Wrom: LSZLKBRNVWWCUFPEGAUTFJMVRESKPNKMBIPBARH Subject: TLT Case Tips - Define the Problem Date: Wed, 28 Sep 2005 02:11:25 +0800 MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: multipart/related; type="text/html"; boundary="----=_NextPart_000_0000_01C5C3D1.EDCD19B0" X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V6.00.2900.2180 This is a multi-part message in MIME format. ------=_NextPart_000_0000_01C5C3D1.EDCD19B0 Content-Type: text/html; charset="iso-8859-1" Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable Content-Location: http://tlt.its.psu.edu/suggestions/cases/studenttips/define.html TLT Case Tips - Define the = Problem Teaching and = Learning with=20 Technology

# Student Tips for Solving Case Problems

= Homepage=20

Why=20 Use Cases?

### The Steps

Research=20 Background

Define=20 Problem

Brainstorm=20 Solutions

Select=20 Solution

T= ake=20 Action

# Step 2 - Define the Problem

What is the critical problem? This deceptively simple = question is=20 actually one of the most difficult parts of the analysis. = Perhaps the=20 most common problem in case analysis (and in real life = management) is=20 that we fail to identify the real problem and as a = result solve=20 the wrong problem, and leave the original problem unfixed.

In the beginning, what appears to be the problem may be just = as=20 symptom and not the REAL underlying problem. Here are some tips = to help=20 identify the underlying issues.

## Some Diagnostic Questions

1. Explicitly state the problem. Are you sure it is a problem? = Is it=20 important? What would happen if the "problem" were left alone? = Could=20 attempts to solve the "problem" result in unintended = consequences?

2. Where is the problem? Is it an individual, relationships, = group,=20 intergroup, leadership/motivation/power, total system?

3. Why is it a problem? Is there a "gap" between the actual = performance=20 and desired performance? For whom is it a problem and why?

4. Can the problem be solved permanently or will it occur again? = Is this=20 problem masking a deeper systematic problem?

5. What standards are violated? Where is the deviation from the=20 standards?

6. What is the current situation? What are the ideal = outcomes?

7. How do key people feel about the problem and current = outcomes?

8. How urgent is the problem? How important is the problem = relative to=20 other problems?

9. How high are the stakes? Factors for the organization include = costs=20 and profits, meeting obligations and productivity. Factors for = people=20 include personal and financial rewards, career satisfaction and = personal=20 satisfaction and growth.

10. How stable are present conditions?

11. What information is lacking?

## Some Traps to Avoid

1. Not explicitly stating the problem in the first place.

2. Stating problems in terms of personalities (e.g. "this person = is=20 flaky") instead of situations (e.g. "it is difficult to keep in=20 touch").

3. Blindly applying stereotypes to problems. There is a great = tendency=20 to evaluate behavior as good or bad. These kinds of judgments = can lead=20 to a poor analysis. Instead focus on why the problem exists. Why = are=20 people acting in a particular way?

4. Equating "your" problem is "the" problem.

5. Accepting all information at face value.

6. Making premature judgments.

7. Failing to consider the possibility of multiple causes.

8. Confusing symptoms with causes - is there something else = going on to=20 make the problem appear or make it worse?

9. Failing to differentiate fact (e.g. "profits are down" or = "complaints=20 have risen") from opinion (e.g. "this isn't working").

10. Avoid second guessing decisions after the fact. Instead of = saying=20 what players should have done, consider what the case actors are = likely=20 to know or do in the future.

11. Prematurely suggesting a solution.

12. Stating the problem as a disguised solution (e.g. "we need=20 more...").

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