One day, we’ll have some version of face-to-face instruction again


One day, we’ll have some version of face-to-face instruction again. And when we do, you might notice that, whereas most of the doors in the still-new building that houses the Soules College of Business have mechanical locks, some doors (such as those that regulate access to expensive high-tech laboratories) use smart locks. Smart locks command price premiums over mechanical locks, and now they’ve gone mainstream, as confirmed in this product review video:


Innovation Via the Work of Small, Collaborative-Problem-Solving Teams

The presence of these locks confirms manufacturers’ success in activating small, collaborative-problem-solving teams to ideate and validate solutions with which to monetize their cybersecurity expertise to create new products and new revenue streams. Such new products represent “cyber design,” which is distinct from “cyber hygiene,” as follows:

(The following is taken from a proposal that I developed for a strategy by which the Soules COB can come out of the COVID-19 disruption bigger and better than ever. Again, we’ll return to this in Week 5.)

“Cyber hygiene” refers to the use an information system in a manner that is security-compliant and prosocial. “Cyber design” refers to the ability to design new classes of high-value products and services that monetize cybersecurity expertise. Given that today’s business models are digitally enabled, there is a large, unmet demand for persons who can combine the defensive capabilities of cyber hygiene with the opportunistic capabilities of cyber design. Many cybersecurity programs provide certificated training in technical cybersecurity, such as those at UT San Antonio and Georgia Tech. Few programs provide evidence-based training in behavioral cybersecurity, and none does so with certification.

My proposed strategy claims that the Soules COB can well prepare our students to gain access to more than their fair share of career opportunities by assuring that they learn how to integrate:

  1. their expertise in domains such as management, marketing, finance, accounting, computer science, etc.; and
  2. their threshold understanding of the design and operation of management information systems; with
  3. their skill in working in small teams to ideate digitally enabled solutions that create outsized value for their employers and outsized career opportunity for themselves.

This logic is hardly novel (and I claim its emphasis is overdue at the Soules COB). It follows the digitization of most business models, as enabled by the cloud, which is where big data is stored and analyzed.

Amazon is the most innovative and disruptive company in the world. We can and should learn a lot from them. Indeed, I could conceive of a business school curriculum that consisted of only four courses, in which students would study Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft. (Forget Facebook.)

Several reasons explain Amazon’s success and that of the diaspora of Amazon ex-employees who go on to mega-successful careers thereafter, or who stay with Amazon and develop mega-career success there. Key to all of this is knowing how to be effective working in a small, collaborative problem-solving team. The following video explains some of the Amazon secret sauce that enables such work:


Segue From What You Know to What You Can Do With What You Know

This assignment integrates your knowledge of the essentials of a management information system with your knowledge of how to apply that knowledge to create value for your organization and yourself.

A Day in the Life of a Data Analyst

The following video gives a glimpse at the life of a data analyst. As you watch it, consider what the interviewees say, and what they don’t say.

“When I look at numbers, what I see are stories.”

“If we had access to [X], would we be able to…?”


This video emphasizes the crucial contributions that a data analyst can make to the collaborative problem-solving activities of a small team. But it under-emphasizes the complementary contributions made by those with heterogeneous skills (e.g., skills in marketing, management, finance, accounting, etc.).

From our SAP activities, you saw indications that the employer market favors and rewards job candidates and employees who have a threshold level of knowledge and skill regarding the use of an ERP. That knowledge and those skills can and are measurable, as evidenced by the presence of stacked certifications of SAP competence.

Now imagine that in the work-at-home environment that is quickly coming to dominate industry, employers will similarly favor and reward job candidates and employees who have a threshold level of knowledge and skill regarding collaborative problem solving. Industry will look to access that knowledge and skill with lateral hires, but there aren’t enough lateral hires to go around, given the surge in industry’s demand for such talent. Where, then, will industry look for such talent?

Industry will look to business schools for that talent, and will recruit most heavily at those schools that have figured out how to design and implement study-at-home models that anticipate industry’s work-at-home models. Imagine that those business-school study-at-home models enable data tracking of a kind and degree that enables the longitudinally accurate measurement of the contributions that each student makes to the various collaborative-problem-solving teams in which he or she participates during his or her studies.

Now imagine that such a system enables performance comparisons not only among students at business school A but also among students at tens or hundreds of other business schools, and makes anonymized versions of those comparisons available for review by industry recruiters. On these facts, students might invest more interest and effort in their participation in small, collaborative problem-solving teams than they otherwise would (or do).


Please write an essay (1,000-word minimum) in which you reflect on the forgoing and on your experience in this class and other classes in which you’ve worked in a small team, and answer the following:

Question1: Team Composition—Assume you could influence the composition of the small (four-person) collaborative problem-solving team in which you will participate. How would you wish to form that team, i.e., what composition of skills and domain knowledge would you aim to secure? Please remember that this team’s activities will be conducted almost exclusively online, and usually asynchronously. Please explain.

Question 2: Team Conflicts—Conflicts are unavoidable in the work of small teams, and they come in two flavors. There are relationship conflicts (differences in personality, style, matters of taste, and even conflict styles) and task conflicts (disagreements over how to divide up resources; differences of opinion on procedures and policies; managing expectations at work; and judgments and interpretation of facts). How would you propose that the team resolves those conflicts? Does your answer vary depending upon whether you’re the team leader? Please explain.

Question 3: Ground Your Answer in Course Objectives—This assignment requires you to provide a reasoned explanation for how you would design or use a part of a management information system. With that in mind, please indicate which of the following course objectives are implicated either directly or indirectly in your answer, and please explain:

Course Objectives

  1. Understanding the role of information systems in organizations
  2. Understanding the various information systems used
  3. Understanding the technical infrastructure for information systems
  4. Understanding the purpose and basic techniques of data management
  5. Understanding how to use appropriate query and search technologies to locate and retrieve pertinent business information
  6. Understanding the role of information technologies in solving business problems and exploiting business opportunities

This is an open-book exam. Feel free to draw from outside resources but do so with your own words and by citing those sources.

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