Thursday, August 18, 2016

School's Out for the End of Summer!

It's been two weeks since my summer class ended, and I've been SO relieved to have a break. I've been knitting a lot, reading actual books, and cooking real meals with Rob. We've been able to host and visit family for entire weekends; Rob's family came to Boston for 4 days, and this weekend we are going up to Maine to go river-tubing with my family.

Reflecting on my class, I can admit that I definitely struggled to be mentally committed to this class. I think it was a combination of the fact that it was summer and that this class was online. The content (Competitive Intelligence) was very interesting, but also more business-oriented than I expected so that caught me off guard and I really had to push myself to get into that unfamiliar mindset. I figured out pretty quickly that I prefer the research processes to the analysis, and analysis models are a huge component of CI (producing deliverable intelligence rather than simply gathering information).

Being part of a group project was challenging because we had never met in person, but it also helped me to be accountable to our project because other people depended on me. It was also helpful that we all had different backgrounds, so we could fill in the gaps when we had a misunderstanding.

Speaking of knitting... even though I didn't have much time to knit during the course, I was definitely thinking about it! This is because our project for CI was on JP Knit and Stitch (as our "client") and their presence in the online marketplace. I knew about this shop from when I used to live in JP, and I wanted our project to be something unique and locally focused. Our key questions for research and analysis focused on whether JPKS should invest in expanding their online shop in order to better compete in their market. Our findings indicated that this would NOT be a good investment for them - because they have a limited staff and want to focus on being tactile and grounded in the community - but they can learn from the online market and adapt popular trends to fit their strategy. For example, we came up with the idea of creating "knit kits" that would be a cross between a subscription box (ie. BirchBox) and a CSA. Customers could sign up for for a curated kit each month and could pick it up in the store; this would bring people into the shop and would not significantly add to the staff's work load, since JPKS already sells employee-curated kits in their online shop.

I'm glad I took this class even if I don't want to build a career in CI; it was good for me to get into a different mindset (think: how will my findings be analyzed and applied, and how can that direct my research?). I also feel better equipped for my next online class this fall, Knowledge Management. I will still say that online classes aren't my favorite way to learn, but it will be nice to only go to campus once a week (Thurdays for my Technology class). Until then, I'll keep knitting because everyone in my life is having a baby and knitted baby gifts are the best baby gifts (until you can donate REM sleep hours to new parents)!

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