A knitter explains Opportunity Costs

I am busy studying for exams at business school.  Today, I was reading about opportunity costs.  The basic idea is that resources (including time) are scarce, and that whenever you make a decision to pursue one option, you are incurring a cost.  Essentially, the opportunity cost of an activity is what we give up when we make a choice.  Let’s say that you own a manufacturing plant which can produce both personal computers and printers.  The plant has a relatively fixed capacity, so if you make more computers, you will make less printers.

computers vs printers

Another fairly standard example has to do with the costs of a university education.  Here is the description from Investopedia.com: “The opportunity cost of going to college is the money you would have earned if you worked instead. On the one hand, you lose four years of salary while getting your degree; on the other hand, you hope to earn more during your career, thanks to your education, to offset the lost wages.”
So far, so good.  Of course, you can take the knitter and put her in business school, but you can’t stop her thinking about knitting.  What is this knitter thinking when she reads about opportunity costs?  Let’s say that I can knit 10 sweaters a year.  The opportunity cost of each sweater that I knit for Emma, Leah or Doug will be one less sweater that I can knit for myself:
Perhaps this is not a coherent enough example of opportunity costs for the ardent knitter.  After all, whether one is knitting for oneself or for others, one is still engaged in knitting.
Let us take a more cogent example.  Let us say that after accounting for necessities (like sleeping, working, eating, cleaning, cooking, showering, commuting, etc) you have 40 hours a week to devote to other activities.  Note that I am being very generous with this number because (1) my children are grown up and have flown the coop, and (2) I devote as little time as possible to housework. Now, let us suppose that someone (who shall remain nameless) who finds herself in this new empty-nester position foolishly elects to go to business school and must now fill her free time with studying.  Well, then, the opportunity cost of business school is less time to knit.
opportunity costsIsn’t it obvious?  Lesson over, back to work.  Alas!



Why I love my business school

Why do I love my business school?

1. The location.

This is my business school:

HBS1This is the Henley Business School which is located on a beautiful stretch of the River Thames near the historic town of Henley-on-Thames.  Can you imagine a more fantastic setting?  The grounds are gorgeous, the river is peaceful, and despite the gracious old mansion it is housed in, the facilities are modern.  I love this place!

2. The content.

I’m not sure I actually expected to like the course content.  I am enrolled in the Executive MBA degree course, and I have been pleasantly surprised to discover that the classes are fascinating.  (Management?  Fascinating?  I kid you not.)

3. The people.

I am so enjoying my cohort at the business school, which consists of 40 fun and  interesting people.  We represent a wide range of backgrounds, cultures, languages, industries, career paths, perspectives, goals, life stages, and interests.  It is so refreshing and intellectually stimulating to be here and to interact with this group of people.

4. The sheep.


Yes, I said sheep.  Please recall that this is, after all, a blog about knitting, and I am something of a knitting fanatic.  Imagine how great it is to drive up the long driveway at the business school through a flock of sheep!

Imagine: beautiful business school, exciting content, super cool people, and SHEEP!  Clearly this place was made for me.

Have failure prevention measures been implemented?

Last month I started an Executive MBA in Management degree.  I am still working full-time, and am now enrolled as a part-time student for the next two years.  I used to spend my evenings knitting.  I now spend my evenings studying business management.  How does a knitter read a business management text?

Tonight, I am studying process and operations management.  I am reading the textbook Operations and Process Management: Principles and Practice for Strategic Management by Nigel Slack et al (2013), Third Edition, Pearson.  Chapter 14 is about risk and resilience.  This is what I read:

Have failure prevention methods been implemented?

Failure prevention is based on the assumption that it is generally better to avoid failures than to suffer their consequences.  The main approaches to failure prevention involve designing out the possibility of failure at key points in a process, providing extra but redundant resources that can provide back-up in case of failure, installing fail-safe mechanisms that prevent the mistakes which can cause failure, and maintaining processes so as to reduce the likelihood of failure.

Hmm.  This is what I think:

  • designing out the possibility of failure at key points in a process – take really good measurements, make a proper gauge swatch and block it
  • providing extra but redundant resources that can provide back-up in case of failure – buy enough yarn before you start, check dye lots, have a tape measure handy, an extra needle in the right size wouldn’t hurt
  • installing fail-safe mechanisms that prevent the mistakes which can cause failure – count your stitiches (frequently), read the pattern, use a lifeline on your lace
  • maintaining processes so as to reduce the likelihood of failure – put the wine away!

It’s going to be a long night……