Module 4 – SLPPRESENTATIONS AND THE CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING PROCESSReview the Problem Solving skills you have learned in SLP assignments 1-4. Using your creativity, develop a Powerpoint presentation that illustrates what you have learned from each Problem Solving approach. On your final slide, include your reaction to your results from the Decision Making Style Quiz results from Page 5 of the Case Study Packet.SLP Assignment ExpectationsYour Powerpoint presentation should include a minimum of 5 slides and a reference slide. Insert text summarizing each slide into the Notes section. This is the text that you will record for your Discussion post. Be sure to edit the text in your Notes sections so that you say it in 30 seconds or less. You do not need to include text in the notes section of your reference slide.CASE STUDY APPROACH Purposes of Cases – Reading and WritingCases are narratives, situations, select data samplings, or statements that present unresolved and provocative issues, situations, or questions. Cases are important for bringing real world problems into a classroom. Cases allow you to experience a different kind of learning – learning by doing. They are intended to give you an opportunity to actively experience the reality and complexity of the issues facing practicing managers regardless of career field. Case analysis will help you develop/practice your analytical and problem-solving skills including analyzing organizational problems and up to generating solutions.As a ‘decision-maker’ your primary goal is to sort out information given and to propose a viable solution to the problem(s) identified.Student Preparation of Written CasesThere are any number of possible approaches to analyzing a case. The most important point to remember is that case analysis involves problem solving and decision making. There is no absolutely right or wrong solution to a case problem. Your major task as a decision maker is to present a coherent and defensible analysis of the situation. Just as managers in the ‘real world’ must persuade their colleagues and superiors that their proposals are sound, so must you persuade your instructor that your analysis of the case and proposed solution are the best. You should follow a few preliminary steps before preparing your written analysis. First, give the case a general reading to get an overall sense of the situation. Put it aside for a while, then read it a second time and make notes on the critical facts. Case facts provide information and data as well as other pertinent facts about the organization. Keep two key questions in mind as you review the facts of the case: First, are there discernible patterns in the facts? Second, what can be inferred about management practices in this organization from the facts presented? You should attempt to classify, sort, and evaluate the information you have identified in this preliminary step. Once you have a clear understanding of the critical facts in the case, you can prepare your written analysis using the six-step model that follows. Written Case Analysis ModelStep 1. Define the Problem. The first step in your written analysis is to explicitly identify the major problem(s) in the case in one or two clear and precise sentences. For example, ‘The major problem in this case is a 15 percent increase in employee turnover compared to last year’s rate.’ Herbert Simon, who received a Nobel Prize for his work on management decision making, has defined a problem as ‘a deviation from a standard.’ In other words, one way to identify a problem is to compare some desired state or objective with the actual situation. A problem or series of problems may prevent the organization from reaching its objectives or goals. A key point here is that in order to define a problem, there must be some type of standard for comparison. For example, a possible standard may include the organization’s stated objectives or goals.Step 2. Identify the Root Cause(s) of the Problem. Before proposing alternative solutions, the decision maker must have a clear understanding of the underlying causes of the problem, not just the symptoms. This means the decision maker must examine internal and external environmental factors over time to isolate causal factors. Causes of problems tend to be historical in nature. To formulate a solid understanding of the specific causes, you should search for root causes and use relevant course concepts and theories to better define them. The ‘question syndrome’ approach may be beneficial here: Why did the problem occur? When did it begin? Where does it occur? Where doesn’t it occur? What has the organization failed to do? What are the antecedents of the problem? Posing these questions will help you to probe beyond the symptoms to the root causes of the problem.The process of identifying the root causes of a problem is very much like hypothesis testing. You should set forth possible causes and then test them against the facts in the case. When writing the problem statement, you will clearly state the root causes. In writing this section, it is important to present a plausible discussion of the causes so as to convince the reader that your analysis is correct.Step 3. Select Criteria. Your decision criteria serve to allow you the opportunity to evaluate each of your alternatives using the same measures. Criteria that you will utilize in making decisions may be quantitative or qualitative in nature. There is a short list of criteria presented in this packet. In reality, some or all of these may come into play. But importance to any problem will be different, which will require you to prioritize these for each different case. You will prioritize this list and use the most important three criteria for each alternative.Step 4. Develop Alternative Solutions. This step involves developing alternative solutions and evaluating their contributions to resolving the problem(s) identified. Proposed alternatives should be consistent with the problem(s) and cause(s) identified. You should attempt to develop at least three possible alternatives. List each of your alternatives and the advantages and disadvantages associated with each. Keep the prioritized criteria in mind as you evaluate your alternatives. Developing a list of good alternatives involves creativity and avoiding preconceived attitudes (knee-jerk solutions) and assumptions. It may be useful to brainstorm possible solutions before weighing their advantages and disadvantages. Step 5. Select the Best Alternative. Indicate the alternative you have chosen to solve the problem. A decision should be selected by comparing each alternative identified in Step 3. This will allow you to justify why you chose a particular solution and why it will best resolve the problem(s). An effective solution will truly resolve the problem.Step 6. Implementation Steps. Now that you have a solution, you must develop appropriate action plans to implement it. In this section of your written analysis, you want to specify, as much as possible, what should be done, by whom, when, where, and in what sequence. For example: Who should implement the decision? To whom should it be communicated? What actions need to be taken now? What actions need to be taken later? The Implementation needs to be as specific as possible. Step 7 Evaluate the Outcome. Finally, you should also indicate follow-up procedures to monitor the implementation of your solution to ensure that the intended actions are taken and that the problem is corrected. Continue to gather feedback and reflect on the effectiveness. While these steps have been presented in linear fashion, case analysis does not involve linear thinking. You will probably find yourself thinking about all of the parts of the analysis simultaneously. This is perfectly normal and underscores the complexity of decision making. To present a clear written analysis, however, it is important to write up your report in the analytical form just described. As you gain experience with the case method, you will develop a better understanding of your problem solving ability.Pitfalls in Problem Solving and Decision MakingAmateurs at case analysis often encounter the pitfall of jumping to a conclusion, which in effect bypasses analysis. For example, a student may readily observe some overt behavior, quickly identify it as objectionable and, therefore, assume it is a basic problem. Later, with some dismay, the student may discover that the prescribed action had no effect on the ‘problem’ and that the objectionable behavior was only a symptom and not the actual problem. It might be helpful at this point to assess your decision making style. Complete the following assessment. Decision-Making Styles There are various decision-making styles, including reflexive, consistent, and reflective. To determine your decision-making style, answer the questions in the following SelfAssessment. .Select the answer (1 to 3) that best describes how you make decisions. A. Overall I’m ____________ to act.1. quick2. moderate3. slow B.I spend __________ amount of time making important decisions as/than I do making lessimportant decisions.1. about the same2. a greater3, a much greater C.When making decisions, I ________ go with my first thought.1. usually2. occasionally3. rarely D.When making decisions, I’m ________ concerned about making errors. 1. rarely2. occasionally3. often E.When making decisions, I ________ recheck my work.1. rarely2. occasionally3. usually F.When making decisions, I gather ________ information.1. little2. some3. lots of G.When making decisions, I consider ________ alternative actions.1. few2. some3. lots of H.When making a decision, I usually make it ________ before the deadline.1. long2. somewhat3. Just I.After making a decision, I ________ look for other alternatives, wishing I had waited.1. rarely2. occasionally3. usually J.I ________ regret having made a decision.1. rarely2. occasionally3. often To determine your style, add the numbers that represent your answers to the 10 questions. The total will be between 10 and 30. Place an X on the continuum at the point that represents your score. ReflexiveReflectiveI0_______________16________________23________________30 A score of 10 to 16 indicates a reflexive style; 17 to 23 indicates a consistent style; and 24 to 30 indicates a reflective style. You have determined your preferred personal decision-making style. Reflexive StyleA reflexive decision maker likes to make quick decisions (‘to shoot from the hip’), without taking the time to get all the information that may be needed and without considering all alternatives. On the positive side, reflexive decision makers are decisive; they do not procrastinate. On the negative side, making quick decisions can lead to waste and duplication when a decision is not the best possible alternative. The reflexive decision maker may be viewed by employees as a poor manager if he or she is consistently making bad decisions. If you use a reflexive style, you may want to slow down and spend more time gathering information and analyzing alternatives. Following the steps in the decision-making model can help you develop your skills. Reflective StyleA reflective decision maker likes to take plenty of time to make decisions, taking into account considerable information and an analysis of several alternatives. On the positive side, the reflective type does not make decisions that are rushed. On the negative side, he or she may procrastinate and waste valuable time and other resources. The reflective decision maker may be viewed as wishy-washy and indecisive. If you use a reflective style, you may want to speed up your decision making. As Andrew Jackson once said, ‘Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go on.’ Another common mistake is for students think there is insufficient information. All desirable or useful information is seldom available for analyzing and resolving actual problems in real organizations. Consequently, managers must do the best they can with the information available to them. Furthermore, the main issue in solving the problems of many organizations is to determine what additional and relevant information is available or can be obtained before adequate analysis can be made and appropriate action taken. If additional information is available, the manager must decide whether it is worth getting, whether it is meaningful and relevant, and whether it can be secured in time to be useful. Thus, an apparent lack of information in cases is actually a reflection of reality that students must learn to accept and overcome. Students occasionally search for the ‘right’ answer or solutions to cases and sometimes they ask what actually happened in a case. Although some answers or solutions are better than others, there are no ‘right’ answers or solutions. What actually happened in a case is usually irrelevant because the focus of case study should be on the process of analysis, the diagnosis of problems, and the prescription of remedial action rather than on the discovery of answers or results. No case is intended to illustrate either right or wrong. CASE WRITING TIP Suggested form for Case Studies: Define the Problem Problem Statement with Root Cause Select Prioritized Criteria Develop Alternative Solutions Alt 1Alt 2Alt 3 Selecting the Best Alternative (Analysis) Pros and Cons of Alt 1Pros and Cons of Alt 2Pros and Cons of Alt 3 Implement Evaluate The Problem “There is nothing worse than the right answer to the wrong question” – Winston Churchill And the same can be said of problem identification. Misidentify the problem and when the smoke clears……. You still have the same pesky problem to deal with again. All you have done is expend valuable and finite resources. And what do you have to show? The Dictionary definition of a problem is “a question proposed for solution; a matter that is perplexing or difficult.” The definition of a cause is“a person or thing that brings about an effect or result.” These are clearly different. What happens if we solve a cause? Have we solved our problem? What happens if we identify a cause as our problem? Will we be able to arrive at the most efficient response? Common Quantitative CriteriaReturn on Investment (ROI)CostTechnically Feasible Implementation TimeReliableCommon Qualitative CriteriaAcceptance of Affected PartiesSafetyEffective Use of Staff and EquipmentRisksEmployee MoraleMotivationCompetitive AdvantageEthicsLegalCorporate ImageCustomer SatisfactionWhen considering the results of your actions, you need to select suitable criteria to measure possible outcomes of your decision. The above is a list of quantitative and qualitative criteria. It is not totally complete, though the most important for most decisions are in evidence. Add your own to the list. Be sure to define what each of these criterion means in relation to the others. In essence, all of these can be considered for every decision that you will make. But this is unwieldy and takes more time and resources than we are usually willing to put into play in making a decision. For efficiency of resource use, prioritize and select the most important ones to aid you in your decision making. It will be up to you to decide which the key criteria in each decision are. The more targeted and focused in your criteria selection, the better your decision will be. Analysis You have now defined the problem and prioritized the appropriate decision criteria. The next step is to develop alternatives. For each case, you will need three or four. This is essentially a brainstorming process. What can you do to solve your problem? This is an alternative. Guidelines for alternative development are: DON’T SETTLE FOR YOUR FIRST IDEA!Good designers try to generate as many possible solutions as they can before choosing one that they feel is the best. This creative process of developing ideas is called ideation.Methods of ideation include: Examining existing solutionsConducting brainstorming sessions. Remember the first rule of brainstorming – every idea is a viable one. Develop as many alternatives as possible. When you are done, try to categorize your alternatives. Then develop three alternatives.Creative1 Trying Sketching and doodling Now you have three alternatives and three criteria. Choose an alternative. Select the most important criteria and develop possible positive and negative consequences of that alternative. What will most likely happen if we adopt this plan of action? Both plusses AND minuses. Repeat with the other two criteria for this alternative. Then repeat this process for the other two alternatives. When you have completed this process, select the alternative that best provides resolution to your stated problem. Implement by describing how, who, when, where, what. Be specific about what will happen. Graphically, this process looks like this: CriteriaAlternativesCriteria ACriteria BCriteria CCriteria DCriteria ECriteria FCriteria G Alternative 1 + / – + / – + / – Alternative 2 + / – + / – + / – Alternative 3 + / – + / – + / –
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