Case Study: Diagnosing Problem Causes Assignment Instructions
Organizational Analysis: Analyzing Your Problem for the Case Study
A.Diagnostic Reading of Your Problem
At this stage of the case study assignment, you will be looking at your problem through the four lenses of theories. This involves putting on different “hats” or “lenses” to make sense of the problem situation which in turn enables you to “see” the problem from various vantage points. Analyzing your problem begins by asking the following questions:
Lens One: Reviewing the Structural Theories [MACHINE]
1.Is my problem tied to a problem with the chain of command?
a.Looks at the bases of formal authority in organization (who has economic, legal, contractual, collegial).
b.Are people clear on accountabilities? Do such accountability lines conflict? Is someone not carrying out their authority?
c.Are people reporting through proper channels?
2.Is my problem tied to a problem with the span of control in the organization?
a.Are too many reporting to too few? Too few?
b.Are there too many levels of authority in the organization?
3.Is my problem tied to the way our organization is departmentalized?
a.Are we divided up properly and efficiently?
b.Are accountability lines confused and inefficient?
c.Are jobs overlapping or are there gaps?
4.Is my problem tied to the way decisions are being made in the organization?
a.Are we too centralized or decentralized?
b.Who decides what and for whom?
5.Is my problem tied to not maintaining staff/line distinctions?
a.Is staff exercising authority?
b.Is staff going around communication lines?
Lens Two: Reviewing the Systems Theories [ORGANISM]
1.Is my problem tied in some way to the input/throughput/output cycle of the organization?
2.Is my problem tied in some way to our organization trying to step beyond its genotypic function (productive, maintenance, adaptive, managerial/political)?
3.Is my problem tied in some way to the Maximization principle?
a.Are we balancing our need for profit with a long-term view of survival?
b.Are we storing, reinvesting, etc.?
4.Is my problem tied to ignoring or misreading the environment?
a.What do we know about the environmental sectors (economic, political, social, etc.)?
b.Are we rating the sectors according to some measure?
i.Stability vs. turbulence
ii.Diversity vs. homogeneity
iii.Clustering vs. randomness
iv.Scarcity vs. munificence
Lens Three: Reviewing the Culture Theories [VILLAGE]
1.Is my problem tied to culture collisions within the organization?
a.With new employees?
b.Within units or departments?
2.Is my problem tied in some way to efforts to shape or reshape the culture?
3.Is my problem tied in some way to role problems (not job description) such as overload, conflict, readiness, etc.?
Lens Four: Reviewing the Political Theories [CONGRESS]
1.Is my problem tied in some way to power pathologies in the organization?
a.Power corrupting people
b.Unhealthy coalitions and alliances broken
c.Improper control over information flow
2.Is my problem tied in some way to how people are responding to power and influence efforts in the organization?
B.Integrate Data Through a Critical Assessment (Reflection)
1.After examining the problem from the various vantage points (part A, above), reflect upon the data that has emerged.
2.Then decide the relative value of each “lens” to understand the problem realizing that not all information and issues are as useful to understand a problem and develop a solution.
3.Create a rough percentage framework for application.
ex.: 30% structural, 20% systems, 10% cultural, 40% political
C.Problem Clarification: Narrative Summary
1.In a narrative/summary form, discuss the roots of your organizational problem by drawing on the insights you have gleaned from each of the four lenses (above)
2.Create subheadings for each lens and present analysis in narrative form. If a lens is not useful in addressing the organizational problem, a discussion of why it does not apply should be presented.
3.Conclude by summarizing how useful each lens has been in identifying the cause of the problem; use the information gleaned from the rough percentage framework, above to inform this summary.
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