You join the line at the Department of Motor Vehicles and you see there are 20 people ahead of you. You watch to see how long it’s taking to process each patron, make a quick calculation – 20 people at 3 minutes per person – and think to yourself (or perhaps aloud) “I’m going to be standing here for an hour!” This, in a nutshell, is Operations Management, one of our last core classes of the MBA experience.
Dr. Zhi-Long Chen, our professor for the course, is in many ways a typical Smith MBA professor – an expert who is excited about his subject and able to communicate difficult concepts to his students (trust me, the concepts do get much more complicated than the DMV example). I’m not concentrating on supply chain here at Smith, but it is a fascinating discipline. How do you reduce waiting times, minimize cost while maximizing efficiency, and above all – how do you construct a process that allows you to bring in the most revenues possible?
We’ll be dealing with all these questions, and more, when we kick off a week-long operations management simulation later this term: Littlefield Technologies. In it, we’ll manage a plant which is processing raw materials, producing electronic systems, and managing inventory. The simulator was designed at Stanford University, and is used by its MBA program – among other programs in the country. We start on April 25th, and it should be a really interesting (and fun) experience. I’ll let you know how my team does later in the term.