Thursday, August 18, 2011

Top 5 problem-solving mistakes by MBA's

School has started, and I just finished grading the first assignment (group HW from the end of chapter questions). The most common comments were:
“Avoid jargon” because most people misuse it. Force yourself to spell out what you mean in simple plain English. It will help your thinking and communication.

“What about the organizational design?” Figure out what is causing the problem, and then think about how to avoid the problem. A lot of papers identified a bad decision, and then suggested reversing it. But they neglected to address the issue of why the bad decision was made, and how to make sure the same mistakes wouldn’t be made in the future.

“Don’t define the problem as the lack of your solution.” For example, if the problem is “the lack of centralized purchasing,” then you are locked into a solution of “centralized purchasing.” Instead, define the problem as “high acquisition cost” and then examine “centralized purchasing” vs. “decentralized purchasing” (or some other alternative) as two solutions to the problem.

“What is the trade-off?” Every solution has costs as well as benefits. If you list only the benefits, it makes your analysis seem like an ex post rationalization of a foregone decision, rather than a careful weighing of the benefits and costs. If you spent some time thinking through the tradeoffs, show it. If not, then you should.

“Which language is this?” I write this when I get gobbledygook written in the passive voice with big words that don't mean anything. Instead write simple declarative sentences that clarify rather than obfuscate. Form is not a substitute for content.

I am looking forward to improvement on the next assignment.

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