Being the manufacturing team for company B, it was important that our team understood and developed different attributes to make an effective business team. At the start of the simulation, we set some targets therefore, this way we could monitor the progress of the company throughout, were able to reflect on each month’s performance and improve. Our main objective was to maximise the company’s profit which we would tried to achieve by selling as much as possible and at the highest price that we could agree on. In addition, we have practiced the five main components in pursuit of becoming an effective team such as effectiveness (focusing the team on the right goals), efficiency (achieving the agreed goals faster, cheaper), co-ordination, business thinking, communication skills and experimental learning.
Coordination between the teams is very important to be able to achieve team synergies and make sure we, as a team, move in the same direction. It helps to achieve team’s objectives quicker, minimise the conflicts, rivalries, and other organisational problems. Effective coordination means that each team member understands his role and responsibilities and acts in agreement with other team members to achieve common goals. Working well as team is another key aspect that we had to learn and leverage. It involved understanding diversity of our talents, strength and weaknesses, and organising our work such that we could take advantage of it and achieve team synergies. That is when results achieved by the team is more than a sum of individual contributions of each members. By working together, we have learned to earn respect by each other, have faith in our colleagues and delegate authority. In the simulation, our team has learnt it hard way that good coordination is very important in order to succeed in achieving our goals. During week 4, lack of coordination on our team resulted in us losing a lot of money because our team has made two deals with two different retailers at the same time, selling the same product but at different prices. Once it became known to our retailers, this situation resulted in us failing to achieve the targeted profit as well as losing as a customer. Another issue that we faced throughout the simulation was the asset turnover. It was very important for us to have a high asset turnover as it represents how efficiently the company is managing its resources. As you can see on the graph (see appendix 1), right from the start it is was very low, up until month 8 where it suddenly increases. This happened because we increased the number of sales we were making by increasing promotions.
Good communication is an essential tool in achieving productivity and maintaining strong working relationships at all levels of an organisation. Communication is a two way process that includes openness and clarity (making your thinking visible) as well as active listening (making other people thinking visible) which I believe was the key attribute to our team striving to be an effective business. In relation to the simulation, it was necessary to create efficient communication with the retailers to secure orders. Our communication has improved over the weeks, especially after having encountering a problem in the first week of simulation which resulted in losing money due to miscommunication between the teams (see appendix 1). Although the deal had been agreed, the teams entered wrong data into the system resulting in great loss profit. The graph shows the results before and after the miscommunication. This mistake demonstrates how important it is not only to build a strong relationship between the two parties but also have clear communication, as, in the long run, this would deem mutually beneficial as both parties would work to meet each other’s demands resulting in greater potential profits and avoiding backward steps.
Striving for efficiency and effectiveness was another very important factor contributing to becoming an effective business team during the business simulation. Being efficient means using resources wisely, and, therefore, they being able to maximise the production. We faced several problems with organisational capability, especially at the beginning when we had difficulty knowing how much staff to employ. As a result, we had our distribution staff working at full capacity and still not being able to fulfil all of our orders with a retailer. We struggled to decide how much product to store each month as the demand varied from one month to another. As demonstrated in the graph (see appendix 2), a drastic fall in capital employed indicates lower profitability and overall operational inefficiency. During month 8, we decided to improve on inventory management involving proper monitoring, organisation and coordination which significantly improved our cashflow over the last few months. For our team as a whole, it has become our main focus to become more effective and to ensure that during the simulation, we built and maintained good relationship with other teams and any problems that came up were solved as quickly as possible.
During the first few months of the simulation, we committed some mistakes we can now reflect on and learn from them. One particular mistake we made was not understanding a leader’s style and behaviours that best fit employees and work environment in order to achieve a goal (Path – Goal model, House, Mitchell, 1974). There are four key factors in accordance to the Path – Goal theory: Setting goals and tasks together, agreeing on what is to be achieved, how these goals will be achieved and what will be a reward for achieving set goals. We could have set some goals at the beginning of the simulation such as deciding on how much we wanted to sell at a certain price, how much staff it would have taken to sell that amount or how much we wanted to store. Due to us failing to recognise some of the elements of the Path – Goal theory, our team couldn’t successfully analyse and manage our business performance and could not coordinate decisions and activities as well as it could have done if we had set these target goals.
Managing value chain from a manufacturing team perspective was the key element of success for our business. Failure to address some elements had an impact on our performance. The Porter’s value chain breaks down the flow of production activities into five categories that are inbound logistics, operations, outbound logistics, marketing/sales and service (Porter, 1985). All five primary activities are essential to adding value and creating competitive advantage. Unfortunately, this is where our team went wrong at the beginning, as a manufacturer, we wanted to achieve our objective of maximising profit, to achieve this we should have minimised our costs instead selling our product at the highest price possible which directly affected our performance. This is because our competitors who were a better quality company, were offering a better product for a lower price than us. Looking at the graph (see appendix 3), we significantly dropped after the first month when other companies realised that they could be getting a better quality product for a better price from somewhere else. This resulted in a massive loss of profit.
Secondary activities consist of 4 activities: procurement, human resource management, technological development and infrastructure. These secondary activities are relevant to Porter’s value chain but did not have a direct affect on our business performance compared to how the primary activities did.
Overall, by doing this simulation, it gave me an opportunity to monitor my progress over the last few weeks as well as learning by experiencing the consequences of our actions. I believe that our company achieved to be an efficient business team through good communication and a clear purpose.”Team performance is influenced by the kinds of people making up a group, and testing indicates that certain combinations of personality” (Belbin 1993) – team work was definitely our most important aspect to achieve our objective. Having encountered problems on the way such as trouble communicating with our retailer who at times had their own agenda and would not be willing to comprise, taught us to .