Apply the 3-Step Problem-Solving Approach
Use the Organizing Framework and the 3-Step Problem-Solving Approach to help identify inputs, processes, and outcomes relative to this case.
Step 1: Define the problem.
- Look first at the Outcomes box of the Organizing Framework (Figure 9.6) 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.
- Use details in the case to determine the key problem. Don’t assume, infer, or create problems not included in the case.
- 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 illustrating concepts specifically located within 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 (Figure 9.6) and decide 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 root causes of the problem. For example, do employee characteristics help explain the problem you defined in Step 1?
- Follow the same process for the situation factors. For each ask yourself, why is this a cause? By asking why multiple times you are likely to arrive at a complete and more accurate list of causes. Again, look to the Organizing Framework for this chapter for guidance. Did particular policies or practices play a role?
- Now consider the Processes box in the Organizing Framework. Are any processes at the individual, group/team, or organizational level potential causes of 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 your recommendations for solving the problem. Consider whether you want to resolve it, solve it, or dissolve it. Which recommendation is desirable and feasible?
- Given the causes you identified in Step 2, what are your best recommendations? Use material in the current chapter that best suits the cause. 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.