REFLECTIVE ESSAY….

Introduction:

“We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live; they travel far” – By Swami Vivekanada

I was born in an entrepreneur family in India. My father, a true entrepreneur, a self made man from scratch, has always been my inspiration to develop my character. I have been always fascinated by his leadership skill. Before sending me to Kingston University, he gave me the above quote and also told me that I can what I want to be. I always want to be a leader and I am fascinated by all the great leaders of different eras around the world but I also wanted to be creative. I always wanted to make a difference.

In the beginning, I was only enrolled in International Business Management. After the first week of classes, two of my friends were explaining me about their additional Entrepreneurship class.  They were describing how practical it is. Then I realized that this kind of module will be essential to develop my creative nature as well as leadership skill in me. The next day I registered myself for the module. Moreover, I knew that residing and studying in London for a year will provide me all the platforms to make myself independent and to be my own.

I feel that being a leader not only always mean how you can lead a group or captivate the attention of a crowd, but, firstly, also how you lead yourself through the unrecognized challenging paths of life. However, a leader is nothing without his or her creative skills. If a leader does not think differently than others then he will not be able to stand out from the crowd. Before I make someone to believe in something, I need to believe in it and need to be confident that nothing can breach to me achieve that target. Therefore, I knew that I highly require that creative leadership skill to be a successful entrepreneur.  

Skills which I developed through this module:

Leadership skills:

We all know that there is a vast difference between reality and what you are taught in class. Honestly speaking, the International Business Management course were very theoretical and most of the things I already knew, because I did my Bachelor in Business Administration. However, the Design Thinking Entrepreneurship module is the only class where I really had to push myself to the practical world and that is the best part of this module (Muelle).

After my under-graduation, I worked four years in my family business which is manufacturing and exporting leather goods. It is based in Kolkata, India. I worked in each department, such as accounting, marketing, production, purchase, etc, just like my other employees. In the marketing department, I had to communicate everyday with my customers from around world. During that time I travelled many countries with my father. While I was in production section, I had to deal with workers who did not know how read and write, but they are highly skill full in making the products. I realized the difference between theory and reality when I had to convince and make them understand what I want, not what they want (Muelle). Therefore, sometime I feel and I think it is true that in business world theories are born from incidents; i.e. firstly, incidents take place and later some talented scholar draw a theory out of it and name it with their name. Later, the theories are engraved in the books and students like us read it and try to grasp it throughout the year. However, we need to realize that it has been happening all around us. I think leader’s used to motivate his followers before the invention of motivation and leadership theories. They were also intelligent, but moreover, they were creative and that is what makes them different than others (Muelle).

The Design Thinking and Entrepreneurship in Practice module is all about our creativity. It helped us to enhance the horizon of our creativity. Each and every class, we did something new, such as sometime making shoe out with whatever we had, going out of the class asking others about their shoes, sitting in the class the way we wanted, playing the role of bankers and CEO of companies, participating into Young Entrepreneurship competition, and many others. Each and every creative thing gave me a new challenge and pushed me out of my comfort zone (Rickards).

Designing skills:

In my four years professional career, I also had opportunity to work with my design team on few projects. I visualized how they used to come up with new product idea. For example, customers used to send us different pictures of product and we had to modify then in such a way that it becomes cheaper and looks different than the original product. The sample men used to show me how to make samples, what kind of material we should use to make the product more durable. It was not really easy for me to learn, but it was interesting. We had to design the product for the next year. Therefore, we had to analyses the colour forecast and the theme for the next season. However, the features of the products used to be assembled according to our customers specification. Therefore, our product development team did not have much freedom. It made me feel that one day I will have my own brand where the design will be mine and I do not have to follow any more specification (Yeats).

The Design Thinking and Entrepreneurship module gave me that platform. I was really excited and happy when we were asked to design and develop a product. The best part was having our own company where each and every decision will be ours and we will be directly approaching to the customers. I still get amazed when we think that how we came up with the idea (Yeats).

A short Story: Two of us, me, and Onkar, were smoking just outside of the building. We were worried that we had to tell our professor about out our idea and we did not have a clue about it, because we till then we had been looking for new ideas or a true innovative product. After three to four minutes our third partner, Kanna, joined us. He was wearing a jacket and having a shoulder laptop bag on top of it. The bag and jacket was really eye catching. Suddenly, out of now where, it came to my mind to make a jacket which will have a laptop sleeve (a case to put a laptop).So, I proposed the idea to other two. It seemed impractical in the beginning. So I had to draw a picture to make them understand how it can be done. Suddenly, Kanna said, “yes!!! We can do that, I know a garment manufacturing company in India who can make that”. That is it, EUREKA!!!! We got it. Onkar said if we can do that then our problem is solved, because no one is the market has got such kind of product. We proposed the idea to our professor and she also liked it and we were all ready to go for our first prototype. It was really enjoyable and such an experience. I do not have words to express the feeling of that particular moment when we had our first prototype.

Team working skills:

Tuckman’s team work theory is the most famous one. I studied that when in my undergraduates. He mentioned about the four stages of team development. Our team development for our entrepreneurship class is related to the four stages which are described below (Tuckman).

Forming:

It is the initial stage of team development during which individuals have not yet gelled together. Everybody is busy finding their place in the team and sizing each other up. I had that feeling too. I was scratching my head when we were asked to form our team. I was looking around every one and try to highlight the fellow students with whom I could form my team. After all, we had to develop a product and sale it just like the real world. However, it did not take me long time to form the team with Onkar and Kanna, because I knew them from my other modules and we worked together on several projects (Using the GROW model to solve problems).

Storming:
People begin to see themselves as part of a team. However at this stage they may challenge each other, and the team leader, about such things as what the team is doing, and how things should be done. I also faced this stage, but rather than challenging each other we are questioning ourselves when we did not have our product idea. We did not have any major conflict, but it is true that everyone has different ideas to complete a task. We used to discuss our ideas and not matter what we decided, everyone worked on it equally (Tuckman).

Norming:
This is the phase where team members start to come together, developing processes, establishing ground rules, clarifying who does what, and how things will be done. This phase is characterized by a growing sense of “togetherness”. We were really clear about our roles. Kanna had the contacts in India to outsource the goods on time. I and Onkar took the responsibility to market the product. His responsibility was to create the awareness about the product between friends and Kingston college students and my responsibility was to approach the other universities and wholesalers (Tuckman).

Performing: 
This is the final stage where increased focus on both the task and on team relationships, combine to provide synergy. Performance is delivered through people working effectively together will help you and your team sustain that performance. I and my team members worked hard to push our products through all the possible channels.  I approached to Richmond American International University in London, because somehow I knew the vice president of that university. We know each other very well. They accepted to publish the product on their web. Our professor provided us the opportunity to participate in college trade shows where we advertised our product and got appreciations and positive feedbacks (Tuckman).

Relationship with the GROW model:

It is the most famous problem solving model. It is divided into five stages. Each letter of the G-R-O-W model defines a stage, except “O” which defined two stages. Our group’s achievement in Design Thinking and Entrepreneurship module is also classified with the help of GROW model in the following way.

“G” (Goal): The terms “G” refers to idea of setting your Goal. In the beginning our goal was to sell as much product as we can, just like others. At that moment we did not have the bigger picture in our mind. However, later on when we developed a unique product and realized that, in reality, it has got huge potential, we changed our goal. We decided to continue with the project even after finishing the course and approach to the big brands (Grow Model ).

“R”(Reality): We did not difficulties in the beginning. We knew our plan and how to approach. The difficult part was to get the first prototype on time, before the first trade show. We outsourced the product to India. We had no control over that manufacturing company. We had to look professional so that they take us seriously. They took time to arrange the fabric and develop the first prototype, because it was the trial and error stage.  However, finally we had our product just before the day of trade show (Using the GROW model to solve problems).

“O” (Obstacles and Options): In the initial stage our first obstacles was finding the right company to develop the first prototype. Secondly, creating awareness was another difficulty. Right now, our obstacle is to find a path to get hold on to the big brands. Our options were, to develop the product in India, because Kanna new the company. Options for creating awareness were trade shows, pamphlets in the university, Facebook, and publishing our advertisement (Using the GROW model to solve problems).

“W” (Way forward): We worked on our options with our full effort. However, as I mentioned earlier that we shifted our goal, we thought it might not be worthy to sell products in single pieces before have the patent right and selling single pieces can create an obstacle for future. The brands might now accept the product as because it is already out in the market (Yeats).

Therefore, after the last trade shows we registered our product and we are still trying to get in touch with the big brands or the wholesalers.

Bibliography

Muelle, Jennifer S. “Creativity and Leadership Perceptions.” Wharton Management . <http://www-management.wharton.upenn.edu/mueller/docs/Mueller_Goncalo_Kamdar-JESP_creativity-leadership.pdf&gt;.

Rickards, Tudor. “Creative leadership Process in Project Team Development .” March 2000. British Journal of Management . <http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/content/BPL_Images/Journal_Samples/BJOM1045-3172~11~4~173/173.pdf&gt;.

Tuckman. “Teamwork Theory: Tuckman’s Stages of Group Development.” July 2007. The Happy Manager . <http://www.the-happy-manager.com/teamwork-theory.html&gt;.

Vivekananda, Swami. Brainy Quote. 2010. <http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/s/swami_vivekananda.html&gt;.

Wikipedia. December 2008. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GROW_model&gt;.

Yeats, Michael. “Product Design Theory.” 2011. CRANE MATERIALS INTERNATIONAL. <http://www.cmiengineer.com/whitepapers/product_design.pdf&gt;.

Youtube. 15 April 2009. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wu0VAuhsZ_g&gt;.

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Some of my designed leather bags which I developed with my design team in India……

Hi friends,

Here I would like to just share some of my designs of leather hand bags which I developed while I was working with my design team in India. The editing of the pages are done by our designer Susanta, and the samples were made by my sample group.

I hope your will like this.

Thanks & Regards

Sunam Podder

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Classification of Process Theory……

Process theory:-

Process theory focuses on how we make our choices with respect to desired goals. Individuals are motivated by different outcomes. Culture also encourages different patterns of motivation. We appear to have some choice of motives and the means of achieving them. Content theories fail to recognise either individual choice or social influence (Bennett, 1997). There are three types of process theories:

 

 

 

 Equity theory:- the basin concept of the equity theory is that individuals want their efforts and performance to be judged fairly relative to others. Individuals engage in a process of evaluating their social relations. Thus, equity theory relies heavily both on the assessment of individual inputs and outputs and on social comparison. According to the theory, individuals regularly compare the returns they are experiencing with the rewards given to the other employees. Equity theory has significant implications for management practice. For instance, it is important to recognise that employees compare pay and inequity quickly generates bitterness which are often predictable. It is important for management to recognise that perceptions and inequity can generate tension. Therefore, the circulation of actual information about rewards and the links between effort and rewards is crucial (David, 2004). 

Expectancy theory:- expectancy theory draws the relationship between the efforts put into particular activities by individuals and the nature of the rewards which they expect to get from those efforts. This is clearly centred on the individual. For example, the individual may have no particular regard for the job in which they are currently engaged. However, they will nevertheless work productively and effectively at it because it is a stepping stone in the person’s view to greater things. Therefore, in this theory, efforts, expectations and rewards are related with each other. Moreover, expectation theory explains individual differences in motivation and behaviour and assumes that behaviour is rational and we are conscious of our motives. However, what would happen if the employer places a reward which is not properly valued by the employee or which does not satisfy employee’s expectation? Unfortunately, the employee will not be motivated towards high performance (Pettinger, 1996).

Goal-setting theory:- goal setting theory is more appropriately viewed as a motivational technique than a formal theory. This technique relies on a number of propositions which allows to explain and to predict work behaviour (David, 2004).

  • Challenging goals lead to higher level of performance than simple goals. Therefore, management set a difficult goal which stretch employees’ performance, but which are not beyond their ability.
  • Specific goals lead to higher levels of performance than vague goals such as using encouraging words like try hard or do your best. It is easier for us to adjust our behaviour when we are aware about our goals. Thus, management express the aim in clear and specific language.
  • Participation in goal setting can improve performance of employee by increasing commitment. Therefore, managers allow employees to take part in the goal setting process to increase their commitment to the goal.
  • Feedback is necessary for effective goal achievement. It contains information about previous performance. Management always provide feedback on the result of the past performance so that employee can adjust their behaviour to improve future performance.
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KEY FACTORS FOR SUCCESS (KFS)

  1. Definition: KFS are those factors that determine a company’s ability to survive and prosper. They help identify potential for competitive advantage.
  2. Identification: KFS are determined primarily by the analysis of the customer and competitive environment and relating them back to resource and competitive advantage requirements in the corporation. Sometimes this is referred to the 3 C’s (after Ohmae).
  • Customers: determine customer needs, segment changes etc.
  • Competition: What are the main dimensions of competition; what resources and customers do they have that make them particularly successful; value chain comparisons, etc.
  • Corporation: What core resources, skills and competencies does the company have to possess to survive competition and obtain superior competitive advantage.

When KFS have been identified, they can provide a checklist for the rest of the strategic analysis. For example, if we know that a market share of, say, 30% is critical for profitability requirements then any strategy which fails to address this issue is a weak strategy. Similarly, if we know that service levels are crucial to adding value then, again, any strategy that doesn’t address the issue is weak.

3.Core resources, skills and competencies: Within the corporation, the area of core resources, skills and competencies is fundamental to strategy development.

Core resources are identified by Kay as architecture, reputation and innovative ability. They contribute to the distinctive development of a company’s strategy. Architecture is the network of relationships and contracts within and around the firm. Its importance lies in its ability to create knowledge and routines, to respond to market changes and to exchange information. Reputation allows a company to communicate favourable information about itself to customers. It is mainly concerned with long-term relationships and which take a long time to build. For example, reputation for quality service; reputation product excellence, etc. Innovative ability relates to a company’s ability to constantly generate new ideas, think productively, make sound decisions and gain the commitment needed for rapid effective implementation (see notes on Strategic Innovation).

Core skills are a basic fundamental resource of the organisation. They cover the entire value chain. Some writers take this core skill framework into a broader area of people, financial resources and production resources and label them core capabilities.

Core competencies cover an integration of skills, knowledge and technology ( like a three-legged stool). These then build into core products and services, which then form the business areas of the company. This combination can then lead to competitive advantage. Hamel and Prahalad were the authors of a seminal paper on core competencies in 1990. They defined core competencies as “collective learning in the organisation, especially how to coordinate diverse production skills and integrate multiple streams of technologies”. They suggested that there are three areas that distinguish the major core competencies;

  • Customer value. Competencies must make a real impact on how the customer perceives the organisation and its products/services.
  • Competitor differentiation. Competence must be competitively unique. If the whole industry has the skill then it is not core unless the organisation’s skills in the area are really special.
  • Extendable. Core skills need to be capable of providing the basis of products/services that go beyond those currently available.

 Importantly, core competencies are a vital prerequisite for the competitive battle that takes place for market share. The development of key resources must come before and not during market place activity.

4.Concluding remarks: The concepts presented here are useful and help strategic thinking to focus not just on external factors but on developing internal differentiators. It is important to realise that they will make a contribution to the development of strategy but they are not panaceas and will need to be treated with caution. Additionally, the language used can be confusing and concepts overlap. It might be useful to think of KFS as made up from external and internal factors.

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An average person spends 7 to 8 hours a day in his office. So, the furnitures and interior environment are becoming more important to create a livable and comfortable spaces. The furniture, interiors, and lighting are always have an psychological impact on the employees. So, an southing, comfortable, flexible and lively environment are stated to increase the productivity and the creativity of the pupils. The above slide shows focuses on different aspects which are necessary to provide the environment, such as the type of color, usage of natural lighting and artificial lighting, and arrangements of the furnitures.

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The Roll Of Marketing In Developing Strong Fashion Brands In 21st Century

A glory of an emperor mainly stands on two pillars, how it has been built and how it has been run. Similarly, a brand has also got two main pillars which establish its image world wide. They can be highlighted as two M; the first one is “Manufacturing the product” and next is “Marketing the product” and both of them needs to be exclusive. Here, the focus will be on the second one, the roll of Marketing in developing strong fashion brands in 21st century. The soul of a market is consumers or customers. In 21st century, the competition is becoming more cut throat as customers are becoming more informed and unstable.

Consumers are switching easily from one brand to another. Customers’ choices and taste have changed has gradually. Thus, the way of marketing a brand or marketing a brands product has also changed with the time. 21st century has provided different ways to fashions brands to develop their market, and reach to their potential customers.

Traditional forms of advertising are not the best options. Nowadays, people are more into virtual marketing or e-tailing.  We can get the entire world into our small A4 size computer screen. With increasing value of time over money, customers prefer to pay a little extra for delivery at their doorstep just by ordering inline. However, Dolce & Gabbana has taken the level one step ahead. The brand uses an exclusive key to reach its customers.

This picture shows how mobile phone is being used by luxury fashion brand Dolce & Gabbana as a key communication channel to reach to its customers. Going to a store of a fashionable luxurious brand provides the opportunity to get a customer’s personal attention. What can be the better alternative to this other than “Mobile Phone”? It is personal, precise and customized too (Tsirulnik).

Keeping that idea in the mind, Dolce & Gabbana has placed an application, called “D&G Fashion Channel”, in I-phone. The main idea is to provide a new and easy path of interaction to D&G customers. Not only that but it is also a way to catch the attention of other customers as well. For example, if the customer receives a text message, offering a super and exclusive handbags at a special price only to repeat customers and only available at the same store where he/she made the last purchase, then it rings the bell in the customer’s mind. Moreover, the customer can find the map and contact details of nearest GUCCI store, see the video highlights from the D&G Man and Women Winter 2010 catwalk shows, browse through all the images of the products, 2010 new winter collections and necessary details related to that. The theme is called “following users in their real life” (Tsirulnik).

However, “going to the stores” still provides the customer a feeling that mobile phone can not. The customer can touch the product, check the quality and colour, and finally gets a trial room to wear the product. Therefore, the retailing concept is still considered as a major marketing mantra. The fashion brands are using architecture to carry the image of luxury, to attract mainstream of customers. The flagship stores are coming up as an ultimate fashion destination for the purchasers.

For example, Gucci is opening a new stories store at 725 Fifth Avenuein New York City. It is going be the world’s largest Gucci store till now, holding the elegance and architectural artistry which will take image of “GUCCI” to the next level. The architect is the world renowned James Carpenter, leaving his fingerprints all over this new store – along with those of Creative Director Frida Giannini who collaborated on the building design  (World’s Largest Gucci Store).

The main idea is to allow the customers to see through the stores while they are passing by, because everything, including the floor and ceiling, is made out of glass. “Catering for both men and women the new flagship store, Gucci New York, is making a bold and beautiful statement in New York, and makes it with the luxurious style one associates with Gucci” (World’s Largest Gucci Store).

On the other side Louis Vuitton, has gone a step ahead with the concept of using architect to design the flagship stores or boutiques. The brand has formed its own team of international architects, headed by Eric Carlson. The project is to create so-called “Commercial Cathedrals” for Vuitton in cities like Tokyoor New York. The luxury boutiques will be characterised by open spaces and glass walls (Vuitton has new advertising strategy)

 This is not all where luxury fashion brands have stopped developing their marketing strategies. Technology is playing a major role in PRADA’s $40 million store to attract customers. Pick up any pair of shoes or handbag or dress and you’ll find a clear RFID tag, with the antenna and chip clearly visible. There are small handheld readers on the  every shelves. Staff – mostly good-looking guys in black suits – can scan the tag on a $2,000 suit. Then a video monitor is used to show the suit on the runway, with collection photographs and designer sketches, and to provide more in-depth information about the color, cut, fabric and materials used to create it (Learning from Prada).

If customers want to try their suit, they enter in the high-tech dressing room and hang it in the smart closet. The closet reads the RFID tag and displays information about the suit on a liquid crystal screen with a touch-screen overlay. They can flick through accessories or see the same item in different colors. The content displayed is all related to the item in the closet, part of the same line or “look” in Prada’s parlance (Learning from Prada).

Therefore, from showing off  to selling the right product, from just capturing more customers to having a satisfied customer, from retailing to e-tailing, and from shocking adverts to customer awareness – the turn of the century has seen a lot and has much more to come. As the 21st century unfolds, “Marketing” will be playing a major role in developing a strong image of luxury fashion brands.

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The $300 House…….

Design..
  • In India and other high population density countries have the main problem of space.
  • For a family of four or five children and two parents a 8 or 9 sq.m house is like a pigeon hole, so I am trying to propose a house with a mezzanine floor so that it can accumulate more no. of persons in a given space.
  • I am also trying to avoid the front door and replacing it with open able wall which will give the house an extra shaded space and can create a feeling of larger usable space.
  • In night time it can easily be taken down according to the need.
  • Also providing some bamboo jalis at the top for the ventilation in the mezzanine floor.

Materials..

  • For a budget of $300 choosing the right materials are really tough, that to for adding a second floor where extra strength is necessary
  • Bamboo may not be a real innovative solution but it termed as the “poor man’s steel”. It is the one of the cheapest material for providing proper reinforcement to my model.
  • For the floors I am using bamboo rafters with bamboo mats over them plastered with a combination of mud, lime and cow dung; to give strength.
  • Walls are made of bricks. Fire brunt bricks are expensive and mud bricks wears due to rain and external weather conditions;  so used a combination of mud bricks with a face of fire brick tiles.
  • Roofs are made up of preferably grass thatch.
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The B’Kos add…..

Dear teacher and friends,

Here is the link of our advertisement.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L759aq7gT3c

We really need your feedback…

Please let us know about your comments…..

Thanks & Regards

B’Kos team..

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Turning the World Upside Down

Turning the World Upside Down in Kensington Gardens takes place in the beautiful surroundings of one of London’s eight Royal Parks, showcasing a series of major recent works never before shown together in London. Kapoor’s stainless steel sculptures are situated within the beautiful landscapes and stunning setting of Kensington Gardens. This is an true example of looking at the world from a different angle – using the 4 pcs of perfect mathematical sculpture by Anish Kapoor.
The free exhibition runs from 28 September 2010 to 13 March 2011 across autumn, winter and spring reflecting the different colours, elements and moods of the changing seasons. If you guys are interested in watching the entire video then please click the following link http://vimeo.com/15626427

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Who Moved My Cheese…

It is one of the nice books I read few days ago. This book helps us to cope up with change. The change can be at workplace, in family life or anywhere. People resist change because they are comfortable with their routine habits. This book tells us not to resist change but to handle change in a very lucid manner. If you adapt, you can fit in any environment and survive.

‘Who moved my cheese?’ is an amazing way to deal with change in your work and your life was written by Dr. Spencer Johnson in 1998. This book has stayed in the New York best seller list and has remained on the Publishers Weekly hardcover notification list.  Dr. Johnson has also written the book ‘”Yes” or “No”: The guide to better decisions. Dr. Spencer Johnson M.D. is also co-author of One Minute Manager with Ken Blanchard.

In my opinion it is a must-read book. The book teaches us to respond to change. People waste a lot of time analyzing the change and hoping that the situation will be favorable again. The biggest lesson that I got from thisbook is that we should not waste time in analyzing the situation instead they should respond and move. ”The Quicker You move, you will get it sooner. Movement in a New Direction may help you to attain it. Noticing small changes early helps you adapt to the bigger changes that are to come. Conquer your fear and behave as you are courageous.” Fear is the greatest impediment to change.

Please read the book and let me know how it feels…

 

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