While talking to other classmembers I found lots of similarity in our observations. They felt that theclass was clearly motivated and very involved in discussing the three questions right from the beginning. Everyone was expressing their views and listening to what others had to say despite disagreements on the objective of the exercise.They didn’t think we had an agreement on what was expected from the class. Many students did not feel like participating in the discussion or showed interest in leading the class because there were no participation points.They felt that we did address all the questions given to us but we did not know for sure if we met the professor’s expectations. Did professor want us to illustrate our understanding of the reading material, our thoughts and feelings about Katrina case or how it integrates with chaotic classroom experience?
I believe that Lilian was right when she raised a concernabout whether or not we were executing the task correctly by discussing it in individual teams. She is usually a quiet person in the class. Paul, Stephen and I were not expecting to see her raising such questions. We wereall surprised. We started wondering what made her step up and startmoderating the class discussion.
When Kavita started asking questions after an hour of discussion, Rick and Paul felt that she was forcing the conversation because she thought that we needed to carry the conversation until the 90 minutes were up. Some people felt that it was awkward and a little embarrassing for her to go on with people just ignoring her. She did not seem to realize that the rest of the class was not paying any attention to her.
Earlier, I was wondering why Lilian and Kavita thought this was a classroom exercise and they bear responsibility of the leading the class but I did not consider talking to them to get their perspective. After talking to them, I realized that they connected one of the main themes of Memorial Medical Center reading with classroom exercise. The fact that this was an exercise in the leadership class, Lilian wanted to lead class in a right direction so that we all can achieve desired goal based on her understanding. Kavita felt that one of the parameters of being successful is discussing subject for 90 minutes because that professor told us.
The reflective observation gave me insight into seeing things that I usually don’t see in a regular class or in an organization. In retrospect it helped me to recognize people’s reaction and confirm that I was not alone in not having a clear understanding of the task and goal of the exercise.
The Memorial Hospital case reflects organization structure, leadership and work environment challenges it faced due to unprecedented circumstances.
One of the main problems with Memorial Hospital was that they had not experienced such a catastrophic situation before and there was no protocol for what to do in this situation. The hospital evacuation was not high on the priority list and the hospital administration did not try hard to get help from outside. There was no electricity or running water. The inside temperature was 100 degrees and the generator was barely functional. The hospital did not have sufficient staff because some of the doctors and medical staff had deserted their posts. Many doctors and nurses had not sleep in two days and they were very tired. No one thought about bringing fresh doctors or nurses from the outside. The hospital leadership team was a mess. There was a difference of opinion on how to handle patients and no one was ready to make difficult choices. Dr Pou recognized the situation, stepped up and took a leadership role despite the fact that it was a lose-lose situation.
I felt that some of the organization, authority and leadership challenges presented in the Memorial case were conceptually very similar to the challenges we observed while working on a joint task in class. When professor took monitor’s role, it suddenly removed authority from the class. At first the class was a little confused because we were not asked to perform such a task on the first day of any class in the MBA program. There was no protocol on how to handle such situations. In the absence of the authority figure and without clear direction, class started wondering what is expected from the class. There was a difference of opinion on what was expected from the class. The classroom environment was chaotic. I think, many students decided not to take leadership because there were no rewards or there might be consequences of taking leadership role. When no one was ready to step up and lead the class, Lilian started asking questions and steering the discussion. Suddenly, she became an authority figure and class started following her without asking if class as a whole is going in right direction or not. In the absence of the authority, she was the only option the class had at that time.I think class discussed question presented in-depth and at various angles. Lilian did a good job moderating discussion. Looking back, I wish Lilian was more assertive in her role as authority, discuss expectation from the class as a team and provided clear direction as a leader.