Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Fall Semester 2004 Mod B - Statistics

Stats ... it's a great science. It's pretty useful. It's pretty convoluted.

My first college encounter with stats was at BYU. If I hadn't worked in a group with a couple of friends, I don't think I would have done as well as I did. Stats was a required course in order to get into the Marriott School. I earned an A- and I was happy.

Managerial Statistics

Marion Sobol, the legend, was my stats teacher at Cox. The picture of her at the link I've provided must be about 30 years older. She is much older now than when that picture was taken. She must be around 70 years old now. I think she's from New York or Jersey beacause she talks with an eastern accent. I must admit, she is as sharp as a tack still. But there were times when a student would ask a question and she really didn't understand what the student was saying. Which brings up another comment.

There are lots of Indian and Asian students in the PMBA program. I find it (sometimes) amusing watching a teacher attempting to decipher what a student asked. Other times, I am very impressed at how well the teacher understands what a foreign student is asking. I am also highly impressed with a lot of students who don't speak English as their first language. I don't think I'd do too well attending a university in Spain or Mexico and taking all my classes in Spanish. It's simply amazing how some students do that.

I digress. Sobol ... I enjoyed her teaching style. She is a pretty logical person and explained the concepts well (for me). I think other students would disagree. Others had a hard time with her age as she stumbled or mumbled a few times.

The homework wasn't too difficult. We had a group case to work on. Our group did well enough. The final was OK. She gave us a cheat-sheet with all the fomulae on it. I can't remember how I did on the final ... I was a little above average I think. My final grade was a B+. I thought I was going to get an A or A-, but I was OK with a B+.

Finally, as a side note ... there is a statue of a Möbius strip that stands in front of the Cox business school. I read the inscription on it one time and learned that Sobol donated the statue to the school. The above is a picture of the actual statue.

Excel Modeling

We went over a cancer detection model. It was over my head. It makes perfect sense when Snir is up there showing you how to do it, but when it comes to actually working on the case ... it's a whole other ball-game. We got our first case back ... we scored a 20/25 ... 80%. Apparently we missed a question (?). I don't know how that happened. Our next case is a credit scoring model. We have to figure out who is a good candidate for a customer for a credit card and who is not. Our group won't meet until next Tuesday, the 14th. So, I'll be trying to make heads and tails out of the case before then.

I really don't enjoy this class. I thought I would when I signed up for it. But I've found that most of it above me. Thankfully, I have a couple of smart people in my group.

Master Negotiation

I really like this class. Robin Pinkley is the professor. The first time I heard her speak was in my Organization Behavior class that I took last summer. She talked to us about salary negotiation. So far, I've really enjoyed this class. I've heard and been told several times that this class is one of the best classes in the business program. It is always a full class.

Each class, for the first hour, we work on a negotiation. The last negotiation was between two divisions in a company. One division wanted to purchase some technology from another division. I played the role of buyer. The last time I played the buyer was for our first negotiation exercise. It wasn't graded. I thought I did well, but compared to the others, I scored a little below average. I didn't want that to happen this time. So I get in the room with the other person. I had seen him before in other classes and he seemed like a nice person. We chatted a few minutes and then we got into the negotiating. He seemed like a reasonable person and I trusted him. I thought that we were going to get pretty close to the middle ground. Leaving the negotiating table, I thought we'd both done well. But when everyone else in the class revealed their data, I realized that I didn't do so well. I was about average. I was somewhat ticked.

The lesson I learned was to not be such a "nice guy." I need to fight a little more for my part. I needed to reason a little more and put in some good BS to convince the other person that I was really adding value. That last exercise was the first graded assignment we had. I earned a B+ on it. About 30 people got A's and A-'s. Another 15 or so people got B+'s and B's. Two people got B-'s ... these were the people who went below their BATNA. Rule #1 - NEVER go below your BATNA.

In the debriefing, she showed us that the exercise was really a value-creation scenario. The pay schedule was such that the two parties could maximize the whole company's profits while at the time time benefiting the division. It wasn't a simple pie to be sliced up.

This week's assignment is another buyer/seller exercise. I am again the buyer. But this time I'm buying a BMW from a car dealer. I have to get the most for my money. The payoff schedule is more complicated than last week's. I put all the numbers in Excel so it will be easier to calculate the offers.

Pinkley teaches an Advanced Master Negotiation course. I'm going to be taking it next fall (my last class!).

Chess Update

The chessgames.com 2/7/06 puzzle was fairly easy. The move is question is white's 26th move.

It was another removal of the guard. A rook takes out the knight, then the bishop comes in and eats a few pawns with huge backup from the queen. I don't know if this is correct or not, but my solution to the end would be ...
28. Bg5+ Kg8 29. Bh7+ Kf8 30. Qh8+ Ke7 31. Bf6+ Eventually black loses his queen and the king is chased until he's mated.

After reading some of the kibitzes, it looks like a better move would be ...
28. Bf8+ Kg8 29. Qh6 Bxf8 30. Qh7++

I see that that variation is much cleaner and mates much sooner :-) ... I'm still learning.

Well ... that's all for today. Since I am so ready to finish my MBA, I'm going to start the countdown. If I recall correctly, our classes started the week of August 17, 2004. I am going to use that date as the starting day. The ending date for me will be October 20, 2006. This is the Friday of finals week for Mod A for this fall. I think it would be calculated as 136 in 2004, 365 in 2005 and 293 in 2006 for a grand total of 794 days while in MBA school.

539 days completed
255 days to go

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