Sunday, December 10, 2006

Discussion Boards - a Wonderful way of keeping garbage, popularly known as "Class Participation" out of the class

Discussion Boards - a Wonderful way of keeping garbage, popularly known as "Class Participation" out of the class

We have a course titled Managerial Decision Making taught by Prof. Joseph Russo from the Johnson School of Business at Cornell and in that he has opted for a very succesful form of grading Class Participation.

We has instituted half the grade for class participation to a Discussion board on blackboard (an online student information medium)

this has been very popular with the students, here at ISB with almost 80 entries notched by the first week alone. which is all the more surprising as that the class consists of only 65 students.

Even yours truly managed to slide a couple of comments in ....

On the topic of Framing - which is nothing but viewing a problem differently or out of the box thinking, I wrote a couple of comments ...

Comment 1

Study groups or taking decision in teams is a wonderful method of counteracting the disadvantages on thinking through a specific frame. Diversified groups consist of people from a variety of backgrounds, each of whom apply a different frame to a problem and view it differently. The result is that learning teams/study groups achieve far superior results when compared to a individual effort.

To cite from an exercise we did in a Quality Management class taught by Prof Ram Ganeshan recently...

The objective of the exercise was to illustrate the different ways in which individuals as well as teams solve a problem.

The task consisted of ranking a list of 12 items in order of importance for survival, when stranded at a plane crash site in -20 degrees Celsius. the items were things like loaded .34 calibre pistol, can of shortening, axe, blanket, 12 sets of shirts and pants, a large canvas, a bottle of whiskey, a lighter without fluid, a map, a compass and newspapers.

This ranking was done by a team of 8 people and in parallel by 12 students, who did it individually.

This was compared with a ranking performed by experts, which afforded best chances of survival.

The results were not too surprising. The team's selection was better than the average decision of the individuals. Framing a problem in different frames, allows individuals to look at all aspects of a problem and reach at a far superior decision.

Comment 2

I have recently started reading a wonderful book called

Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis

This book is a wonderful rendition of how Oakland A's General Manager Billy Beane used innovative practices and viewed baseball differently when compared to other teams such as the famous Yankees and consequently maximised his dollar to win games in an as cheap manner as possible.

The approach of most famous teams is to purchase the most successful hitter/pitcher at an insane price and win games by scoring home runs or pitching out the other team. This method is extremely expensive and yields a very low "No. of Wins/$ spent" ratio.

Billy Beane of Oakland A's decided to view the problem of maximising the "No. of Wins/$ spent" ratio through different frames and enjoyed phenomenal successes. Rather than focussing on stars, who were expensive, he focussed on aspects such as fielding and the importance of getting a guy on the first base. Viewing the act of winning a game by spending the least amount of money via a different frame than other managers, permitted Billy to implement very successful practices which have resulted in a wonderful performance by the Oakland A's

Maybe Chappel can apply the principles of framing a problem differently and other aspects of a Decision Process to improve the woeful performances of the Indian Cricket Team.


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