management problem

Read the material at the sites listed in the Week 3 Lessons folder to help guide you in identifying solutions to the management problem you have identified. Complete a 2-4 page paper discussing solutions in relation to the management problem you are exploring during this course.

Here are some tips to help you create your solutions:

  1.       Solutions should focus on the problem, be accepted by the team and be achievable.
  2.       Find opportunities to allow the individuals to meet to work out the differences, respectfully.  Focus on strategies that can build trust in the relationship.
  3.       Look at the tasks that the individuals are responsible for and explore whether or not they have had adequate training or resources to be successful in performing their tasks (so the solution is to provide additional training and/or mentoring to help your folks be successful).
  4.       Evaluate the conditions under which these two work (are they sitting right next to the community coffee pot or the photocopy machine or with poor ventilation or no natural light?  Is the environment affecting their behavior?) The solution may be to fix the problem by moving them or making some other change.
  5.       Is it financially feasible? Can it be completed in a reasonable time? Can it be done within financial cost structures? What is the return on investment?

Submission Instructions: Upload the paper to your Week 3 Assignment folder.

Assignment Rubric

Lesson 3 Material

 

Every day we are faced with problems.  Turn on your TV or computer, read the headlines from a newspaper, or an urgent email sent at work.  Problems exist and can consume our day.  In the video you will watch this week, Michael Milking, author of the Pink Bat said, “You can live each day in a world filled with problems,” or rise each morning and embrace a world filled with unseen solutions… eager for you to find them. The decision is yours…both worlds exist. The one you choose is the one you will create.”  This video illustrates how to every problem has a solution, but sometimes it takes creative thinking.

 

This week, the focus is on Solution Identification.  During this step, you will create strategies to solve your problem.  How will you, the consultant, fix the identified problem?  This is the week you get to practice the Art of Management.  This week’s readings will provide guidance and strategies focusing on identifying solutions.  Creating solutions may appear to be easy; it can be a difficult phase for many former and current military students as the solution in a military environment.  Military students are used to taking and giving order to get along, increase their productivity, or to work longer hours as a means of achieving productivity levels that are acceptable.  The orders aren’t questioned; they are just followed.  In the civilian world, one cannot use that means to solve the problem.  Solutions are created through collaborative efforts.

Do you remember the term collective impact?  Collective Impact is a framework to develop solutions for complex problems.  This framework is used for complex social situations.  It is based on the belief that not one single policy, government department, organization or program can tackle the problem on its’ own.  When this framework is used, the leaders decide to focus on a collective approach instead of their organization or team’s agenda.  Depending on your organization, you may consider this framework when creating your solutions.  Here are two examples of the outcomes when organizations utilize Collective Impact.

Shape up Somerville, a citywide effort to reduce and prevent childhood obesity in elementary school children in Somerville, Massachusetts.  The intervention was led by Christina Economos, an associate professor at Tufts University’s Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, and United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Balley, the program engaged government officials, educators, businesses, nonprofits, and citizens in collectively defining wellness and weight gain prevention practices.  School agreed to offer healthier foods, teach nutrition, and promote physical activity.  Local restaurants received a certification if they served low-fat, high nutritional food.  The city organized a farmers’ market and provided healthy lifestyle incentives such as reduced-price gym memberships for city employees.  Even sidewalks were modified and crosswalks repainted to encourage more children to walk to school.  The result was a statistically significant decrease in body mass index among the community’s young children between 2002-2005.   (http://ssir.org/articles/entry/collective_impact)

Mars, a manufacturer of chocolate brands such as M&M’s, Snickers, and Dove, is working with NGOs, local governments, and even direct competitors to improve the lives of more than 500,000 impoverished cocoa farmers in Cote d’Ivoire, where Mars sources a large portion of its cocoa.  Research suggests that better farming practices and improved plant stocks could triple the yield per hectare, dramatically increasing farmer incomes and improving the sustainability of Mars’s supply chain.  To accomplish this, Mars must enlist the coordinated efforts of multiple organizations:  the Core d’Ivoire government needs to provide more agricultural extension workers, the World Bank needs to finance new roads, and bilateral donors need to support NGOs in improving health care, nutrition, and education in coca growing communities.  Mars must find ways to work with its direct competitors on pre-competitive issues to reach farmers outside its supply chain.  (http://ssir.org/articles/entry/collective_impact)

These examples produced large-scale social change and cross-sector coordination rather than isolated interventions for individual organizations.  While they are larger problems than what you will be solving for your client, it is good information to know when the time comes, and you are part of a collective impact group tackling a larger change.  The ideas of collaboration should still be included with your solutions.

In previous courses, you should recall brainstorming strategies to identify solutions.  Before selecting the best solution, it is important to take time to create a list of possible solutions.  To many times, the first idea is selected and many times that isn’t the best solution to solve the problem.

Consider this example. Imagine your car has been acting weird.  It is making funny noises, not always starting, emitting fumes, etc.  You take it to the mechanic.  He opens the hood and looks around. Next, he puts it on the lift so he can look underneath.  Finally, he takes it for a spin.  He does a brief analysis and says “sir, there are at least three possibilities.  First, your timing belt is about to snap, or buildup on the engine block is clogging the exhaust manifolds or the oil has never been changed and the car has 119,000 miles on it.

Depending on which one of these solutions get selected could mean the difference of getting the car repaired in the least expensive with a long-term fix or the most expensive with a short-term fix.  Before a decision is made, more test can be used to eliminate the other choices.

Here are just a few brainstorming techniques:

  • ·      Mind Maps:  Usually this method is used to list as many ideas as you can in a cluster format.  Start with writing your goal in the center.  Then branch out into sub-topics, continuing to branch out as many sub-sub topics as needed.
  • ·      Group Idea Sharing:  This method is a group brainstorming session.  Just keep a running list of all the ideas shared.
  • ·      SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threat) Analysis: Asking what are the strengths, weakness, opportunities, and threats, will help open up ideas to consider.
  • ·      Brain Writing:  With a workgroup, ask everyone to write down their idea on their piece of paper.  Rotate the sheets of paper to different people and build off what the others wrote on their paper.  Continue until everyone has a turn.

Obviously, these are only a few brainstorming strategies that can be utilized.  Remember, no matter which method you utilize, now is the time to generate as many possible solutions as possible.

Brainstorming Tips:

  1. ·      Solutions should focus on the problem, be accepted by the team and be achievable.
  2. ·      Find opportunities to allow the individuals to meet to work out the differences, respectfully.  Focus on strategies that can build trust in the relationship.
  3. ·      Look at the tasks that the individuals are responsible for and explore whether or not they have had adequate training or resources to be successful in performing their tasks (so the solution is to provide additional training and/or mentoring to help your folks be successful).
  4. ·      Evaluate the conditions under which these two work (are they sitting right next to the community coffee pot or the photocopy machine or with poor ventilation or no natural light?  Is the environment affecting their behavior?) The solution may be to fix the problem by moving them or making some other change.
  5. ·      Is it financially feasible? Can it be completed in a reasonable time? Can it be done within financial cost structures? What is the return on investment?

Brainstorming strategies are a great way to produce creative solutions.  Brainstorming can be conducted as a collaborative team or individually. There are many strategies you can use, but the goal of brainstorming is to create a list of possible solutions.  At this point, you are not selecting the best solution.  You are focusing on reducing similar solutions and remove any possibilities that don’t address the identified problem.   As we progress in the steps, we will select the solution.  However, make sure the solutions on the list relate to the problem.  There may be similar solutions that can be merged.

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