The MBET Experience

The University of Waterloo – Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology Program

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The Home Stretch

August 1st, 2007 · Comments Off on The Home Stretch

Three days to go… three MBET tasks left to do. We have our final practicum presentation today, an E-Business exam tomorrow, and an accounting exam on Friday to end things off.

As if school wasn’t keeping me busy enough, I am also in the process of moving to Toronto, renting out my condo, and trying to maintain a small bit of momentum with HealthSpoke. Talk about a busy week – though in a way, it is quite fitting and representative of the year in MBET!

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How Could I Forget – The Practicum

July 27th, 2007 · Comments Off on How Could I Forget – The Practicum

In my previous posting, I outlined what we had left to do – this last assignment that I am still working on, and a couple exams. I also left out a “minor” detail: our final practicum presentation. This is where we get to perform a post-mortem on our project, share our findings, and in general, talk about what we accomplished. Seeing how I am ready to go full-time on HealthSpoke, I think we have done a lot!! It shouldn’t be too bad for us to put this presentation together, but it’s still one more thing that’s got to get done next week!

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End of Year BBQ and Final Assignment

July 27th, 2007 · Comments Off on End of Year BBQ and Final Assignment

Last night, we had our year-end BBQ at the home of Howard Armitage, the founder and director of CBET and the MBET program. Just about everyone was there, and we all got to enjoy some burgers and nice cold beverages. It was a good chance to hang with everyone, see what everyone’s post MBET plans are, and chat with the staff and a few members of the advisory board. I really can’t believe how fast the year has gone by, and looking back to where I was at this time last year, it is amazing how much things have changed. I’m sure I’ll do an “MBET Reflections” posting once it is all said and done, but it certainly has been an incredible experience.

That being said, it is also a never-ending experience!! I am sitting down now to start our final assignment of the year, a short, 2-page paper on building employee loyalty for our BET 611: Applied Leadership class. This is the last of four assignments we have had this week. After this, only a couple exams next week, and my MBET experience will come to an end. But for now… back to work. Enjoy the weekend everyone!!

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The Home Stretch

July 23rd, 2007 · Comments Off on The Home Stretch

Wow – there are only two weeks left in my time at MBET!! Sometime in the last few days, I received the latest Communitech newsletter, which announced Entrepreneur Week in Septmeber. A couple of us joked that we had almost come full circle, as Entrepreneur Week last year was when MBET really took off. Despite the promises that the summer would be less busy, it hasn’t felt that way. We are working hard right to the end, with a couple assignments due over this past weekend, a few more due this week, and two exams looming next week.

The end is in sight though, and over the past couple months, people have started making their post-MBET plans. Most people are in the process of looking for jobs, with many already having accepted offers. A couple of us are off to start our own businesses. It will be exciting to watch where everyone ends up.

As for me, right now, it’s time to get back to my final accounting assignment.

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The Role of a CEO

July 23rd, 2007 · Comments Off on The Role of a CEO

To follow up on my last post, one of the other interesting things we talked about in our strategy class was the key roles played by a CEO. These can be summarized as follows:

  1. Setting Direction: Creating the Vision, Mission and Values for the organization.
  2. Creating Strategy: Determining how to accomplish the goals set out above.
  3. Implementing Change: Making it all happen. Execution can be the hardest part!
  4. Assessing Performance: Track performance, both today and tomorrow.

It is interesting to note a couple differing views of the role of a CEO. Back in October, I wrote about the CEO as Chief Everything Officer. In a startup company, the role CEO really does have to be good at everything. However, in my opinion, as the organization grows, the CEO role evolves to the point where instead of being focused on everything, the CEO focuses on the big picture, and how to build the organization to accomplish it.

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Mission, Values, Vision, Strategy

July 20th, 2007 · Comments Off on Mission, Values, Vision, Strategy

Mission statements. Core values. Corporate Vision. Strategy. To many employees stuck in their cubby-hole cubicles, the announcement of a new “Mission Statement” or a change in “Core Values” means that top executives just spent a small fortune on consultants and a weekend retreat to come up with some Dilbert-esqe corporate drivel that doesn’t change one thing in the way the company operates.

This term in the MBET program, we have spend a lot of time looking at how to build and grow a company. Despite the fact that MBET is not a traditional MBA program, it is still a graduate-level business program, so we have spent a lot of time in a number of classes talking about Mission, Values, Vision and Strategy. What I’ve realized is that these are critical issues for any organization – the decisions made regarding these items drive all other decisions throughout the organization. I’m going to share some of the things we’ve chatted about regarding each of these items.

Mission: The “Mission” for an organization is “Why do we exist?” Outside of making money, what are you trying to accomplish?

Values: “Core Values” answer the question: “What do we stand for?” These are the underlying principles that should never change.

Vision: A vision is “What do we what to be”, or “Where do we want to go?”

Strategy: Strategy answers “How do we do all this?” It provides the roadmap for how to accomplish the mission and vision laid out for the organization.

Despite the ineffectiveness of many corporate mission, vision and values statements, from a management perspective, they are critical to the organization. These tools set the guiding light for the organization, and define what the organization will do, and as importantly, what an organization will NOT do.

The best analogy I heard for thinking of these items is that of going on a trip:

  • Mission: What are we doing? Going on an awesome vacation!
  • Values: What do we stand for? Exciting week away!
  • Vision: Where are we going? We’re going to Disneyland!
  • Strategy: How are we going to get there? On a plane!

Why are these things important? Well, think about what happens if the values are different – one person wants a quiet, relaxing week on the beach, and the other wants roller coasters and nightclubs. Or vision – one person packs for week on the ski slopes, the other packs for the beach. Just like in an organization, for the trip to be a success, everyone has to share the same mission, values, vision and strategy.

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Leadership Development Days

July 19th, 2007 · Comments Off on Leadership Development Days

One of the courses in the MBET curriculum is BET 611 – Applied Leadership Development. During the summer term, Thursday’s have been reserved for 611 days. We’ve had a number of great speakers and great sessions. Over the next few days, I’ll try to post a few of the highlights.

Last week, we had two three hour sessions: the first on Corporate Governance, and the second on Business Ethics.

Corporate Governance

The Corporate Governance session talked a lot about the role of boards in organizations. The key point I took away from this session was that the job of the board member is to supplement and enhance management thinking. The board should add knowledge and experience to help guide managers.

We were also presented with a decision making framework for the board to use when making decisions:

  1. Is this issue a board priority?
  2. What is the objective? What are we trying to accomplish?
  3. What are the facts? Do we have the information we need?
  4. What are the decision options?
  5. What are the criteria?
  6. What is the decision-making process? Consensus? Majority vote? Another methodology?

Another key point here: when going through these decisions, make sure you stay focus on the goal – don’t get sidetracked with the details of “how” to do something, before you know that it will achieve the objective.

Business Ethics

The session on Business Ethics contained a fascinating overview of six theories of morality, from Aristotle and the ancient Greeks through to Feminism and Cadbury in modern times. While each of these “theories” proposed that it provided the true definition or morality, we combined them all to give us six questions to ask to help guide our actions when in a moral dilemma:

  1. Teleology: What would a virtuous do? What would a moral expert do?
  2. Deontology: Are there any important duties / obligations I have to follow?
  3. Consequentialism: What are the results of my action going to be? Will my choice produce the greatest net pleasure amongst the options I have?
  4. Rights-based: Am I going to violate anyone’s rights?
  5. Feminist: What would a good mother do?
  6. Cadbury: Will my choice survive the glare of publicity? If everyone knows, can I live with that?

By going through these questions, you usually come to some sort of consensus as to the right action! I found this session quite interesting, to hear of the various view of morality and ethics. As well, this list of questions gives us a practical way to help determine “the right thing to do.”

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Apartment for Rent in Kitchener

July 11th, 2007 · Comments Off on Apartment for Rent in Kitchener

MBET is quickly coming to an end, and after 9 years in KW, I will be moving back to the bright lights of the big city of Toronto. I have decided to rent out my condo, so anyone interested looking for a place to live, check out the description below:

Spacious 2-bedroom condo for rent in Kitchener!! Ideal for two MBET students with a vehicle! Overlooking Chicopee Ski Hills, this unit features a wood-burning fireplace, open-concept kitchen, large living room, 2 bedroooms and two full bathrooms – a 4-piece main bathroom and a 4-piece master ensuite. The unit has plenty of closet and storage space, as well as central air conditioning, 3 appliances, and walk-out balcony. Laundry is located on each floor of the building. Unit also includes one parking space. There is ample visitor parking, and additional permanent parking is available. The location is close to parks, skiing, Fairview Mall and shopping, and has easy access to Highway 8 and the 401. It is a 15 minute drive to the University of Waterloo or WLU. Available after August 15th. Rent is $970 / month plus hydro.

If interested, please contact me (email is preferred):
Dan Donovan

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Golden Horseshoe Business Challenge Pictures

July 11th, 2007 · Comments Off on Golden Horseshoe Business Challenge Pictures

Check out the pictures from our trip to the Golden Horseshoe Business plan contest in Rochester, NY!! It was a sweet ride!!




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MBET – The Final Month!!

July 5th, 2007 · Comments Off on MBET – The Final Month!!

It is hard to believe, but our year in MBET is coming to an end. As of tomorrow, there are only four more weeks until our last exam. I’ve been all over the place lately, including a little break for a trip to Newfoundland to visit my girlfriend’s family. During this time, the rest of my class went to Boston for a week to meet some VC’s, check out the TieQuest conference, and see the city. They had an awesome time!!

One thing about MBET is that despite the apparent “lighter schedule” in the summer, things are still busy. We are completely finished with a few of our courses, but still have a lot of work to go in the other ones. In the next few weeks we have to wrap up the practicum projects, hand in some assignments, and write a few more finals.

I’ve got a lot of things on the go trying to get everything setup to go full-time with HealthSpoke once things are finished. I am working on putting financing in place, but am also working up some bootstrapping alternatives. Things are looking good and I think I’ll be going full-time at it in the fall!! MBET has certainly put me into a solid position to launch my business, and I am definitely much better prepared having gone through the program than I was at this time last year!

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