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Posted: November 5th, 2023

Assignment 2 Decision Making and Problem Solving (MGT 312)

Assignment 2

Decision Making and Problem Solving (MGT 312)

Course Name: Decision Making and Problem Solving


The Assignment must be submitted only in WORD format via allocated folder.
Assignments submitted through email will not be accepted.
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Students must mention question number clearly in their answer.
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Submissions without this cover page will NOT be accepted.

Learning Outcomes:

Describe decision making process for complex issues pertaining to business environment both internally and externally. (C.L.O :1.1)
Define different perspectives and concepts of problem solving in diverse contexts and business situations. (C.L.O :1.2)
Demonstrate decision tools and employ appropriate analytical business models to break down complex issues. (C.L.O :2.2)

Assignment Instructions for Part-I:

Log in to Saudi Digital Library (SDL) via University’s website
On first page of SDL, choose “English Databases”
From the list find and click on EBSCO database.
In the search bar of EBSCO find the following article:
Title: “Case Study: When the CEO Dies, What Comes First: His Company or His Family?”

Author: by C. Maria Rex Sugirtha

Date of Publication:September 1, 2023

Published: Harvard Business Review

Assignment Question(s):(Marks 10)

Read the case study titled as “Case Study: When the CEO Dies, What Comes First: His Company or His Family?” by C. Maria Rex Sugirtha published in Harvard Business Review, and answer the following Questions:

Identify the main problem and subproblems of the case? [Mark 2]
Identify the causes of problem based on the following techniques?[Marks 3]
Develop a mind map for decision making, [2 Marks]
Write all the alternative choices of your decision.[Mark 1]
Make a decision and write the conclusion.[Marks 2]
Cause of the problem- 5 Why Technique
Develop a Cause-and-Effect Diagram

Decision making and problem solving are integral skills for effective management and leadership. All organizations, both large and small, face complex issues and challenges that require thoughtful analysis and consideration of multiple options. This paper will explore frameworks and tools that can be employed to structure decision making and break down complex problems in a systematic manner. The goal is to arrive at optimal solutions that balance various stakeholder needs and priorities.
Decision Making Process
There are several steps that comprise a comprehensive decision making process. The first involves clearly defining the problem or opportunity at hand (Buchanan & O’Connell, 2006). This requires gathering relevant information from a variety of sources to gain a holistic understanding of the issue. Once the problem is well defined, the next step is to identify alternative courses of action for addressing it (Nickols, 2016). Brainstorming can help surface creative options beyond initial intuitions.
After potential choices are outlined, their pros and cons must be evaluated. This includes assessing feasibility, risks, costs, and alignment with organizational goals and values (Nickols, 2016). Quantitative and qualitative factors should both be considered. Tools like decision matrices can help weigh options objectively (Clemen & Reilly, 2013). Stakeholder input at this stage is also valuable for gaining different perspectives.
The next step entails making a selection from among the alternatives. While logic and analysis play important roles, intuition and experience often factor into the final decision as well (Dhami, 2016). Committing to a clear plan of action is then needed, including designating responsibilities, timelines, and resources for implementation (Buchanan & O’Connell, 2006). Finally, the chosen solution should be monitored and evaluated after implementation to determine if the intended outcomes were achieved or if adjustments are warranted (Nickols, 2016). This feedback loop allows for continuous improvement.
Problem Solving Frameworks
There are several frameworks that can help structure the process of analyzing and solving complex problems. The 5 Whys technique involves repeatedly asking “Why?” in order to get to the root cause of an issue (Nakatsu & Iacovou, 2009). For example, if sales are declining, the initial question may be “Why are sales declining?”. The answer could be “Because customers are not purchasing”. Then the follow up question would be “Why are customers not purchasing?”. This process is repeated until the fundamental cause is uncovered.
Another useful tool is the Cause-and-Effect diagram, also known as an Ishikawa or fishbone diagram (Ishikawa, 1985). This visual map categorizes potential contributing factors for a problem into major groups such as methods, materials, measurements, environment, and people. Lines extend from each category to specific reasons within that domain. For instance, if customer complaints are increasing, factors like product quality issues, ineffective training programs, or inadequate facilities could be listed under their relevant branches.
Yet another approach is to conduct a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis (Pickton & Wright, 1998). This helps evaluate an organization’s internal attributes as well as external environmental factors that could impact solutions. For example, identifying current competitive advantages and limitations provides useful context for decision making. Opportunities may also exist to leverage strengths or mitigate weaknesses. Threats in the broader landscape must be considered as well when charting a strategic path forward.
Decision Tools
There are also quantitative decision making tools that can be applied once alternatives have been identified. Decision trees graphically map out potential actions and outcomes in a branched diagram, along with associated probabilities and payoffs (Clemen & Reilly, 2013). This clarifies the consequences of each option. Cost-benefit analysis systematically calculates the financial and non-financial pros and cons of choices to determine the most economically viable one (Boardman et al., 2018).
Another useful technique is expected value analysis. It assigns numeric values to the likelihood and payoff of each outcome, then calculates an “expected value” score for alternatives based on these weighted factors (Clemen & Reilly, 2013). The choice with the highest EV is presumed to be the best from a statistical perspective. Similarly, decision matrices assign scores to criteria like time, cost, and risk for each option, then total the ratings to reveal the highest ranked solution (Clemen & Reilly, 2013).
Case Study Application
To demonstrate these concepts, consider the case study presented in the assignment instructions regarding a CEO who suddenly passes away. The main problem is determining how to handle both the family’s interests and the company’s needs going forward (Sugirtha, 2023). Potential subproblems include financial obligations to heirs, continuity of leadership, and strategic direction.
Applying the 5 Whys technique could reveal that the root cause was a lack of succession planning. The questions may be: 1) Why is there uncertainty about leadership? 2) Why was no successor clearly designated? 3) Why wasn’t a succession plan created? 4) Why wasn’t the risk of the CEO’s unexpected death addressed? 5) Why wasn’t more thought given to long-term continuity?
A Cause-and-Effect diagram could map out how factors related to the individual (i.e. the CEO), the organization (i.e. board oversight), and external conditions (i.e. industry norms) all contributed to the lack of proper preparations.
A SWOT analysis may find the company’s strengths in its brand and market position, but weaknesses in its reliance on one leader. Opportunities could exist to bring in new perspectives or form strategic partnerships. However, threats like competitive pressures or economic downturns loom larger without steady guidance.
Alternative choices may involve quickly appointing an interim CEO from the existing management team versus conducting an extensive external search, merging with another firm, or having family members assume control. A decision tree could model the potential outcomes of and tradeoffs between these options. Cost-benefit analysis and expected value techniques may then help determine the most optimal path considering financial viability as well as continuity of operations factors.
In conclusion, decision making and problem solving are core competencies for effective leadership and management. Frameworks like the 5 Whys, Cause-and-Effect diagrams, and SWOT analysis provide structure for analyzing complex challenges in a systematic, thoughtful manner. Quantitative tools such as decision trees, cost-benefit analysis, and expected value further aid objective evaluation of alternatives once key issues and potential solutions have been identified. The case study demonstrates how such frameworks can be applied to real-world scenarios involving uncertainty and competing stakeholder interests. Mastering these concepts equips professionals to navigate difficult situations and arrive at optimal outcomes.
Boardman, A. E., Greenberg, D. H., Vining, A. R., & Weimer, D. L. (2018). Cost-benefit analysis: Concepts and practice (5th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
Buchanan, D., & O’Connell, A. (2006). A brief history of decision making. Harvard business review, 84(1), 32.
Clemen, R. T., & Reilly, T. (2013). Making hard decisions with DecisionTools. South-Western Cengage Learning.
Dhami, M. K. (2016). The foundations of behavioral economic analysis. Oxford University Press.
Ishikawa, K. (1985). What is total quality control? The Japanese way. Prentice-Hall.
Nakatsu, R. T., & Iacovou, C. L. (2009, January). A comparative study of important risk factors involved in offshore and domestic outsourcing of software development projects: A two-panel Delphi study. In 2009 42nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (pp. 1-11). IEEE.
Nickols, F. (2016). Strategy, strategic management, strategic planning and strategic thinking. Distance Consulting LLC.
Pickton, D. W., & Wright, S. (1998). What’s swot in strategic analysis?. Strategic change, 7(2), 101-109.
Sugirtha, C. M. R. (2023, September 1). Case study: When the CEO dies, what comes first: His company or his family? Harvard Business Review.

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