Put your Music to Work

Businessman with headphones on

For a long time, music was thought to have been a hindrance to effective time utilization and completion of tasks. Listening to tunes at work was considered something no one did for fear of either getting fired or simply being unfocused.

However, the tables have turned. Music has been shown to increase focus, awareness, and even boost productivity in typical workplaces such as the office. Granted, tuning out to your favorite Taylor Swift song is not recommended for high customer interaction jobs such as McDonalds or Chipotle, but in the more traditional office settings, with often endless rows of busy-bees confined to cubicles, music can become a lifesaver and a productivity-booster.

According to FastCompany.com, a blog geared around operational management strategies, studies have shown that employees engaging in repetitive tasks can benefit greatly from listening to even the simplest songs at work. “The effects music can have in relation to repetitive tasks were further explored in this study, which showcased how assembly line workers displayed signs of increased happiness and efficiency while listening to music” (FastCompany).

Additionally, even articles by the New York Times vouch for music’s effectiveness in the workplace, “In one study involving information technology specialists, she found that those who listened to music completed their tasks more quickly and came up with better ideas than those who didn’t, because the music improved their mood.” (NYTimes)

In an article by Time Magazine, music is cited as being a real help in recalling facts and boosting memory recognition: “Adults aged 18 to 30 were asked to recall a series of sounds presented in a particular order. Participants’ performance suffered when music was played while they carried out the task as compared to when they completed the task in a quiet environment. Nick Perham, the British researcher who conducted the study, notes that playing music you like can lift your mood and increase your arousal” (Time)

Although there have been many studies showing that music does help with employee satisfaction, happiness, and productivity in certain workplaces, how do you feel about allowing/using music in the workplace? Do you believe that there are instances where it should not be allowed? In what setting would you feel most comfortable allowing employees to listen to music? If not allowing employees the option to listen to their individual headphones, how else would you attempt to increase productivity at a workplace, if not by music?

Works Cited:



Elimination of Enrollment Bottleneck: Graduates Who Don’t Do Science.

Source: xda-developers.com

In class, we learned that a bottleneck is the longest activity that is the limiting factor in operations management. Managers want to match capacity and design while still maintaining the greatest efficiency possible.

Education is no different as it follows basic business rules. Schools increasingly want students to graduate, get jobs, and eventually donate back as alumni. Universities across the country have a problem with so called “bottleneck courses,” which prevent students from graduating. California State University (CSU) reports about 30 such courses that have a high rate of failure, including math, science, and history. Those courses distract students from their major studies and often cause failing or withdrawing, if not dropping out of college altogether.

Source: brightlandcollege.in/

CSU wants to address the bottleneck courses by providing science labs online and moving away from traditional in-person classes, especially for students who do not major in science. CSU does not have sufficient capacity to match demand for bottleneck classes due to limited lab space. Virtual labs are a way of offering more lab sections and thus increasing enrollment and moving more students through the system (increasing the rate of graduation).

Low cost of such classes coupled with high demand means more money the school will earn and able to re-invest. However, CSU’s solution to bottleneck science courses raises concerns over the quality of education given. In-person classes are especially important for science labs; a biology department chair at CSU, Jeffrey Bell, says, “my biggest concern, especially with freshman classes is you don’t want students seeing reality as a video game—a key thing in science is we investigate reality.”

Before we can argue about the quality of such courses, let’s ask ourselves: “what is the real value of education?” The content that is learned in science classes is available online. Therefore, the content is not the sole value of education, but rather a college experience: the ability to interact with the professor and peers on one-to-one basis. But just how important is the experience for non-science majors who just want to pass the class to graduate?

Source: biofluff.files.wordpress.com

CSU’s demand far exceeds school’s effective capacity, mainly due to struggling students repeating the class. School’s solution to increase the capacity through online sections to match enrollment demand is one way of managing the problem. School could also manage demand by increasing capacity—building new science labs and hiring more professors. This long-term solution would ensure that struggling students are offered adequate in-person help, rather than let them pass without a sufficient knowledge of science.

CSU’s tactic for managing bottleneck science lab courses is rather new, thus raises concerns about its quality, especially in the time when U.S. students lag behind in science and math compared to other countries. Is removing this bottleneck sacrificing or improving the quality of science lab courses? Will this decision eventually lead to graduates who do not have sufficient knowledge of science or scientific thinking? Can you think of other solution to tackle the bottleneck course problem?

Source: www.scpr.org

“Au Revoir and Auf Wiedersehen” from GM and Peugeot!

Let’s face it. The economy is still lousy, and many companies are trying to find ways on how to reduce their costs. For General Motors and Peugeot-Citroen, it is time to restructure their operations.

“GM removed the head of its European operations, Karl-Friedrich Stracke, after just seven months on the job and replaced him with Vice Chairman Steve Girsky amid growing frustration with the pace of the turnaround at its European business, which includes the German Opel/Vauxhall unit” (Terlep). “Peugeot plans to eliminate 8,000 jobs, or 8%, of its French workforce, and stop building vehicles at one of France’s largest car factories in 2014” (Terlep).

So what exactly are GM and Peugeot restructuring? Both companies are restructuring their operations management, specifically their capacity. In class, we learned about design capacity and effective capacity. Design capacity is the maximum theoretical output of a system, whereas effective capacity is the capacity a firm expects to achieve given current operating constraints.

“About 30 of the 98 European auto-assembly plants owned by major car makers are operating below 70% of their capacity, levels that typically cause plants to run up significant losses. European auto makers have the plant capacity to make 27 million cars a year but will only make 20 million this year” (Terlep). In operations management terms, 30 of the 98 European auto-assembly plants have a design capacity of 27 million cars, but they are operating below 70% of their design capacity. Their effective capacity this year is 20 million cars.

In order for GM and Peugeot to match capacity to demand and effectively compete in the auto industry, they will have to close some of their factories and lay off thousands of their employees. The general environment and the task environment change dramatically every day. Companies who do not build for change will experience what GM and Peugeot are experiencing today. There is a lower demand for cars, and costs are skyrocketing because factories are not operating at their full design capacity.

If you were the chief operating officer at GM or Peugeot, how would you restructure your company and “build for change”?


*If you would like to access my article, you can click on the link below:




Terlep, Sharon, and Sam Schechner. “GM, Peugeot Take Aim at Europe Woes.” The Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, 12 July

2012. Web. 12 July 2012. <http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303740704577522053739434374.html>.