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UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH WALES

MASTERS IN BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION


Strategic Operations Management and Operational Research
(PS4S26-V1)
DR EVANGELOS TSOUKATOS

STUDENT: Rufaro Chikwakwata


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STUDENT I.D. - R1508D933901

PART A - Reflective Analysis


Words - 3282

 At the beginning of the module you will identify


ONE personal skill that you aim to develop and
improve.
 Your Reflective Analysis will detail WHAT YOU
DID to improve that skill and HOW EFFECTIVE
your efforts have been.

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1.0 Introduction: Critical Thinking Skill


In the first week of the module, I identified analytical skill as the specific skill that I
anticipate to improve during the course of this module and as the weeks progressed
I realised that it would be better phrased as analytical thinking or critical thinking skill.
Fahim and Masouleh (2011), define critical thinking as “the use of cognitive skills or
strategies that increase the probability of a desirable outcome,” and Paul and Elder
(2006) describe critical thinking as, “the disciplined art of ensuring that you use the
best thinking you are capable of in any set of circumstances.” The reason why this
skill is much more important for me to improve on is because by investing in
improving my critical thinking skills I would be able to broaden my conceptual
understanding. Improving on this skill would mean bridging "the gap between simply
memorizing or blindly accepting information, and the greater challenge of critical
analysing the things we are told and read,” (Browne and Keeley, 2006). Most
importantly, in a world that is swiftly changing, with the pressure to respond to new
global realities, imbedded in the “deepest structures of our lives: economic, social,
cultural, political, and environmental realities” intensifying, critical thinking has
become an important tool in determining “the quality of our work, the quality of our
lives, and perhaps even, our very survival”, (Paul and Elder 2001).

The Honey and Mumford (1986) Learning Styles' questionnaire revealed that as a
Reflector I "tend to postpone reaching definitive conclusions for as long as possible,”
and by postponing to make decisions I have learnt, from experience, that I end up
blindly accepting information and decisions that have already been passed by others
and while reflecting upon this and the readings of this module it proved not to be a
good quality for any leader. Paul and Elder (2001) note, “the problems we now face,
and will increasingly face, require a radically different form of thinking, thinking that is
more complex, more adaptable, and more sensitive to divergent points of view.” As
an operation's manager one would be tasked with a lot of decision making that pilot
progressive ways to improve the department and organisation at large, therefore in
order to achieve this, one would need to embody strong critical thinking skills as an
active learning tool for continually bridging the gap between what is and what could
be.

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Stevenson (2015: page 11) argues, "people who work in the operations field should
have a skill set that includes both people skills and knowledge skills.” The critical
thinking skill is one such skill that falls under the knowledge skills set. Given my job
as a Communications Personnel, there is need to always use critical thinking
strategies systematically to improve my communication skills and formulate better
ways of communicating, both internally and externally, with a goal to increase the
organisation’s competitive advantage. Finally, this paper seeks to provide
information from a reflective nature of the skill, of ways that I employed to improve
throughout this module while highlighting the importance of the skill in different fields
of study.

1.1 Critical Thinking towards ensuring productivity

The first step that I took towards improving my critical thinking skill was to break out
of my shell. Whenever we had discussions at work I would wait until the very end to
contribute my thoughts but for the past few weeks I have made it a point to be one of
the first people who air out my views during meetings. For instance, in my
department, we had a progressive discussion on how best we can ensure that key
information on progress of projects reaches all the other departments every week in
order to reinforce that we meet our action plans as an organisation. According to
Paul and Elder (2001), “the success of any organization is largely a function of the
quality of the thinking done within it.” We were trying to think and come up with other
ways apart from sending emails, newsletters and project reports to the very same
people. We had noted that people tend to ignore these emails as they feel that they
are just regular updates on the humanitarian work that is done in the field by field
officers of which these updates contain crucial information that help in adjusting our
financial budgets, project management and ensuring that the goals and objectives of
the organisation are met.

Browne and Keeley (2006: ix) emphasize that, "critical thinking...is a process for
improving the beliefs and decisions each of us must make.” I am glad to say that
some of my ideas were adopted. I suggested that, instead of just sending email
notifications we also send cell phone messages, given how people are much

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attached to their cell phones it would be difficult for them to ignore smses. I also
suggested that we have short ten minute meetings every first day of the week that
give a recap of the previous week and highlight action points for the coming week.
We have since seen improvements by the use of these methods and people are now
taking the updates seriously and mapping them into their day to day activities and
weekly departmental goals which further align with the corporate strategy. I am
pleased to say that by stepping out of my shell I managed show and prove to myself
that I can indeed be a pioneer in decision making processes and this resulted in my
ideas being piloted towards the productivity of the organisation as they created a
working synergy between our department and the rest of the organisation.

1.2 Critical Thinking towards Strategic Planning

Paul and Elder (2001) note, “Strategic thinking is based on a two-part process that
involves understanding a key idea and developing a strategy for action based on that
idea.” Such thinking involves employing critical thinking strategies to systematically
improve an organisation’s mission and focus. Lawrence and Chester (2014) note,
“critical thinking helps employees gather all of the information required to analyse a
situation, generate optimal solutions to a problem and get feedback from all the
people involved in the situation,” where all of these steps, “contribute to better
business solutions overall.” Working for a Non-Governmental Organisation that runs
projects in various rural areas in the country involves a lot of strategic thinking
towards scenario planning with the hope of creating sustainable development in the
marginalised communities. Critical thinking comes in as a tool for finding the root
causes of problems (gaps) - defining specific issues of poverty - and for making
decisions to improve processes. In this way, gaps are eliminated and new processes
brought into alignment with the hope of achieving the organisation’s vision and
mission.

1.3 Critical Thinking towards Team Management

Kallet (2014: 15) notes, “Critical thinking can be applied everywhere in your business
and life, but be selective. Use critical thinking when the outcome might make a

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difference.” When working as a team, it is important to know your team members


strengths and weaknesses in order to be able to adjust your task goals while
complementing each other. Lysons and Farrington (2006) posit, “it is important to
make an adjustment to production to accommodate the quantity of input and time
available.” Belbin (1981) classifies different team roles that ensure success or failure
of teams. He highlights the various team roles of: Chairman, Company Worker,
Completer-Finisher, Monitor-Evaluator, Plant, Resource Investigator, Shaper and
Team Worker. With the aid of the Just in Time Concept and the results of the Belbin
Questionnaire that showed that I am a Completer-Finisher who has a capacity for
following through after the work is done, I have been able to review my fellow
colleagues contributions to the team activities where I can simply come-in where my
expertise is needed, instead of trying to fit in every stage. This has made our team
more productive as we have been able to resolve complaints in the shortest turn-
around time.

2.0 Paul and Elder’s (2001) 10 stages to improve Critical Thinking Skills

While working towards improving my critical thinking skills I set myself on a journey
with Paul and Elder’s (2001) stages to improve my critical thinking skills. The Critical
Thinking Community (2015) opine that we can only develop through these stages if,
“we: 1) accept the fact that there are serious problems in our thinking (accepting the
challenge to our thinking) and 2) begin regular practice. These stages shall be
examined in detail below.”

2.0.1 Stage 1: Use “Wasted” Time

This stage argues that as human beings we have a lot of wasted time that we should
use to develop our critical thinking skills by using that time to evaluate the way we
already think. As a way to implement this stage, I started cutting out on my
entertainment time and began evaluating my thinking asking myself question such
as: What did I think about today? When did I do my worst and best thinking today?
Did I figure anything out? With each question I would draft an answer into my
notebook so that I could evaluate whether I was currently doing any useful critical
thinking. The results were not pleasing. Browne and Keely (2006 :10) argue, “Weak-

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sense critical thinking is the use of critical thinking to defend your current beliefs
while strong-sense critical thinking is the use of the same skills to evaluate all claims
and beliefs, especially your own.” I realised that I spend more time thinking of
useless material luxuries, and less about how best I can improve and edify my life.

2.0.2 Stage 2: A Problem A Day

For this stage, Paul and Elder advise that at the beginning of each day when I go to
the gym or drive to work I should choose a problem to work on and try to figure out
the logic of the problem by identifying its elements and how it relates to my goals,
purposes and needs. For the past year, I have been trying to figure out why my
private catering business is not making as much profit as can be expected,
especially given the amount of dedication and effort that I put towards it. I chewed on
this bone for a number of days but I kept hitting a wall with no answers until I came
across this quote, “Using a structured thinking process will actually save employees
time in the long run because they avoid making mistakes such as jumping to the
wrong conclusion or making a decision that others reject down the road," (Lawrence
and Chester 2014).

I realised that, instead of treating the business as a partnership that it is, I had taken
sole ownership of it and overlooked the role that my partner had in the running of this
business. Note that when I first mentioned this catering business in this essay I used
the prefix “…’my’ private catering business” instead of ‘our’ and that being my
greatest mistake. I had been so much focused on the fact that the business was my
idea and passion that I forgot my partner equally had the power to influence growth
or failure of the business. As a result, because we were not communicating and
working well on a partnership basis we were now communicating different strategies
to our staff resulting in a stagnant growth. I have since rectified this by engaging my
partner in every decision making. Browne and Keely’s (2006: 12) notion that,
“effective thinking leads to competent communication,” proved entirely true in this
scenario. Such critical thinking also opened my eyes to some issues that I was
facing at work and helped me in successfully resolving them.

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2.0.3 Stage 3: Internalize Intellectual Standards.

This stage challenges one to develop a heightened awareness of any one of the
universal intellectual standards of clarity, precision, accuracy, relevance, depth,
breadth, logicalness, significance. It became important for me to be clear with my
communication at work, especially to my team members. I took the time to elaborate
meaning of my statements whilst giving clear examples as a way of improving on my
clarity. By so doing, it removed all controversy in my statements and motivated my
team to do the same which led to us fulfilling our tasks and team goals in a more
efficient way as everything was exemplified in a way that all could understand.

We have also employed Kallet’s (2014) 3 Step Critical Thinking Process - as


illustrated in Figure 1 - in solving problems that arise in our department instead of
using automatic thinking which takes a longer route to solving issues. These stages
are: “Clarity: Get clear on the issue, problem, or goal or headscratcher; Conclusions:
Take your clear headscratcher through the process of coming to a solution about
what to do; and Decisions: Take each one of your conclusions and decide to act or
not to act,” (Kallet, 2014: 17). The idea is to spend more time in the clarity phase,
resulting in your conclusions coming faster and more accurate.

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Figure 1: The Three-Step Critical Thinking Process. (Kallet, 2014: 19)

2.0.4 Stage 4: Keep an Intellectual Journal

As the weeks progressed I began making journal entries of situations that were
significant to me using the following format that is suggested by Paul and Elder
(2001):

1. Situation - Describe one situation at a time that is, or was, emotionally


significant to you
2. Response - Describe your response to that situation.
3. Analysis - Analyse, in the light of what you have written, what precisely was
going on in the situation.
4. Assessment - Assess the implications of your analysis. What did you learn
about yourself? What would you do differently if you could re-live the
situation?

Eales-Reynolds et al. (2013: 20) note, “…to be a good critical thinker you should
always examine everything with a questioning approach.” These activities and
journal entries helped me turn my weakness as a reflector into a positive and thereby
ensuring my progress towards my critical thinking skill because with each scenario I
started reacting differently and producing better results.

2.0.5 Stage 5: Practice intellectual strategies

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Fahim and Masouleh (2011) emphasize that, “critical thinking is best developed
through the engagement with different areas of knowledge rather than as an
autonomous skill to be taught in itself.” This stage is a way of incorporating the
intellectual standards into strategy. For instance, incorporating precision into a
strategy called precisification, “a process by which we try to dissolve merely
semantic disagreements (and a surprising proportion of our most heated
disagreements are at least partly semantic) by stipulating more precise definitions for
contested terms that may be vague or ambiguous,” (Sanchez, 2012). As Deane and
Borg (2011: 5) note, “critical thinking is active and persistent,” it is important to
incorporate it all our everyday thinking so much it becomes us.

2.0.6 Stage 6: Reshape Your Character

This stage advises that you should choose one intellectual trait - intellectual
perseverance, autonomy, empathy etc. - that you strive for each month and avoid
being defensive when another person tries to point out a deficiency in your work, or
thinking. This was a challenging stage for me especially with criticism coming from
my peers who I have always thought to be better than. Carroll (2004) argues, “the
most distinctive features of critical thinking in a person are being open minded and
sceptic.” By embodying this advice, I realised that my intellectual arrogance was
hindering me from learning from others and my own mistakes.

2.0.7 Stage 7: Deal with Your Ego

Paul and Elder (2001) opine, “Our irrational mind is not concerned with the rights or
needs of others…When our rational mind is underdeveloped or not engaged…our
native egocentrism functions as a default mechanism.” What this means is that
people are born subconsciously biased in favour of themselves and this can hinder
critical thinking. I noticed that there were moments I was faced to vote for an
overtime weekend shift for our team in order to reach a critical point in our project

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and I voted against it, with a selfish reason that did not want my weekend
interrupted. Eales-Reynolds et al (2013: 20), posit, with critical thinking, “it is
important to maintain subjectivity – when analysing an argument avoid being
persuaded to a point of view by personal feelings, tastes or opinions, objectivity…” At
that point I could not put the needs of my team ahead of my personal plans and yet
the success of my team meant my success. By self-reflecting on such egocentric
thinking in my day to day activities, I have manged to replace it with more rational
thought that brings development to my organisation.

2.0.8 Stage 8: Redefine the Way You See Things

In this stage, the goal was to practice redefining the way I see things, turning
negatives into positives, dead-ends into new beginnings, mistakes into opportunities
to learn. I am still in the learning process of this stage and so far I have realised that,
with a positive mind nothing seems impossible. I am always working out ways to
achieve the goals set before me.

2.0.9 Stage 9: Get in touch with your emotions

This is more of a follow up stage to stage 8 where you to try to get rid of all negative
emotion. It involved asking myself questions that uncovered the thinking behind the
root of my negativity, how it would benefit me in the end and therefore finding ways
to turn that into a positive. Paul and Elder (2001) note, “If you can concentrate on
that thinking your emotions will (eventually) shift to match it.”

2.0.10 Stage 10: Analyse group influences on your life

According to Facione (1998), “the process of critical thinking involves interpretation,


analysis, evaluation, inference, explanation, and metacognition.” By analysing the
group influences in my life, I was able to interpret certain ways of thinking that they
impose on me. Most of my friends are outgoing people who would rather spend their
free time at a party or night out instead of channelling that time towards a serious
activity of reading or intellectual debate. I uncovered that I was literally bowing to

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these pressures of being a fun loving and cool individual and yet it did not influence
growth in any way. As much as I still hang out with my friends, I also joined other
groups of people who are focused in their lives and this has helped me in realigning
my dreams and goals towards a more productive life.

3.0 Conclusion

I have realised that, by researching more about critical thinking and its importance
and also by engaging in these stages, my critical thinking has improved as I have
become more of a “Practicing” Thinker. Paul and Elder (2001) highlight that my
practice will bring advancement and with advancement, skilled and insightful thinking
which may end up becoming more and more natural to me. It is a known fact that,
decisions are basically what makes or breaks us, therefore it was very important for
me to engage on this journey as a way to develop my analytical thinking skills since
they directly influence my decision making. I am working towards a point where I not
only collect information and views but I am able to learn how to analyse business
issues critically and think outside the box and I hope to be able to draw realistic
conclusions and better-quality decisions to every problem that I encounter. In
conclusion, on a scale of 1 to 10, I rate myself a 6 in terms of becoming a fully-
fledged critical thinker. What I know is that the essential traits of a critical thinker
require an extended period of development, further to the timeline of this module,
and I will try my very best to continue on my quest of improving my critical thinking
abilities.

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References

Belbin, R. (1981). Management Teams: Why they succeed or fail. London:


Heinmann.

Browne, M. N. and Keeley, S. M. (2006). Asking the Right Questions: A Guide to


Critical Thinking. 8th Edition. New Jersey: Pearson, Prentice Hall.

Carroll, R. T. (2004). Critical thinking. Retrieved on 11 October 2017 from:


http://www.scribd.com/doc/16426858/Critical-Thinking-Ch1-Drrobert-Todd-Carroll

Deane, M. and Borg, E. (2011). Critical Thinking and Analysis. Harlow: Pearson.

Doyle, A. (2017). Analytical Skills List and Examples. Retrieved on 1 October 2017
from: https://www.thebalance.com/analytical-skills-list-2063729

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Eales-Reynolds, L. J., Judge, B., Jones, P. and McCreery, E. (2013). Critical


Thinking Skills for Education Students. 2nd Edition. London: Learning Matters.

Facione, P. A. (1998). Critical Thinking: What it is and why it counts. Millbrae, CA:
California Academic Press.

Fahim, M and Shakouri, N. (2012). Critical Thinking in Higher Education: A


Pedagogical Look. Theory and Practice in Language Studies. 10.4304/tpls.2.7.1370-
1375. Retrieved on 12 October 2017 from:
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/267426179_Critical_Thinking_in_Higher_E
ducation_A_Pedagogical_Look

Fallon, N. (2014). Is Your Team Missing This Important Business Skill? Business
News Daily Managing. Editor December 3, 2014 01:20 pm EST. Retrieved on 12
October 2017 from: http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/7532-critical-thinking-in-
business.html

Honey, P. and Mumford, A. (1986). Learning Styles Questionnaire. Peter Honey


Publications Ltd. Retrieved on 28 September 2017 from: http://vle-
usw.unicaf.org/mod/folder/view.php?id=27148

Kallet M, (2014). Think Smarter: Critical Thinking To Improve Problem-solving and


Decision-making Skills. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Lawrence, J. and Chester, L. (2014). Engage the Fox: A Business Fable About
Thinking Critically and Motivating Your Team. Texas: Greenleaf Book Group Press.

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Lysons. K. and Farrington, B. (2006). Purchasing and supply chain management.


Prentice Hall.

Moore, B.N., & Parker, R. (2009). Critical Thinking: 9th Edition. McGraw-Hill. Higher
Education.

Paul, R. and Elder, L. (2001). Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your
Learning and Your Life.

Paul, R and Elder, L. (2006). The Miniature Guide to the Foundation for Critical
Thinking Concepts and Tools. The Foundation for Critical Thinking

Sanchez, J. (2012). Intellectual Strategies: Precisification & Elimination. August 28th,


2012. Retrieved on 11 October 2017 from:
http://www.juliansanchez.com/2012/08/28/intellectual-strategies-precisification-
elimination/

Stevenson, W. J. (2015). Operations Management. 12th Edition. New York:


McGraw-Hill Education.

The Critical Thinking Community (2015). Critical Thinking in Everyday Life: 9


Strategies. Retrieved on 12 October 2017 from:
http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/critical-thinking-in-everyday-life-9-strategies/512

Totaljobs.com (2017). Operations Manager Job Description. Retrieved on 30


September 2017 from: https://www.totaljobs.com/careers-advice/job-
profile/executive-jobs/operations-manager-job-description

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PART B – Report
Words - 2890

 The Report shall be 2500-3000 words in length.


 It will require you to examine the Job Description
for an Operation Manager’s position.
 You are required to select an advert for an
Operation Manager’s role: you may select an
advert from any online recruitment agency.

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 You MUST include the job advert as an Appendix


to your Report.
 Using appropriate theory, literature, techniques
and approaches that you have encountered in the
module, discuss the following:
o What are likely to be the operational
challenges that the successful candidate
would face? (20%)
o How would you address the main issues?
(80%)

1.0 Introduction

Every business organization comprises of a department called operations that is


solely responsible for production lines and high-value manufacturing through a
process of transforming or converting inputs into outputs of goods and/services and
this department is managed by operations management. As Stevenson (2015: 4)
notes, operations management is therefore, “the management of systems or
processes that create goods and/or provide services.” Brown et al (2013: 4) posit
that Operations Management is extremely essential for to any organisation as “an
organisation is judged by how its operations perform and not what the organisations
says it is going to do.” They further define it as a process that “is concerned with
those activities that enable an organization (and not just one part of it) to transform a
range of basic inputs (materials, energy, customers’ requirements, information, skills,
finance, etc.) into outputs for the end customer,” (ibid: 5).

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It is argued that operations management is of utmost importance to an organization


as it is either affected by or affects every aspect of the business. This includes other
functions of business such as accounting, marketing, finance, IT, public relations just
to mention a few. Hills (2004: 5) explains the important link that operational activities
have with a wider organizational base: “the operation task…concerns the
transformation process that involves taking inputs and converting them into outputs
together with the various support functions closely associated with this basic task.” A
good example would be the significant interfacing and collaboration among the
Operations, Finance and Marketing and Sales functional areas.

Finance and Operations Management personnel work together through exchanging


of information and expertise in activities of budgeting, economic analysis of
investment proposals and provision of funds while the same working relationship
applies between Operations Management and Marketing personnel where the
Marketing department focuses on selling and promoting the goods and services that
have been produced by the Operations department, (Stevenson, 2015: 10). Among
other functions, Marketing is also in charge of assessing customer needs and wants
and communicating this information back to Operations. It is indeed an intrinsic link
that proves to show that Operations Management is indeed the heart and core of
every organization. Finally, this paper seeks to identify possible operational
challenges of the operational manager of the Synergy Labs job advert of Operations
Manager- Manufacturing – Consumer Packaged Goods.

1.1 SYNERGYLABS: Background or organisation and Job advert

Synergy Labs is a “concept-to-shelf manufacturer of over 150+ branded and private


brand products sold across pet-specialty, veterinary, grocery, farm and feed, mass-
merchandisers, and big-box channels in over 40 countries worldwide,” (SynergyLabs
2017). The organisation focuses on providing pet owners with superior quality pet
products and providing state of the art product research, development,
manufacturing and packaging of pet products.

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The essay will focuses on the challenges that are likely to be faced the operations
manager of SynergyLabs paying particular attention to its job advert that has been
attached as Appendix A and to provide solutions to curbing these challenges. For
this position, given the nature of the job is in the manufacturing sector of the
organisation, SynergyLabs is seeking for an individual that has a Bachelor’s degree
in engineering or a scientific discipline and has a verifiable track record and
experience in working in a manufacturing environment.

2.0 Challenges of Operations Management

2.0.1 Culture Challenges

Located in the state of Florida that has a population comprised of various races with
77.6% being White, 16.8% Black or African American, 0.5% American Indian and
Alaska Native, 2.9% Asian, 0.1% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander, 2.1%
Two or More Races and Hispanic or Latino 24.9%, (United States Census Bureau),
SynergyLabs is looking for a qualified applicant regardless of race, colour, religion,
gender, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status or any other
characteristic protected by law. This clearly shows that the organisation is comprised
of employees from different cultural backgrounds of which the successful candidate
would be required to manage in a way that ensures successful project
implementation. Mohammed et al. (2008: 3), note that “Failing to handle the diversity
and complexity of host cultures and their integration with existing or intended
organisational culture can be catastrophic, (and) poor employee motivation, low staff
retention, marketing ineffectiveness and loss of competitive advantage are the
potential results.”

In order to address this cultural challenge, the successful candidate will need to
analyse his team members as a way to understand how their cultural backgrounds
may create conflict situations in the work environment and while doing so be able to
concisely communicate what is expected from the team members in order to foster
good working relationships. Proficient managers acquire relevant facts, skills, and
knowledge to avoid offensive or unacceptable behaviour when interacting with

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different cultures, (Singh 2011: 49).There is need for the manager to develop cross-
cultural skills that embody personal traits such as: Tolerance for ambiguity,
Perceptiveness, Valuing personal relationships and Flexibility and adaptability which
would aid in devising innovative and open-minded solutions about outcomes. Ibarra
and Hansen (2011) note that, “…diverse teams produce better results, provided they
are well led. The ability to bring together people from different backgrounds,
disciplines, cultures and generations and leverage all they have to offer, therefore, is
a must-have for leaders.” If the manager succeeds in capitalising on potential
benefits is cultural diversity in his team through promoting creativity and motivation,
this will likely enable SynergyLabs to gain competitive advantage in creativity,
problem solving and adaptation to change.

2.0.2 Project and Process Improvement Challenges

The job specifically requires for a candidate who has experience with and
understanding of Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma principles which are to be used
to identify, manage and implement cost reduction/continuous improvement projects
within department. Brown et al. (2013: 12) note that, “managing capacity ensures
total provision of the right volume of goods and services to end customers. The
operations manager needs to know the overall, company-wide capacity, as well as
department-specific capacity inputs and outputs in-house. This will enable the
operations manager to schedule without creating overload or bottlenecks in certain
areas.” There are number of challenges that the candidate will face in establishing
this process especially if it involves new implementation of Lean and Six Sigma
principles to a traditional system oriented organisation. Stevenson 2015: 605)
defines a lean operation/Just In Time (JIT) as a “flexible system that uses minimal
resources and produces high quality goods and services,” and it is demand driven,
focusing on waste reduction with a culture that is dedicated to excellence and
continuous improvement. He also defines Six Sigma as “a program designed to
reduce the occurrence of defects to achieve lower cost and improved customer
satisfaction,” (ibid. 390).

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Supply Chain Issues are an example of challenges that are likely to be faced by the
candidate with Lean implementation. The process requires a cooperative spirit
among workers, management, vendors and especially suppliers who at every stage
have to gauge the ability of their production facilities to meet demand requirements
by SynergyLabs that are subject to change, (ibid. 633). The best way to solve this
challenge would be to incorporate the Kanban system, - a manual inventory-control
system used to control the supply chain, where movements of parts and materials is
done responding to demand. Kanban (Japanese for card or sign) is a pull system
that provides information on the part identification, quantity container that the part is
transported in and the preceding and next work station, (Greasley, 2007: 16), where
new containers are used to replace old containers. In some instances, companies
allow a supplier representative to work in the company plant ensuring there is always
enough supply at hand. The idea of JIT systems is to produce what you need, when
you need it and it involves a good buyer-supplier relationship.

Another challenge of Lean implementation would be employee development where


automated production and quality-control systems that come with managing new
technological infrastructure requires highly skilled and trained employees who can
“inspect, repair and design the layout of automated production technology regularly,”
(Ingram, 2017), to avoid defects and delaying of production. This would, definitely,
require, huge commitment of the company’s management –top down- as it would
mean investing a lot of money into skills training workshops for all employees so as
to maintain a smooth production system. However, it is a cost worth taking for the
organisation as compared to technical companies who would require much higher
compensation than general-labour employees.

There are also challenges that the candidate is likely to face when implementing Six
Sigma operation which is a total quality management tool. These include lack of
leadership commitment, incomplete understanding of six sigma methodologies and
poor execution. Like Lean operations Six Sigma also requires leadership
commitment and it is the job of the operations manager to ensure that all the
leadership is on board with implementing this strategy to avoid any roadblocks.

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There is a great need for the company to dedicate the top talent to Six Sigma project
efforts and in order to achieve the successful candidate would have to liaise with
other departmental heads for their willingness to dedicate resources of time, talent
and money to the project. Even with Leadership commitment, there still lies a risk
deploying the project before fully understanding the Six Sigma methodologies.
According to Munk (2013), “This can occur when companies implement Six Sigma
simply to keep up with the competition, or to impress shareholders by being able to
use continuous process improvement terminology in company documentation.” To
ensure the company deploys the methodology and not just the terminology, the
operations manager would need to bring aboard Six Sigma experts that help with
employee training and constant monitoring of the project.

If implemented correctly and successfully, together, lean and Six Sigma process
improvement methodologies will make Synergy Labs a force to reckon with and
would definitely aid the organisation in gaining a huge competitive advantage in the
market. According to Stevenson (2015: 628), “Lean principles alone cannot achieve
statistical process control, and six sigma alone cannot achieve improved process
speed and flow. Using the two approaches in combination integrates lean principles
and six sigma statistical tools for variation reduction to achieve a system that has
both a balanced flow and quality.” It is, however, the task of the Operations Manager
to ensure that whatever challenges that may come with implementing the two
operations are addressed effectively in order to achieve productivity.

2.0.3 Human Resources Challenges

Synergy Labs is also looking for a candidate who can manage all aspects of
departmental staff management and company policies, including time and
attendance, discipline, vacation, training, staff development, sickness, briefings etc.
Basically, this means ensuring that employees are satisfied and well appreciated.
Terziovski (2010) notes that, “human resources and human know-how and
capabilities are central to any resource-based view of strategy.” Challenges that are
associated with undermining the importance of the organisations human resources
include less productivity, increased defects/mistakes in the production process etc.

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In order to curb such issues the operations manager would have to ensure that the
employee is satisfied because this leads to better performance and improved
customer satisfaction. It involves ensuring that remuneration packages are
satisfactory and promotions or incentives, where they are due, are honoured. Brown
et al (2013: 239) opine that “at a time when agility and customisation are increasingly
in demand in manufacturing and service operations, human resources become
central to delivering flexibility…and adaptability which human interaction can
provide.” Hence there is need to value employees by providing them with job
security, incentives or rewards, staff development training, employee engagement
and participation, and recreational incentives etc. as a way to motivate their efficient
productivity.

2.0.4 Ethics and Quality Challenges

Stevenson (2015: 380) argues that, “Ethical behaviour comes into play in many
situations that involve quality.” In any manufacturing organisation there lies a
temptation to produce substandard defective products, poor designs, shoddy
workmanship using substandard parts and raw materials in the name of saving cost
of production. However, this can actually lead to increased costs for the organisation
in terms of loss of market share, “decreased productivity, an increase in the accident
rate among employees, inconveniences and injuries to customers, and liability
costs,” (ibid.).

The best way is to employ quality planning and control agile strategies throughout
operations as a way to ensure total management quality. One of the job
requirements for the successful candidate would be to ensure that goods are
produced and delivered 'right first time' on time and at the right cost to maximize
company profitability. This implies employing, according to Slack et al (2007), the
five basic operations performance objectives of: quality – doing things right; speed –
doing things fast; cost – doing things cheaply; dependability – doing things on time
and; flexibility – doing things differently. Perceived good quality would mean
customer perceptions should exceed customer expectations of reliability,
performance and aesthetics. Greasley (2007: 18) notes that, “…quality is related to

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how closely the product or service meets the specification required by the design.”
One way of achieving this is to adopt a leagile concept of production which basically
harnesses the advantages of leanness and agility combined. Krishnamurthy and
Yauch (2007: 591) note that, “Leagility in a supply chain hinges on the fact that the
lean manufacturers are separated from the agile manufacturers in the chain by
means of a separation point referred to in the literature as the ‘decoupling point,’”
where agility inclines more towards responding quickly to changing market demand
in order to retain current markets and gain a new market share while lean towards
efficient low cost mass production. This therefore allows the organisation to
maximise efficiency and enable responsiveness while focusing certain sections of
the supply chain on cost and other sections on service level depending on the
organisation’s competitive environment customers meaning achievement of high
quality service and low resulting in maximum profitability.

Other ways to avoid or address ethical challenges regarding safety of the


environment and employees, as the job requires, would involve ensuring all
equipment within the department is maintained and used in a correct and safe
manner. Brown et al (2013: 13) argue that, “investing and reinvesting in the
appropriate equipment or technology, and maintaining it, are crucial decisions for
operations managers.” The challenge for some managers is not to invest in
maintenance or new technology with the belief that such a risk is unimportant since
the current machinery can cope and has done well in the past. The best approach
would be for the operations manager to ensure that preventative maintenance is
done periodically. Stevenson 2015: 626) defines preventative maintenance as,
“programs, which emphasize maintaining equipment in good operating condition and
replacing parts that have a tendency to fail before they fail.” This is of great
advantage to the organisation as it means less breakdowns therefore less
disruptions to the production process.

2.0.5 New Product Introduction Challenges

As much as the operations manager roles include directing and managing


employees and departmental operations for productions, logistics and maintenance it

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also involves managing of new product introduction for plant and shift leaders. As if
process layout designs for existing structures are not a challenge enough for the
candidate, he/she will also be required to incorporate new product manufacturing
and introduction into the market. Managing processes that result in products or
services will be a major concern for the successful candidate, especially when there
exists lack of co-ordination in systems and processes.

The first step that the successful candidate would have to employ is to form a
process layout would be ideal in establishing smooth operations and if one already
exists they would need to modify it in a way encompasses successful and efficient
production of the new product. Greasley (2007: 28) defines a product/process layout
as one “in which resources (such as equipment and people) which have similar
processes or functions are grouped together.” This would help in ensuring volumes
of production in an efficient and cost friendly way. Brown (2013: 13) posit that, “with
new product development, for the operations manager, the range of products or
services on offer has to be managed in order to satisfy the mix of volume and variety
for customers.” This is done through investing in new product and process
technology that it is tailored to incorporate manufacturing of the new product and still
enable the firm to compete successfully against ever increasing levels of competition
from around the world.

2.1 Conclusion

Operations management involves systematic, deliberate and focused measures that


offers a diversity of tools and techniques backed by sound managerial practices and
ideologies of effectiveness and efficiency that can significantly affect organizational
activities, performance, competitive advantage, success and survival, (McFarlane,
2014). It is therefore the job of the operations manager, regardless of any challenges
or dares, to be able to ensure management and effective synchronization of people,
systems and processes in an attempt to create or add value for the organization. The

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above essay has explored some of the operational challenges that are likely to be
faced by the successful candidate at Synergy Labs while, make use of a wide
scholarly view, also providing ways that could help addressing the main issues. The
whole process is centered mostly on one idea of formulating and adhering to an
operations strategy that guarantees efficient productivity and customer satisfaction
while maximizing on issues of quality, cost, speed, dependability, flexibility and ….to
ensure maximum profitability and competitive advantage for the organization.

References

Brown, S., Bessant J., and Lamming, R. (2013). Strategic Operations Management.
3rd Edition. London: Routledge.

Crainer, S. (1998). Thinkers that changed the management World. London: Pitman.

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Greasley, A. (2007). Operations Management. London: SAGE Publications.

Hayes, R. and Wheelwright, S. (1984). Restoring our Competitive Edge. New York:
Wiley and Sons.

Hills, T. (2004). Production/Operations Management. Hemel Hempstead: Prentice


Hall.

Huckman, R. S. (2009). Are you having trouble keeping your operations focused?
Harvard Business Review, 87 (9), 90-5.

Ibarra, H. and Hansen, M. (2011). Are you a Collaborative Leader? Harvard


Business Review. Retrieved on 11 October from https://hbr.org/2011/07/are-you-a-
collaborative-leader

Ingram, D. (2017). Key Issues for the Implementation of a Lean Manufacturing


System. Retrieved on 10 October 2017 from: http://smallbusiness.chron.com/key-
issues-implementation-lean-manufacturing-system-75390.html

iSixSigma.com (2017). What is Six Sigma? Retrieved on 9 October 2017 from:


https://www.isixsigma.com/new-to-six-sigma/getting-started/what-six-sigma/

Kim, W. C. and Mauborgne, R. (2002). Charting your company’s future. Harvard


Business Review. 80 (6), 76-83.

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Krishnamurthy, R. and Yauch, C. A. (2007). Leagile manufacturing: a proposed


corporate infrastructure. International Journal of Operations and Production
Management, Vol. 27 Issue: 6, pp.588-604. Retrieved on 8 October 2017 from:
https://doi.org/10.1108/01443570710750277

McFarlane, D. A. (2014). The Challenges of Operations Management for Business


Managers. International Journal of Operations and Logistics Management Volume:
3, Issue: 1, Pages: 16-29 (March 2014). Retrieved on 11 October 2017 from:
www.absronline.org/journals

Munk, J. (2013). Common Challenges When Implementing Six Sigma. Retrieved on


11 October 2017 from: http://www.sixsigmadaily.com/what-are-common-challenges-
when-implementing-six-sigma-in-organizations/

Singh, D. (2011). Managing Cross-cultural Diversity: Issues and Challenges in


Global Organizations. IOSR Journal of Mechanical and Civil Engineering (IOSR-
JMCE). 2278, 43-50.

Stevenson, W. J. (2015). Operations Management. 12th Edition. New York: McGraw-


Hill Education.

Terziovski, M. (2010). Innovation practice and its performance implications in small


and medium entreprises (SMEs) in the manufacturing sector: A resource-based
view.” Strategic Management Journal, 31 (8), 892-902.

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APPENDIX A

SYNERGY LABS

TITLE: Operations Manager - Manufacturing - Consumer Packaged Goods

EOE STATEMENT: We are an equal employment opportunity employer. All qualified


applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color,
religion, gender, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status or any
other characteristic protected by law.

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POSITION REQUIREMENTS

REQUIRED EDUCATION and EXPERIENCE

 Bachelor’s degree in engineering or a scientific discipline is preferred.


 Verifiable track record of working in a manufacturing environment.
 Experience and comfort in communicating at all levels of the business, up to and
including board level and a natural influence enabling the motivation of staff.
 Experience with and understanding of Lean Manufacturing and Six Sigma
principles as well as experience in New Product Introduction.
 Comprehensive Benefits Package.

DESCRIPTION

 Reporting to the CEO, the Operations Manager will have full autonomy for the
day-to-day running of the manufacturing operation with a key input into all
manufacturing, engineering and internal materials movement and logistics.
 Are you proactive, assertive and a take charge person? Do you like to think
ahead and work independently? If so, we want to talk to you. This is a once in a
lifetime opportunity for the right visionary person.
 The Operations Manager will ensure that goods are produced & delivered 'right
first time' on time and at the right cost to maximize company profitability.
 This position holds significant responsibility for providing a safe and healthy
workplace for all employees.
 As the Operations Manager, you will strategize for continuous improvement of the
business through the effective use of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and
deployment of visible measures of performance within the manufacturing area.

KEY RESPONSIBILITIES and TASKS

 Direct and manage employees and departmental operations for production,


logistics and maintenance.
 Coordinate plant activities through the planning with shift leaders to insure the
total manufacturing objectives are accomplished in a timely and cost effective
manner.
 Manage capital asset maintenance.

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 Identify, manage & implement cost reduction/continuous improvement projects


within department using 'Six Sigma' & 'Lean' principles.
 Attend customer and management meetings.
 Manage of new product introduction for plant and shift leaders.
 Manage all aspects of departmental staff management and company policies,
including time & attendance, discipline, vacation, training, staff development,
sickness, briefings etc.
 Generate reports monthly or as required by the CEO.
 Develop, manage and monitor training schedule for all departmental employees.
 Ensure all equipment within the department is maintained and used in a correct
and safe manner.
 Introduce departmental Key Performance Indicators to monitor & control
performance.
 Monitor and manage stock.
 Coordinate production plans and material requirements.

FULL-TIME/PART-TIME - Full-Time

Source:
SynergyLabs Operations Manager Job Advert. Retrieved on 12 October 2017 from:
https://www.appone.com/maininforeq.asp?
Ad=565778&R_ID=1734017&Refer=https://www.indeed.com/&B_ID=44

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