A view from the classroom chair: Into Thin Air

Since I last posted an entry to this blog, I have been accepted to and enrolled in the Evening UST MBA Program.  I have completed 7 out of 10 classes in Dr. John Mirocha’s MGMT 600 class, Management of Organizational Behavior.  Being back in the classroom (it has been 10 years since I graduated from my Bachelor’s degree program) has re-energized my passion for learning – it has been exciting to see the program, faculty, and students I have bragged about as an admissions representative in action.  I am very proud to be a part of it all.

Anyway, I will save the remainder of my graduation speech for a later date; it is my hope to deliver a “view of from the classroom chair” from time to time in this blog.  That is, when an interesting/inspiring discussion or event comes across, I will be sure to jot down my thoughts and share them with you.  I hope you will take the time to learn more about the UST MBA Programs, and all the other great graduate programs at St. Thomas.

In my current class, we are studying and analyzing organizations. Dr. Mirocha has utilized several case studies, lectures, readings, classroom discussions and other tools to drive his curriculum.  In last night’s class, he split the class into 4 groups based on the concepts presented in the 2002 article by Michael A. Roberto entitled Lessons from Everest:  The Interaction of Cognitive Bias, Psychological Safety, and System Complexity.  Each group was responsible for analyzing and presenting their assigned concept to the remainder of the class.  For those of you not familiar with the article, it is utilized in all of the MGMT 600 courses within the UST MBA classrooms, and also at many business schools across the country and world.  To summarize the 24-page article in one sentence, it discusses the much-acclaimed May 1996 Everest Expedition and how the lessons of achievement and tragedy relate to the accomplishments and challenges that business leaders face on a day-to-day basis.  The parallels that Roberto draws between the two very distinct environments are incredible.

It is very difficult to summarize the energetic and dynamic classroom discussion from last night in this short post, but one idea that surfaced encouraged me to at least scratch the surface.  The author discussed how psychological and cognitive factors affected the rational decision making of these well-accomplished and very experienced mountain climbing guides.  SPOILER ALERT:  These factors, which the guides were not aware of or blatantly ignored, led to the ultimate failure of the expedition including the death of several of the team members on the expedition.

As my classmate reflected on the article and described their current career situation, she wondered whether a similar phenomina is occurring. That is, are psychological and cognitive factors affecting her ability to think rationally about their situation, and whether crisis is occurring around her that she is ignoring or not seeing?

My point is–you are all intelligent and accomplished people–but, are your bias and lack of awareness standing in your way? Something to think about.