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Abstract

The report will seek to use personal experiences of the author during the
Everest simulations to provide insight into how simulations can be used as a
development tool for managers

EVEREST REPORT
MGMT1001

Rahul Sunil Kapadia


Z5116156
MGMT1001
Tuesday 4-5pm
Paul Doran
Date submitted: 13/05/2016
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Executive Summary

The Everest report refers, analyses, and reflects upon the experiences of Team 114 during the
Everest simulation. The Everest simulation task involves a team of 5 individuals (in Team
114s case 4) participating in two climbs over 6 virtual days. The report uses the personal
experiences of the team leader regarding the Everest simulation to exhibit how effective it is
in regards to providing an interactive environment where actual theory can be applied, and
interpersonal skills can be used to ensure the team achieves its goals. Through discussing the
possible benefits and costs of using virtual and face to face communication, the report comes
to conclusion as to why 2nd simulation saw a decrease in personal and team goals achieved
(see appendix A and B), in spite of the team members finding communication much easier
when it was done face to face. What was found is that the importance of having an organised
form of communication could be more vital than the medium of communication. Along the
same lines what was found by analysing the different leadership styles used over the 2
simulations was that not following leadership processes could have a more vital impact on the
results on teams than even different leadership styles. Through personal analysis from what
the team leader obtained from his experiences with the Everest simulation, a personal
management development program has been developed, with the aim of improving the team
leaders understanding of management theory as well as improving communication and
leadership skills through potential work experience.

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Table of Contents
Executive Summary............................................................................................... 1
Introduction............................................................................................................ 3
Section 1: Value of simulations as a learning tool..................................................3
Section Two............................................................................................................ 5
Online communication........................................................................................ 5
Face to face communication...............................................................................6
Leadership.......................................................................................................... 7
Leadership Styles............................................................................................. 7
Section 3: Personal reflection.................................................................................8
Personal Management Development plan..........................................................9
Conclusion............................................................................................................. 9
References........................................................................................................... 10
Appendix.............................................................................................................. 11

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Introduction
The Everest simulation task involves a team of 5 individuals (in Team 114s case 4)
participating in two virtual climbs with the aim of reaching the summit. The report will touch
upon the Everest simulation and how the experiences with the simulation can be used to
reflect upon the theoretical frameworks learnt in the management course. Performances in the
simulations are determined by the successful completion of team goals in conjunction with
individual goals, as well as everyone in the team being healthy at the completion of the climb
(See appendix A and B). The purpose of the two simulations as well as the subsequent
analysis is to recognise why certain aspects of the simulation were successes or failures as
well as gaining a stronger understanding of the importance of effective communication skills
and developing leadership skills. By making reference to the personal experiences with the
Everest simulation, the report will argue as to how simulations can be effective in allowing
students to put management theory into practice and in developing personal leadership
abilities. A personal review will also be undertaken in this report, with the aim of moving on
from the simulation to developing key managerial skills.

Section 1: Value of simulations as a learning tool


Simulations that create dynamic environments and involve interactivity are a valuable
learning tool as they allow individuals to put theory into practice, and reflect upon the
successes and failures of the simulation to further understand the theory at hand. Effective
management requires the ability to comprehend and apply management theory. Simulations
can create environments in which students implement features used in a work context without
the fear of consequences in the real world (Elmuti 2004 cited in Poisson-de Haro & Turgut
2012 p.210; Lisk, Kaplancali & Riggio 2012). This concept centres around the basic notion
of practice makes perfect in management (Brown, Parente & Stephen 2012; Lisk,
Kaplancali & Riggio 2012). In this regard the Everest simulation is particularly valuable as
team members were put into situations not familiar to them and had to exercise judgement
where no guidelines existed with the example of making decisions on weather conditions,
health of team members and the correct amount of oxygen tanks to take to the summit
(Nichols & Wright 2015 p. 534). The decision making was made particularly difficult by the

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fact that both simulations were undertaken without the Environmentalist. What group 114 was
able to do effectively in the first simulation, was to recognise how certain individual goals
were interlinked. By sharing information regarding individual goals and exclusive
information that each individual was given, and mapping out a plan before starting the hike,
the group was able to understand at a very early stage that certain decisions could potentially
have flow on effects on the team. In this sense the Everest simulation provided an experiential
environment in which students were able to implement strategies involving situational and
interpersonal complexities (Nichols & Wright 2015). What simulations also provide is the
opportunity to analyse and to reflect upon the team and individual performance, which
enhances the learning experience as by analysing how effective the individuals performance
was, a student can assess on what he or she needs to improve on regarding their managerial
abilities.

Simulation exercises have been considered a mechanism for enhancing the development of
soft skills of managers. Katz originally argued that three skill areas are vital for managers;
technical skills, conceptual skills and human skills (Brown, Parente & Stephen 2012).
Managers need to develop interpersonal skills because a strong awareness of human
behaviour is required to ensure efficiency and satisfaction between members in organisations
(Poisson-de Haro & Turgut 2012; Brown, Parente & Stephen 2012). These skills include
showing awareness and understanding of others opinions and the ability to work
cooperatively and in coordination with others. In a simulated environment like Everest which
involves interacting with other individuals, it provides the opportunity for students to
experiment with their communication and behavioural styles and assess how effective these
styles were (Brown, Parente & Stephen 2012). What was seen over the two simulations was
that results were strongly linked with how effective communication and team cohesion was
because it also affected the decision making process. In the second simulation, team 114 did
not put emphasis on creating effective communication channels, which led to critical errors in
the decision making process. This coupled with the inability to engage correctly with
leadership functions resulted in the percentage of team and individual goals achieved to
decrease significantly in the second simulation (See Appendix B)

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Section Two
Analysis of the successes and failures of the Everest simulation cannot just be put down to
flawed decisions and individual effort, rather there needs to be a more widespread approach
in analysing the factors that affect the organisational process. By delving into the differences
in the communication methods used over the two simulations, more explanation can be given
as to why results were better when communication was done virtually, despite the team
members finding face-to face communication much easier. By looking at how leadership
styles affected the teams process of decision making and communicating, there will be
further understanding why certain aspects of the Everest experience were a success or a
failure. By analysing all these factors that affected the experience of Everest, this will allow
further understanding theoretical frameworks in management.

Online communication
Team 114s team and individual performances over the two simulations were strongly
influenced by the effectiveness of communication between team members. This is
unsurprising as effective communication is strongly linked to the efficiency and success of an
organisation (Zixiu, DAmbra, Turner & Huiying 2009). The first simulation saw team 114
communicate solely online. One theory that is strongly linked with online communication is
the online disinhibition effect (Suler 2005). The theory essentially relates to the lack of
behavioural inhibition in an online environment, and the first simulation provided an
opportunity for the disinhibition effect to take place. In regards to toxic disinhibition the
likelihood of team members being rude or angry was small to begin with, partly due to the
fact that the dissociative anonymity was not available for the team members who knew that
the team members were from the same tutorial and would eventually meet (Suler 2005). The
same reason could be applied as to why there was a lack of benign disinhibition amongst
team members. The lack of the online disinhibition effect on team members, especially toxic
inhibition, most certainly aided the team in communicating effectively.

Despite the perceived difficulties for online communication, team 114 used online
communication effectively. In virtual communication there is reduced social context, and as a
result messages and dialogue between team members need to be explicit because the normal
mechanisms of voice intonation and non-verbal cues are not available (Chhay & Kleiner

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2013). Along the same lines there needs to be clear understanding of the team goals and a
high level of trust in order to reduce high levels of uncertainty (Germaine 2011). One of the
positive aspects of the first simulation was that team understood and recognised how personal
goals were interlinked and this was a result of effective communication by analysing each
individuals personal goal and showing trust in the opinions of the other team members. In
one particular instance two personal goals of the photographer were to stay consecutive days
in camp 1 and camp 2, however in order for the photographer to achieve two of his goals, the
team leader would have to sacrifice two of his personal goals. The team understood that there
needed to be a compromise between the photographer and team leader so that both achieve at
least one personal goal each. This understanding was a direct result of the team going through
great lengths of time to ensure effective knowledge sharing.

Face to face communication


In the second simulation, which was done mainly face to face, saw results for the team leader
(see Appendix A and B) and the team decrease (see Appendix A and B). Face to face
communication has always been viewed as the most effective medium for teams to
communicate through (Zixiu, DAmbra, Turner & Huiying 2009). Partly because the
messages can be spoken vocally and involve the non-verbal cues which forms a vital part of
communication and thus makes it easier to understand the message (Zixiu, DAmbra,
Turner & Huiying 2009; Chhay & Kleiner 2013). Although team 114 found
communicating face to face much easier, without the implementation of a communication
guideline or a method for everyone to individually voice their opinion in a structured manner,
critical errors were made in the second simulation. The critical point in the 2nd simulation was
when the physician in round 4 had signs of having frostbite, and asked the team leader what
medical supply to use on himself, and team leader mistakenly told him that in his opinion the
Gamow bag should be used. The other 2 team members were working on predicting the
temperature, and although the correct step would have been to address the issue with the
whole team this was not done so and resulted in the physician needing to be rescued. One
cause for this critical error was the fact that there was limited time to do the simulation,
because the team only had a certain overlap in time in each others day to do the simulation
face to face which meant decisions were taken in haste. One advantage of doing the

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simulation virtually was that the issue of location and to an extent time did not affect the
decision making process for the team.

Leadership
The Everest simulation had experiences that involved the abilities or capabilities required for
the exercise of leadership. Although in the context of the Everest simulation, there is a team
leader appointed for the simulation, leadership is widely considered to be something that in
team environments occurs through a process rather than appointment (Siewiorek, Saarinen,
Lainema & Lehtinen 2012). Team 114 originally consisted of 5 members; Environmentalist,
Marathoner, photographer, physician and team leader. However not being able to make any
contact with the Environmentalist (who was originally the team leader) before the
simulations, it forced the team to do the simulations without her, and the roles being switched
around. Her absence most certainly affected the percentage of team goals and personal goals
achieved, because in both simulations her character had to be rescued (see Appendix A and
B). What occurred in the first simulation was that the appointed team leader also emerged as
the leader of the group because he believed he was the most prepared and was also the first to
attempt to convince the team members to put aside their individual goals and convince them
to focus on the climb (Hogan, Curphy, and Hogan 1994 cited in Siewiorek, Saarinen,
Lainema & Lehtinen 2012).

Leadership Styles
The directive leadership style the team leader adopted was successful during the first
simulation due to the fact it the simulation was done virtually. To ensure there was no
misunderstanding of what team members should do, explicit instructions were given. The
team leader also ensured that the team sketched out a rough plan as to how to the team was
going to reach the summit. What had occurred during the second simulation was that all team
members showed the drive and willingness to lead and as a result shared leadership was
implemented (Siewiorek, Saarinen, Lainema & Lehtinen 2012). The reason why the
leadership style in 2nd simulation did not work well was because a key leadership process was
not followed. There was an inability to structure and plan the teams work, as there was no
coordination of how to work together and accomplish the team goals (Morgeson, DeRue, &
Karam 2010). Although there was a team contract (see appendix C) which set out some of

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the guidelines, it wasnt used for the simulation, as a more spontaneous approach was used. In
this regards it can be seen that while leadership styles can influence the results of the team,
not following certain leadership processes can have a much more negative impact.

Section 3: Personal reflection


Through the experiences of the Everest simulations, and in a sense writing this report, I have
become more informed of the management theory regarding communication as well as
becoming more aware of my personal leadership development. One valuable instance of
learning was regarding the absence of the environmentalist across both simulations. In certain
instances, the group was missing crucial information which most likely her avatar had, which
made it difficult to obtain bonus points regarding the weather, oxygen and applying the
correct medical supplies to team members (see appendix B). However, to use her absence as
an excuse for the overall failures in both simulations would be ineffectual as both simulations
were done with her absence yet the results in the 2nd simulation worsened significantly. It is
easier to critique other members of the team, and absolve yourself for making any errors,
however this hinders personal development. In some sense this situation was reflective of
potential organisational issues, as managers on a consistent basis are faced with unforeseen
challenges in complex scenarios (Poisson-de Haro & Turgut 2012). The learning experience
of the Everest simulation was pivotal in regards to leadership development, as I was put in
situations where I had to anticipate reactions from other team members which although was
in a simulated environment the interactions were authentic (Lisk, Kaplancali & Riggio
2012). The ability to extract insight from the Everest experience with the example of
understanding the benefits or costs of the Directive leadership style or the shared leadership
style is a testament to the value of post simulation analysis. The only thing I have would done
more differently in the simulations, was perhaps to try and motivate the team members to
show some dedication into planning and communicating with the other team members before
the simulations.

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Personal Management Development plan


In assessing what I would done differently over the 2 simulations, a potential management
development plan can be developed. In my opinion one strength that I possess is the ability to
assess and analyse situations. My weakness however which was shown during the simulations
was not necessarily having the required background knowledge to correctly assess situations.
In order for me to grow as a leader or a manager, I believe further engagement with key
management theory needs to be undertaken within the next 6 months. This will be done by
reading journals and articles online from the MYUNSW library database. As it would have
been more interesting to analyse a situation during the simulation and then apply a certain
leadership style as opposed to unwittingly becoming a directive leader and then assessing
why It did or didnt work (Nichols & Wright 2015). The second aspect I believe
improvement is required is working and communicating in a team environment especially in
an organisation. While the experiences with the simulation have shown me that I have the
ability to manage conflict and direct people, it is important that I keep on applying and testing
these skills as management theory need to be applied in order to come full view. Work
experience will be pivotal in providing an environment to hone and develop communication
skills (Brown, Parente & Stephen 2012) and attempts within the year will be made to
possibly obtain work experience through university or externally by applying for internships
in certain organisations that oriented towards teamwork (i.e. marketing).

Conclusion
Through references to the personal experiences with the Everest simulations, understanding
can be made as to why simulations are particularly effective as learning tools, and more
specifically as a tool to develop soft skills for managers. Often management theory is applied
through case studies where the organisation is static, however through the interacting in the
dynamic environment of the Everest simulation, understanding can be made of the
importance of the application of theory and frameworks as it then provides an opportunity to
analyse and discuss theory through personal experience. By specifically examining key
individual issues faced in the simulation, the importance of effective communication and
applying leadership functions in team environments becomes highlighted. By reflecting upon
the learnings from the simulations, areas of the individuals personal leadership which are

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strong and that are weak also come to light and possible steps can be taken to improve these
areas. Thus by experiencing the simulation, analysing and reflecting upon it, the theories and
frameworks of management become clear and easier to apply in actual situations.

References
Chhay, R. & Kleiner, B. 2013 Effective communication in virtual teams, Industrial
Management, Vol 55, no, 4, pp. 28-30,5, viewed 5th May 2016, [Proquest Central]

Germain, ML 2011, Developing trust in virtual teams, Performance Improvement Quarterly,


Vol 24, no. 3, pp. 2954, viewed 10th May 2016, [Wiley online library].

Guo, Z., DAmbra, J., Turner, T. & Zhang, H. 2009 Improving the effectiveness of virtual
teams: A comparison of Video-Conferencing and face-to-face communication in china, IEEE
Transactions on Professional Communication, Vol 52, no, 1, pp. 116, viewed 5th May 2016,
[IEEE Xplore journals]

Lisk, T.C., Kaplancali, U.T. & Riggio, R.E. 2012 Leadership in Multiplayer online gaming

environments, Simulation & Gaming, Vol 43, no. 1, pp. 133149, viewed on 7th May 2016,

[SAGE journals].

Morgeson, F.P., DeRue, D.S. & Karam, E.P. 2010 Leadership in teams: A functional
approach to understanding leadership structures and processes, Journal of Management, Vol
36, no.1, pp. 539, viewed 11th May 2016 [SAGE journals].

Nichols, E. & Wright, AL 2015 Using the Everest team simulation to teach threshold
concepts,Journal of Management Education, Vol 39(4), pp. 531537, viewed 5th May 2016,
[SAGE journals].

Parente, D.H., Stephan, J.D. & Brown, R.C. (2012) Facilitating the acquisition of strategic
skills,Management Research Review, Vol 35, no 11, pp. 10041028, viewed 7th May 2016,
[Proquest Central]

Poissonde Haro, S & Turgut, G. 2012 Expanded strategy simulations: Developing better
managers, Journal of Management Development, Vol 31, no, 3, pp. 209220, viewed on 5th
May 2016, [Proquest Central].

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Siewiorek, A., Saarinen, E., Lainema, T. & Lehtinen, E. 2012 Learning leadership skills in a
simulated business environment, Computers & Education, Vol 58, no, 1, pp. 121135,
viewed 9th May 2016, [Elsevier ScienceDirect Journals]

Suler, J. 2005 The online Disinhibition effect, International Journal of Applied


Psychoanalytic Studies, Vol 2, no. 2, pp. 184-188, viewed on 9th May 2016, [Wiley Online
Library].

Appendix
A) 1st simulation

B) 2nd simulation

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C)

TEAM CONTRACT

Everest 2

Team Name _________________Team__Everest______________

Name Role Contact


1 Rahul Kapadia Leader Facebook, email
rkaps27@gmail.com
2 Nathan Chan Physician Email:
calvin_hey_hei@hotmai
l.com
3 Haohao (Mabel) Chen Marathoner Facebook
4 Qinhui Chen Photographer Facebook

Team Procedures

1. Day, time, and location of team members for Everest 2:

Tuesday 26th April 4pm room 306 Main library UNSW.

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2. Preferred method of communication before and during Everest 2 (i.e., e-


mail, mobile, chat function, face-to-face in a specified location).

A. Before the climb

Messenger on Facebook, or on Tuesdays before we have our MGMT tutorial

B. During the climb (Note: Everest 2 has to be conducted face-to-face in a


specified location during the exercise)

Face to face and chat function during the simulation if we want to say something
to a individual person

C. After the climb

Messenger on Facebook and face to face for further clarifications or clarity on


particular issues

3. Team goal for Everest 2:

Achieve more than 70% of our team goals and ensure that individuals obtain
more individual personal goals. Ensure that every individual feels that they have
their voice heard.

4. Decision-making policy (By consensus? By majority vote? By team leader?):

Consensus because this is what we believe that everyone is content with as


decisions made as group members will engage more and share information for
the information for the purpose of increasing each others understanding of the
issue.

Team Participation

1. How will we resolve conflict?

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Understanding and appreciating the various viewpoints involved in conflict will be


key factors in resolving conflict. Agree to a process in order to solve the conflict,
and ensure there is clarity of what the actual conflict is, present facts and
analyse the conflict and how the facts are related to the conflict. After which a
discussion can be had and then if a consensus cannot be reached or a mutual
agreement then majority voting will have to suffice only as a last resort.

2. Strategies for encouraging/including ideas and debate from all team


members:

The Everest team leader can take the initiative but first and foremost if three of
us are having a discussion then it is the responsibility of the three discussing to
try and involve the other person. (Example: asking if there has been any special
information given about the particular issue on their computer screen because at
least that gets the other person to communicate).

3. Strategies for achieving our goal:

Ensuring that details are carefully understood because some of the points we lost
in the first simulation was lost in regards to bonus points for guessing the
weather or correct level of oxygen needed to be taken to climb the summit. In
order to ensure that everyone is satisfied with the decisions after analysing all
the information before submitting all our decisions we ask if everyone is one the
same page.

4. Preferences for leadership (team leader only, shared leadership):

Shared Leadership

Personal Accountability

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1. Expected individual attendance, punctuality, and participation at Everest


2:

Everyone is able to attend allocated date unless specified, upon which


adjustments can be made if for example someone falls sick. Everyone reaches by
5 minutes past 4 and everyone contributes with dialogue and insight.

2. What are the consequences for lack of engagement in Everest 2?

If a team member doesnt attend on the day without any given notice,
opportunities will be given for themselves to explain themselves after which we
can adjust for another time, but this will only be done once. In regards to lack of
engagement during Everest 2 simulation then it will be noted by all other
individuals in the group and made reference to in the debrief questions.

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