence.” – Dr. Kevin DeSouza
“Management” is a term that endures a range of stereotypes and preconceptions. Many individuals in our cohort came to IMT 580 with notions about what the class was going to be about. Ten weeks later, each of us left the classroom having learned something not only about the “Management of Information Organizations” but also having explored a new understanding of our own beliefs and assumptions about the world. No matter what a student brought to the classroom, this course has been about applying one’s own ideas to the incredibly diverse field of management, and not about superimposing the field onto the individual.
Kevin’s management of his classroom embodies and illustrates many of the concepts introduced by this course. He applies a “Total Quality Management” approach to the classroom experience, and looks for feedback continuously, with formal surveys at the middle and end of the quarter and an informal open ear at all times. On a number of noteworthy occasions, student suggestions were incorporated immediately after being suggested. Allowing his students to participate in a continual improvement process served as a management lesson for leading organizations in the future. In addition to the experience within the classroom, Kevin’s dedication to meeting the needs of his students outside the classroom proved highly motivating. As a result of his work, students feel great responsibility to meet the course expectations, and to put their best efforts forward.
During the course, students face the same dilemmas managers experience: problems are often wicked; hypothetical decisions faced will be difficult and nuanced; and, perhaps most importantly, the importance of fostering innovation not only for organizational excellence, but for survival, is made crystal clear. Kevin utilizes course readings, case studies, and role play to impart the thinking skills managers will need in organizations of the future. To maximize the benefit of the classroom experience, it is important that students come prepared to contribute, based on both assigned readings and the latest business news. Students should come in with ideas, and be ready to voice them; the richness of the classroom experience is found in the discussions and the different perspectives each person brings to a particular issue. Furthermore, students should not be afraid to pursue their ideas. Use this opportunity to strengthen and build upon your ideas, refining them through the input and feedback from your peers. Most importantly, listen to your classmates, and learn from each other – the beauty of such a diverse program is the vastly different backgrounds and experiences from which we may all benefit.
We should make the most of sharing our ideas and acting as good information managers. Kevin has established the class blog as a way to collaborate and share ideas; future cohorts should continue to utilize such tools both to enrich the course experience and to practice the employ of value-added information management skills. In the spirit of sharing and believing in one’s ideas, Kevin has also worked to publish student papers in the past; this is a valuable way to have one’s voice heard in the business community. In short, work to find the best channel for your ideas, develop the most promising ideas to their full potential, and use every opportunity to practice good and respectful communication skills when interacting with your classmates, Kevin, and executive contacts.
One student sums up his experience: “I came in with the assumption that management is about manipulating people skillfully. However, I learned that management and leadership are not only about wisdom, they are also about compassion.”
There is no secret to IMT 580; it’s not a class about obfuscation. Rather, the difficulty lies in trusting Kevin when he looks you in the eye and tells a series of unexpected truths. “Believe in your ideas;” “Follow your own plan;” “I love reading the best student work, because it’s far better than what CEOs produce:” from Kevin, these are not platitudes. In the world of academia, so often it is not the originality or brilliance of your thinking that is valued, but the skill and intricacy with which you assemble and relate the ideas of others. Kevin’s class, then, is a singular and remarkable experience for the young information scientist: an opportunity, very early on, to find your own voice, and to have that voice very clearly heard.
Thank you, Kevin, from all of us. We won’t go quiet anymore.
By: Jordan Eschler, Jiandong Hu, Emily Oxenford, Paul Simons, and Ross M. Donaldson
Kevin mentioned numerous books over the course of the class. Below are a list of a few that might be of interest.
- The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman
- Free Agent Nation: The Future of Working for Yourself by Daniel Pink
- Gurus, Hired Guns, and Warm Bodies: Iterant Experts in a Knowledge Economy by Stephen R. Barley
- Harvard Business Review, especially the case studies
- The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
- Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely
- Knowledge Management Case Book by Thomas Davenport
- Does IT Matter? by Nicholas Carr
- Anything by Herbert A. Simon, but at least Sciences of the Artificial
- The Innovator’s Dillema by Clayton Christensen
- Redefining Global Strategy: Crossing Borders in a World Where Differences Still Matter by Pankaj Ghemawat
- Freefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy by Joseph Stiglitz
- Who’s Your City?: How the Creative Economy Is Making Where to Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life by Richard Florida