Blog de GAIA Program
Master in Decision Making and Innovation
Now that the deadline of the Personal Branding activity has passed, it’s time to give you some feedback regarding this activity, so you will be able to find out how you should have completed it and what aspects should have taken into account in your analysis.
Throughout this activity, we wanted you to understand the development over time of an enduring personal brand, to evaluate the flexibility of a personal brand- how many different categories the brand can occupy yet still retain authenticity and to explore the importance of timing in extending or transitioning a brand.
These teaching objectives should have been achieved through two parts: In the first part you should have answered five reflective questions about the Oprah Winfrey’s story and in the second part you should have filled out the canvas model provided, completing the Personal Brand Culture analysis from the point of view of two different profiles based on her target market.
The first five questions had the objectives that you searched for information about the Oprah Winfrey’s story, reflected on it and analysed how her brand has transitioned into new categories as a strategy for sustainability and competitive proofing. In this part, the students should have identified how Oprah Winfrey’s brand has broken barriers for a Black American woman, detailing some of her brand values (transparency, self-esteem, perseverance, self-improvement, determination, leadership, positivism…) and how she has focused on the defence of black community rights transitioning into her fight against poverty and protection of children’s rights.
We also wanted in this part that the students mentioned some relevant facts about Oprah Winfrey’s story that enabled her to evolve and reinvent herself, such as her talk show role, her role as an actress in the Steven Spielberg’s film, producer, the creation of Oprah’s Angel Network, the foundation of the Oprah’s Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa, her support for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, the creation of her own channel and so on. These details and facts are a good indication for us that the students have done good research and have been able to identify the most important facts of Oprah’s life that have allowed her brand extension.
The students should also have reflected on how well her brand story has transformed through her career by mentioning how her decisions have helped her to expand her brand in gradual steps and connect with more people every time. At this point, we wanted the students to have talked about how she can extend her brand (e.g. enhancing younger generations) and have identified some stages of her life where she has extended her brand and the students explained why these changes made sense. For instance, when the decision of creating the Oprah’s Leadership Academy for Girls, which was in line with her values, identity and story, made sense because she managed to connect with her audience and make her brand stronger in a moment when people wanted to see more about Oprah.
Therefore, at the beginning of the the activity the students should be able to define the different categories that Oprah’s brand has occupied in her story and conclude how her brand has been able to evolve gradually at the correct moments, connecting with more people, always being in line with her values and her “unique selling point”. Transitioning a brand in gradual steps is likely to be more successful than leaping from one radical reinvention to another, at least in terms of bringing along an existing audience while trying to cultivate a new one. This is what Oprah was able to do!
Once the students have analyzed the Oprah Winfrey story and the main facts that have characterized her life, the students had all the information to identify the success factors that have typically been tied to one or more of the several categories Oprah’s brand occupies, including television, media producer, actress and so on. At this point, the student could have mentioned the Oprah’s role as:
- An empowered black woman.
- Her ability to break barriers as a Black American woman.
- Her adaptability as a career woman (moving from former host to chairwoman and CEO of Harpo Productions, for example)
- Her ability to connect with various audiences.
- Her drive and discipline (hard-working, self-confidence, self-improvement,
- Learn from failures.
- Her courage (perseverance, self-esteem, positivism…)
- Communication and leadership skills.
- Humility, transparency and honesty.
- Collaborative spirit and charity.
Regarding the risk in personal branding, the students should have raised the positive and negative aspects of connecting the person to a brand, for instance:
Therefore, you need to have a clear idea of who you are, what you do, what you want to become, so your message should be perceived correctly for your target audience.
At the point of the personal brand culture analysis, we wanted our students to identify the brand elements that have broader appeal beyond any single demographic group.
During this exercise, some students have described Oprah Winfrey as courageous, strong, positive, fearless, friendly and talkative (“Who is she”); as a celebrity, an actress, TV presenter and a breaker of barriers (“What is she”); as someone to emulate, a role model or someone women felt they could become (“ What do you think or feel about her”); and as someone motivational or who feels like a close friend (“What kind of Relationship do you have with her”).
As you could have seen, all these characteristics are correct and in line with what she wants to transmit and communicate about herself, showing clarity, constancy and coherence.
But, what made the Oprah Winfrey’s story meaningful? In this question, most of the students mentioned that although she faced difficult situations from childhood, she was able to overcome them and become what she is now.
Her ability to overcome adversity turned her into a role model for many kinds of women (diverse in race, background and body type). This fact has also helped her to establish strong emotional connectivity with her audience and has given authenticity and credibility that reinforces the strength of her brand.
Considering all the information that we have collected about Oprah’s life, finally the students should have identified some of the brand essence components, which are universal aspects of Oprah’s brand. At this point, they should have talked about her persistence, drive, high self- esteem, hard working, courage, generosity and empathy, for instance.
With this last point we have done a complete analysis of Oprah’s life and we have seen how her brand has extended into different categories showing clarity, consistency and coherence with her values. We have also seen how transitioning a brand in gradual steps is likely to be more successful than leaping from one radical invention to another.
In the Oprah Winfrey case, she has managed to develop her brand over time maintaining authenticity, which is an essential component in personal branding.
I hope this feedback has shown you what we expected from you in this activity.
We have finished the evaluation of air Astro, and we can share with you some general conclusions:
The average grade has been 5.9, which is not a bad one, but clearly shows that there is margin for improvement. The variance is 4.6, which clearly shows a big dispersion on the grades. We have seen that most of you do not provide the sources of information and do not include any reference on your workouts! We have observed that lot of people do not provide answers for all the questions made on the workout. Remember to always answer all the questions asked to ensure you can opt to the maximum possible grade.
In addition, you always have the evaluation criteria, where you can see what are we going to take into account!
Most of you have classified the assigned companies within 2 BCG strategies, which is normal. In general the analysis of the strategy has been quite good. There is more variation in the way you present the company.
Again, we gave you lot of guidelines on what aspects we wanted you to cover. Some people has done a great job and gave very good overviews of the company, some other haven’t worked so much on it…
The overall Gaia’s workout performance was really satisfactory. It surprise me on the quality of the workout, some of them really outstanding and going even further of what I was expecting at the first moment. The KEY on investing is understanding “WHY” and look for it. Understanding WHY leads you into a different scenario where not all investor stands on. Knowing why certain company is increasing its sales or why its net income jumps or surge it’s a question of necessity. If you are not able to catch all what’s behind a company you will never really understand if it’s a good investment or not.
Investing should be approach as a scientific method. You know the data, the company and you make some assumptions of what is the company going to performance on the future. What is not investing is a gamble game where you put a bet on certain stock just because you feel that’s what you have to do.
Keep going with the effort and good job you showed me and become a good investor and try to avoid these pitfalls:
- I can’t invest because I don’t have money.
- Don’t ever invest because someone said you have to.
- Don’t invest if you have not done you research.
If you need anything else from my side don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Now that the assessment process is over we want to share with you some thoughts about your workouts and talk about recurring answers we consider interesting to discuss.
On the first question you were required to decide on a target (among a total amount of 169). There were many of you who chose targets related to Gender equality (Goal 5); the second most chosen target was No Poverty (Goal 1) and the third one was related to Climate Action (Goal 13). With your activities you’ve illustrated the main problems our society is facing nowadays and the issues you most engage with.
Apart from the target, you were asked to choose a company and a country on which to focus your action plan. It was a nice surprise for us to see that many of you chose SME companies since there aren’t much information about their current CSR measures; that allows you to start your action plan from scratch!
Regarding the chosen countries, you tended to choose Asian or African countries as they are developing ones and from your point of view they needed more support from your companies. We noticed that only a small amount of students chose developed countries. Don’t you think it would be easier for you to establish relations with the stakeholders if they are from your same country? Do you think a SME company could afford to carry out an action plan focused on Africa?
Moving on, you performed a really good analysis of the current conditions of the company and the country. However, the point of this section was for you to relate this analysis to the chosen target and many of you skipped this last part, which was really important since it was the starting point for the action plan.
Regarding the stakeholders, most of you identified them correctly but failed to explain which were the functions they were going to assume once the plan had been launched. It was not only a matter of identification: for the action plan to be approved your CEO needed to know when and where the stakeholders were going to play a role.
If you remember the main goal of the activity “ …prepare a draft of a plan of action to be presented to your CEO…”, the strategy seems to be one of the main sections of this activity but you devoted to the strategy less effort instead. A little amount of you used specific strategies although there were many examples on the attached guide. For a strategy to succeed it has to have at least SMART goals – as you’ve learnt in AIR module 😉 – , well defined areas, stakeholders involved, and a timing of each action.
Finally you were asked to explain, from your opinion and based on the contents you’ve learnt about CSR, how the corporate strategy of the company would change after carrying out the plan of action. Here you were supposed to talk about the new stakeholders involved in your company and, are you going to establish the ISO?, will your ethical obligations change?
This last section was the less developed from the vast majority of students.
As a final recommendation, read as much as you can from different sources (iBook, webpages, videos, SDG guides,…) and your knowledge will be broader and as a consequence it will be easier for you to accomplish the workout.
We would like to congratulate the 202 teams that delivered the documents for the three projects they had to work on. Overall, it has been a brilliant work!
Ok, let’s focus on more details…
We intended that students enrolled in this compulsory unit were motivated as long as team-membership was set up on the condition of three students belonging to the same companies. It was possible almost in all cases.
On top of it, we announced that you were going to be part of a project with the potential of curing many human diseases.
It might sound like science fiction, but a company capable of editing your DNA as if it was a Word document to correct an infinite number of diseases has just hired you.
That was our welcome card to this unit. Let’s see how we have lived to the high standards we aimed to.
We’re going to review the 7 deliverables asked for. The assessment of these documents has been based on specific evaluation criteria, described in the workout.
An important skill for a Project Manager is to be able to focus on the important thing, those things that add value to the organization, and the value is to focus on the objectives. In doing so, you have to keep in mind that your goals were to upload the deliverables described in the workout. Nothing more, nothing less.
1) Detailed Organization System setup and meetings’ records you have had. We have to say teams did a decent job with the first deliverable Why we say “decent” and not say “good”. Let’s see some figures:
Almost all of the 202 teams showed evidences of the meetings. However…
Only 59 teams out of 202 set up an organization system as requested as well as showed evidences of the meetings. As you remember in project management, communication is essential.
Most of the 143 teams left did a great job showing evidences of the meetings conducted by skype, whatsApp and face-to-face.
When you start a project working in virtual environment, it’s important to ensure a communication and document management system. It is because one of the most important skills in Project Management is communication, which does mean something more than talking much.
59 teams, besides learning about Project Management and researching about CRISPR technology- set up an organization system using some tools like Gantt Chart
These 59 teams set up a workable and functional organizations system. Less teams than we expected elaborated a system that envisioned the scope and restrictions the team had to face.
2) DO the risk matrix for the real project. In fact, we must admit that we did not make it easy to you as we talked about the interchangeably of managing the project and about managing the deliverables. That was tricky. You may have noticed you indeed worked in three projects for three clients. Overall, We are quite satisfied with teams’ performance on this deliverable.
Most of you had never heard of CRISPR before, let alone of rare diseases. A qualified few engaged in lengthy research about the technicalities of DNA editing and CRISPR technology. This analysis helped them to achieve a deeper elaboration of deliverables.
Regarding the risk matrix, risks means those issues that you can identify and define as potential issues that can have negatively influence in getting success in trial tests for instance. There are positive issues they are called opportunities. The client understands that it is an innovative project and there isn’t any experience in managing this project… that’s why they have hired your team!!!
3) The survey exhibit for the FDA. We know that many of you feel you have fallen into a trap because Leber’s congenital amaurosis (LCA) disease means you have to deal with blind people. Sorry, we did not tell you! Though a quick search on the Internet reveals it. Please bear in mind that, in project management, it is important to have the requirements clear; it’s the only way to align the company and client’s goals.
An old proverb says “None so blind as those who will not see”. And reminding this proverb I refer to you… Gaians. You haven´t take into account that people with LCA neither can´t see nor read, so they won´t be able to complete your survey.
A Braille translated version of your survey is the best way to solve this requirement
4) DO the Kanban for China´s Health Authorities. I saw that most of your Kanban are quite elaborated but in some cases you just defined what is the way to make a Kanban instead of doing it for the Chinese authorities. In my personal opinion, I would have post all the tasks in “to do” category.
For those struggling with Kanban, please use virtual Kanban tool.
Here, you can find one for free and working offline: Kanban
5) A clear identification of the stakeholders for NHS’s project. Apparently, it was one of the easiest deliverables. We demanded you the “identification”. Some people provided a list, others add supporting reasons. Most of the teams didn’t take into account animal rights activists. Monkeys are primates. Our family!
6) The REAL objectives and a REAL WBS (Work Breakdown Structure) detailed at least in 3 levels required by NHS. WBS is a breakdown structure where you list all of the activities you need to develop the project, but in the last level for the WBS are the minimum efforts to deliver one activity o basic task. This structure is oriented to a hierarchical decomposition of the work to be executed by the project team, because of that there are levels to define and describe all of the wok packages. Once you have the WBS, you will have to schedule these activities and maybe to develop a Gantt diagram, all of that is for a traditional project management.
Most of the teams did a good job, though some of them should contain tasks more than phases of their projects.
7) The Quality Assurance Plan and the Quality Control Plan required by NHS. I knew this deliverable was quite challenging if teams had not elaborated a complete and articulate WBS. Let’s say the workouts’ reviews shed light on which teams did a formulation of the plans and which ones only reproduced the previous knowledge that team members had. Only 44 teams out of 202 did an excellent job in this realm.
The Quality Assurance Plan establishes the independent reviews and checks that you need to ensure that the quality control is done. On the other hand the Control Quality Plan, is based on the internal reviews that you need to meet the quality goals and requirements.
All in all, bearing in mind that the challenge is one that most of recent graduates are not used to, I think most of the teams did a “decent” job.
Assessment figures say that 89 teams perform at acceptable evaluation criteria. Going above we find only 35 teams out 202excelled at this. (17%)
I would consider hiring any of those teams. That’s a glimmer of hope for our society, which needless to say is in acute shortage of people able to understand and being interested in scientific progress and its application to our future.
Remember that, according to PMI, to be a good Project Manager you don’t need to be an expert in the field or knowledge area of the project; you just need to be a good project manager 😉
Master in Decision Making and Innovation
The main objective of the Project Management activity was for the student to put him/herself in the shoes of a Project Manager in order to develop two different projects plus a conclusion.
After the assessment of all your contributions to the Project Management activity, we would like to provide you with a final and general feedback about the students’ performance and some tips about what we were looking for.
This activity was composed off three different parts:
1. A project proposal based on predictive methodologies for the drone creation
2. A project proposal based on agile methodologies for the AI System creation
3. A conclusion on the ethical components of both projects that also includes the students’ proposals to offer some solutions to possible problems.
Regarding the first project:
Almost all of the students have been able to identify the stakeholders of the Drone Project and have also explained the reasons of their choices. In this part it was essential to identify them in a specific way and avoid generalities such as “customers” or “providers”. We would like to know which are the customers and the providers, for instance. Although the majority was able to provide reasons and justifications there were some groups that didn’t explain the importance of those stakeholders over the project. It was essential to have clear this information in order to focus the rest of the tasks to develop the project in the right direction.
To continue, the students were asked to develop the Drone Project WBS detailed in four levels. This is one of the parts that the students have found more difficult. Although almost all of the groups were able to create the WBS in four levels, not all the groups have created it in the specific level we were looking for. You needed to develop a WBS that could have not been applied to any other project; we were looking for very specific tasks related to the drone project.
Moreover, the majority of the groups has developed a good risk matrix including specific risks. For sure you could have developed an endless list but almost you all have demonstrated your good criteria selecting the most relevant ones and classifying them! Regarding the questions to the human engineers it is important to say that very few groups have employed the SMART concept in order to ask these questions. Having this concept in mind you could have tried to ask more concrete questions that would have allowed you to know more about the requirements of the project.
Finally, it is important to state that the Quality Control and the Quality Assurance plan are two different plans and you needed to develop them separately. Have in mind that, in very general terms, the QC allows you to detect possible problems and the QA to prevent them. There were some groups that approached them as the same plan and they just developed one. In addition, it is also important to say that there were some groups that explained the theory but we want you to put the theory into practice.
Regarding the second project:
Regarding the Kanban, we would like to say that you all have tried to develop a real Kanban but you would have tried to take into account that at the beginning of the project there are tasks that cannot be located in “Done”. In addition, we asked for real tasks and the majority has met the objective.
To continue, you needed to develop a list of questions intended for the pilots in order to know how they develop their work to do your work and meet customer’s requirements. Not all of the groups have been able to take advantage of these questions to develop the next points: Product Backlog and ScrumBoard.
Don’t forget that the Product Backlog consists of the requirements asked by the customer and those requirements should have supported your ScrumBoard. During this last part of the activity our intention was that you all demonstrated the ability to link the Kanban to the questions, to the Product Backlog and, finally, to the ScrumBoard. Not everybody has met this goal but you have tried it!
Regarding the conclusion:
In this last part of the activity we have realized that not everybody has the scope of the project clear. Remember that the scope was a defence one and the project should have been focuses on that.
Some of the groups were able to reflect on the ethical components on the project but they have not given their own proposals and vice versa. It would have been interesting that groups could have tried to go further on the reflections and have supported them on strong arguments.
In general, the students have been able to appreciate the essence of this activity and there have been some groups that have assumed the role of Project Manager providing some good activities!
Keep growing and keep learning!
Keep working like this guys!
In regard to Jewel’s unit workout “Employability skills profile. Performing Competence: levels of complexity.”
Alejandro Iborra, Associated Professor at the University of Alcalá raised two topics for this workout:
1) Watching a case based on a movie excerpt “Up in the air” and commenting it according to the model: “levels of performance complexity” elaborated by John McWhirter DBM®. The task for the student was to think about it in terms of a performance of a complex competence identifying the two interviewers’ roles by George Clooney and Anna Kendrick.
See below both resources:
PERFORMANCE MODEL John McWhirter DBM®
You add quality to your acquired abilities. You can transform any performance in new possibilities
You can create new applications fom your acquired competence
You make good use of the technic, adapting it to the context and introducing needed variations
Getting techniques, protocols, procedures need to perform
Implement basic behaviours
2) Asking the student to connect the previous task with the student’s own professional experience and subsequently reflecting on what are the main developmental issues about competences, i.e. experiential learning, reflecting on our practice, developing complex competences…
Starting with the movie’s questions I would like to share some expert’s observations.
“I think that, due to her job position, she might have the communication skills needed and she also shows that she knows the protocol that has to be followed in these situations. Anna stays with an appropriate behaviour, even if she has to learn how to adapt herself to different situations and new contexts, in order to feel closer to the employees. In conclusion, I think she is in the second level of performance: skill.
The quality of the performance is as important as what is performed (sometimes even more important). In a manner we could say that George is mentoring Anne. So he is not her boss but her mentor (a different relationship indeed). He also want to demonstrate how he can’t be replaced by a computer program. George is clearly at the talent level.
By the way the practices does not guarantee the achievement of a competent performance, much less to show ability or talent. It is the possibility of reflecting on your practice and learning from it. If our jobs determine who we are, then who are we when we lose them?”
If you want to go further in the movie’s teachings you can consult this file provided by one of your mates.
Regarding the workout’s second part, we can say that the proposed questions are an invitation to reflect from your experience.
Recalling Prof. Iborra’s feedback on the students’ contributions on questions 3 and 4 (topic 2 in this post) we see that, generally speaking, a majority of students did reflect well on their own competences and needs for achieving next performance level.
Q3) Select three competences you have been learning or developing recently and think about them in relation to the table: What level of development have yours skills reached? Explain briefly.
It is interesting to reproduce one of the comments written by Prof. Iborra on the issue of performance.
“Performing is just one level in our Self Managing process. If everything flows then your automatized behaviour – skills, even competences will suffice. When something happens that threatens your expectations (negative feedback) then you just don’t perform. You begin to MANAGE. Managing yourself is another level. You manage your performance, and that management is more conscious, and for example it prevents you fall asleep (because there will be warnings, or maybe you will begin to feel bored in a job or position and then will begin to look for something else. Beyond MANAGING there’s another level: DIRECTION (self direction) and it leads why you do what you do. Why it is important, relevant, what values, purposes, and on. And that’s once again is activated under new circumstances. So you perform unaware because you have created skills and competences (very automatic). Changes in external situations (a crisis, being fired, a competition with other company) or internal situations (although everything is internal to some extent as it depends on our meanings, internal here refers to changing your purposes, aims, motivations, priorities, etc…) imply managing and directing yourself.”
As a conclusion we shall say that experience without reflection does not take you very far. So think that when you master automatized tasks it is high time to ask yourself: How is the balance between your performance zone compared with the time you spend in your learning zone?
Regarding Q4) What would you need to achieve the next performance level?
Iborra, answering one student, left us a suggestive reflection:
I agree that the highest level contains the lowest ones (TALENT to BEHAVIOUR). However every change of level implies a qualitative change, not a change in quantity of something. So every performance at every level implies a qualitative different performance.
What you say implies a more analytic understanding of the situation: we can identify behaviours, skills, competences, abilities and talents, but the parts are different than the whole. A talent is not just a sum of abilities. And abilities is not just a sum of competences, etc… etc… It is another performance in terms of its complexity.
We don’t use talent as we use to use it in our daily language. You can have an ease to do something, but that does not mean you are talented. All this needs practice, a lot of hours of reflective practice. Practice you can think about alone or with others.
Taking into account that the questions were related to general questions regarding student´s video interpretations there were clear indicators of the accuracy of the answers.
Here you can find the key findings of the answers we think are correct.
1. Mandates do not overlap
2. Motivations strictly at odds
3. Plan B is better than the solutions at the table
Because the negotiation is not possible and it is better to not waste your time and maintain the relationship in order to establish any other contact in the future.
Danny’s BATNA: $500
Maggie’s BATNA: the experience
1. Explore your possibilities.
2. Choose or analyze which possibility is the best one.
3. Think other ways to improve your BATNA
1. You have to think about the options the other party has and make them understand that making a deal with you is the best option
2. Build up the relationship in order to get as much information as possible.
Now the Oxid Fossil unit is over we want to share with you some thoughts and findings which are the result of your effort.
First of all we want to congratulate for your attitude and the level of your comments. You really enriched the course sharing interesting docs, links and thoughts.
Almudena de la Mata, Lecturer at Hamburg University and Head of the European Affairs Unit of Banco de España has pushed forward the Academic Debate Forum and has encouraged you to talk about mentoring, coaching, mindfulness, lifelong learning… topics that you might not be used to reflect about.
Most of you have been able to concentrate on mindfulness practice during these two weeks and have been able to imagine different scenarios, even crazy scenarios to dynamize your minds, that is really encouraging!
You have also mentioned happiness, dissatisfaction….etc. In “La revolución de la felicidad” Guadalupe de la Mata argues that finding your passion and defining your purpose are essential ways towards happiness. This also reflects systemically as the way to change the world and have a positive impact starts with oneself and our own happiness. Mindfulness is again an essential tool to achieve this, and you got the point!
You also succeeded in sharing knowledge about #lifelonglearning. You highlighted its main ingredients which are curiosity, empathy, passion. You shared an interesting TedTalk which helped you to better understand the lifelong learning concept, here it is:
You placed value on the companies’ need to introduce professional and personal training programs in your jobs. You talked deeply about creativity and you had an intense discussion after seeing the following video.
Feelings is just an important factor of people’s behavior and you need to consider it in your equation if you wish to affect behavior (your own´s or that of another person). It is not something “soft” or “weak”. It is a factor present in all of us, affecting our brain and as such having important consequences in relationships, behaviors and decision and learning processes.
You get to become aware of your own behavior and not only to find a relation between your own values and needs but to relate this with the technological changes, you quoted the main skills we will need to develop in the near future.
As a conclusion, many of the important concepts, skills and knowledges in life are not included in the official curricula. It is therefore important that within GAIA program you are able to confront with this important content and observe and develop some of your most valuable skills.
You need to be open to constantly learn and know that official education does not always provide everything you need. Also partly because you need to be at the right personal moment to fully absolve and practice certain concepts. Be open, listen to your needs, understand your moments and try to feed yourselves with what you require at every time.
Enjoy the process! It is really amazing 😉