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Fall Artifacts

Artifact One

Bloch, J.  (2018). Identifying Your Organization’s Stakeholders-Van Eerden Foodservice.  Retrieved from

https://canvas.northwestern.edu/courses/77891/discussion_topics/502455 

This assignment contains the first formal stakeholder analysis I have done probably since I was an undergrad over ten years ago.  However, there will certainly be many more of these in the future and there already have been as a stakeholder analysis is an extremely useful tool in the workplace, and as we recently learned in our second in person MSC session, especially when dealing with a crisis.  The situation I chose to use for my assignment below was not a crisis situation but just a regular office situation. Reflecting on it, using a stakeholder analysis, made me think about the situation in a different way than I was in it and it got me thinking about if I had actually conducted one of these while in the situation, if I would have somehow handled it differently.  My answer to that rhetorical question is no, but while my actions would have remained the same, my feelings about the situation would have been different in that I would have taken the situation less personally than I did. My takeaway from participating in this assignment is that it is always a good idea to do a stakeholder analysis, even if it is just for yourself as it gives perspective on a situation that may not have initially been processed as it allows you to take a step back and make things a little less personal in order to objectively (as possible) make an action plan. 

Assignment:
  1. Identify stakeholder groups that might affect or be affected by actions.
  2. Create a Venn Diagram like the one shown in the video “But they’re not my customer” and write in where you would place them in the diagram.
  3. Attach your drawing (scan a hand-drawn diagram or make one using Word or Powerpoint) and record a brief video message (no more than 2 minutes) or write a 500-word response describing your analysis and what you learned doing the exercise.

Please take the time to review and comment on at least two other students’ drawings and reports.

Identifying your organization’s stakeholders- Van Eerden Foodservice 

In my organization we are facing the issues of what type of “holiday” party to have and who will be invited. I use “holiday” in quotes as it has traditionally been a Christmas party but I have been encouraging the company to make it non-denominational in nature.  It has also traditionally only been a party for the sales arm of the organization. Titled “Van Santa,” the company name is Van Eerden, (so clever), and this gathering is where the sales team members are awarded their bonuses and recognized in front of their peers. Each sales team member is invited with a plus one and is given a hotel room for the night, a party with dinner, unlimited drinks, activities and brunch the next day. I give this all as background for the analysis.

I had a difficult time engaging in the analysis.  At Van Eerden, decisions are often made in a silo.  Stakeholder analysis is something that is not knowingly practiced.  There are rarely teams that make decisions in conjunction with each other and when organizational level decisions are made, they take a tremendous amount of time and are done without considering many important stakeholders. The organization itself is very isolated which is why I chose a situation focused mostly on internal stakeholders. 

Last year, I made the choice to invite heads of other departments as well as the customer service team. They help the outside sales team tremendously and are rarely recognized. I thought having them be able to attend the end of the year celebration and treated to the same thing as the sales team, minus the bonuses, would be much appreciated. It was a big success. This year I am pushing to have even more individuals from the company invited and to label the event as a holiday party and keep the individual sales recognition event separate-occurring earlier in the day. However, I am not allowed to make the decision alone and many people have different opinions than I. I have been working with my boss, the VP of Sales as well as with the HR Director to decide on a direction. 

In my attached Venn Diagram, I have identified the following stakeholder groups: 

Dormant

Private owner of the company/CEO: Owner is powerful but he is a terrible decision maker, easily manipulated and lets others make decisions for him. He is religious, associates holiday with Christmas, believes in recognizing Christ at company functions but is OK with festivities-it isn’t something he would traditionally initiate or invest in. 

Customers: They have a close relationship with Sales team members and some Sales members will speak openly about company happenings and this may impact the customer’s view of the organization. 

Discretionary

HR Manager: Very connected to the operations team. Oversees all hiring and HR functions for warehouse/operations and is a representative for their rights and well-being but but ultimately has little power. 

Employees as separated by location and then further by function. The organization is a distribution company and such there is and a warehouse/operations team, an office team and a sales team, based on the street-meaning they work predominantly outside of the office. I included warehouse employees and customer service employees as discretionary because each have their own legitimate feelings about being invited to the party

Significant others of employees: I struggled with where to put significant other’s of employees as well as, separately, significant others of sales team individuals. I ended up putting them as discretionary stakeholders as they are mindful of their significant others’ happiness at work. I think a company that fails to recognize employees at the end of the year is a reflection of lack of respect for employees and understanding that workplace culture, in addition to a paycheck, is important to many employees and their “families.”  

Demanding

Internal Event Planner: Time sensitive-opportunity is critical because of reserving of space and rooms. The contract was supposed to have been signed weeks ago for the quantity of hotel rooms. 

Dominant

Heads of departments who are in positions of power for that reason, but also looked to be representative of their departments in making good decisions and therefore legitimate as well. 

HR Director: Formerly the CFO of the company, made the HR Director last year so the organization could bring in a real CFO. Has been with the company 30+ years. Lacks connection to and understanding of the various employee groups that make-up the organization.

VP Sales: Fairly new to the organization. Believes in creating a better employee experience for all. 

CFO: Oversees budget and spending.

Dangerous

District Sales Managers/Sales Team Members: These individuals be dangerous because they are territorial. They believe it is a sales-driven organization and it should operate as such. They love Van Santa, look forward to it and are protective of it. 

Dependent

Hotel Event Planner: Have worked with them for many years and have a good working relationship, but they have a lot of other events during the holiday season and very much need answers from us.

Definitive

Customer Experience Manager (me): it is my team’s job to oversee the experience of both our internal and our external customer. I put myself in the middle as a definitive stakeholder I do have power, as the leader of the team who executes the event, urgency because I understand the timeframe behind it and am constantly pushing for answers and legitimacy because I am trying to do the right thing by the overarching internal customer-which is have a nice holiday party to celebrate them and show gratitude for their contributions. 

During this exercise I thought a lot about personality. The question of, how much do you take personality into consideration? In theory, a leader of an organization or an HR Manager should be one way but in reality acts another. Clearly, I shared a lot of information as it relates to personality but it is relevant to how each individual will approach a situation. If I didn’t take personality into consideration, but only ideal job function, my analysis would have been different.


Artifact Two

Bloch, J.  (2018, November 17).  Reaction Assignment: Thinking about grounding and media [Electronic post on a discussion board]. 

Retrieved from

https://canvas.northwestern.edu/courses/77893/assignments/483154/submissions/109657 

I wanted to share this submission for a discussion post in week 3 of MSC 536-6 Collaboration & Technology, in the 2018/2019 Master of Science in Communication program at Northwestern University.  I chose to use the real-life situation of selling a home as this year has been the first time I have ever been in the process of doing so and it is has proven to be a lot of work and also very challenging, especially from a communication standpoint.  As you can see by reading reaction below, the experience shows an example of how theory is applicable to real life and how it helped me to understand the situation from a different perspective. Prior to being in the MSC program, I would have never framed my experience and conversation with my real estate agent using communication theory.  It really made me think critically about the situation and proved to me that all the theories we are learning about can be applied to our real lives to critically assess situations and outcomes.  


Artifact Three

Bloch, J.  (2018). Slack usage survey.  Retrieved from

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScQP7yb_9vzSAjjIVGc1auTgOc_v3WulKqg91CZjruirEJ2gA/viewform?usp=sf_link

I chose to analyze Slack as a collaboration technology for my final paper in MSC 536-6 Collaboration & Technology.  As part of the assignment we were told that it was recommended to survey other individuals who use the technology. I created a google survey and surveyed three individuals who I knew had used or were currently using Slack.  Mind you, this would never work for a formal academic research paper, but to simply collect different perspectives on the technology, my methods were acceptable. Upon reviewing the survey answers, I realized that there was information about Slack and its uses that I had not known prior to conducting the survey.  What ultimately become a premise for my paper came from the answers to the survey and completely changed my mind about Slack as a collaboration technology. Conducting the survey showed how working with other people can open you up to new ideas and challenge your preconceived notions.  


Artifact Four

Bloch, J.  (2018, November 17).  Reaction Assignment: Thinking about grounding and media [Electronic post on a discussion board]. 

Retrieved from https://canvas.northwestern.edu/courses/77893/assignments/483154/submissions/109657 

I wanted to share this submission for a discussion post in week 3 of MSC 536-6 Collaboration & Technology, in the 2018/2019 Master of Science in Communication program at Northwestern University.  I chose to use the real-life situation of selling a home as this year has been the first time I have ever been in the process of doing so and it is has proven to be a lot of work and also very challenging, especially from a communication standpoint.  As you can see by reading reaction below, the experience shows an example of how theory is applicable to real life and how it helped me to understand the situation from a different perspective. Prior to being in the MSC program, I would have never framed my experience and conversation with my real estate agent using communication theory.  It really made me think critically about the situation and proved to me that all the theories we are learning about can be applied to our real lives to critically assess situations and outcomes.  

Reaction Assignment: Thinking About Grounding and Media – Group 4

Have 2 conversations (with at least 10-20 utterances) with 1-2 colleagues, one primarily using text-based communication (i.e., SMS, IM, email) and another in person (take notes on this right after, so you can use quotes). Think carefully about grounding in these conversations. How much are you drawing on existing common ground? How much grounding do you have to do? 

Use specific examples (quotes) from both conversations and specific concepts from Clark and Brennan (e.g., constraints, costs, etc.) to compare/contrast how two of the following processes from Clark and Brennan worked in both conversations:

Presentation and acceptance of utterances

Positive and negative evidence

Establishing referential identity

Invoking partner effort/least collaborative effort

At the end of your assignment, identify 1-2 lessons from your conversations that you would consider including in a ‘guide to effective work communication’ blog post that your manager suggested you write for your team.

My post:

The two conversations I am comparing revolve around the move of my partner Alex and I, including the selling of our home in Grand Rapids as we relocated to Cincinnati.  We recently fired our previous real estate agent and hired a new real estate agent, Ericka, for the selling of our home in Grand Rapids. The first conversation was via text with Ericka and the second in person with Alex.  I am using this rather than an example with a colleague as this was most relevant to my week. Additionally, rather than a ’guide to effective work communication’ blog post, I am going to share a ‘guide to effective communication when selling your home.’

In my conversation with Ericka via text, we were messaging regarding the signing of a contract for her to be our agent.  As we are working with a relocation company, things are done in a very particular way and there are documents required that Ericka, having recently started her own real estate company, was not familiar with.  Below you can see excerpts from our textersation:

My assumption was that it would be easy to electronically sign the document as and I had used similar tools before.  However, as you can see above, we had to keep track of our common ground in each step of the process. 

Because we couldn’t walk through it in person, she had to explain it to me and it took me longer to understand than with our first agent when they just handed me paper to sign and initial.  Here, I thought I had done it correctly, but I was unable to go back and see the document. Texting or rather picture sharing in a text message, enabled us in establishing common ground as to what needed to be fixed.  What you cannot see here is that she had to resend the document, I was unable to edit the document she had previously sent and it took three rounds of this to get it right. Had we been in person, we could have just signed the document. There was a production cost here as it took effort for Ericka to explain what the issue was.  

We were able to effectively accomplish the task through the presentation and acceptance of utterances as well as through establishing referential identity.  In our textersation, Ericka presented her steps in the process and I acknowledged my completion of them and my understanding of them “OK done” and she took the relevant next turn by acknowledging it worked and speaking to final steps. Me saying “OK super,” was acceptance of Ericka’s utterance and also showed that we had common ground in understanding what needed to happen next.  We established referential identity, with the referent being the signed e-document, only through Ericka sharing an image. This was to provide positive evidence that I understood where to sign after sending her back the document for the second time. It was a longer process as it took referential installment in Ericka sharing a picture to display the issue. 

In my conversation with Alex, we were talking about an email that had to be sent to a third party, the information of what needed to go into this email was sent in an email from representative at our relocation company.  

Me:  Pull up Beverly’s email from the other day

Alex: Which one?

Me: It had three attachments in it, I don’t remember what it was called

Alex: (Going through his email and finding three emails in a row from Beverly) This one? (With a bit of a pause, moving his mouse down until he landed over the right one)

Me: Yes, that one.

Me: Ok, now click here (me using my finger to point)

Alex: Okay (clicking and looking to me)

Me: Now, copy and paste the email address

Alex: (He copies and pastes the email address)  

Here we also established common ground through presentation and acceptance of utterances but we were aided with visual cues, which make for a less timely exchange. I knew he was paying attention by making eye contact and nodding his head as well as using words and he was able to understand what I was saying with the help of visual cues in me pointing my finger.  This visual component is something non-existent in the text-exchange with Ericka. We established referential identity through referential installments that were aided by visual cues and gestures. I waited to proceed to the next step in the process only when there was grounding confirmed in the previous step. In text message, this would have been impossible and as we can see these two examples, more timely.  Also, the use of a try marker in Alex saying “This one?” to confirm that he had found the right e-mail before moving forward. I confirmed this with “Yes” and he was able to move on he exchange with Ericka was over five minutes and the exchange with Alex took two minutes because we were more quickly able to establish common ground and reach our goal of him sending an e-mail message.

In a guide to effective communication when selling your home, I would advise sellers to understand the tools that the real estate agent will use in the process. How things will be signed and how to save documents when working remotely with an agent.  The importance of reading through things thoroughly and staying organized when there are many documents and components to achieve a goal. 


Artifact Five

Bloch, J.  (2018, December 1).  Final presentation.  Retrieved from

https://canvas.northwestern.edu/courses/77893/discussion_topics/504924 

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1I4drvEZVEASq5jy4AF7k8_y9kP0Dki43

I am sharing my video from my final presentation for MSC 536-6: Collaboration & Technology, the second class in my 2018/2019 MSC program.  While it was recommended to use Arc, a tool provided by Northwestern, to create the video, I produced the video using QuickTime on my Mac. I am choosing to share the video to highlight the challenges I have faced with using technology, specifically while trying to record video and/or share information with my cohort and professors.  I figured out a week after this that I never properly downloaded the tool I needed to properly use Arc. I joined the program late, partially rushing through the technology training and also just in a foggy state because of the exhaustion that ensured from joining the program so late, while also in the midst of a move. The following months proved difficult to get settled and I kept having problems with my videos and never reached a solution when troubleshooting from a distance.  Unfortunately this meant that I shared presentations that were not what I had wanted to share as I was unable to figure out how to execute on my vision. Rather than giving up and complaining to the professor or to IT, I simply did the best I could with the tools I was able to use. Was it up to my standards, no, but it was completed and it was on time. There are many lessons here, including to slow down, to not procrastinate, but also to not make excuses and to always try to be resourceful.


Artifact Six

Bloch, J.  (2018, September).  Crisis simulation reflection paper.  

The artifact shared here is my Crisis Simulation Reflection Paper, written this past September 24th, 2018 during week two of MSC 491: Foundations of Strategic Communication at Northwestern University in response to the participation in the organizational behavior simulation: “Judgment in a Crisis.”  I selected this artifact because the nature of the simulation exercise was unlike any I have participated in before, in structure and in outcome. As an exercise the interactiveness made it feel more akin to real life, though I struggled with wanting more information and being unable to access it. The simulation exercise outcome was impactful as it served as a reminder to not take everything at face value.  The process enabled the analysis of our cognitive biases, though we only learned this after completion of the simulation and of the introductory statement. I also struggled with watching and reading the statements of others in the cohort and initially comparing it to mine. However, the exercise highlights the differences within the cohort and that is a good thing. It was fascinating how each individual created and delivered a message that was different from each of the other individuals.  This activity iterates the importance of keeping an open mind when discussing approaches with colleagues and also when listening to and analyzing messages from others. In a business setting, it still applies to think before reacting. It is important to remember to process through others’ proposals and presentations, as they may not be what you initially thought of, but that does not mean they should not be considered. In fact, I will most likely learn something or be able to incorporate a piece of the other persons’ approach into mine.