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Friday, 30 May 2014 14:54

GE’s Innovation Capabilities

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 GE’s Innovation Capabilities


General Electric (GE) is an American multinational company (General Electric, 2013). It is a conglomerate whose core businesses include manufacturing of consumer and industrial appliances, capital finance, technology infrastructure, and energy. The firm is ranked as the 26th largest company in the United States by the Fortune 500 (General Electric, 2013). The success of GE is largely driven by technology. Technology is an essential resource for GE. The firm has used this resource to drive innovation and achieve a competitive edge.  Technology has enabled GE to create a platform that invites innovative ideas, and that fosters the creation of new products, markets, services and new customers.


 Technology and Innovation

GE has managed to leverage technology in order to enhance innovation and create a competitive advantage. The company has committed resources towards developing technology in areas such as aero-thermal and mechanical systems, manufacturing and material technologies, chemical engineering, and diagnostic and biomedical technologies.  The establishment of the Brazil Technology Center is evidence of GE’s commitment towards investing in technology in create a competitive edge. The Brazil Technology Center is GE’s fifth research and development facility. The center is expected to accommodate 24,000 square meters of testing and laboratory space (Porodi, 2013). The center has over 60 people, mostly engineers and scientists. GE invested R $ 500 million in the center in order to increase the pace of innovation.


 How GE has used Technology Resources to Gain Competitive Advantage

General electric has used it technology resources in order to foster research and development activities. Research and development are a key pillar of GE innovation capabilities. The Brazil Technology Center and the other four centers were specifically built in order to drive research and development activities. Research and development have enabled GE to delivering the right products to consumers. Research and development activities have enabled the organization to identify critical needs of the customers and design products that address these needs. For instance, the GE’s GeoSpring hybrid electric water heater was designed to address consumer’s desire to conserve the environment and save money (Moorman, 2013).


General electric has also used technology to foster collaboration between GE and its partners. Collaboration is also critical driver of GE’s innovation capability and a key source of competitive advantage. GE innovativeness has been fostered by the company’s willingness to work with entrepreneurs. One approach that GE has used to foster collaboration with entrepreneur is through organizing contests such the Ecomagination Challenge. This collaboration enables GE to cast a wide net in order to attract new and diverse business ideas. The Brazil Technology Center extends GE’s opportunity for collaboration. The Brazil Technology center has also been established to foster collaboration. GE’s collaboration effort is also extended to its customers.


Access GE is one of the technological solutions that GE has developed in order to improve interaction between GE and its customers. Access GE is a web-based portal that enables customers to access the GE’s team for technical and other forms of assistance. The Experienced commercial leadership is another strategy that GE has used to foster collaboration and innovation. This is two- year post-MBA program that seeks to develop future leaders and change the company’s traditional views about product development.  The graduates introduce new perspectives and unique talent into the organization. Embracing diverse view points is an essential driver of innovation.Technology resources have also enabled GE to develop new markets (Moorman, 2013). Many technology companies concentrate on delivering their products on developed markets.


Many of these products are designed to work in these developed markets, and are not compatible with the environment within the developing countries. GE has achieved success by leveraging technology to modify products in order to make them suitable for developing markets. For instance, GE was able to use technological innovation to establish a connection between MRI machines and wind turbines (Moorman, 2013). This innovation has enabled the company to supply MRI machines to areas that do not have conventional sources. It has also enabled the company to reduce the cost associated with operating the MRI machines.GE has also leverage of technology to create an efficient supply chain. The supply chain refers to the channel followed before the product is delivered to the final consumers (Dong, Xu, Zhu, 2009).


It entails purchasing of raw materials from suppliers, logistics, production, storage, and distribution. The supply chain has a significant impact on the overall aspects of the organization. This is because this chain affects critical functions of the organization and has an impact on the value that customers are able to receive. GE has managed to integrate its supply chain and create mutually beneficial relationships with suppliers (Moorman, 2013). GE is also able to use information technology to coordinate all processes along the supply chain including procurement and downstream sales and customer service. Technology has enable GE to share information with its suppliers, as well as, customers thus enhancing the process of value addition.


 Evidence of Distinctive Competency in Area of Innovation

Distinctive competency refers abilities that an organization possesses which are difficult for other organization to copy (Collis & Montgomery, 2008). Distinctive capabilities give a firm an edge over competing firms. They are the sources of competitive advantage within companies. Evidence of distinctive competency can be derived by assessing the performance of an organization against its competitors.GE has gained a strong position in the technology market. In 2012, the company’s made an operating profit of $ 22.9 billion (General Electric, 2013).


This figure represented an 11% growth in profits from the previous year. The company was able to record this performance despite its key markets, United States and Europe, having economic challenges. The company has managed to position itself in this challenging economic environment. The company was also able to post returns of over $ 12.4 billion to investors through dividends and stock buy-back. This amount represented dividend growth of 21% (General Electric, 2013). Since the year 2000, the company has paid a total of $ 106 billion as dividends. This figure is only second to dividends paid by Shell during the same period.The company has also managed to build deep relationship with customers. GE revenues have increased from $ 21 billion to $ 43 billion in the last 10 years (General Electric, 2013).


About 75% of these revenues are generated through the sale of services. The demand for GE services has increased due to the company’s ability to establish mutually beneficial relationships with its customers. The company has adopted solutions-oriented selling model in order to enhance its capacity to deliver products that match the customer’s needs.GE has also recorded remarkable growth of its business in past years. In 2002, the company acquired Enron Wind Corporation asset entrenching its control in this wind power market (Moorman, 2013). This is evidence of the distinctive capabilities that GE has managed to establish within this market.


The company plans to invest $60 trillion in infrastructure by the year 2030 in order to support the growing demand for its product (General Electric, 2013). Currently, a third of GE’s revenues are obtained from businesses that were not part of the company 10 years ago. The company has ventured into new businesses such as Gas and Oil, as well as, life sciences. This growth provides evidence of GE ability to develop distinctive capabilities. GE is still the leading company in advanced manufacturing. The company is also making big strides in areas such as software development, oil and gas, and power and water businesses.  


 Conclusion

Organizations have different resources. These resources can be classified into tangible, intangible and human resources. The Resource Based View Model has introduced a new approach where organization used resources to develop competitive advantage. According to this model, resources can enable an organization to develop distinctive capabilities, overcome weaknesses and threats, as well as, take advantage of opportunities. One of the key resources for GE is technology. This resource has enabled the organization to develop distinctive capabilities such as innovation, ability to deliver a variety of products, ability to develop new markets, and efficiency.  


   Reference

Collis D. & Montgomery C. (2008). Competing on Resources. November 8, 2013. http://hbr.org/2008/07/competing-on-resources/ar/1

Dong S. Xu S. & Zhu K. (2009). Information Technology in Supply Chains. Information Systems Research. 20 (1): 18- 32

General Electric (2013). GE 2012 Annual Report. November 8, 2013. http://www.ge.com/ar2012/#!report=home

Moorman C. (2013). GE’s Organizational Platform for Innovation. November 8, 2013. http://www.forbes.com/sites/christinemoorman/2013/01/29/marketing-in-a-technology-company-ges-organizational-platform-for-innovation/

Moorman C. (2013). Payoffs from GE’s Innovation. November 8, 2013. http://www.forbes.com/sites/christinemoorman/2013/01/31/payoffs-from-ges-innovation-platform/

 Porodi B. (2013). Brazil Technology Center: Speeding the Pace of Innovation. November 8, 2013. http://ge.geglobalresearch.com/blog/brazil-technology-center-speeding-the-pace-of-innovation/


 

Friday, 30 May 2014 14:07

Influence Of Ocean On Global Climate

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Influence Of Ocean On Global Climate


Earth’s climate is a result of the physical, chemical, and oceanographic properties of its components. The climate system consists of five main components that include the atmosphere, ocean, stratosphere, biosphere and the lithosphere.  Both regional and global climate patterns depend on long-term interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere.  The ocean plays a a complex role in climate system. Oceans store most of the sun’s energy that reaches the earth and acts as the greatest earth’s heat buffer.  


It is estimated that almost quarter of the earth’s anthropogenic surface warming is absorbed by the ocean, which has postponed the consequences of global warming (Herr  & Galland, 2009). Oceans cover approximately 71% of the earth, and they absorb a large part of the solar radiation. Some of the important characteristics of the ocean that influence their role in climate include the high heat capacity of the huge volumes of water, heat redistribution, greenhouse gases (water vapor), and the sea-ice cover.


The climate system is driven by energy from the sun, with nearly half of the solar radiation absorbed at the earth’s surface. Almost one third is reflected back to space by the atmosphere and from the surface and about 20% directly absorbed in the atmosphere. Both radiative processes and ocean and atmosphere circulations transfer energy from the low latitude surface where it is initially absorbed, to higher latitude and to global upper atmosphere from whence it is radiated back to space. The ocean vital role in the climate system results from its great capacity to store and transport heat, water and radioactively active gases around the globe and exchanges these with the atmosphere.


 Many oceanic and coupled ocean-atmosphere processes, occurring in a wide range of space and rime scales, are involved.The growing concerns on climate change and global warming have gained momentum all over the globe. A lot of resources have been dedicated to reducing the effect of global warming.  Ocean is one the key players in world climate. Therefore, it is important investigate how ocean influence global climate so as to develop effective measures to curb climate change. The purpose of this paper is to explore the various mechanisms through which ocean influence global climate.  


 Ocean currents

Ocean flows have major climatic effects they have been attributed to water density variation, rotation of the earth, solar heating at the surface, gravitational tidal effects, prevailing winds and water evaporation. Ocean flows are basically classified into surface currents, deep currents, updwelling and downdwelling (Innes, 2007).  The surface currents are easy to measure, subject to change, and have a major effect of climate.  The primary currents move in circular patterns known as gyres. The circular patterns reflect the prevailing winds on the ocean surface.  It changes with wind change during an El Nino in the Pacific Ocean surface. Typically, air flows from low attitudes in the poles to the equator due to the pressure gradient related to temperature differences, moving the surface water in this direction. The air from the poles is warmed as it travels down to equator and then it   rises and returns to the poles at high latitudes.


The rise of warm air occurs at a boundary region called intertropical convergence zone, and the air movement is known as the Walker circulation. Ocean currents transport heat around the earth and influence local climate as they warm or cool the air above the seas.  The chief surface ocean currents move in an identical direction as the major wind belts since wind pushes the sea water. For example, the westerly winds drag North pacific water from the west to east while the trade winds pushes surface currents westard both north and south of the equator.  These currents run into a continent, and the Coriolis effects cause them to turn right to the northern Hemisphere. The currents flow all along the continents until they dashes in a westward moving current going in the reverse direction.


 The result is surface currents that travel in loops called gyres, which rotate clockwise in the Northern hemisphere and counterclockwise in the southern hemisphere.  The North Atlantic gyre has an enormous influence on the climate of the northern Europe.  However, at the southern part of the gyre, the sun warms the seawater as it moves from east to west across the equator. When it reaches Americas, the current turns right and becomes the Gulf Stream, which raises the temperature. Ocean currents also distribute heat from the surface water into the deep ocean.  The north Atlantic water sinks into the deep sea because the formation of sea ice removes the fresh water and leaves behind very saline and cold water (Desonie, 2008).  


The ocean conveyor

Large-scale ocean circulation has an enormous impact on global climate.  According to Imura (2010), there are two types of circulation: wind driven and the thermohaline.  The thermohaline circulation has the greatest impact on the global climate.  The great conveyor belt is driven by sinking of cold and salty water. Currently, the world’s ocean, the warm, salty surface water found in the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and the equatorial Atlantic flows northward to the Gulf Stream.


As the warm water reaches the high latitudes in the north, they give up the heat and moisture to the surrounding atmosphere, leaving when they are cold, salty and denser.  The dense water sinks to the bottom of the ocean, flows southward and beneath the Gulf to the southern ocean and then through the Indian Ocean and the pacific.Wind, heat and freshwater fluxes at the ocean surface, together with tidal and other energy sources, are responsible for global ocean circulation, mixing, and the formation of a broad range of water masses.  On the global scale, individual shallow and deep-ocean currents form an interconnected pattern known as the thermohaline circulation (THC)


.according to Stouffer (2006) the importance of Atlantic THC to climate and climate change originates from its two unique properties that include its large northward heat transport and nonlinear dynamical behavior. The thermohaline circulation of the world ocean is driven by buoyancy caused by heat and freshwater fluxes at the surface of the ocean.  These fluctuations lead to the formation of dense water masses especially in the Greenland-Iceland-Norwegian (GIN) seas, around the Antarctica and in the Labrador Sea. These dense waters from the Nordic seas then flow in deep western boundary currents southward into the southern ocean from where they are distributed into the deep Indian Ocean and the pacific oceans. The return flow of these waters takes several paths through the Indonesian passage and around Africa into the Atlantic.


 This global circulation is often described in terms of a conveyor belt. THC strongly influences climate on regional-to-hemisphere scales.  In the Atlantic Ocean, THC carries the meridinal heat and due to the surface and deep western boundaries currents.  In the Atlantic, heat is absorbed by warm surface waters which are flowing northward and cold saline waters from the north Atlantic returning at depth.  This yields a northward meridional heat flux in the Atlantic at all latitudes with a minimum of about 1015 W. The presence of warm water at the western mid-latitudes in the North Atlantic is associated with intense storms systems whose transient eddies also transport substantial heat northward.  


The THC plays an important role in transferring heat from the ocean to the atmosphere, causing the water to become colder and denser, thus renewing the cycle.  The THC is responsible for much of the heat energy from the equatorial oceans to the Polar Regions and has a large influence on the global climate (Hughes N & Hughes P, 2013). The counter-interaction of the pressure across the tropical pacific between the Indo-Australian convergence Zone and the southern oscillation is the largest and most geographically widespread annual scale climatic interaction between the ocean and the atmosphere.  In the mean, surface pressure is low in the western pacific and high in the southeast pacific pressure (The walker circulation).


  When this “normal” condition is accentuated then, there is often a La Nina climate anomaly, but when the pressure gradient across the pacific is reduced there tends to be an El Nino climate anomaly. Some relaxation of the east-west gradients occur annually, causing warmer than usual water to appear in the equatorial eastern pacific, as upwelling decreases, and for a warm current to appear along the southern American coast where there is usually cold, northward flow (Oliver, 2008).  The El Nino and Elnina form the El Nino/Southern oscillation (ONSO) that affects weather patterns and climate around the globe. ENSO is one of the numerous oscillations in the ocean that occur naturally over different geographic scales and time.


 The effects of El Nino or La Nina are felt around the globe.  The rearrangement of atmospheric pressure, which controls wind patterns, and sea-surface temperature, which plays a great role in atmospheric pressure and patterns of precipitation may result to a massive and drastic rearrangement of regional weather patterns.   ENSO affects ocean circulation and weather patterns, which can result to economic and social hardships in the affected regions.  Positive and negative ENSO events are associated with extreme climatic events.  Some parts of America and Africa have been ravaged by severe storms and flooding while countries such as Indonesia and Australia have recorded intense drought and fires.


 Global hydrological cycle

The global hydrological cycle is the quintessence of climate on earth. The impacts of changes in the hydrological cycle are among the most worrying aspects of climate variation.Transport of water in the earth-atmosphere system and changes of phase modulate substantially the global energy and entropy balances.  The ocean contains 96% by mass of the earth’s total water content.


 The atmosphere contains only about 0.001% of the total water on earth, mainly in vapor form (Curry & Webster, 2009).  The water on the continents is distributed among several reservoirs including ocean, ground water, lakes, rivers and glaciers.Hydrology cycle is the continual movement of water among the reservoirs of ocean, atmosphere, and land. The total amount of water on earth remains effectively constant on times scales of thousands of years, but changes state between liquid, solid and gaseous forms as it moves through the hydrological cycle.


 The role of water in the Earth System may be grouped into three processes; physically informing climate and shaping topography by transporting heat and sediments respectively, chemically in weathering rocks, and biologically in supporting soil-vegetation ecosystems.  Climate, topography and ecosystems, are the products of hydrological processes.  The hydrology process has five main components which affect climate: clouds and radiation, atmospheric pressure, precipitation, ocean fluxes and the land surface processes.  Other components of hydrology processes important in global climate include the snow, ice, and underground water and river runoffs.


 Phytoplankton and cloud formation

Clouds play an important role in the reflection of solar energy from the atmosphere, which affects the temperature of the earth. Phytoplankton, which are marine organisms, release huge amounts of a sulfurous gas named dimethyl sulfide, which influences how clouds are formed in the atmosphere (Meskhidze and Nene, 2006). First, sunlight catalyzes a chemical reaction that changes the gas to sulfate aerosols.  The microscopic aerosols then causes water vapor to condense forming clouds.  Clouds play a significant role of determining the amount of solar energy that reaches the earth. Therefore, any process that influences the process of cloud formation influences the amount of sunlight reaching the atmosphere and consequently the temperature of the global.


 Heat storage and transportation

Oceans play a great role in slowing global changes in temperatures through the exchange of heat.  The even distribution of temperature and variation in region results into the uneven distribution of climate.  The difference in temperature between poles and the tropics leads to winds and ocean currents, which transports heat from tropics to the Polar Regions.  Ocean transport heat from tropics while winds carry heat to high latitudes.   Storage and transport of energy is one of the most important roles of the ocean. Concerning the heat storage, the ocean has a much larger heat capacity than the atmosphere.The three major ocean basins have different heat transports. The pacific and Indian ocean is similar to the global mean. The heat transport is nearly antisymmetric about the equator, and heat is transported poleward in both hemispheres.  The most remarkable pattern of heat transfer occurs in the Atlantic.


 Oceans and regional climates

 Differences in temperature between the land and water masses drive monsoon winds.  During winters, the center of the continent is colder that the surrounding ocean. This results into the cold air flowing out of the continent. During the summer, the opposite happens. The center of the continent experiences high temperatures than the ocean. This results into moisture being drawn from the atmosphere resulting into summer rains.  


Cities adjacent to ocean enjoys sea breeze.  Sea breezes are also caused by differences in temperature between the ocean and the land mass.  The ocean and the atmosphere are connected.  Ocean temperatures have a direct influence on the rainfall pattern through the globe.  Over the years, scientists have been monitoring ocean temperatures to predict floods or droughts.  For example, ENSO warns the equatorial Pacific Ocean in the South America.  Sea surface temperature is the temperature of the top layer/millimeters if the ocean.  Tropical Ocean is a major source of most of the rainfall in the world.  The monsoon winds, especially in Asia, generate consequential rainfalls.


 Influence of greenhouse gases (water vapor)

Water vapor plays a significant role in shaping the climate of the globe.  Water is an important greenhouse gas, and it links evaporation and precipitation (Soden 2012). Ocean is the largest source of water vapor.  Warmer oceans results into more water vapor which consequently increases its greenhouse effect. Water vapor makes a large contribution to the greenhouse effects. Its spatial distribution is controlled mainly be evaporation, condensation and transport process on a global scale it is not thought to be affected by human resources and sinks.


Researchers have intensively investigated the interactions of water vapors, clouds, oceans and sea ice with global climate systems in order to refine computer models and understand the impacts on the sub-system (Pierrehumbert, 2010).  Water vapor plays a number of vital roles in affecting both climate and weather. The amount of water vapor in the atmosphere is not at all uniform, but changes drastically and abruptly often in a matter of hours to cause, for example, storms.  Water vapor is one of the most important “storehouse” of energy in the atmosphere and in the climate system. The energy does not disappear but instead heat the atmosphere.  Thus, energy is redistributed through the process of evaporation and condensation.


 When the water condenses to form clouds, it has another important effect on the climate.  It “shades” or protect the Earth’s surface and lower temperature by reflecting solar energy (Gaan, 2008). Water vapor, in its vaporous state, has an important heat trapping “greenhouse effect.”  This is explained by water vapor’s being relatively transparent to the shorter wavelength at the visible and ultraviolet end of the light spectrum.  After this energy has warned the earth’s surface and been re-radiated upward in the infrared bands of spectrum, water vapor readily absorbs the trapping heat in the lower atmospheric sphere.  Therefore, water vapor may cause heat trapping, and consequently contribute to global warming.


 Oceans and atmospheric regulation

The atmosphere and the surface ocean waters are closely connected both in temperature and in concentration of carbon dioxide. The atmosphere contains less than 1.7% per cent of the carbon dioxide held by the oceans, and the amount absorbed by surface ocean water rapidly regulates the concentration in the atmosphere.  The absorption of carbon dioxide by the ocean is the greatest where the water is rich in organic matter or where it is cold.  Thus, oceans are capable of regulating atmospheric carbon dioxide, of changing the greenhouse effect, and contributing to climate change (Barry & Chorley).


The most important aspect of the carbon cycle linking atmosphere and the ocean is the difference between the partial pressure of carbon dioxide in the lower atmosphere and that in the upper oceanic layer.  This results in atmospheric carbon dioxide being dissolved in the oceans and in some of this being subsequently converted into particulate carbon, mainly through the agency of the plankton, ultimately sinking to form carbon-rich deposits in the deep ocean.  Therefore, ocean warming increases its carbon dioxide equilibrium partial pressure and decreases the abundance of plankton, which play a part in the formation of clouds.   


 Conclusion

Oceans cover approximately 71% of the earth and it plays a complex role in the climate system. The climate system consists of five main components that include the atmosphere, ocean, cryosphere, biosphere and the lithosphere.  Both regional and global climate patterns depend on long-term interactions between the ocean and the atmosphere.  Some of the most crucial interactions between the ocean and the global climate include ocean currents, atmospheric regulation, regional climates, precipitation,


Heat storage and transportation, cloud formation, Influence of greenhouse gases, hydrological cycle, ocean conveyor and THC. Ocean currents transport heat around the earth and influence the climate of different regions as they warm or cool the air above the seas.  The chief surface ocean currents follow the direction of the major wind belts because wind pushes the sea water. The thermohaline circulation has the greatest impact on the global climate. The THC plays an important role in transferring heat from the ocean to the atmosphere. It is responsible for much of the heat energy from the equatorial oceans to the Polar Regions and has a large influence on the global climate.


The counter-interaction of the pressure across the tropical pacific between the Indo-Australian convergence Zone and the southern oscillation is the largest and most geographically widespread annual scale climatic interaction between the ocean and the atmosphere. Clouds play an important role in the reflection of solar energy from the atmosphere, which affects the temperature of the earth. Phytoplankton, which are marine organisms, release huge amounts of a sulfurous gas named dimethyl sulfide, which influences how clouds are formed in the atmosphere. The absorption of carbon dioxide by the ocean is the greatest where the water is rich in organic matter or where it is cold.  Thus, oceans are capable of regulating atmospheric carbon dioxide, or changing the greenhouse effect, and contributing to climate change


 References

Barry G & Chorley (1999). Atmosphere, weather and climate. Methuen & Co. Ltd. New York, USA.

Bonfils, C., Santer, B. D., Pierce, D. W., Hidalgo, H. G., Bala, G., Das, T., & ... Nozawa, T. (2008). Detection and Attribution of Temperature Changes in the Mountainous Western United States. Journal of Climate, 21(23), 6404-6424.

Desonie Dana (2008). Climate: causes and effects of climate change. Infobase Publishing.  New York, USA.

Gaan N (2008). Climate change and international politics.  Kalpaz  Publication. New Delhi, India. 

Guilyardi, E., & Stockdale, T et al (2009). UNDERSTANDING EL NIÑO IN OCEAN—ATMOSPHERE GENERAL CIRCULATION MODELS. Bulletin Of The American Meteorological Society, 90(3), 325.

Herr D & Galland R (2009). The ocean and climate change: tools and guideline for action. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland. P72.


 Http://www.whoi.edu/main/topic/currents--gyres-eddies

Hughes R.N., Hughes D.J. & Smith P (2013). Oceanography and marine biology: an Annual review. CRC Press, New York, USA.

Innes W (2007). Climate con? History and science of the global warming. Authorhouse, Bloomington, UK.

Logan, C. A. (2010). A Review of Ocean Acidification and America's Response. Bioscience, 60(10), 819. Doi:10.1525/bio.2010.60.10.8

Oliver J (2005). The encyclopedia of world climatology.  Springer Publishers. USA.

Peterson, T. C., Heim Jr.et al (2013). Monitoring and Understanding Changes In Heat Waves, Cold Waves, Floods, And Droughts In The United States. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 94(6), 821-834. Doi:10.1175/Bams-D-12-00066.1

Pierrehumbert R (2010). Principles of planetary climate.  Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, UK.

Schubert, S., Gutzler, D., Hailan, W. et al. (2009). A U.S. CLIVAR Project to Assess and Compare the Responses of Global Climate Models to Drought-Related SST Forcing Patterns: Overview and Results. Journal of Climate, 22(19), 5251-5272. Doi:10.1175/2009JCLI3060.1

Thomas F., Knutti R & Platter G (2010). The future of the thermohaline circulation. A perspective. Geophysical Monograpy Geophysics. Union, Washington, D. C. 


 

Saturday, 24 May 2014 14:47

Theoretical Orientation to Therapy

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            Theoretical orientation is a prevalent way of defining a therapist, in psychotherapy (Egan, 2007). Individual practicing therapists have a theoretical method or approach to which they adhere while helping clients. Although it is fundamental that therapists have to have knowledge of a variety of theoretical approaches, aligning to a specific theory that compliments the counselor’s personal style and expertise, and makes them feel comfortable enables them to have a good base from which to work with clients effectively (Okun, 2007). Similarly, having knowledge of a variety of theoretical approaches enables the counselor to work with counselors who conform to different approaches, with ease.


In accordance to my personal style, knowledge, and strengths, I believe that solution-focused and family systems theories are methods with which I feel comfortable practicing.  In this paper, the purpose is to demonstrate my personal orientation to theory and the connection between these approaches and my personal strengths, in relation to my prospective work with families and children. I also discuss the likely interventions that I will implement, in accordance with the solution-focused and family systems theory. Finally, a current therapeutic situation will be discussed, in relation to the theoretical approach.


 The Family Systems Theory

            The practical application of the family systems theory has a variety of definite advantages (Egan, 2007). It is a common believe among therapists that the family of origin has an influence on an individual beginning from childhood to adulthood. The family systems approach emphasizes the need for a therapist to appreciate the influence of the current family structure on an individual. The most significant advantage of the family systems theory is the inclusion and recognition of the different entities within the family that influences the individual’s thought processes, behavior or character, coping strategies, and the capacity for social interaction with individuals, in the outside world. This attribute of the family systems theory is fundamental for therapists, especially those who work with young persons who are at an early stage of coming to terms with a domestic violence relationship.


            The clinic at which I am involved in clinical practicum has a focus on a client-centered approach. However, I have opportunities to practice psychoeducation, focusing on their family of origin and how it impacts their decisions as adults, as well as identifying their ideas of a healthy relationship and situations in which they are most comfortable. This is the initial step from which we proceed to the examination of how the relationship between the client and people around them influences the client’s children. In a majority of cases where the client can recognize their connection to the family of origin and its impact on the health of their adult relationships and choices, the client gets the motivation to disengage themselves and their children from an abusive relationship.


Therefore, considering the ages of children, it may be necessary to have sessions that involve the family of the client, in the process of therapy. However, it is important to recognize that involving the client’s family may cause problems that may not have been present in the implementation individual therapies.  For instance, the ages of children and size of the family can become obstacles in making an application of the family systems theory.  This is because the therapist has to move from dealing with an individual history and viewpoint to incorporating diverse views. In addition to the firsthand opportunity of watching the interaction between the individual and family, the therapist has a role to ensure that every member of the family is accorded an equal measure of fair treatment while also ensuring that all individual members enjoys confidentially and that their story is expressed and heard.


The risk is that the counselor may be triangulated into the family. Therefore, counselors must take precautions and ensure that they do not form alliances or take sides with individual members of the family. This can be a challenge especially when the individual member of the family was engaged in therapy with a single member of the family.It is also vital for a counselor to feel comfortable with the family while ensuring they are sensitive to the individual needs of the family members. Sensitivity to individual needs may vary with the size of the family and the age of the targeted client.  The age range of clients in the clinic where I am attached is wide. Clients have a range of age 20 to age 60. Therefore, I get a chance to interact with clients’ children, ranging from age five to age 20, on average. Lastly, I am engaged with many family members, and, so, sometimes it can be an overwhelming task to take note of the individual communication style, point of view, and alliances between members of the family involved, in the therapeutic process.


 Personal Style, Theoretical Orientation, and Initial Interview Strategy

            Since an early age, I have learned to be a straightforward person. I always do things in a systematic way that conforms to logic. For example, when faced with scenarios that involve choices, I always choice the shortest course of action. I know and believe that the past has a bearing in what we do in our current and future lives. I also understand that none can change their past. Therefore, it is not wise to spend a lot of the counseling time reliving the past. In this regard, I believe that all persons have the ability to change their current status provided they get a proper motivation to change. The implication of this belief is that I embrace the solution-based therapy as an adjunct approach to the family systems foundation of my personal theoretical orientation to therapy, in helping clients. 


 I also have beliefs that are related to the solution-focused theory, which incorporate into the practice of therapy. For example, I believe that the client has a significant role to play in the planning of therapy and development of their treatment goals. This belief blends well with the client-oriented approach applied by therapists, in the clinic at which I am completing my clinical practicum. The choices that come from within an individual can have a lasting effect that those from outside sources such as the therapist. Outside sources can have good intentions but may not be accepted easily by the client, as their individual target goals for the therapeutic process. In addition, I acknowledge the potential of self-motivation, in attaining therapeutic goals set by the client. Envisioning positive outcomes is a fundamental step in realizing therapeutic goals (O’Connell, 2012). For this reason, I embrace the application of self-talk. I promote asking the client to envision their life without the problem so that they realize the importance of working towards making the problem disappear and, hence, achieving therapeutic goals. 


Lastly, I believe that making summarizations at the end of individual sessions is important in reinforcing messages. Summarizations reinforce to the individual that the therapist took note of their expressions. In addition, it gives therapists an opportunity to restate the problem in different ways so that the client can have different perspectives of the problem. This enables the client to think of possible solutions that may have not been apparent to them. This is specifically useful for victims of domestic violence, whom I work with, in the clinical setting. At the beginning, the client is usually in a crisis and cannot solve the problem effectively. The recap or summarization enables the client to redefine their problem and think of potential solutions as they now can understand the problem better.


 Diagnostic Assessment, Goals, and Interventions

            In a sample case, a couple came to the clinic for counseling. The wife came complaining that the husband was dealing with their 7-year old son inappropriately. The son, who is in second grade, sometimes refuses to go to school. Sometimes, the couple is able to force him to school, but sometimes they are unable to convince him to go to school, and the boy stays home the entire day. Struggles to make the boy to get dressed and prepare for school marked the beginning of a routine day for the family.


The problem was that the parents differed about the best approach to make the child change his attitude towards school. While the husband preferred to beat the boy and force him to school, the wife preferred a softer approach. Therefore, the difference in approach made couple part ways and the boy remained with the husband, who would force the boy to school every morning. The wife wanted a method to make the husband agree to her soft approach of handling the boy, or get her son out of the custody of his father. I arranged to meet the couple and the boy for counseling, utilizing the family systems approach.


 I like using self-motivation with the clients. In many occasions, clients who come to the clinic are those that have minimal or no control over their lives, children, and homes. Therefore, asking the couple to state their goals resulted in them keeping quiet, without providing any answer. Generally, there are some silent goals that individuals have such as wanting the end of abuse, wanting to feel better, or wanting their children handed back to them. After the start of the discussion about what their situation would be like without the problem, it took a couple of sessions for the couple to begin to conceptualize the specifics of the things that needed to happen such as making their son go to school voluntarily, solve their differences, and other things that needed to happen to enjoy a relief. 


After the identification of client goals, the next step was to create a strategy to move towards these goals. Usually, it is important to start with simple, achievable steps. I normally work backwards from the goal to the strategies. For example, for the couple who wanted to solve their marital problem and find a way to make the child go to school, I assisted the couple to identify strategies that would assist in meeting the goals of therapy. During the discussions, it became apparent that the boy did not like the school because his friend had told him nice things about their school, and so he wanted to change schools. He had not told his parents because he thought that his father would beat as he always did. The parents agreed to a change of school and a non-violent approach to handling their son.


 Challenges, Strengths, and Ethical Implications

            The challenge in utilizing the family systems approach to counseling is that couples may not be in good terms at the time when they come to the clinic for counseling. For example, the wife and husband were living in different homes, making it difficult to arrange for a joint session. The husband was reluctant to agree to be involved. However, after a few failed replies to the invitation for therapy, he finally accepted. The other challenge was that the couple’s child was too young to be considered an independent family member. However, the case was not too complex to warrant questioning the validity of contribution of the young child to the solution arrived at during the counseling process. It is also fundamental to note that the family members agreed to participate voluntarily and agreed on the solution, without any form of coercion or influence from the counselor, in accordance with the law and professional ethics. 


The most important thing in utilizing the solution-focused therapy is to define the problem and identify specific goals for the therapeutic process (Zankas, 2008). However, the achievement of these things requires the client to take certain steps first, depending on the problem. For example, the client may need to contact their family and talk to them about their situation. They could also identify opportunities for a sustainable job. After the client and the therapist identify the end goals, they should begin to work together to actualize those goals. The strength of the family systems approach to therapy is that is based on the principle that the whole is important than the sum of its parts (Egan, 2007). Through the involvement of the entire family, individual members of the family perceive the sense that every individual member of the family is important to the process of identifying the solution to the problem.


This is important in ensuring that the individual members of the family buy into the solution agreed upon by the members as assisted by the therapist. The other advantage is that the clients are the ones who identify a preferred solution to their problem. In the sample case, the resulting solutions were developed based on the consideration of the effect on the child.  The therapy was successful in creating a solution for the couple, in that they not only agreed to transfer the son to his preferred school, but also agreed to reunite and live together as a family. The counseling process created a platform where every member of the family had time to talk and be heard fairly. This allowed them to listen to each other without anyone among them dominating the discussions as they would happen in a non-counseling setting.


Perhaps, solution-focused therapy acting as an adjunct method to the family systems also contributed immensely to the creation of an accurate solution. The systems theory perceives psychological problems of an individual as arising from the individual’s current environment and inter-generational family system (Zankas, 2008). From an ethical point of view, the therapist should respect and guard confidences of every individual client. The information obtained from every family member should be treated as if the individual were in a session for an individual therapy. The therapist should refuse to discuss with individual members separately because doing so will foster the development of unproductive alliances among the members of the family. 


In relation to my experience, my initial affective response was that the couple’s case was a case of misunderstanding. Several cases that involve parents differing over their children’s behavior include some aspect of variation among the parents, with respect to responding to the behaviors of the children. From their discussions and expression of emotions, I realized that the couple had been lacking an appropriate platform to talk and listen to each other. It became apparent that the husband had been having his way because of his violent nature, without considering the views of his wife. However, when he got the chance to listen to her and think about his actions, he realized that he had boiled things over, in their marriage. Of course, there are a few things that I would have done differently, with respect to the application of the family systems therapy.


For instance, the schedule of the counseling sessions was spread across a two-week period. Perhaps, well spaced sessions may provide to the clients adequate time to think about themselves, and whether they are ready to commit to certain decisions. Short period may rush the clients to making conclusions without sufficient thought. The clinic to which I am attached emphasizes client-focused approach to therapy. Therefore, this theory is a perfect fit because it encourages therapists to compliment clients. The focus is on identifying the things that work best for the client. I begin from there to help the client pursue their goals as identified. It is important to begin by acknowledging the significance of the fact the client took the first step to honor the appointment to come for counseling. Recognizing and acknowledging the client’s awareness of the state of their life and their willingness to seek help and take action are a motivation to the client. From there, I can help the client set strategies and timelines for the attainment of the therapy goals.


 Conclusion

            I believe that the best method to assist clients is for a therapist to adopt a personal theoretical approach while having a basic knowledge of various theories. It is also fundamental to realize that therapists who are flexible and willing to borrow from other theoretical approaches accord their clients the benefits associated with utilizing multiple opinions and different theoretical approaches. In accordance with my personality profile and interests, I believe that the solution-focused approach to therapy is the best foundation for interventions, particularly utilizing it as an adjunct to the family systems theory. The clinic to which I am attached has a client strategy that suits the application of these theories. Therefore, I can apply goals and strategies related to these theories within my choice of the clinic.


References

Egan, G. (2007). The Skilled Helper: A Problem-Solving Management Approach to Helping (8th Ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole

O’Connell, B. (2012). Solution-Focused Therapy. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage

Okun, B. (2007). Effective Helping: Interviewing and Counseling Techniques (7th Ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Coke

Zankas, S. (2008). Ethical Issues in Couples and Family Therapy. Retrieved November12, 2013, from https://umdrive.memphis.edu


 

Face To Face: Flanders, Florence and Renaissance Painting


This is a critic to the new main show at the Huntington library, Face To Face: Flanders, Florence and Renaissance Painting. This exhibition brings about 35 works of art to show how Flemish paintings contributed to the renaissance Florence at the Huntington library[1].This exhibition is open to the public and runs until January 2014. The artworks being exhibited feature the works of artists such as Hans Memling, Pietro Perugino, Jan Van Eyck and Domenico Ghirlandaio all from the Huntington Era and others being drawn from other institutions in the US and Europe.


The paintings that are to be criticized in this paper are those of Flemish painter Rogier Van Der Weyden (1400-1464), the Huntington’s prized “virgin and Child” (1460), the “portrait of Philippe de Croy” and the painting of angels fighting in heaven. The major theme of the exhibition is to show the Flemish era portraits and how they had an effect on the renaissance paintings. The faces of both the virgin and of Philippe depict almost similar situations. All the three paintings have been done by oil and the paintings are dated in the 15th century. The virgin looks lovely and a bit remote. She is unconcerned as the infant cuddles the clasp of the bible. The smiles on her face show how deeply she is engrossed in the situation. There is an aspect of contrapposto that has been depicted in this painting. The virgin embraces the infant tenderly with the child anchored against the virgins shoulder and twisting around. The weight of the virgin seems to be supported by one leg[2]. The painting is half length just as that of philippe looking by the side.


The painting of Philippe is placed right by the virgin’s side. The portrait is half length and shows a noble likeness. The portrait shows the face of a handsome young man probably in his mid or early twenties. Like other Flemish era paintings, this portrait looks lacking in emotion. He resembles a doll, finely molded with a distinct nose shape that is aquiline. In Philippe’s portrait, he appears to be praying. In his hand, he clutches a rosary, and this explains a bit of the lack of emotion that he displays in his face or that the painter portrays of him in the painting.


The third painting shows a war zone. There are those who are being chased from a certain place. They appear to be being slain by a lady who is angry and furious. The painting is well balanced with most of the portrait occupying the page. The artwork has been done in oil like the other two paintings, but the scene and the state of the portrait are different. Although it doesn’t bring out the peaceful resemblance that others have, it is significant in portraying the 15th century artists’ state of mind. 


Two of the paintings, that of the virgin and that of Philippe are religious paintings. The virgin is shown to be clutching the bible and Philippe is shown to be having a rosary. Both scenarios depict religious attachments in the paintings. The last painting shows a state of war in what appears as bad people are being driven out of a given place. The lady with the sword is furious and is holding a sword in her hand. The sword seems to be centered at the men on the floor, and the angel in the portrait of an infant seems to be holding her back. All the painting depicts the theme of the exhibition which brings together borrowed art works of the Flemish era to show the role they played in the renaissance of art forms. All the three paintings are related because they are from the same era and they are done on the same medium using the same material


The exhibition is a success given the various paintings that have been exhibited. The collector or the organizers of the exhibition very well tried to demonstrate the renaissance theme with the over 20 art collections that are on display. The artworks have been collected from Europe, and some are from the USA. The restoration on the portraits is substantial and does not alter the original painting. The works being from the 15th century have very well been kept by collectors and minimal or no damage can be seen on the paintings. The Huntington’s gallery though famous for hosting such great exhibitions is now credited for effectively bringing together Flemish era paintings at one place for comparison on the amount of work that has been done on them and the way they shaped the art form in the 15th century.


The exhibition can be improved by allowing detailed criticism of the artworks by accomplished art critics. Little educative information is available to help those who are not students of art but are enthusiastic about 15th century art to learn more about the art. Books on 15th century paintings or articles on 15th century paintings should be included in the exhibition and the same availed to visitors so they can buy for reference and future understanding.


References

Face to Face: Flanders, Florence, and Renaissance Painting: Pasadena star news, September 27.


[1] Pasadena star news, September 27.

[2] Panofsky pg297


Teacher’s Comments on Students’ Papers can be resolved by Face to Face Conferences


In this article, Brookhart (2010) explains how parent-teacher conferences and student-teacher conferences can be used to enhance the learning process. According to the article parent-teacher conferences should be scheduled individually so as to enable the teacher to share specific information about individual students to the parents.  Brookhart (2010) also suggests that student-teacher conferences are necessary address small issues that do warrant parent-teacher conferences. Student-teacher conference enables students to receive specific feedback from the teacher and students can assist teachers to understand their specific needs. Brookhart (2010) also suggests that student-teacher conference should be used as preparations for parent-teacher conferences in order to ensure that students are aware of what teachers will be discussing with their parents. Encouraging students to participate will avoid the feeling that teachers and parents are talking about the student behind his back.


This article is relevant to the topic because it emphasizes on the importance of face-face conversation between teachers and students, as well as, between teachers and parents. Brookhart (2010) argues that conferences give teachers an opportunity to provide personalized feedback to the student. The author also argues that conferences provide an avenue for teachers to understand the unique needs of the students. Similarly, parent-teacher conferences provide teachers with a platform to communicate genuine concerns and make clarification. The parent-teacher conferences also give the teacher an opportunity to understand the student background and reflect the parent’s feelings.


This is a reliable source because the author, Susan M. Brookhart, has significant expertise in education matter especially in matters of student assessment. She has a doctorate in education research and evaluation. She has also made other publication on related issues including publishing the book, how to Give Effective Feedback to your Students and written over 50 articles on education. She was an editor of Educational Measurement: Issue and Practice and a columnist for National Forum.


References

Brookhart S. (2010). Parent-Teacher, Student-Teacher, or Student-Parent-Teacher Conferences. October 23, 2013. http://www.education.com/reference/article/parent-teacher-student-conference/?page=3


 

Continuous Education: A Solution to Evidence-Based Practice


In line with the standards set by the American Nursing Association, resources for continuous education and staff development are essential to initiate and sustain evidence-based practice, in all health-care organizations (Houser & Oman, 2009). Less than 50% of clinicians providing primary health care do not have a formal training in the conduct of research. Resources for staff development are required as part of the strategic health care plans. Varying levels of usage, staff turnover, and new developments are issues that require a commitment to continuous education of staff. This paper critiques research methods based on critical analyses of two research articles.


Comparison of Information and Research Methods

One of the articles chosen for this paper is a research article by Frank Donnelly and Richard Weichula, which appeared in the Nurse Researcher Journal. The authors describe a qualitative study about the role of nursing education and clinical placement in influencing patient outcomes. Although, qualitative studies use small samples, a relatively high sample would give generalization results. Sixteen student nurses on clinical placement were involved in a case study using interviews, questionnaires, and document analysis. Sixteen is a very small number of participants. In addition to the case study, the study uses literature review method. However, the study follows the expectations for qualitative studies, where studies begin with a hypothesis.


The study is based on a hypothesis that there exists a causal relationship between patient outcomes and certain aspects of clinical placement including the level of preparation, duration, benefit, and capacity of recent nursing graduates to deliver a variety of nursing interventions. The study concluded a positive causal relationship between the stated clinical placement factors and patient outcomes. The validity of the conclusion, however, may be challenged by the fact that the study sample was too small. The authors emphasize the need to appreciate the role of clinical placement experiences in the education of nurses.


The other article is by McCormack and Slater (2008), which was published on the Journal of Clinical Nursing. In accordance with standards of quantitative research, the article has clearly defined purpose, aim, and objectives. The objective of the mixed methods study was to identify whether clinical education facilitators made a difference to the learning experiences of nurses in a large teaching hospital. In terms of the methodology, the study used as survey, on-the-spot interviews, and focus groups. 105 nurses were interviewed. The advantage with the methodology used is that it takes advantage of the flexibility of qualitative research while Statistical data analysis software was used for qualitative data while SPSS was used for quantitative data. The findings indicated that clinical education facilitators have a positive impact in the coordination of activities in the hospital. The implication of the study results for the future is that ongoing evaluation is fundamental to professional nursing development in the hospital.


Looking at the two articles, literature reviews are conducted through extensive exploration of various research articles. However, there is a difference in the age of publications used for the two literature reviews. While Donnelly and Wiechula (2013) use articles that are less than 3 years old, McCormack and Slater (2008) use articles, including those that are 20 years old. The research by Donnelly and Wiechula (2013) is purely qualitative while the research by McCormack and Slater (2008) use mixed methods. The advantage of mixed methods is that they combine the advantages of both qualitative and quantitative methods. Qualitative and quantitative methods of research both play a crucial role in nursing research.


Qualitative Research as Real Science

The claim that qualitative research is not real science is not valid. While quantitative methods utilize structured procedures of research, it should also be noted that qualitative methods have a place in nursing research (Schneider & Wagemann, 2010). Qualitative studies use data collection methods and analysis methods that ensure that standardization of responses and analysis is achieved. This method is convenient for studies that do not require large samples. For example case studies, as used in Donnelly and Wiechula (2013), do require a large number of participants.  


Relevance to Practice

The two studies highlight the significance of supported learning in the clinical setting. They identify the need for a culture of professional practice to be developed so as to sustain education in practice. The classroom alone can create a sustainable culture of learning in the workplace. Therefore, there is a need for work-based models of learning to be integrated in the hospital and other clinical practice environments. In addition, they demonstrate the significance of qualitative and mixed research methods in nursing studies.


References

Donnelly, F. & Wiechula, R. (2013), “An example of qualitative comparative analysis in nursing research”, Nurse Researcher, 20(6): 2013

Houser, J. & Oman, K. (2009),Evidence-Based Practice”, Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett

McCormack, B. & Slater, P. (2008), “An evaluation of the role of the clinical education facilitator”, Journal of Clinical Nursing, 15(1): 135-144

Schneider, C. & Wagemann, C. (2010), “Standards of Good Practice in Qualitative Comparative Analysis and Fuzzy-sets”, Comparative Sociology, 9(3): 307-418


 

Friday, 16 May 2014 19:26

Childhood Obesity in South Florida: Part V

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Childhood Obesity in South Florida: Part V


The continued rise of childhood obesity in south Florida calls for the adoption of effective measures in an effort to curb this health issue. It is through the implementation of effective measures that childhood obesity shall cease to be a threat to the welfare of the children of south Florida. The two main outcomes goals related to the fight against childhood obesity include:

  1. To establish long-term weight management programs in south Florida targeting children in south Florida
  2. To create awareness on the need for proper diet and exercise. This outcome goal will be a long term continuous process targeting the entire south Florida community

Goal 1

The weight management program will be essential as it will strive to examine and determine a child’s weight gain. The intervention that will be ideal so as to achieve this goal will involve massive education and awareness initiatives in the community. Education and awareness efforts will be geared at encouraging parents and caretakers to monitor their children’s weight. It is by regularly monitoring a child’s weight that it will be possible to determine children that at risk of becoming obese from those with normal weights.


Children identified as high risk with regard to becoming obese will be put through a weight loss and diet program to regulate their weight. The purpose of the weight management program will be to identify high risk children and prevent the occurrence of obesity before the child begins experiences obesity related health complications (Dolinsky, & Armstrong, 2011). The successful adoption and use of the weight management program will require the complete participation of parents and caretakers of south Florida as well as health care facilities.


Parents must be educated on the need of regularly monitoring their children’s weight. Similarly, health care facilities must be encouraged to adopt the program, so that is becomes a standard procedure to determine a child’s weight upon each medical visit. The program will be quiet cost effective as it will minimize the prevalence of obesity among children. Regular weight monitoring will help health care workers establish whether a child is at risk of being obese, is overweight or is already obese (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012). Whatever revelation is found, the healthcare worker will works with the parent to establish an effective regime to prevent further health problems. Secondly, the program would be cost effective as it will allow for early detection hence minimize healthcare costs associated with obesity complications.


Goal 2

Diet and sedentary lifestyle are the main culprits for the rise in childhood obesity in south Florida. The intervention strategy that will be used to change the society’s lifestyle will also emphasize on education. Lessons on the need for proper feeding, as well as exercise will be integrated in the school curriculum. These lessons will be integrated into the already existing curriculum hence no major adjustments will be made in schools. The lessons will be introduced from the first grade onwards. The introduction on lessons on proper feeding and the need for exercises will be specifically aimed for school going children.


Education on the need for exercise and proper diet will also be done on the community level. Health care workers will organize regular meeting in south Florida social halls and engage the public on information on proper feeding and exercise to their children. Parents and caretakers play a vital role in shaping the feeding habit of the child (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012). The parents will thus be educated on the need to introduce their children to proper diet and the need for physical exercise. Parents and caretakers will be educated on the need to regulate the amount of time their children spend on television and video games.


Instead, emphasis will be on participating in outdoor activities. Parents and caregivers are the main groups of people that need to be influenced so that exercise and proper diet become vital activities in children life. Parents who realize the need for proper feeding and exercise in the fight against obesity are often on the right track and will have a positive effect on their children (Dolinsky & Armstrong, 2011). Such parents will regulate the feeding habits of their children, their junk intake and the number of hours spent watching television and playing video games. This program will be costs effective as it will require the services of health care workers who are already skilled in these areas.


Similarly, there will be no need to hire trainers in school as teachers can use different texts and sources to teach their students on proper feeding methods (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012). Additionally school administrators will halt the sale on junk foods in schools and replace that with healthier food options. Secondly, educating the community will be done at a local level, meaning health care workers from south Florida will be responsible for educating the public in the region. There, therefore, will be no cost of hiring new public health workers. Overall, the intervention methods will go a long way in minimizing the occurrence of childhood obesity in south Florida, which is expected to increase the overall health care cost of Florida unless effective preventive measures are undertaken.


Reference

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2012). Florida’s response to obesity. State nutrition, physical activity, and obesity profile. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/stateprograms/fundedstates/florida.html

Dolinsky, D., Siegariz, A., Perrin, E., & Armstrong, S. (2011). Recognizing and preventing childhood obesity. Contemporary Pediatrics, 28(1), 32-42.


 

Childhood Obesity in South Florida: Part III


Introduction

            The epidemic of childhood obesity in south Florida needs to be eradicated quickly so as to safeguard the health and overall well being of children. With the rates of obesity in south Florida remaining ever high, the south Florida child is at risk of different obesity related health complications. Florida has a childhood obesity rate of 33.1% which is 2.5% higher than the national prevalence rate of 30.6% (World Health organization, 2012). The public health in south Florida as well as the community in general needs to adopt effective preventive measures to eradicate childhood obesity. The fact that obesity is one of the leading causes of child mortality should be a cause of concern as well as a call for change in south Florida. Childhood obesity is preventable only when the entire community works together to establish lasting and effective strategies.


Levels of Prevention

There are three main levels of prevention of any diseases. The first level is the primary prevention level that focuses on adopting preventive measures before a person becomes affected by a disease. The primary prevention level thus focuses on protecting people from factors that expose them to a disease. With regard to child obesity in south Florida, primary preventive methods include exposing children to an active life through participation in exercise and outdoor activities. 


Children who engage in outdoor plays are more likely to burn more calories and excess fats than children who spend the whole day playing video games or watching televisions (Almarzooqi, & Nagy, 2011).  Another primary preventive measure can involve training and exposing children to proper feeding habits.  Exposing children to proper feeding habits as well as educating them on the need for proper diet vis-à-vis the consumption of junk is vital in preventing the occurrence of childhood obesity. Child related environment such as schools can also be structured in such a way that they offer nutritious food choices and provide children with health education lessons that emphasize on weight management and good health.


 The secondary prevention method is the second level of diseases prevention.  The secondary prevention methods are used when the disease has occurred, but the patient has not realized it yet. With regard to childhood obesity, the secondary prevention methods can be implemented on children noted to have a high risk of obesity. Healthcare workers can examine and determine children with a high risk of obesity and expose them to preventive methods to minimize the risk.  


Screening is one of the best ways to determine the presence of risk factors associated with the occurrence of obesity in children.  Screening enables healthcare professionals to analyze a child’s family history and observes the child’s growth patterns (Crawford, & Santoro, 2013). Children that are overweight, for instance, are at risk of becoming obese if they continue adding weight. Healthcare workers will thus establish preventive measures that will help the overweight child reduce his weight thus minimize the risk of becoming obese.


 The third level is the tertiary prevention methods which focus on people already affected by a disease. The purpose of tertiary prevention methods is to prevent further damage and complications as a result of the disease. Tertiary prevention methods also focus on assisting people regain their health. With regard to childhood obesity, tertiary prevention methods will be adopted on children already diagnosed as obese (WHO, 2012). Tertiary preventive measures will include management of obesity so as to avoid further health complications. Tertiary preventive measures can also involve providing children with mental health counseling so that they can deal with their psychological issues associated with obesity.


Theoretical Model: The Health Belief Model

Obesity in general is considered a lifestyle disease due to the fact that most people who acquire the condition did so due to their lifestyle practice. In children, obesity occurs due to the lifestyle that children have been exposed to. The health belief model adequately addresses the issue of childhood obesity as it rises in south Florida. The health belief model (HBM) is a psychological model that explains and predicts health behavior. The model indicates that persons will undertake health related action towards the prevention of a disease if he believes that the diseases can be avoided; believes that the actions will bear positive results and believes that the recommended action will lead to positive results. HBM is constructed around four main constructs.


The first is perceived susceptibility which focuses on a person’s assessment of their risk of getting a condition. With regard to childhood obesity, parents who note that their children are at risk of becoming obese can adopt life changing practice such as regular exercises and proper feeding habits. Healthcare professional should strive to alter the perceived susceptibility by sharing facts and statistics about childhood obesity. Parents, caregivers and the community as a whole should be made aware of the soaring statistics of childhood obesity in south Florida and the impact it has on society.


The second construct is perceived severity which focuses on a person’s perception of the seriousness of a condition.  Healthcare professionals must ensure parents acknowledge the seriousness of tackling childhood obesity by discussing the negative health complications associated with the condition.  The negative health outcomes should be discussed from angles such as physical health of children, their emotional health as well as the social consequences of childhood obesity (Almarzooqi, & Nagy, 2011). For example, if the community in south Florida is enlightened on the dangers of childhood obesity, the community will strive to eliminate the health problem by taking better care of their children. Parents can, for instance, become more involved in their children’s life by monitoring what their children feed as well as regulating the amount of time spent watching television and playing video games.


The third construct focuses on perceived barriers which focus on obstacles that hinder the adoption of positive behavior. With regard to childhood obesity, factors such as the social economic status of families shed light on the inability of families to adopt healthy feeding habits. The fourth construct is perceived benefits, which focus on a person’s assessment of the positive consequences of adopting certain behavior (Crawford, & Santoro, 2013). With regard to the prevention of childhood obesity, the community can be educated on the advantages of introducing children to healthy feeding habits from an early age. Children who are accustomed to nutritious feeding habits maintain this trend throughout their lives. It is these positive feeding habits that guarantee optimal health free from lifestyle diseases such as obesity. Perceived barriers such as the perception that additional pounds in a child are a sign of health and also that matters of weight problems are trivial should be eradicated. Adults in south Florida must also possess self efficacy and believe that they have the ability to take actions and initiate behavioral change in their children’s life (Vine, & Orfield, 2013). Such positive beliefs encourage parents, caregivers and members of the south Florida community to work hard towards eradicating childhood obesity.


Conclusion

The only certain way that childhood obesity can be eradicated in south Florida is through the active participation of all members of the community. Obesity is a preventable disease that is destroying the lives of thousands of children every year. Obesity in children is mainly associated to the lifestyle that children have been exposed to. The environment that a child is reared determines the lifestyle that he will adopt. Since childhood obesity has been detected as prevalent in society, it is up to the community to embrace effective preventive measures. Prevention of childhood obesity can be handled at three levels depending on the health status of the children. The three levels are primary, Secondary and tertiary level. Adopting preventing measures through these levels ensures that the health problem of childhood obesity is eliminated from the south Florida community.  Members of the community will be educated on steps, to ensure they lead healthy lives


Reference

Almarzooqi, M. & Nagy, C. (2011). Childhood obesity intervention programs: systematic review. Life science journal. Vol. 8(4): 45-60

Crawford, L. & santoro, H. (2013). Childhood obesity and possible policy intervention. Georgia Institute of technology

Vine, M. & Orfield, C. (2013). Expanding the role of primary care in the prevention and treatment of childhood obesity. Journal of Obesity. ID 172035, 17pages

World Health organization, WHO, (2012). Childhood obesity. Childhood obesity prevention. Retrieved from http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/80149/1/9789241504782_eng.pdf


 

Saturday, 10 May 2014 01:48

School Bullying

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School Bullying


School bullying has become a common problem in our learning institutions. Bullying is aggressive behavior present in schoolchildren which is characterized by an imbalance power and reputation. School bullying comes in many forms such as name-calling, kicking, gossiping, and hitting among others. A substantial number of children according to different studies are bullied something that affects them psychologically, mentally, socially, and emotionally. Studies have failed to develop sound reasons as to why children are being bullied and proper measures on how to deal with this challenge. This paper develops four goal statement and their specific outcomes in order to give a clear understanding on the issue of school bullying in the society especially to school children.


Bullying affects everyone in the society either direct or indirect. Those who are bullied, the bullies, and even those who witness bullying are victims of school bullying. Evidence shows that school bullying has negative impacts such as suicide, substance abuse, and mental health that poses great dangers to parties involved. Parents and teachers plus the entire society should intervene the issue of school bullying and help develop proper strategies to deal with the challenge. School bullying requires proper measures and strategies on how to deal and stop the situation, (Kim et al., 2006).


The first goal statement is to determine the population that is being bullied. It is with no doubt that children who are being bullied do experience negative mental health issues, school issues, and physical issues. The main goal in this statement is to examine, understand, and have a clear picture of kids who are bullied. In this section, the target population is the kids who are seen as the victims in the bullying activities. This goal statement will take duration of around three weeks. Key results expected in this section include anxiety and depression impacts that kids come across when they are bullied. The section will also evaluate on the health complaints present in bullying and how it affects the growth and development of kids in their learning environment. Evidence shows that a small number of kids who are bullied have the potential to retaliate through violent conditions, (Kim et al., 2006).


The second goal objective to be obtained is the kids who bully others. Experts have developed different studies in order to fully understand some of the reasons that drive some kids bully others. It has been discovered that a number of reasons contribute to schoolchildren bullying activities. Having in mind that there are some factors that contribute to school bullying, the target population for this section will be kids who bully others and teachers in the learning environment. Apart from bullying others, bullies are exposed to dangerous situations that can affect their life. Bullies in the short run feel as if they are hero, but in the long run they engage in risky and violent behaviours when they become adults. Addressing why kids bully others will have provided a suitable platform for solving and developing strategies to deal and end the issue of bullying in the society, (Kim et al., 2006).


Another goal objective to be obtained is on the negative impacts bullying activities have on bystanders. In most cases, people think that bullying of kids only affects the victims. The target population for this section is children who witness others being bullied. Parents of bullies and the victims will be part of this section’s population. Two weeks will be enough for developing study for this section and understand some of the key challenges that affect those who are witnesses of bullying activities. Based on the past studies, it has been discovered that kids who witness bullying activities become victims of the situation because they think they will be the next target. This make them increase their use of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco in order to deal with that fear. They also miss and skip school whenever they have a feeling they are going to be bullied. Depression and anxiety are some of the negative mental health problems that have developed to bystanders due to bullying activities, (Kim et al., 2006).


 The last objective goal to be obtained will be on the relationship that exists between suicide and bullying in the society. Bullies, those who are bullied, parents, teachers, bystanders, and the society will form part of my population for this section. This section will take a period of four weeks. The period will allow get enough and relevant information to evaluate and examine the problem of bullying and how it is connected to issues of suicide among students. Reports from media usually link bullying and suicide among kids in school. Bullying alone is not a factor that can contribute to suicide, but it contributes to the development of other factors such as trauma history, depression, and mental health issues. When these factors combine, they develop a suitable environment which facilitates suicide activities, (Kim et al., 2006).


Reference:

Kim, Y., Leventhal, B., Koh, Y., Hubbard, A., & Boyce, W. (2006). School bullying and youth violence: causes or consequences of psychopathologic behavior? Archives of General Psychiatry, 63(9), 1035-1041


Friday, 09 May 2014 18:54

Strategic Plan for Starbuck Company

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Strategic Plan for Starbuck Company


Strategy Selection

The environmental scan revealed that Starbuck is a strong organization operating in markets that have many threats. However, the market still has high opportunities for growth due to globalization. In reference to the grand strategy matrix, an organization that is in a strong competitive position and is operating in a market with a high potential for growth has the following strategic alternatives; market development, market penetration, product development, forward integration, backward integration, horizontal integration and related diversification (Zheng, 2007). In this case, the company chooses to pursue the market development strategy. Market development strategy entails taking the company’s existing products to new markets (Ansoff, 2004). Since the company is facing threats in its Europe and North American markets due to the prevailing economic conditions, Starbucks intends to extend its operations in emerging markets, specifically the African market. This geographical region has been recording tremendous economic growth and a rapid expansion of the middle class. This market presents immense opportunities for Starbuck.       


Implementation Plan

Starbuck intends to establish its presence in the African market. Unlike the European market, African economies have recorded tremendous economic growth rates within the last decades. This continent is home six of the ten world economies that have had the fastest growth rate between 2001 and 2010 (Kristof, 2012). This economic trend has seen many members of the African society being lifted into the middle class status. Similarly, the African population is young and growing. This means that the economy of these nations is likely to continue to grow. The market will also continue to expand due to the growing population. Despite this market showing tremendous opportunities, it remains relatively unexploited by multinational companies. Many players within this market are independent players who have limited capacity to serve the growing market. This presents an opportunity for Starbuck to grow it sales and revenues by expanding into the untapped market. The long term goal of this strategy is open 2000 new outlets in different African cities in the next 6 years. It is also Starbuck long term objective to increase its share in the African market to 40% in the next 6 years.


Short Term Objectives

  1. To establish 100 new outlets within African with the next 1 years.
  2. To increase the company’s share of the African markets to 10% in the next 1 year.
  3. To increase the customer retention rate to 70% in the next two years.

Functional Tactics

The first functional tactics entail establishing new outlets within the African. Starbuck intends to open 100 new outlets within the next two years. This mean that the Starbuck has to make all the logistical plans to ensure that these outlets are up and running. These include establishing the physical facilities, creating the supply chain and hiring new employees. Starbuck will use a partnership approach in order to speed up the process of establishing these new outlets. The company will establish good working relationship with local governments, suppliers and other businesses.


Starbuck also intends to increase its share in the African market to 10% within the next 1 year. Thus, the firm will need to undertake an aggressive campaign for popularizing the company’s brand and products. Various promotional strategies will be used including advertising, internet marketing, publicity, and direct selling. The company will sponsor various community events for publicity purpose. Price will also be an essential element of our marketing strategy. Starbuck will adopt a penetrating pricing approach entail lowering the cost of the company’s product at initial stages in order to attract new customers.


The third short term objective entails increasing customer retention rate to 70%. Starbuck intends to retain its customers by delivering services of the highest quality. This implies getting the best raw material and training employees in order to ensure that they deliver exceptional services. Starbuck will also use relationship marketing tactics such as tangible rewards, personalized communication, direct mail, and preferential treatment to increase retention rates (Rezaei & Khajei, 2010).  For instance, repeat customers will be accorded preferential treatment in order to promote repeat visits.


Action Items

The first action item entails identify suitable locations for the new outlets. In order to establish 100 new outlets, there is a need for the implementation team to identify the location for these items. Various factors will be considered including the political climate of the locations. The second action item entails identifying suppliers. Since these are completely new market, there is a need to create reliable supply chains. The third action item entails hiring employees. Starbuck will need thousands of employees to work in the new location. The implementation team needs to ensure that these employees are hired.  


A number of action items will also be executed so as to achieve the second short term objective. The first action item is to design advertising messages. Since this is a new market, new messages need to be designed so as to reflect the characteristics of this market. The second action item entails rolling out the advertising messages through media including mass media and social media. Starbuck will also need to identify community events that need to be sponsored within these markets.  


Starbuck will also need to do an evaluation of suppliers in order to ensure that it gets raw materials of the highest quality. This will ensure that Starbuck is able to maintain high standards of quality when it comes to its product offers thus increasing retention rates. Starbuck will also need to develop a training program and train newly hired employees so as to make certian that they can deliver the expected standard of customer service. Starbuck also need to establish media and technologies for managing customer relationships.


Milestones and Deadlines

Date

Milestone

01 November – 01December

Find locations for new outlets

01 December- 31 December

Identify suppliers

02 January- 28 February

Hire employees

01 February-28February

Design advertising messages

01March- 15March

Roll out advertising messages

15March- 31March

Identify community events

01March- 01 April

Evaluate suppliers

01March- 01April

Train employees

01April- 15 April

Establish CRM infrastructure


Tasks and Task Ownership

Task ownership is a critical element for improving employee performance. It makes team members accountable for the implementation of tasks. It also develops a sense of employees’ ownership of the project. Below is the tax ownership matrix;

Task ID

Task Name

Task Owner

1

Identifying locations for new outlets

Robert Smith

2

Identifying suppliers

Faith Luvergeon

3

Hiring employees

Theodore Burns

4

Designing advertising messages

Robert McGinn

5

Rolling out advertising messages

Ruth Korologos

6

Identifying community events

Peter Miles

7

Evaluating suppliers

Judith Buchmann

8

Training employees

Robert Smith

9

Establishing CRM infrastructure

Armando Ibarguen

In this case, the task owner takes full responsibility for the implementation of the task. He or she will coordinate the activities related to the tasks.


Budget and Resource Allocation Matrix

Strategic Function

Output

Allocation in US$

Identifying locations for new outlets

Conduct research and establish 100 suitable locations for the new outlets

1000,000

Setting up new establishment

Establish physical establishments within the identified location

50,000,000

Identifying and Evaluating suppliers

Come up with a list of suppliers who will meet the needs of the new establishments

1000,000

Designing advertising messages

Conduct a market research and identify the communication needs of this market

1000,000

Rolling out advertising messages

Roll out the advertising messages through various media

5,000,000

Hiring employees

Recruit and select employees who will meet the organizations needs.

5000,000

Training employees

Train employees on service delivery and about the values of the organization

1000,000

Sponsoring community events

Identify and make arrangement for these publicity exercise

10,000,000

Establishing CRM infrastructure

Establish the infrastructure that will facilitate management of customer relationships

1000,0000

 

Total

75,000,000


Change Management Strategy

This strategy implementation process will not require Starbuck Corporation to make major adjustments to its ways of operation. The mission of Starbuck Corporation is to nature and to inspire the human spirit. This mission remains relevant to the company’s new strategic plan. This mission will be communicated and reinforced within the new establishments. Starbuck will also seek to maintain the existing culture, which has raised the innovativeness of the company to new heights. Starbuck seeks to reinforce this culture to the new establishments. The current organization structure will, however, need to be reorganized into to facilitate the introduction of the new geographical market. An extra division will be added to the organizational structure to incorporate the new operations within Africa. In terms of competitiveness, the company will continue creating its competitive advantage through the differentiation of it products. The company intends to take its high quality products to the newly established markets.


Key Success Factors

Cooperation between different units and different strategy levels is a critical success factor in the strategy implementation process (Li, Gouhui & Eppler, 2010). Starbucks has several business units, which assume significant roles in the process of implementing this strategy. For instance, the financial division will be responsible organization all the financial logistics while the marketing division will be responsible for coordinating the marketing activities. Lack of cooperation among the business units will lead to strategy failure.


The second critical success factor in the strategy implementation process is the quality of the executors (Li, Gouhui & Eppler, 2010).  Executors are the people involved in the implementing the strategy. The success of the implementation process will depend on the skills, capabilities, attitudes and experiences of the executors. Thus, it is essential for Starbuck to select a team that is highly competent and fully committed to ensuring the strategy is implemented.


Availability of resources is also critical success factor (Li, Gouhui & Eppler, 2010). The strategy implementation process requires resources including human and financial resources. The implementation process cannot succeed without these resources. Consensus between the different stakeholders of the business will also be critical in ensuring the strategy is implemented successfully (Li, Gouhui & Eppler, 2010). Starbuck has to deal with various stakeholders including shareholders, employees, national and local governments, local communities and financiers among others during the strategy implementation process.


Risk Management Plan

The demographic and economic trends make African an attractive business destination. However, this market is full of risk. These risks can be categorized into; market risks, credit risks, labor risks, liquidity risk, physical risks and legal risks. Market risks are associated with changes in interest rates, prices of commodities, foreign exchange and inflation rates. Credit risks are associated by failure by debtors to pay their debts. Physical risks include fires, earthquake, theft, and floods among others. Legal risks are associated with law suits that are instituted against the company.


 Starbuck has established various strategies for managing these risks. The first strategy is risk transfer. This strategy entails transferring the impacts of risks to another party (Dimitriadi, 2007). Starbuck will use approaches such insurance and contracting to transfer risks. Insurance ensures that impacts of risks are transferred to insurance companies. Contracting ensures that the impacts of risks are transferred to the contractor. For instance, Starbuck can outsource cleaning services in order to transfer labor risks to the cleaning company.


Starbuck will also use the risk reduction strategy to manage risks. Risk reduction entails reducing the probability of the risks occurring or reducing the impact of risks in the events of the occurrence of the risks (Dimitriadi, 2007). For instance, Starbuck can reduce the probability of theft by selecting secure locations for its outlet. Risk of fires can be reduced by developing an effective preventive and response measure. Credit risks can be minimized by setting aside a contingency fund. Labor risks may be reduced by hiring employees through recruitment agencies.


The final risk management strategy that Starbuck intends to use is risk retention. This entails voluntary accepting the occurrence of the risks and its impact (Dimitriadi, 2007). This strategy will be employed on risks whose impacts are negligible to justify any action by the organization. For instance, Starbuck may choose to retain the risk associated with changes in prices of input if records indicate insignificant fluctuations in prices of inputs. 


References

Ansoff (2004). Strategies for Diversification. Harvard Business Review

Dimitriadi D. (2007) Risk Management Strategy. October 3, 2013. http://www.gcu.ac.uk/media/gcalwebv2/theuniversity/supportservices/financeoffice/Risk_Management_Strategy.pdf

Kristof N. (2012). Africa on the Rise. October 3, 2013. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/01/opinion/sunday/africa-on-the-rise.html?_r=0

Li Y. Gouhui S. & Eppler M. (2010). Factors Influencing Strategy Implementation. October 3, 2013. http://www.knowledge-communication.org/pdf/making-strategy-work.pdf

Rezaei A. & Khajei R. (2010). The Impact of Relationship Marketing Tactics on Customer Loyalty. International Journal of Business Administration. 2 (3): 83- 93

Zheng W. (2007). Analyzing Company Strategy. October 2, 2013. http://edissertations.nottingham.ac.uk/1110/1/Management_Project_-_EMC_Strategic_Analysis-Final.pdf


 

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