Apply the 3-Step Problem-Solving Approach to OB
Use the Organizing Framework and the 3-Step Problem-Solving Approach to help identify inputs, processes, and outcomes relative to this case. Every chapter of your textbook has an Organizing Framework near the end which has been modified to include the concepts from that chapter. Since this case study is most closely related to the concepts in Chapters 5 and 6, you could use the Organizing Framework at the end of either of those chapters as a guide.
Step 1: Define the problem.
- Look first to the Outcome box of the Organizing Framework and to help identify the important problem(s) in this case. Remember that a problem is a gap between a desired and current state. State your problem as a gap and be sure to consider problems at all three levels. If more than one desired outcome is not being accomplished, decide which one is most important and focus on it for steps 2 and 3.
- Cases have key players, and problems are generally viewed from a particular player’s perspective. You need to determine from whose perspective—employee, manager, team, or the organization—you’re defining the problem. As in other cases, whether you choose the individual or organizational level in this case can make a difference. In this case, you’re asked to assume the role of the new CEO. Write up your analysis as if you are the CEO. How do things look from the CEO’s perspective? How would you address the company?
- Use details in the case to determine the key problem. Don’t assume, infer, or create problems that are not explicitly included in the case itself.
- To refine your choice, ask yourself, why is this a problem? Explaining why helps refine and focus your thinking. Focus on topics in the current chapter, because we generally select cases that illustrate concepts in the current chapter.
Step 2: Identify causes. Using material from this chapter and summarized in the Organizing Framework, identify what are the causes of the problem you identified in Step 1. Remember, causes tend to appear in either the Inputs or Processes boxes.
- Start by looking at the Organizing Framework and determine which person factors, if any, are most likely causes of the defined problem. For each cause, explain why this is a cause of the problem. Asking why multiple times is more likely to lead you to the root causes of the problem. There may be few or no person factors but be sure to consider them. For example, did the attributes of the leaders or other employees contribute to the problems defined in Step 1?
- Follow the same process for the situation factors. For each ask yourself, Why is this a cause? For example, leadership at the executive and other levels might have some effect on the problem you defined. Aside from performance management, did other HR practices contribute to the problem? If you agree, which specific practices and why? By following the process of asking why multiple times you are likely to arrive at a more complete and accurate set of causes. Again, look to the Organizing Framework for this chapter for guidance.
- Now consider the Processes box in the Organizing Framework. Performance management processes are clearly part of the story, but are any other processes at the individual, group/team, or organizational level that caused your defined problem? For any process you consider, ask yourself, why is this a cause? Again, do this for several iterations to arrive at the root causes.
- To check the accuracy or appropriateness of the causes, be sure to map them onto the defined problem and confirm the link, or cause-and-effect connection.
Step 3: Make recommendations for solving the problem, considering whether you want to resolve it, solve it, or dissolve it. Which recommendation is desirable and feasible?
- Given the causes identified in Step 2, what are your best recommendations? Use material from the chapter that best suits the cause. Remember to consider the OB in Action and Applying OB boxes, because these contain insights into what others have done.
- Be sure to consider the Organizing Framework—both person and situation factors, as well as processes at different levels.
- Create an action plan for implementing your recommendations, and be sure your recommendations map onto the causes and resolve the problem.
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