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Solving Ackoff’s Mess

Discuss About The Promotion Dissemination Scientific Knawel.

Multinational companies today marketing and sell their products online which leads to interdependent problems which is termed as Ackoff’s mess. These companies in order to sell their products online acquire and maintain immense amount of sensitive data like customers’ financial information and their payment gateway information, all of which reveal information about the financial strength of these companies and their customers. This gives opportunities to illegal groups hack their data bases, thus intruding into the marketing data of the company (Irani and Sharif 2018). The payment gateway records could also lead them to financial databases of the company. Moreover, these hacking and loss of sensitive information often drag the companies into legal cases filed by the customers affected due to data leakage. This problem concerning several departments like marketing, accounts and legal creates Ackoff’s mess.

Solving, resolving and dissolving are are three ways Ackoffs problem solving techniques. Resolution is the first process and consist of two parts. The first approach consists of using remedies used in the past to solve present problems while the second method consists of cancelling the changes which led to the problem. Solving consist of studying and analyzing the problem to find out the remedy to it. Dissolution is process of solving problems by redesigning the situation which renders the problem ineffective (Yen and Salmon 2017).

Thinking skills are extremely important in problem solving because they enable finding out long term and sustainable solution to problems. The people like the upper level managers involved in the finding remedies to challenges facing organizations involve processes like brainstorming and debating point out possible alternatives to counteract the challenge. They then find the best strategy to meet the challenge (Houghton and Tuffley 2015). Thus, thinking and decision-making skills are important for finding appropriate solutions to challenges organizations counter.

The solution to the stated problem of not finding the house keys can be solved using two problem solving methods, the heuristic approach and systematic approach. As per the heuristic approach, the possible solution to the problem would be leaving the house through the back door, assuming that the back door can also be used to approach the front gate (Mateo, Navamuel & Villa 2017).

The solution as per the systematic approach would consist of analysing the problem of not finding the keys to consider various long term solutions. The solutions could using an alternative lock, if possible, calling up the lock and key experts or finding out the alternative keys. The second solution of calling up a lock and key expert seems to the best alternative solution (Elsawah and Guillaume 2016).

Thinking Skills in Problem Solving

The TV series named ‘Undercover Boss’ presents two challenges before the character Gunnar Blomdahl, the CEO of Stena Line, a leading international ferry making company. the two challenges are, that he is a Norwegian origin and the second challenge is that the company Stena Line was investing in a project of building two new expensive ferries and two new ships, which attracted huge investments and posed financial risks if the the project fell through ( 2018).

Blomdahl could present the first challenge of his Norwegian origin which was different from his fellow employees and subordinates as a sign of its cultural intelligence. He could use his national identity to strengthen his leadership quality. He could point out that he could lead people coming from different backgrounds which proves his diversity management skills being a CEO.

Blomdahl could view the second risk, the risk of incurring losses due to investment in expensive ferry and ship building projects as business opportunities. He could view them as a part of the product line expansion strategy which could maximise revenue generation of the company. He could have viewed the risks as opportunities to enter into new markets using the new ships and ferries which would have strengthened the market position of Stena Line (Hester and MacG 2017).

The goal of the business organisation Stena Line in the TV series was to earn more profit and expand its fleet of ferries and ships. This business goal was evident by the new ferry and ship building projects taken up by the firm involving heavy investments.

One can evaluate that understanding a problem in from the angle of business goals as depicted in the case study of Stena Line in the video, is very important. The judging of problems from the angles of the business objectives can enable the apex management bodies to hold brain storming sessions to recognise alternatives in the light of the goals. For example, the goal of the Stena Line in the TV series was building premium ferries and ships. This means that the apex management of the reel firm can debate and brain storm to form strategies which would eventually achievement of the business goal (Elsawah and Guillaume 2016). Thus, it can be evaluated from the discussion that problem solving keeping the business goal in view enable more accurate problem solving.

The kitchen was not spacious and the restaurant was not able to accommodate all people. The customers using services of Stena experience high level of customer satisfaction owing to the superior services and prefer the service again. Hence, the company acquired immense new and repeat business. However, the kitchen and restaurant in the ship Britannica was not sufficient to accommodate this large customer visits (Mateo, Navamuel & Villa 2017).

Problem Solving Methods in Action

One can suggest that Stena Line should expand the area of the restaurant to accommodate this immense number of on-board visitors on the Stena Britannica. This would enable the company accommodate more people and maximise their customers satisfaction (Edson and Metcalf 2016).

Stena Line should expand the area of the restaurant to accommodate more visitors. The firm would require the change the arrangements of the adjoining cabins to transform them into a part of the restaurant in the direction of expanding the fooding accommodation. The firm should also acquire new restaurant staffs to serve the increasing number of customers in the restaurant post expansion. The outcome of the expansion would be that Stena Britannica would be able to accommodate more on-board passengers in the restaurant. This would enable the ship owning firm earn more revenue by entertaining more visitors. This would also generate the fund the firm to channelize towards maintenance of the ferry services (Mateo, Navamuel & Villa 2017).

It can be said that there are two basic aspects of conflicts and problems, and it can be said that it may appear in any stage and they certainly invoke opportunities for the organization to improve and develop for betterment. It can be said that while solving a problem, the forst step would be identifying the issue, and this is the most important step for solving any issue as without identifying the issue, no steps can be taken by the management (Choo, Nag and Xia 2015). In this regard, it can be sad that the management should have proper understanding of the problem and they should understand that each people may have different perception of the issue. Not only that the management must separate the listed issues from identifying the interests which can be the next step of the problem solving.

It can be said that in the ideal problem solving model, there are 5 steps. In the first step, individuals first identify the issues and in the next step the targets get set. After that the concerned personnel tries to explore the best possible solutions for the problem and then take necessary actions as the penalty met step. In the final step five, individuals may learn from the actions they have taken. On the other hand, it is seen that in creative problem solving model there will be seven steps. Initially just like ideal problem solving model, the main issues are identified and in the second stage the experts conduct research related to the issues they are facing (Tortorella, Viana and Fettermann 2015). In the third step creative challenges get formulated and in the next step the ideas get combined and then evaluated by the individuals. In the sixth step a proper action plan gets prepared and in the final step, the experts execute what they have thought of to solve the issues. Thus it can be said that identification of the problem and getting a full understanding of the issue, these two steps are somewhat similar in cases of ideal and creative problem solving.

Importance of Identifying and Understanding a Problem

To solve the issues that the management of The Business School of Auckland is facing in recent times, PDCA model of solving problems and Ideal model of problem solving can be chosen to get effective outcome.

PDCA framework can be best explained by Plan-Do-Check-Act, and it can be said that it is a problem solving model that has four important stages; and it can allow the management of the business school to test numerous solutions for solving the problem to get an idea of the best solution for the problem they are facing regarding decrease in flow of international students which is affecting the profitability of the business school.

This model of problem solving can be used for a continuous improvement of the organization as in the first stage the issues are identified and then various plans are made to solve the issues. In this stage the management of the business school will make necessary plans regarding how to solve the issues by increasing the rate of admission of the international students. In the next step the management will execute the plans made in the earlier step, like setting up a budget for executing the plans, and subsequently executing the task. In the next phase, the management will   check whether their chosen way of solving the problem is effective or not and then in the final stage the management will act in order to achieve the best interests of the organization.

Apart from this model, the management may choose the IDEAL model of problem solving.  This framework has five steps and those are Identifying the issue, Defining and Representing the issues, then Exploring possible solutions and strategies to eradicate the problem, then Acting according to the chosen strategy and in the final stage Looking back in retrospect and evaluate the whole procedure (Arbune et al, 2014).

As the management of the business school is experiencing a deficit in the flow of admission of the international students for a prolonged time, they should apply above mentioned two models of problem solving for the best interest of the business school.  According to the case study, the management of the organization will test the market of online programs as they cannot improve the situation by investing a fortune as they are currently short of adequate funds. This has made the situation a bit critical and has limited the efforts for betterment of the situation.  It is a matter of fact that in recent times to improve the profitability of the organization without investing a lot of money, the management should improve the quality of the services they are offering to the students and they should introduce various schemes like reduction in the cost for international students or by providing them with better opportunities can attract more international students to study in their organization (Bardach and Patashnik 2015). It can be said that the management should try out all the possible ways to solve the situation and after evaluating them, they can focus on a specific pattern or method to improve the situation.

Choosing Effective Problem Solving Models

To compare and contrast two models for problem solving, this part of this answer focuses on contrasting and comparing PDCA model of problem solving with IDEAL model of problem solving. It is seen that there are some generic difference between these two models of problem solving as the IDEAL model of problem solving includes five steps and on the other hand the process of problem solving using PDCA model consists only four steps (Seidman 2016). The IDEAL model states that the issues should be identified in the initial stage and in accordance with PDCA model it is seen that planning for solving the situation comes first.  The second step of IDEAL model is defining the problem and for the PDCA framework, the second stage involves ‘Do’ or executing the task according to the previously made plans (Seidman 2016). The third step under IDEAL model of problem solving deals with exploring various issues that are hampering the regular profitability of the organization, whereas according to PDCA model, the third step will be checking whether the steps taken in the previous phase are appropriate or not. The final step for PDCA framework will be ‘act’ or in this stage after evaluating all the stages of the problem solving, the final decision is taken and the employees or the concerned individuals starts working according to the plans which were made in the last three stages of this model (Van Aken and Berends 2018). This is certainly not the final stage of problem solving following the IDEAL framework as in the fourth step, following IDEAL model, the concerned personnel takes action after evaluating all the stages and all the actions taken under the process of solving the problem following IDEAL framework. In the last stage of IDEAL framework the concerned individuals look back in retrospect and judge whether the actions taken were justified or not and how they can improve the situation if they use any other tactics.

Thus it can be said that there are some drawbacks in using IDEAL mode of problem solving and there are some shortcomings in using the PDCA model for problem solving. Thus, if the management of the organization chooses both of these models for the betterment of their business school, it can potentially improve the chances of the organization to experience more profitability as in many cases these two frameworks complement each other (Scholz and Steiner 2015).


Arbune, A., Wackerbarth, S., Allison, P. and Conigliaro, J., 2014. Improvement through small cycles of change: Lessons from an academic medical center emergency department. Journal for Healthcare Quality.

Bardach, E. and Patashnik, E.M., 2015. A practical guide for policy analysis: The eightfold path to more effective problem solving. CQ press.

Choo, A.S., Nag, R. and Xia, Y., 2015. The role of executive problem solving in knowledge accumulation and manufacturing improvements. Journal of Operations Management, 36, pp.63-74.

Edson, M.C. and Metcalf, G.S., 2016, January. Systems Research: How do we discover what we need to know, according to whom, and for what purpose?. In Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the ISSS-2015 Berlin, Germany(Vol. 1, No. 1).

Elsawah, S. and Guillaume, J.H., 2016. Incorporating Human Aspects into Groundwater Research and Policy Making: A Soft and Critical Systems Thinking Approach. In Integrated Groundwater Management (pp. 619-637). Springer, Cham.

Hester, P.T. and MacG, K., 2017. Systemic Decision Making. Springer International Publishing AG.

Houghton, L. and Tuffley, D., 2015. Towards a methodology of wicked problem exploration through concept shifting and tension point analysis. Systems Research and Behavioral Science, 32(3), pp.283-297.

Irani, Z. and Sharif, A.M., 2018. Food security across the enterprise: a puzzle, problem or mess for a circular economy ?. Journal of Enterprise Information Management, 31(1), pp.2-9.

LeMahieu, P.G., Nordstrum, L.E. and Greco, P., 2017. Lean for education. Quality Assurance in Education, 25(1), pp.74-90.

Mateo, J. R. S. C., de Navamuel, E. D. R., & Villa, M. A. G. (2017). Are project managers ready for the 21 th challenges? A review of problem structuring methods for decision support. SciKA-Association for Promotion and Dissemination of Scientific Knowledge.

Scholz, R.W. and Steiner, G., 2015. The real type and ideal type of transdisciplinary processes: part I—theoretical foundations. Sustainability Science, 10(4), pp.527-544.

Seidman, A., 2016. State and law in the development process: problem-solving and institutional change in the Third World. Springer.

Tortorella, G.L., Viana, S. and Fettermann, D., 2015. Learning cycles and focus groups: a complementary approach to the A3 thinking methodology. The Learning Organization, 22(4), pp.229-240.

Van Aken, J.E. and Berends, H., 2018. Problem solving in organizations. Cambridge University Press.

Yen, V.Y.C. and Salmon, C.T., 2017. Further explication of mega-crisis concept and feasible responses. In SHS Web of Conferences (Vol. 33). EDP Sciences.

YouTube. 2018. Undercover Boss - ABM Industries S2 EP1 (U.S. TV Series). [online] Available at: [Accessed 9 Apr. 2018].

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