EXSP510-18R (BLK)

Capstone Project

15 Points

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Waikato Management School
Te Raupapa
Executive Education


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: ashleigh.neame@waikato.ac.nz

Placement Coordinator(s)


Student Representative(s)

Lab Technician(s)


: clive.wilkinson@waikato.ac.nz
: heather.morrell@waikato.ac.nz

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Paper Description

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The Capstone Project is expected to cement the key learning from the three modules through real life projects. While it is important for the project to succeed so that there is a tangible return on investment for the DHB, it is also critical that you actively seek to implement your learning from the modules into the project.

The Objectives of the Capstone Project in this Programme

It is crucial, in the Capstone Project, to implement your learning from the modules.

For example, in Module 1 (Authentic Leadership) you will learn the importance of knowing self and others in leadership. Our focus will be on the ways leaders and followers interact and the ways leaders attempt to create and shape meanings. Additionally, we will explore the assumptions, beliefs, and values embedded and shaped in leadership practices.

You will be expected to come to Module 1 with one clearly defined problem/opportunity that is related to your Capstone Project (any organisational project can be broken down into many interrelated problems/opportunities and you are expected to identity one). You are then expected to engage with this problem/opportunity, as a context for your leadership learning.

In Module 2 (Relational Leadership) you will learn how to create higher leader-direct report exchange relationships, as well as encouraging shared/distributed leadership within teams. You are expected to bring this learning into the development of the Capstone Project, and these will be re-enforced through the assignments for the module.

In Module 3 (Transformational Leadership) you will learn how to lead and transform organisations that have to contend with complexity of change. Leaders need to demonstrate leadership in areas of innovation, leading change, and empowering others involved in the change process. Again, you are expected to bring these learning into the Capstone Project and this will be re‐enforced through your assignments.

We expect you to engage with your Capstone Project throughout the programme. You will be given the opportunity to present your Capstone Project at the end of the programme to the executives in your organisation. In this presentation you will tell us what has been achieved and your plans going forward to complete the Capstone Project.

Choosing a Project
It is important that an appropriate project is chosen as a capstone project for the programme. It is also important that you are involved in selecting and modifying the project. You are normally expected to work in teams of between 3-5 individuals.

Salient points to be considered when choosing a capstone project are:

  • It must be an important organisational problem/opportunity that can be engaged collaboratively.
  • It must be a problem/opportunity that you experience in your organisation, that directly concerns you.
  • It must NOT be an organisational problem/opportunity that is trivial, but upon effective resolution, or realisation, will add significant value to, or positively impact on, the organisation. We expect the resolution of the problem or realisation of opportunity to be part of your (and your sponsor's) goals and objectives.
  • It must have senior management level support and sponsorship.

Choosing a Sponsor
Prior to coming into the programme with the project, each group should have a sponsor for the project. The sponsor must be someone who:

  • Can support you and provide advice when needed
  • Remove barriers that could hinder the progress of the project
  • Has sufficient authority to provide resources when needed (you must be coached rather than led to deliver outcomes)

How Should the Project be Engaged?
There is a larger purpose to the capstone project. The capstone project is expected to improve your skills, techniques and strategies. It is quest for an understanding of how we do things better, and how what we do impacts the organisation and others.

There are several ways to approach the capstone project. One way is to engage the project on the basis of the action research cycle:

Step 1 - ldentify the Problem: You will have identified the organisational issue/problem prior to coming to the programme. As stated earlier, the problem must be a defining organisational issue and be a problem that is close to you (i.e. which concerns you and on which you have a direct influence).

Step 2 - Gather Data: This is an important step in the action research cycle. You need to gather data from multiple sources in order to better understand the problem. This can also be considered as the 'empathy' stage of the project, where you immerse yourself in the issue/problem that the stakeholders are facing. Data can be gathered through:

  • Interviews with relevant people
  • Questionnaires
  • Organisational data (i.e. files, records, archived information etc.)
  • Observation made during work (which must be documented)
  • Journals and articles that may show insights into the problem etc.
  • Meeting minutes etc.

Please ensure that you gather data from at least three sources so as to ensure triangulation and validity of your analysis and interpretation. We expect you to begin this process as soon as Module 1 is complete, as the capstone project will be ongoing throughout the programme.

Step 3 - Interpret the Data: Your interpretation should uncover major themes and issues for which actions can be taken. Please ensure that you delve deeper and uncover underlying issues. From these major themes develop several 'What if statements,' from which you can look at possible creative solutions

Step 4 - Act on Evidence: Using the information from data collected, and your interpretation of major themes, develop a range of creative solutions. Choose a solution that you can prototype. Make sure you are reflective on how the prototype(s) are responsible for the outcomes. By prototyping you are acting on a possible intervention fast, at low cost, and allows for rapid feedback from your stakeholders. This process can be iterative

Once prototyping is completed, and rich feedback is gathered, decide on the intervention you want to implement and test.

Step 5 - Evaluate Results: Assess the effects of the intervention to determine if improvement has occurred. If there is improvement, does the data clearly provide the supporting evidence? If not, what changes can be made to the actions to elicit better results?

Step 6 - Next Steps: As a result of the action research cycle, identify additional questions raised by the data and plan for additional improvements, revisions, and next steps.

The above process is a combination of action research, design thinking, and co-design with stakeholders. If you are engaging in a change management project, Ko Awatea has their own change management methodology that you can use. You can also decide to use other methodologies to engage with the project. Please make sure you discuss this with your convener.

Maintaining an Action Research Cycle Log
Throughout your capstone project you will be expected to maintain a journal (or a reflective log book), and document each and every cycle that you have undertaken.The log book should reflect what you have learnt and how you have improved your skill, techniques and strategies. We do not expect you to simply maintain a running log of what was done.

This log book will serve two important purposes:

  1. It will be the basis on which you will, as a team, present the capstone project at the end of the programme
  2. It will help you to engage with your reflection assignments

Go well!!!

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Paper Structure

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The convenor will facilitate the project throughout the year. The paper will be supported by online resources via Moodle.
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Learning Outcomes

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Students who successfully complete the course should be able to:

  • Apply key learning from all modules of the programme into a real project
    Linked to the following assessments:
    Capstone Project Proposal - group (1)
    Capstone Project Presentation - group (2)
    Capstone Project report - group (3)
    Reflection on the Integrated Learning (4)
  • Apply and reflect on their leadership behaviours, arising from engagement with the capstone project
    Linked to the following assessments:
    Capstone Project Presentation - group (2)
    Capstone Project report - group (3)
    Reflection on the Integrated Learning (4)
  • Demonstrate how to work in cross-functional teams, and share leadership when appropriate
    Linked to the following assessments:
    Capstone Project Presentation - group (2)
    Capstone Project report - group (3)
    Reflection on the Integrated Learning (4)
  • Work across existing silos and gather a systemic understanding of their organisation
    Linked to the following assessments:
    Capstone Project Presentation - group (2)
    Capstone Project report - group (3)
    Reflection on the Integrated Learning (4)
  • Apply action research methodology when engaging with organisational projects
    Linked to the following assessments:
    Capstone Project Presentation - group (2)
    Capstone Project report - group (3)
    Reflection on the Integrated Learning (4)
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All assessment is compulsory.

It is expected you have read the Corporate & Executive Education Policies.

PLEASE NOTE: The University has zero-tolerance for Plagiarism.

All assessment must be submitted as a Word document, unless otherwise stated.

Please refer to Moodle for details
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Assessment Components

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The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0. There is no final exam. The final exam makes up 0% of the overall mark.

The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0 or 0:0, whichever is more favourable for the student. The final exam makes up either 0% or 0% of the overall mark.

Component DescriptionDue Date TimePercentage of overall markSubmission MethodCompulsory
1. Capstone Project Proposal - group
30 Sep 2018
11:30 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
2. Capstone Project Presentation - group
5 Jun 2019
9:00 AM
  • Presentation: In Class
3. Capstone Project report - group
9 Jun 2019
11:30 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
4. Reflection on the Integrated Learning
23 Jun 2019
11:30 PM
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
Assessment Total:     100    
Failing to complete a compulsory assessment component of a paper will result in an IC grade
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Required and Recommended Readings

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Required Readings

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While there are no readings specifically assigned to this paper, you will be required to call upon those assigned to the other three modules of this programme to develop your capstone project.
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Online Support

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Waikato Management School Helpdesk: wms_helpdesk@waikato.ac.nz, 0800 WAIKATO, extn 4599

ITS: https://landesk.waikato.ac.nz0800 WAIKATO, extn 4008

Moodle help files

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As a general guide 12-15 hours per week is required over the whole period of the paper.
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Linkages to Other Papers

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Restricted papers: EXLD574, EXLD576, EXLD580, EXSP514 and EXSP505

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