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Analyzing Case Study: Developing Decision-Making and Analytical Skills

Required Hand-In Format

The case analysis method is used in this class as a “skill” development tool that will increase the learners decision-making and analytical skills while learning to apply the concepts and theories identified in the course.


Case analysis has many advantages in that it attempts to place the learner in “real-life” decisionmaking situations from a wide variety of industries and levels within and organization. The learner is faced with a decision (a problem perhaps) and is provided a variety of information and background history and asked to make a recommendation. Through analysis and thoughtful consideration of the issues the learner is then asked to generate possible solutions to the problem.After a careful examination of the alternatives a decision is made

The goal in this course is to further develop your analytical and decision-making skills by making – not perfect decisions (I don’t think there is such a thing) – but by making more prudent, well thought out decisions.

The following method (and headings) is what you will be required to use in this course:


1. Problem Statement


This should be a short concise paragraph (or two) briefly identifying what you think the problem is facing the decision maker. Keep in mind that the problem (or decision) may be in the form of an opportunity or challenge as well.


You want to provide some context to your statement that provides a characterization of the problem. For example instead of simply identifying a problem as increased employee absenteeism you would indicate that the issue of increased employee absenteeism has created
significant difficulties in scheduling customer service personnel.


Be careful and make sure that you have identified what truly is the “problem”. Often as managers we end up addressing the “symptoms” of problems instead. For example we might think the problem is high absenteeism but the real problem might be something else (e.g., working conditions, poor management, lack of incentives, etc)

Use the “drill down” approach by asking why several times and see what you come up with. Also one way to check for symptoms is to ask yourself: “After I implement my preferred solution to the problem is there a chance that it could reoccur?” If the answer is yes then there
is a good chance that you are dealing with a symptom

This is the section where you would consider the information presented to you in the case


Identify the issues in the case and think about why they are issues

1. Problem Statement


What other factors might need to be considered in this case? Why do they need to be considered?


When writing your analysis for hand-in use headings. They will help you to organize your ideas and makes your discussion and analysis easier to follow. Your written analysis should show me your thinking process (analysis).


It should take two or three paragraphs to adequately discuss (analyze) the issue being considered. However, it is more important to be thorough – use more paragraphs if needed. Do not leave me asking questions about your analysis.


Do not re-tell the case. Simply re-telling me what critical events, actions or history occurred in the case is not analysis – I can read this for myself.


In a full case analysis assignment I am usually looking for a minimum of five issues or topics for consideration. In more complex cases there will obviously be more information and issues to be analyzed.


You could also draw on your own experiences and insight to analyze the situation facing you as a decision maker

At this point we need to consider our options. What are we going to do about the problem, challenge or opportunity we are facing?


In some situations I may ask you for as many plausible solutions as possible – But I will be clear in my request. Unless requested to do otherwise I will expect at least three possible courses of action to a given problem.


Each alternative (decision) must be independent and mutually exclusive from the other alternatives. In simple terms, two events are mutually exclusive if they cannot occur at the same time.


Alternatives must also be reasonable and plausible. Status quo is definitely an alternative but is usually not a reasonable one. In many situations doing nothing is not a sound course of action, but might be a reasonable option in others.


For the “alternative” section of your written case analysis you are required to provide a heading and a short, one paragraph description of the alternative.

Selecting among a number of feasible and reasonable alternatives (courses of action) can be difficult. In this class we will explore two distinct methods of sorting through the alternative selection process. 1) Examining the pros and cons of each alternative and by utilizing decision
criteria.


For each alternative you are asked to identify at least three “pros” (advantages or positives) and three “cons” (disadvantages or negatives) that need to be considered in evaluating that particular alternative.

2. Analysis


These can be done using point form. However, be careful to make sure your point (pro or con) is understandable. Do not make your point so short that I do not know what you are referring to. If need be your point can be a short sentence in order to ensure that I understand why this is a pro or con

Alternative #1 Lease (rent) a road grader to get the essential road work completed while the existing road grader is being repaired – a process that will take from 50-60 days


Pro: Essential Service – road maintenance is considered an essential service (especially in the winter). This option ensures that essential road
services are provided during the time it takes to repair the existing road grader


Con: Cost – lease (rental) payments are expensive and will be in addition to the loan payments already being paid for the existing machine

Decision criteria, either qualitative or quantitative can assist you as a decision makers by assisting you in selecting among a number of feasible and plausible alternative courses of action..


Quantitative criterion look at measurable objectives associated with a particular decision within case analysis. Qualitative criterion on the other hand are harder to measure but may be desirable and necessary conditions in making a decision or selecting among a number of
alternatives.


Examples of qualitative and quantitative criterion are listed below

It is better to identify as many “key” criterion that are important factors in considering the outcomes for a decision. For example a given situation may be urgent and the solution to the problem has to be easy to implement, time efficient and cost effective.


Other situations such as deciding on a particular marketing campaign may require the decision to be ethical, culturally sensitive and have the greatest impact on market share.


For your written case analysis you must identify the decision criteria (identify your top five) that are the most important considerations in selecting and alternative.


You are required to rank your decision criteria from (1) the most important to (5) the least important. For example a particular situation may require that an alternative (choice of action) address a poor corporate image, be ethical and cost effective. However in this situation a very poor budget makes the cost criterion more important than the other criteria.As a result cost becomes the more heavily weighted criterion for consideration. Corporate image is still very important and an ethical solution would be prudent.


Therefore in this situation we would begin our evaluation of the alternative (i.e., possible decisions) by examining each to see which is the least expensive. We would then examine each alternative again to see which has the most positive impact on corporate image, and then
again to identify the most ethical and so on down through our five decision criteria.

This is simply a selection of the one of the alternatives that you have identified and evaluated.


I do not require a rationale for your decision. I can look back at the issues that you have analyzed and your evaluation of the alternatives and will understand the rationale for your decision

Develop an implementation plan


Think of your implementation plan as a series of steps and briefly explain what each step of the implementation plan consists of.


Be clear as to who, what, where, and when

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