Applied Problem Solving in the Workplace


Problem-solving prototypes are essential in addressing the multiple issues that emerge daily in the workplace. The types of problems that arise vary in range, magnitude, and complexity. They can be technical or issue-based. They can be technical or issue-based. In essence, a complex problem is a multi-faceted issue whose solutions have the highest probability of creating new unpredictable predicaments (0’Connor, 1998).

Each type of problem has different approaches to solving it. Typically, in organizations that lack elaborate organizational structures, one or two individuals run the company (Battilana & Casciaro, 2012). Such is the situation in the company addressed in this study. The entrepreneur employs a micromanagement style of leadership. The founder of the United Steel Company, Kuwait, exercises a ‘one man show’ running the company. Additionally, the company lacks a functional human resource department considering that it lacks the critical employee appraisal system.

This portfolio aims to demonstrate and develop the understanding and skills requisite in solving complex problems in the workplace (Allen, 2011). The content covers the identification of complex problems and developing a model for complex Problem-solving. In this context, innovative and unusual models are developed to tackle complex problems using solution generating techniques. The likely constraints in implementing the model are identified.

Evaluation methods are developed that facilitate the assessment of the risks in the implementation plan. Changes in the workplace environment are assessed that help produces a formative and summative evaluation through the identification of values and their impacts. Ethical approaches are evaluated that help in reviewing the thinking and decision-making strategies. Eventually, the complex problem-solving models and their applications are reviewed.

Activity 1: Identified complex problems

  1 2 3 4
Identified complex problems Increasing the involvement of stakeholders in policy-making is a major problem faced by many organizations. Making a company the employer of choice in the industry within an area is a challenge that many organizations contend with. Redesigning HR practices to improve productivity is a problem faced by many organizations. Enhancing transparency and accountability in national budgets is a problem faced by policymakers globally.
Characteristics of the problems The problems can be identified by a lack of appreciation of the experience and knowledge of stakeholders by the management that considers itself superior and independent. Such problems are identifiable by differences between the management who consider offering better packages and meeting CSR and shareholders more concerned with profitability than the welfare of the employees (Clark, 1995). One element of such problems is the lack of involvement of employees in decision-making processes. A characteristic of such problems includes the ignoring of government’s guidelines by treasury officials to voluntarily reveal fund allocation procedures.
Why these problems are considered complex rather than simple Inherently, the company has relatively many stakeholders. The problem leads to divisions between stakeholders who consider their knowledge and experience as requisite to the productivity of the organization and the management. The problem involves high levels of uncertainty. Major shareholders may withdraw their investment or senior managers may resign due to pressure exerted by employees and the shareholders with different expectations. HR practice restructuring brings with it organizational change. Naturally, employers and employees alike are perverse to change due to uncertainty of the impact of such changes (Scott-Morgan, 1997). Policymakers expect the legislated policies to be followed strictly. However, treasury officials may quote constitutional provisions such as national security to keep the information confidential.

Activity 2: Identifying complex problems in United Steel Company

  1 2 3 4
The current problems in the United Steel Company The main problem that has been identified at the United Steel Company is the lack of an appraisal system. Another problem is the lack of policy on the legislated regular work hours. United Steel lags in having an automated payroll system. There are complaints by former employees that they were unlawfully dismissed.
Characteristics of the problems The company lacks an efficient human resource function which is detrimental to the company. The attitude of the board of directors is difficult to change considering the authoritative management style. The employees feel oppressed by the company considering that their overtime pay is not reflected in their payslips. The company management is unwilling to give authorities the records of employees for analysis.
Why these problems are considered complex rather than simple The problem involves a large number of people. Each segment of the stakeholders has different expectations and views regarding the HR function. For example, the employees expect regular appraisal while the board of directors expects increased productivity. To solve the problem, significant changes in organizational systems and structures are necessary yet they are not welcome by either the board of directors or the management. The problem involves technical novelty. Despite having a pool of experts in the IT department that can easily integrate the overtime pay into the payroll; the management is unwilling to integrate technical novelty to solve the problem. The problem involves large amounts of information that are mostly stored in paper form. The records cannot be easily accessed by law enforcers despite court injunctions.

Activity 3: A model for complex Problem-solving

The majority of processes that exist in solving complex problems in organizations frequently seem to be insufficient given the changing environment and increasing complexities of emerging problems. In most circumstances, traditional Problem-solving techniques result in the emergence of new problems. It is hence imperative to develop new Problem-solving methods to mitigate against such eventualities (Tassoul, 1994).

Will McWhinney (1997a) views the solving of complex problems as one that requires the skills and understandings of the specific problem. He offers a model that goes beyond the traditional Problem-solving methods. He argues that the progression of change transit through diverse ‘thinking frames’. He terms these frames as ‘frames of reference’ or realities. An evaluation of the information indicates that the author is articulate in addressing complex problems. Other authors such as Marc Tassoul (1994) concur with McWhinney’s perspective of addressing complex problems in the workplace. Each of these realities has its own rules, philology, and results.

The commonality between these realities is that each person has a specific capacity. Some individuals are more proficient in the political field. Others attempt to map the reality in form of statistics. Some attempt to specialize in the social perspectives of the problem while others attempt to develop reality according to personal views. Within these frameworks of reference, an individual or a group can create a model to initiate and implement a complex Problem-solving technique that will accompany the progressions of change (McWhinney, 1997).

Given the problem that faces United Steel, it is imperative to use a carefully selected model that will address the problems of employee appraisal comprehensively for the long-term benefits of both the employees and the company. The participative model of change in solving the problem is appropriate and sufficient for addressing the problem faced. The model involves achieving change through the development of a value consensus in the pertinent group founded on empirical investigations (McWhinney, 1997).

Activity 4: Innovative and unusual models

Complex problems can be challenging to resolve particularly when only the problem is known yet none of the stages can be used to solve the difficulties (McWhinney, 1997). It is also difficult to identify a complex problem. Once the complex problem is identified, it may be equally intimidating to work out the specific steps to be taken. Some problems, for example fixing a broken chair, can be rather easy to elucidate if the right knowledge exists. Others, such as how to change the culture of an organization, can be overpowering since the solution is not specific to the situation and the outcome may be worse than the existing problem. Such situations require innovative and unusual methods of solving a complex problem (Proctor, 1999).

The different matters that emerge at the place of work are solved using the models of Problem-solving. The day-to-day issues like lack of appraisal or use of micromanaging require such models to solve. Issue-based or technical problems require unusual and innovative models for solutions. Different managers employ different approaches when determining solutions to organizational problems while engaging in Problem-solving. For instance, generating improvements and usage of systematic and structured Problem-solving techniques enables ease when solving operational and issues problems. Several reasons for utilizing systematic and structured techniques for solving appraisal problems provide positive outcomes for organizations (Nasim and Shusim, 2011).

The Analytical mode of change (Unitary-sensory) is not utilized at United Steel. The mode involves bringing change by implementing strategies that have been developed through the analysis of an idea compared to empirical statistics-concept applied through data (Proctor, 1999). The analysis can either be formal or casual. The resolve on whether or not actions will be taken to pursue the proposal of complex Problem-solving emanate from autonomous authority (Proctor, 1999). Moreover, McWhinney (1997) argued that the logic behind such an idea is usually accepted as one that defines ‘rational action’.

United Steel does not utilize the Influential mode (Social-Unitary). The strategy can be achieved either through imposing a fact by an authority or by adopting a value by a populace (O’Connor and McDermott, 1997). The United Steel management is perverse to the approach since it controls the employees to achieve its objectives. Whenever the company wants to implement a decision, it does not take consult stakeholders. The firm only takes into account the data it considers relevant for the implementation of the decisions. McWhinney (1997) asserted that when the model emerges from the population, the employees feel connected to the changes taking place and easily embrace them.

The Emergent mode entails achieving change through the creation and acceptance of new ideas (McWhinney, 1997). The ideas may have emanated from the innovativeness of a leader. It may also have originated from the group involved in solving the complex problem. Often these individuals are not involved in policy-making, innovative think tanks, or the research and design department (McWhinney, 1997).

To make the organization consistent, other authors such as Rickards (1990), O’Connor, and McDermott (1997) have supported the use of these approaches. Rickards (1990) suggested that managers should put the methods that they are using to solve problems open to every employee. Besides, this will tend to make the procedure more systematic and less vulnerable to personal perception and favoritism. The approaches can be used when there is no consensus on the best way to solve complex problems. The techniques will help the managers to manage the group development properly (Rickards, 1990).

Among the most important factors is the effective implementation of change for the benefit of the organization and the employees (O’Connor and McDermott, 1997). The Analytical mode of change (Unitary-sensory) is a powerful approach as it involves bringing change by implementing strategies that have been developed through the analysis of an idea compared to empirical statistics-concept applied through data (McWhinney, 1997).

The Influential mode (Social-Unitary) is important as it brings change through the acceptance of new values (McWhinney, 1997). However, it is weak in the sense that different change implementers of change may hold different ideologies of effecting change. The Emergent mode entails achieving change through the creation and acceptance of new ideas. The approach is essential as different innovative ideas are merged to develop a comprehensive and inclusive method of solving the problem devoid of favoritism (McWhinney, 1997).

Activity 5: Choosing the problem


The problem with the management of United Steel Company is that the company lacks an effective human resource function essential for the appraisal of employee performance. The situation demotivates the employees. Consequently, the employees show no concern about the progress of the company as long as they receive their salaries. By extension, the problem makes it difficult for the company to attend to the customers in a meaningful way (Scheffknecht, 2011). The problem that requires solving is the development of an effective appraisal system. This will be facilitated by the implementation of the ERP system.

Different realities


The majority of the managers of United Steel Company do not view the existence of an effective human resource department as critical to the competitiveness of the company. The analytic model as identified by McWhinney (1997) under the classification of the unitary model is usually disregarded by the top management of the company. In essence, the management disregards the principles of good corporate management availed by the human resource department about the management of human capital. Consequently, the company lacks critical policies essential for the creation of rules that guide the leadership of the company.

It is imperative to clarify that corporate policies enable the good management of an organization because it outlines the rules and guidelines that should be followed. Additionally, the policies ensure that every individual is accountable for their actions or inactions. The Problem-solving approach of the management is a main source of the problem addressed here considering that the managers do not embrace the unitary approach since they ignore the reality in the workplace environment (McWhinney, 1997a). Instead, the management finds it more appropriate to utilize a sensory approach to handling problems.


Naturally, every individual has their preferred sets of preferences. A critical analysis of the company management indicates that the top managers prefer handling the challenge of lack of employee appraisal by employing the tactic of ‘divide and rule’ through line managers. Every manager is expected to contain the employees according to the available resources. The managers prefer handling the events that arise from employee dissatisfaction. Consequently, they handle situations according to their individual experience. The shareholders of the company expect the managers to be resourceful and use their sensuality to attain profitability of the company as opposed to the welfare of the employees (McWhinney, 1997a).


The idea of the sustainability of competitive advantage of any company is often determined by the build-up of high-quality human resources as prevalent in texts (Shaw, Park and Kim, 2013). The emphasis on human capital as the basis for competitive advantage intensifies the need for companies not only to comprehend and gain the aptitude war but also has resulted in close-fitting incorporation of the grounds of strategic management and human resource management (Gardner, 2005).

The management of United Steel Company does not involve the ‘vision and inspirational’ model of McWhinney. The managers believe that the most essential inspiration is achieving a successful company with complete disregard for giving the employees the opportunity for career development. However, the managers are inventive on how to increase the profitability of the company. The employees who feel dissatisfied with the pay packages leave the company. These are the highly skilled employees and can receive better working terms including the wages (McWhinney, 1997a). The mythic approach to Problem-solving involves visions, new ideas, inventions, and inspirations.

Social model

This mode of solving problems entails the identification of diverse world views of preferred believes, values, preferences, ethics, attitudes, wants, feelings, purposes, appreciation, motivations and what matters. The approach offers an opportunity for systematic decision-making based on information and data as opposed to depending on guesses. The social model of approaching Problem-solving involves social, financial, ethical, and moral aspects of addressing employee concerns in terms of working conditions, workplace safety, and remuneration (Leigh and Walters, 1997). The approach ensures that employees are paid equal pay for equal work done. The managers of any organization should exercise due ethical and moral responsibility diligently to ensure that the welfare of the employees is addressed.

The key issue given this mode is that United Steel does not actively meet its corporate responsibility given employees’ appraisal. Such responsibilities include ensuring that the employees are not overworked or underpaid which is not the case currently. Such efforts will ensure that the company develops a functional employee appraisal system. The use of the social model of solving the problem of lack of an appraisal system raises fundamental ethical issues if not properly addressed. The issue of evaluating employee performance often generates emotions among employees particularly when some feel that they are unfairly evaluated or not evaluated at all. The situation leads to high employee turnover (Beauchamp, 1998).

The dominant team perspective

Currently, the management implements the mythic approach. The managers implement their decisions according to instincts instead of following a permanent policy guideline. Consequently, the concerns of the employees are not addressed. The company fails to address compensation concerns. Additionally, the management is less concerned about the general welfare including restricted working hours. The outcome is an increase in the rate of employee turnover. The management should determine the root source of the problems the company experience regarding loss in human capital (McWhinney, 1997a).

The dominant organization perspective

The United Steel Company management is reluctant about the welfare of its employees hence lack the social model. The attitude of the managers towards the employees appears to have been molded by the organizational culture of the company. The model practiced in the company is partly mythic and The United Steel Company management is reluctant about the welfare of its employees hence lacks the social model. The attitude of the managers towards the employees appears to have been molded by the organizational culture of the company. The model practiced in the company is partly mythic and partly sensory. The unitary model does not feature in the company.

Internal context of the problem

Enterprise Resource Planning (EPR) is a novel type of organizational business data system. The concept has increased in popularity in recent years. The idea of an ERP system is the pursuance of systematic and incorporated applications of a sequence of management resources associated with organizational activities including employee appraisal records. These ERP systems are a way of understanding the concept of having an integrated business operation package in a central place.

They were developed by European and American companies. These systems are used by many companies globally to reflect a shift in thinking to investment for systems owing to vigorous product improvement and reinforcing of maintenance support systems by the system providers (Padar, Pataki, and Sebestyen, 2011). The systems are essential in the maintenance of employee information. The employee information is critical in tracking the performance of the employees and helps when evaluating employees for appraisal purposes.

Organizational Structure

The human resource department plays a critical role in ensuring effective teamwork. The human resource function is essential in developing good working relationships among employees (Caldwell, 2001). The human resource function plays a central role in ensuring that the objectives of the organization are not impacted by personal differences among employees. United Steel’s organizational structure does not allow the cordial interaction between managers and employees. Consequently, managers fail to articulate the needs of the employees. The autocratic style means that the employees lack an avenue to vent their concerns.

Organization systems

United Steel Industrial Company uses traditional methods to manage its business. The initiative to introduce change to the company is likely to meet resistance from individuals who are not conversant with using contemporary technology especially top managers and management assistants (Agboola and Salawu, 2011). The current workforce seems unsure about the impact of the proposed ERP on the individual employees and the company in general. The company offers partial autonomy to the employees. The top management does not engage the employees in decision-making.

Organizational Skills

The employees do not receive evaluation and appraisal feedback. Consequently, they are uncertain about their performance. Despite the skills possessed by the employees, the competencies do not benefit the company as the employees do not know the areas that require their input to improve performance. They do not fully utilize their skills since they feel detached from the company.

Organizational staff

United Steel staff experiences strained work relationships. The situation generates work conditions. The management does not create an encouraging environment for interactions. Consequently, the staffs are openly hostile to the management. They are also repulsive to the company customers.

Organizational style

The organizational style adopted by United Steel is not definite. There lacks of clear guidelines on how the organization is managed. The management style is inherently autocratic. The management does not engage the employees in decision-making processes. The style is evident considering the low interactions between the employees and the managers. Dissatisfied employees are not given an avenue for raising their concerns to the management. This results in high employee turnover. Consequently, the company incurs costs in the recruitment and training of new employees.

When an employee is not included in making some decisions, there will be a communication breakdown. The situation at United Steel has already reached this serious situation. The management must state clearly the job performance expectation. Similarly, it should be clear to the employees about the probable penalties if performance criteria are not met. The employees should endeavor to perform their duties on a reliable basis. However, the current organizational setting does offer the motivation essential to increase their morale (Mohanty and Rath, 2012). The style is neither topical nor chronological.

Organizational strategy

The United Steel management lacks a clear strategy that works for the employees. The company is a leader in employing technology. However, it has consistently failed to implement an appraisal system to evaluate the performance of the employees and give them feedback.

External context of the problem

Global and economic context of the problem

A major economic issue that contributes to the problem is competition. The managers concentrate on company profitability at the expense of the employees. They ignore the needs and welfare of the employees to please the shareholders. The steel industry is continuously competitive considering the role played by steel in the growth of any economy. Many investors realize the potential of investing in the steel industry. Consequently, many companies are continuously set up to venture into the lucrative business. The competition is stiff due to existing and emerging competitors.

Innovation hence becomes imperative for companies to have a share of the rapidly expanding market. Technological innovation is not only critical for manufacturing but also for coordinating other areas of the company. People play a central role in implementing technology. Most importantly, the process of implementing change forms the central part of change management because it affects the technology and the people (McLoughlin, 1999). United Steel employees do not actively contribute to the company’s efforts to globalize.

Technical environment

The technology infrastructure of the company is advanced. The company is among the leaders in Kuwait to implement technology to enhance productivity. Consequently, it will be easier to implement an ERP system that will facilitate the utilization of the appraisal system. The company has a competent information technology workforce. However, managing change is an individual and organization’s orderly approach in dealing with revolution. Change management engrosses the skills needed by managers and leaders for competency. The process involves procedures, practices, refreezing values, progress, and unfreezing within the organization.

Refreezing means the establishment of a sense of balance through supporting the stability of new designs in the company. Whereas, unfreezing submits the formation of discrepancy professed between the ultimate and existing state of the institution, literature shows that this helps in generating the aspiration for change and lowers employees’ opposition to change (Odagiu and Piţurlea, 2012). The company does not face practical technology implementation.

Social environment

Although change is important, the organizational members frequently resist it. The community in the vicinity of the organization by extension resists these changes. The families of the employees fear that the breadwinners will lose their jobs due to the implementation of new technology. Resistance occurs given that intended changes need the existing organizational and personal characteristics adjustment.

Therefore, it is necessary for communication before the execution of change in an organization. Change strategy should involve collective assessment, support, revelation and motivating, contribution, and distribution of the information among the workforce and possibly the larger community. For change to be effective, employing proper communication strategies is important (Padar, Pataki, and Sebestyen, 2011). The social environment that may influence the implementation of the technology may arise due to the company’s failure to play its corporate social responsibility.

Political environment

Kuwait is a politically stable country. Investing in long-term IT technology will attract Labour from different countries ensuring the continued profitability of the company. The political environment does not raise any issues about the implementation of the proposed technology. The environment supports such advances.

National environment

The culture of the country attracts different investors to the steel industry. Consequently, the company must take advantage of the national stability to invest heavily in technology to ensure the sustainability of the company as well as the national economy. There are no related issues to the problem in United Steel.

Problem is part of a system

The key activities and people of the organization that are affected by this problem

The employees of United Steel Company are the main victims of the lack of an appraisal system. The company has been financially successful since its establishment. The management is keen on ensuring that the profitability of the company is sustained. However, this is done at the expense of the employees. The company pays a large number of the employees’ remuneration that is below that recommended by the Kuwait government.

Additionally, the employees are affected by the lack of an appraisal system. The lack of evaluation of the employees’ performance directly affects the morale of the employees (Battilana and Casciaro, 2012). The employees feel detached from the company. The effect is evident considering that the company experiences high employee turnover. The employees who decide to leave the company are usually experienced, competent, skilled, and high chances of getting employment in other competing steel companies.

The key activities and people of the organization that affect the problem

The management style of United Steel contributes significantly to the lack of an appraisal system. The management does not place much value on its employees. Instead, the management concentrates on company performance while the welfare of the employees passes unmentioned. Currently, the shareholders of the company exert excessive pressure on the management demanding performance. Subsequently, the employees suffer.

Key activities and people beyond the organization that are affected by this problem

The lack of an effective appraisal system at United Steel indirectly affects the families of the employees. The underpayment by the company means that the employees cannot sufficiently take financial care of their families. It hence becomes a necessity for the employees to look for another job to be performed after normal hours. The effect is felt in families where relationships are strained. Further, the managers force the employees to work beyond the recommended time. Unfortunately, the employees are not paid for the overtime.

Key activities and people beyond the organization that affect this problem

The steel industry is competitive in Kuwait. Consequently, it employs thousands of residents. However, the number of skilled workers is limited. As a result, there is high competition for a position that does not require much experience. The employers hence have a large pool of potential workers. Those who are not satisfied with the working conditions in the steel industry are allowed to quit. The availability of cheap labor presents these companies with the opportunity to dictate the terms of employment.

How the problem involves ‘unpredictable and unknown features’

ERP systems have previously been used successfully in different companies. However, many factors determine its success. These include unpredictable technical hitches with the system (O’Connor and McDermott, 1997). The implementation of the system in United Steel does not guarantee its success considering that the managers may resist the change. It will take the goodwill of those involved to ensure its success.

Activity 6: Choosing and implementing analytical techniques

The implementation of technological changes in an organization is challenging. The employees who are not technology-conversant often present resistance to changes they perceive as a threat to their job security (McWhinney, 1997a). In this context, resistance to the implementation of an appraisal system may emerge from the managers. Typically, the managers will no longer determine the decision to promote or increase the packages of the employees.

The ERP system proposed by the author in this paper will generate regular reports reflecting the performance of individual employees. The information will be used to evaluate the performance of individual employees. An interview conducted with a change manager indicates that techniques that involve directional methods are effective in resolving complex problems. The manager possesses fifteen years of experience in different companies. He asserts that the inclusion of a variety of ideas is essential in developing a long-term solution to existing and prospective problems.

The analytical techniques that are most appropriate for United Steel range from the action plan to extracting the qualities. In other words, among the tools appropriate for United Steel to choose and implement are the Action plan, Cause, and Effects, and Extracting the Qualities (McWhinney, 1997a). It is imperative to consider the root source of the problem through the application of these qualities.

Action Plan

The technique involves putting theory and policies into action. The approach is critical for the company considering that policies for employee appraisal only exist in theory. However, the action plan tool indicates that half a challenge explicitly stated is half solved The technique helps the users to identify a precise set of objectives and the resources needed to achieve them (McWhinney, 1997a).

Cause and Effects

Cause and Effects is another tool that can assist in solving the employee appraisal problem faced by United Steel. The tool is used to separate the main sources of the problem from the minor ones and it also helps in forming a practical solution (McWhinney, 1997). Another tool that can be used to the same effect is the fishbone diagram, the diagram illustrates all possible causes contributing to the problem and assists the users in brainstorming, emboldens them to view the problem from all different angles, and encourages the users to dig deep when looking at a problem (Proctor, 2009). Proctor (2009) also stated that: “It helps them to establish a logical sequence for handling various parts of a problem in a systematic way and enables one to visualize the parts within the whole” (Proctor, 2009, 216)

In this case, the Problem-solving team will articulate the results after identifying the main cause of the problem and the possible solutions. The concept is illustrated in the diagram below.

An example of Cause Effect Diagram from Hill.
An example of Cause Effect Diagram from Hill (2011).

Extracting the qualities

Extracting qualities is one of the powerful tools that can be applied by United Steel human resources to mine critical information that led to the problem and utilize the information to provide solutions to the ERP implementation issue. The information extraction involves various processes including interviewing both the managers and employees regarding what they consider as the cause of the problem and how it should be solved. According to McWhinney, “Qualities are the dimensions of evaluations, for example, cost, flexibility, color, and tone.

Clarifying the dimensions of activity makes it easier to understand the origin of a conflict and the direction for resolution (McWhinney, 1997, 128). The application of the tool helps the users to clarify the situation, define what it is they want to achieve and indicate important missing facts that can be applied in solving the problem of employee appraisal (McWhinney, 1997).

The analysis of the problem of developing the appraisal system through the implementation of an ERP system within the organization

The tools that were found to be most appropriate in analyzing the problem of developing the appraisal system through the implementation of the ERP system included the extracting qualities, cause and effect diagram, and the action plan. The main reason for choosing the analytical tools is their elaborate process of identifying the main factors and related causes of the problem of implementing the ERP system within the organization.

Action plan

Using the action plan technique, issues such as lack of appropriate communication between managers and employees, inexperienced implementers of the ERP system, threats to job security, lack of appropriate control systems as well as resistance by both senior managers and some employees were identified as the major impediments to the development of the appraisal process through the implementation of the ERP systems. The results indicated that internal organizational issues primarily affect the development of the appraisal system through the implementation of the ERP system (see appendix 1 for more details).

Cause and Effects

Similar results were also obtained when the cause and effects technique was applied to the issue of ERP implementation. The tool (see appendix 2) helped the users to identify a set of causes and assignment of priorities for engaging with them. Factors such as the organization structure and systems, organization strategy, shared values, were the major obstacles to the implementation process of the ERP systems. As indicated in appendix 2, the possible causes related to the factors such as lack of training, job insecurity, depressed workforce, and the hierarchical structural system of the firm were identified. The findings ascertain the fact that internal organizational issues are still the major impediment to the implementation of the ERP system.

Extracting the qualities

Using this analytical tool, the results (see appendix 3) indicated that lack of skills, poor communications, and the organizational culture and systems are the main impediments to the development of the appraisal process through the implementation of the ERP systems. The application of this tool played a central role in giving those involved the platform to provide quality information, managing to identify these impediments and possible solutions that can be applied in the development and implementation process of the ERP system.

Activity 7: Solution generating techniques

The summary of the findings and critical analysis of the approach

Various methods have been applied to identify the potential solutions to the problem (see appendices 4-12 for more details). Applying the methods to the solution generating techniques, the identified potential solutions to the problem of developing the appraisal system through the implementation of ERP system within the organization include improving cross-functional communication, enhanced training for both employees and the staff as well as adopting horizontal organizational structure and design.

Besides, coming up with new policies and strategies, providing new visions as well as increased assurance on job retention were also some of the potential solutions that were identified. Also, potential solutions such as changing the mode of interaction among the members of the organization, increasing employees’ engagement in decision-making as well as changing the organization’s style of management were identified using the methods.

Even though the results were consistent with the resolutions to the exertions identified at the firm, the techniques and the procedures applied in identifying the problems are time consuming and laborious. In other words, the approaches applied in identifying the potential solutions are complex and overlapping. Moreover, the approaches require an increased amount of resources in terms of time, manpower, and financial inputs. Furthermore, the approaches require increased attention particularly, on the part of employees and the management team involved in the process of identifying the potential solution to the problems. However, the techniques provided a proactive approach to identifying potential solutions to the problems.

Activity 8: Identifying the likely constraints

Constraints are obstacles that prevent the attainment of a particular process. In the context of the Problem-solving process, constraints are limitations of the potential solutions to the identified problem (Jones, 2007). Constraints are normally encountered in every step in the Problem-solving process from the identification of the multifaceted issue to the implementation stage. Therefore, it is critical to identify these limitations to find solutions before beginning the process.

One of the pronounced limitations is the resistance to change (Armstrong and Taylor, 2012). The reason is that some of the solutions to the complex problem introduce new changes within the organization. Whether the changes are positive or negative, employees would often resist the proposed changes due to uncertainties that accompany the implementation process (Mullins, 2013). He also stated that:

“Sensitivity to individual needs and differences, especially in terms of their resilience, becomes particularly significant when organizations embark on change initiatives. Even when change appears to be straightforward, the reality is likely to be messy and complex”. (Mullins, 2013, 129)

One of the potential solutions is the improvements of cross-functional communication within the organization. However, the implementation of the solution may encounter various constraints including the large gap between the top management of the organization and the lower cadre of employees. The organizational structure and design may act as a barrier to the effective implementation of cross-functional communication within the firm. Similarly, diversity within the organization in terms of culture, language, and perception is also a possible constraint to the free interaction and communication between the managers and the employees, which was identified as the potential solution under the symbolic representation technique (Proctor, 2009).

Changing the organizational structure from the long vertical hierarchy with huge interdepartmental gaps to short pecking order with horizontal units was also identified as a potential solution. However, implementations of such changes are likely to encounter possible constraints such as resistance to managerial authority and perceived threats to job security. Equally, changes from the autocratic leadership to transformational management style may also encounter the problem of resistance to managerial authority and individual opposition to work processes. The internal and external rules may restrict the structural changes required (Proctor, 2009).

Involving employees in decision-making is also one of the potential solutions. However, such a move may be hampered by long durations taken in consultations. Also, employees and the management may be engrossed in the organizational politics, distortion of the information, and the application of the information for personal gains (Proctor, 2009).

Enhanced training and skills developments were also identified as a potential solution. The possible constraint to the solution is the unavailability of the resources to undertake the training programs. Besides, the required expertise in the field of ERP systems implementation may be lacking, costly, and time-consuming in the circumstances that the experts are to be imported (Proctor, 2009). The provision of clear vision, goals, policies, and strategies are also potential solutions.

However, the likely constraints to the solutions is the long-durations and resources required in drafting vision, goals, and strategies, the probable misunderstanding among some employees as well as the possible resistance to the required changes. Identifying constraints is one of the key aspects of solving complex issues within the organization (Jones, 2007). In the context of the potential solutions identified, the limitations revolve around resources, finance, and time. The limitations in these areas have been found to have a profound effect on the implementation process (Mullins, 2013). However, resistance to change is the major constraint that affects all areas within the organization.

Activity 9: Evaluation method

This activity aims to evaluate the worth of potential solutions developed earlier. The methods used include the Delphi method, cross-impact analysis, and specialized techniques. The use of the Delphi method allows the collection of data and information to be used by the problem-solving panel (Blair and Meadows, 1996). The method is important as it uses structured communication procedures for interactive forecasting.

The cross-impact analysis evaluates changes for the probability of a specific set of events arising (Blair and Meadows, 1996). The probability of resistance will be assessed. Those affected will receive regular communication to assure them of job security. The specialized technique involves rational problem analysis (Marwah, 2011). Troubleshooting will facilitate the identification of gaps in the implementation process.

Evaluation Method Solution A Solution B Solution C
1: Delphi method The solution evaluated under this category isenhanced training of employees on the ERP system. The evaluation results indicate
Increased chances of success during implementation
Decreased probability of resistance to change
Decreased cost during the implementation process
The solution evaluated under this category is the improvement of cross-functional communication.The evaluation results indicate
The immense contribution of success during implementation
Moderate decreases to the resistance to change
Increases cost during the implementation process
The solution evaluated under this category is the change of the organization structure.
The evaluation results indicate
Moderate chances of success during the implementation procedure
High contribution to resistance to change
Associated with Increased costs during the implementation process
2: Cross-Impact analysis Under this method, the results indicate
Decreased probability of resistance to change
Moderate chances that the implementation would utilize additional resources
High chances of success during the implementation process
Low probability of resistance to change
High chances of using additional costs
Moderate chances of success during the implementation process
High probability of resistance to change
Moderate probability of using additional costs
Low chances of success during the implementation process
3: Specialized techniques The results indicated
Increased chances of success during the implementation process
Decreased chances of resistance to change
Moderate chances of using additional costs
Moderate chances of success during the implementation process
Moderate chances of resistance to change
Moderate chances of using additional costs
Moderate chances of success during the implementation process
High chances of resistance to change
Moderate chances of using additional costs

The three solutions were evaluated using the three methods against the cost constraint variables, the risk of resistance to the new changes, and the chances of success during the implementation process. The results vary depending on the method applied (Carvalho et al., 2012). However, there is a common trend in the enhanced training solution. The enhanced training solution has favorable indicators thus, the best solution among the three selected solutions. All three methods indicated favorable conditions for the solution.

Activity 10: Developing and using the implementation plan

The aim of this activity is the development of an implementation plan to implement an effective solution to the problem of the ERP system implementation process. The most preferred solution is the enhancement of the training of employees and the staff on the development of the appraisal system through the implementation of the ERP system. The solution is preferred because of its impacts on the organizational subordinate goals, aspirations, believes, as well as values. Similarly, the solution will influence the organizational strategy, structure, systems, skills, staff, and styles (McWhinney, 1997a).

Developing the implementation plan

To implement the solution, an action plan that identifies the resources, duration as well as the people that will undertake the training process is required. In other words, the action plan is critical in identifying the materials, resources, the time required during the implementation process as well as the people responsible for the implementation process. The following action plan provides a summary of the implementation process.

An action plan for training of employees and staff on the ERP implementation.

Task Person Responsible Required resources Resources needed by Date task completed
Self-assessment Employees, managers, staff Employment manual 1stOctober 31stOctober
Assessing the employee’s current positions Human resources managers Employment manuals,
5thNovember 24thDecember
Identifying training methods Human resources managers, ERP IT specialists Computer support programs,
2ndJan 30thJan
Training of Trainers (TOTs) Human resources managers, ERP IT specialists Money,
Computer support programs,
Felt pens, conference room, charts
5thFeb 28thFeb
Training of managers ERP IT specialists, TOTs Money,
Computerized support programs, training manuals
3rd March 30thMarch
Training of employees ERP IT specialists, TOTs Money,
Computerized support programs, training manuals
4thApril 30thJun
Training feedback ERP IT specialists, TOTs, Human resources managers Training feedback form 5thJuly 15thJuly
Training evaluation ERP IT specialists, TOTs, Human resources managers Training evaluation form 20thJuly 30thJuly

Using the action plan, the implementation procedure for the employees enhanced training on the development of an appraisal system through the implementation of an ERP system is summarized using the Gantt chart as indicated below:

The Implementation plan using the Gantt Chart.
Figure 1: The Implementation plan using the Gantt Chart.

Activity 11: Summary of the risk in the implementation plan

Various risks have been identified to be associated with the implementation plan. Risks such as rejection by the senior management due to the high cost and long duration, inadequate expertise to offer training, resistance by the employees and the staff to participate, inadequate resources as well as related technical failures have been identified. All these factors can lead to the failure of the implementation plan. Therefore, it would be imperative to put in place various measures that ensure that the associated risks do not significantly influence the implementation process of the solution (Ettlie, 2012).

Probability/Impact grid

The probability and impact grid developed by Griffiths and Williams (1998) applied in this activity to evaluate the risks in the implementation plan. Risks with high impact on the implementation plan and have the highest probability of being encountered such as inadequate resources need to be avoided or in the united steel case, they should be solved before the implementation process of the project (Griffiths and Williams, 1998).

Preparation and monitoring are required for medium and low impact risks with similar probabilities such as resistance to change, the inadequate duration for training, and technical failure. The following steps should be taken before and during the implementation process:

  1. Improving cross-functional communication,
  2. enhanced training to managers and the employees,
  3. coming up with new policies and strategies,
  4. increase employees’ engagement in decision-making,
  5. Interaction among the members of the organization,
  6. ensure communication with the managers and the employees to minimize the impact of resistance to the proposed change (Proctor, 2009).
IMPACT High Medium Low
High Increase the resources    
Medium   Resistance to the change  
Low     Inadequate duration for training
Low     Inadequate expertise
Low     Technical failure

Risks with high impact probabilities need to be reduced through investments in the available resources. However, risks with medium and low impact probabilities need continuous monitoring.

Activity 12: Checking out the changing environment

Identification of the specific areas of accelerating change and their potential impact

One of the reasons why the enhanced training solution was selected as the most appropriate is due to its ability to accelerate the required changes with little resistance. Training is a process through which employees as well as the senior management gain skills and get accustomed to the new requirements before actual participation (Scheffknecht, 2011). Therefore, allowing employees to gain skills in the new systems is one way of accelerating the change process. Other means of accelerating change include the inclusion of employees in decision-making, enhanced communication, and the provision of adequate resources.

However, planning and implementing the training procedures have very little impact on the change process within the organization. While there is the possibility of some resistance, the rejection of the implementation process is concerned with cost and duration variables and not the need to implement the ERP system. Moreover, the training procedures increased motivation among the employees and the staff. As a result, the needed changes would automatically be implemented. The changing process within the organization is fast considering the needs of the industry and globalization process. Even though the change process is high considering the level of employees’ skills, the degree of the change process needs to be moderated.

Critical evaluation of the findings

Adopting procedures that take into account the change process is one way of reducing resistance to the transformation process within the firm. In this case, developing the implementation plan for enhanced training was considered in the view that the employees are likely to resist the need to adopt the new ERP system. Therefore, training is a way through which employees can easily understand the process (Scheffknecht, 2011).

In the current competitive environment new systems that enhance the employees’ competency need to be adopted in order to increase the firm’s competitive advantage. Through training on the new system, the development of the appraisal system through the implementation of the ERP system would be enhanced with little resistance to changes. Besides, the training procedure would enhance employees’ compliance with the new system (Proctor, 2009).

Executive summary of the results

In an environment where resistance to change is likely, enhanced training on the new systems is the most appropriate means of accelerating change within the organization. In United Steel, employees are likely to resist the changes to the new appraisal system.

Therefore, allowing employees to gain skills on the new systems is one way of preventing such resistances. Other means of accelerating change that was identified include the inclusion of employees in decision-making, enhanced communication, and the provision of adequate resources. Besides, the change process within the organization was also found to be high considering the level of competency. As such, the levels of the change process need to be moderated to allow employees to gain the required competency in the ERP implementation process.

Activity 13: Producing a formative and summative evaluation

Describing the complex-Problem-solving project

The process of solving the complex problems within the organization is long. In this case, the process began by identifying the complex problem through various procedures and application of diverse tools, which culminates into the problem of developing the appraisal system through the implementation of the ERP system. The issue has been evaluated using various tools and methods, potential solutions as well as the risks and constraints associated with the potential solutions have been identified. The implementation plan for the most appropriate potential solution has been developed and the environment in which these changes would be implemented within the organization has been examined.

Identifying the most critical steps

The most critical steps/procedures in the project include identifying the potential solutions, evaluating the potential solutions, developing an implementation plan for the potential solution, and assessing the risks associated with the implementation plan. The reason is that identifying the potential solutions, evaluating the potential solutions, developing an implementation plan for the potential solution, and assessing the risks associated with the implementation plan forms the core of finding the solution to the complex issue

Identifying what went well

In the whole process identifying the potential solution through the application of various tools and methods, evaluation of the potential solutions, and assessing the risks associated with the implementation plan were successful. The reason is that the application of tools and methods avoided more problems that could have arisen during the Problem-solving process

Identifying what needs to be improved

However, developing an implementation plan needs to be improved. A clear picture of what needs to be done and how it needs to be done is provided through the application of various planning tools.

Important lessons

Identifying potential solutions play a critical role in solving a complex problem. The reason is that the potential solution is used as a prototype and might finally be implemented (Shaw, Park, and Kim, 2013). All other procedures are based on the potential solution.

Critical evaluation of the work

The complex problem-solving process is a multifaceted procedure that involves various processes, application of diverse models, techniques, and evaluation tools. The models, methods, techniques, and tools must appropriately be selected and applied to identify potential solutions, identify risks and constraints associated with the solution, develop the implementation plan, and finally execute the required changes.

The procedure is time-consuming and requires additional resources in terms of a dedicated workforce, expertise, and finances to attain the desired results (Senge, 1994). The most important lesson is that solution to the problem can also be a problem. To avoid the recurrence of the problem appropriate methods and tools should be applied.

Activity 14: Identifying values and their impacts

Personal values

Identifying and understanding personal values are the most challenging aspects of the Problem-solving process within the organization. Personal values remain to be critical since they directly influence decisions an individual makes concerning issues that relate to the problems (Beauchamp, 1998). The reason is that most of the decisions are concerned with what an individual values most. Personal values are important in situations where many options that seem to be reasonable are available. Under such circumstances, personal values act as a guide in the right direction. In other words, personal values have a direct impact on the individual ability to find solutions to complex problems facing the organization (Scott-Morgan, 1997).

Personal values such as introversion, sensitivity, intuition, extraversion, thinking, and feeling preferences have a direct impact on the ability to establish solutions to complex problems. The personal values affect the ways through which ideas have generated the relationships with the external environment as well as the degree of understanding some of the complex issues (Clark, 1995). For instance, the value of introversion affects how issues are sorted out.

Essentially, introversion requires that time is taken to think about the new ideas before they are expressed to the team members as well as those in authority. The time taken to think about the idea at the time affects the problems that require immediate solutions. However, the value is critical in complex situations that require a deeper understanding and thinking to come up with solutions to the problems. Besides, the value regards personal comprehension of the essential models and philosophies (Clark, 1995).

Sensitivity means that a person considers realities, elements, and veracity. Additionally, standard solutions that have previously been applied are given greater attention. These considerations have a positive impact on the Problem-solving process. Individuals with perception inclinations are more likely to approach the situation through the derivation of the significance of details, the connections existing between the ideas, and future possibilities that may arise from the ideas.

The value is critical in developing new and original solutions to complex problems. In other words, the effect of the value to the Problem-solving process is that new and original solutions are developed (McWhinney, 1997a).

In this case, introversion will affect the way new ideas will be generated. Besides, lack of sensitivity to small issues would also affect the relationship between team members during the group discussions. However, perception inclination is one of the attributes useful in idea generation, especially where new solutions are needed during the complex solving process (Clark, 1995).

The author’s values are similar to those persons with rational inclinations which they are likely to apply the use of reasoning and investigation in the Problem-solving process. Additionally, they prefer neutrality and are often unbiased while making inferences. Besides, the value is used to draw solutions from the application of facts, models, and principles. While these individual values are critical in every decision-making or Problem-solving process in an organization, they tend to recur in every step. The individual values greatly determine the final solution to the complex problems of the organization. Essentially, personal values have both negative and positive impacts on the Problem-solving process within the organization (Clark, 1995).

Values of people in the workplace

Like individual values, the values of other employees within the workplace greatly affect the Problem-solving process. However, identifying the value of team members might be challenging. The values of other people in the workplace positively or negatively influence the Problem-solving process. However, understanding individual values is a critical step in deriving a solution to the complex problem (Beauchamp, 1998).

All individuals working as a team differ on many fronts. Besides, factors such as physique, ethnic origin, gender, the process of growing up, and the environment in which we live and work contribute hugely to shaping one’s values. The author with great difficulty managed to identify some of the values that are common to his team members, values such as integrity, honesty, mode of interaction, perception, and cultural affiliation. He also realized their influences on the team’s behavior, which in turn influences the Problem-solving process. Identifying these common values plays a pivotal role in creating an environment where all members of the team appreciate one another and feel part of the solution to the problem (Clark, 1995).

Organizational values

United Steel values such as integrity, quality, honesty, diversity, punctuality, and high performance were identified and have a direct effect on all activities undertaken within the organization. In the Problem-solving process, the values of the organization have to be taken into consideration (Beauchamp, 1998). Essentially, the problem-solving process must be aligned to the values the organization upholds.

In most cases, problems arise when the organizational values conflict with the internal and external environmental needs. Besides, organizational values are used in determining possible tools applied in getting solutions to the problem (Higgins, 1994). How the Problem-solving process can be influenced depending on each organization. Organizations in which decisions are made at the top management level require a top-down approach to the Problem-solving process. However, in decentralized organizations, a bottom-up approach to the Problem-solving process would be recommended (Chang, 1995).

Activity 15: Corporate responsibility and ethics

In the Problem-solving process, ethical issues normally arise at the individual, corporate, societal, and industry levels. Moral considerations on each of the levels are critical for an effective Problem-solving process (Beauchamp, 1998).

In this case, since there isn’t a clear standard and proper knowledge it’s fair to say that the implementation of an appraisal system through the implementation of an ERP system is likely to present key ethical concerns such as lack of common standards, unfairness, subjectivity, and biasness. Institutionalizing an ethical culture and applying the values in all organizational processes help in attaining results that are accepted by all. Ethical issues and how it affects individuals within the organization is a critical consideration in the Problem-solving process (Mohanty and Rath, 2012).

Key ethical issues at the individual level

At the individual level, key ethical issues associated with the development of performance appraisal are lack of fairness, subjectivity, and biasness during the evaluation process. All these ethical issues affect the planning and implementation process of the Problem-solving procedures (Beauchamp, 1998). At the planning stage, it is critical to put into consideration all the moral principles and how they would affect individuals. Besides, the planning process must include the methods of solving ethically anticipated issues as well as the costs involved (O’Connor & McDermott, 1997).

Key ethical issues at the individual level majorly affect the implementation stage of the Problem-solving process. During the implementation, determining how these issues affect individuals and mitigation procedures is important in attaining the desired results. Ethical issues at the individual level could also cause further problems in case appropriate mitigation measures are not taken (DeBono, 1992).

Key ethical issues at the organizational level

At the corporate level, an issue such as a lack of common standards is likely to arise during the implementation process of the performance appraisal. While it would be critical to understanding how these factors affect the Problem-solving process, putting in place measures to avoid the issues is part of the implementation planning process (Beauchamp, 1998). In other words, during the planning process, how to deal with these moral values should be taken into consideration. Besides, corporations have ethical codes of conduct that are based on the industrial common standards that have to be adhered to while conducting all the business processes (Senge, 1994).

Key ethical issues at the industrial/professional level

All professions have ethical standards and responsibilities that have to be observed. The employees are also expected to behave and act professionally within the organization. Issues that normally arise at the professional or industrial level include sharp competitive practices, confidentiality, industrial relations, and conflict of interest (Beauchamp, 1998). These issues have to be taken into consideration to maintain the good reputation of the firm. These factors influence the Problem-solving process directly both in terms of cost and the implementation procedures (Bentley, 1996).

Corporate responsibility is a vital issue in contemporary society and it includes the following areas:

  • Social, economic, ethical, and moral responsibilities of managers and organizations.
  • Compliance with legal and voluntary requirements for business and professional practice.
  • The organization and the environment.
  • The challenges posed by the needs of the economically and socially disadvantaged.
  • Management of the corporate responsibility activities of the business (Straker 1995).

Key ethical issues at the societal level

During the Problem-solving process, ethical issues such as the health and welfare of the communities, environmental concerns as well as conflicts with the community interest normally arise. The issues need to be taken into consideration while implementing Problem-solving procedures. Addressing issues affecting communities are important aspects particularly in creating positive relationships with the communities (Beauchamp, 1998).

In most cases, ethical issues affecting communities are normally applied to provide a coherent framework that is used to explore the relationships within the businesses and the communities in which they are operating. Therefore, applying strong business ethics promotes trust among the corporation and the communities, which in turn increases efficiency in the management of processes particularly in Problem-solving. Strong business ethics also promotes the efficient and effective use of the resources required in the Problem-solving process (McLoughlin, 1999).

Activity 16: Applying ethical approaches

Various ethical approaches have been proposed to deal with ethical issues arising in the workplace. The approaches are ranging from utilitarianism to justice. These approaches tend to view ethical issues from different perspectives and provide methods through which decisions concerning ethical issues are based.

For instance, utilitarianism encourages those responsible within the organization to make decisions based on factors that offer the greatest benefit for the larger number of people (Beauchamp, 1998). Similarly, decisions based on justice tend to consider fairness in terms of benefits as well as costs involved. However, these decisions depend on each of the ethical issues identified (Beauchamp, 1998).

The utilitarianism approach to confidentiality

Lack of common standards is one of the ethical concerns associated with the implementation of the appraisal system. A common standard of evaluating employees is highly valued by both individuals and corporate. In other words, ensuring that a common standard of assessing the employees’ performance exists in the firm is a critical component for the success of the implementation of the appraisal system within the organization (Burke, 1993).

However, a lack of a common standard results in biasness and unfairness during the appraisal process. Employees would prefer a situation where everyone is subjected to a similar evaluation procedure despite the status and other attributes within the organization. The utilitarianism approach considers the costs and benefits of ensuring a common standard in the evaluation process (Kauffman, 1993).

According to the approach, the benefits and costs need to be taken into consideration. In other words, the decision is made depending on the balance between benefits and costs. In this case, the costs and benefits are based on the number of people that are either benefitting from the standard measures or are affected by similar standards. In the circumstances that the common standards would benefit more people, then it would be imperative to implement such standards. However, in the situation where the majority are affected by the common standards, it would be unethical to put in place the common standards during the performance appraisal implementation (Burnes, 1996).

Utilitarianism is one of the best approaches to ethical issues arising from the implementation of the performance appraisal. As indicated, utilitarianism helps managers to think through the problem and make appropriate decisions. However, utilitarianism presents some of the problems. The approach does not consider the interest of the minority groups. Besides, some of the costs and benefits cannot be quantified. These limitations weaken decisions based on the approach (Rickards, 1990).

Justice approach to confidentiality

As indicated, justice is one of the approaches used in making decisions concerning the ethical issue. The principle of justice is based on fairness. The principles of justice are commonly applied when the competitions for resources are high or when there is widespread scarcity. Justice is commonly applied to issues concerned with pay rates and other forms of compensations. However, in this case, the managers would decide if having a common standard for evaluating employees is fair. Fairness is critical in making decisions concerning the common standards, particularly through the application of the justice approach (Mantere, Schildt & Sillince, 2012).

However, the people involved would not always agree on fairness. The limitations make ethical decisions based on the principle of justice unreliable. Nevertheless, it would be ethical to be fair to increase the level of satisfaction among the people being affected.

Summary of the approaches

Approach Determining factor Moral action Limitations
Utilitarianism Cost-benefit analysis Benefits are greater than costs Some costs and benefits are not quantifiable
Minority interests are not taken into consideration
Justice Fairness in terms of costs and benefits Fair distribution of costs and benefits Some costs and benefits are not quantifiable
Lack of agreements on fair shares

Activity 17: Reviewing the thinking and decision-making strategies

The review of the questionnaire findings and the issues that came up

Jensen (1995) provided a comprehensive tool for the decision-making process regarding the complex Problem-solving process. The decision-making inventory tends to identify factors that influence the decision-making process. The factors range from external environmental influences to internal perceptions. Most of the items in the questionnaire had high scores while none scored below four. The implication is that the decision made tended to follow the processes raised on the questionnaire.

However, according to Jensen (1995), it is easier to identify some of the processes that enable decision-making while ignoring the fact that some of these factors are not practicable. In other words, most people associate their decision-making process with these factors yet they do not apply them in real practice (Allan, 1997). Another issue is that some of these factors overlap. An individual may apply one factor while in an actual sense, using another technique.

The author realized that making decisions in a flexible environment at times does not provide the solution to the problems at hand. Flexibility in decision-making consumes a lot of time while still thinking and reflecting on the other employees or staff contribution. Similarly, the relationship with other groups of people also has a negative impact on the decision-making process. The author learned that relationships influence how decisions are made. The relationships may have a negative or positive influence depending on the group of people being associated with. The prior knowledge on other aspects of decision-making as outlined in the decision-making inventory (see the appendix) is all confirmed.

Activity 18: Reviewing the complex-problem-solving models and their application

The suggested model of Problem-solving will be effective in the long run. The approach is appropriate for solving the problem of lack of employee appraisal system at United Steel Company. However, the success of the proposed change depends on the proper implementation of the Six-Step model. It is imperative to ensure that both the employees and the managers are involved in every step of implementing the change (Battilana and Casciaro, 2012).

Ethical consideration should also drive the entire Problem-solving process. Among the most common problems emerge in organizational leadership. Whereas different types of leadership make organizations competitive, some work against and hence detrimental to the attaining of corporate goals and objectives (Bentley, 1996).

There are diverse models for Problem-solving. Issues and working challenges in an organization may be resolved effortlessly and with improved outcomes through Problem-solving models. The models include organized and methodical tactics for resolving problems and advancing developments. There are various aims of utilizing organized and methodical tactics for resolving problems. These include ensuring consistency, assisting in managing group processes, resolving challenges successfully, and building substantial circumstances for change.

Ensuring consistency means that everyone is aware of the methods others are using to resolve challenges. The approach ensures that the process is more scientific and less vulnerable to personal prejudices and insights. Additionally, the problem resolving model offered in this study offer concentration for those involved. It helps set the plan. The plan ensures that everyone can work on the approach as opposed to personal approaches simultaneously. Pursuing a specific procedure and utilizing statistics for making decisions enables the easier reaching of a team consensus.

In summary, the whole of the portfolio has attained various outcomes. Some of the outcomes include the critical evaluation of several innovative and unusual models of Problem-solving normally used in other unrelated organizational contexts, the analysis of the complex problem using additional, unconventional, or original methodological tools, the identification and evaluation of one or more solutions to the complex problem and assessing the constraints in terms of the unpredictable features that relate to managing innovation and developing an implementation plan that addresses the nature of change and associated unpredictability. The evidence of the outcomes is observable in the tools applied in the process of Problem-solving throughout the portfolio


Agboola, S. and Salawu, R. (2011). Managing deviant behaviour and resistance to change, International Journal of Business & Management, 6(1) 235-242.

Allan, B. (1997). Developing a Learning Organization, Pitman.

Andriele De Prá Carvalho, Eloiza Avila De Matos, Luís Felippi Serpe, Dálcio Roberto Dos Reis. (2012). Creativity management tools and their Organizational influence, International Journal of Organizational Innovation, 5(1) 6-25.

Armstrong, M. and Taylor, S. (2012). Armstrong’s handbook of human resource management practice, Kogan Page, London.

Battilana, J. and Casciaro, T. (2012). Change agents, networks, and institutions: a contingency theory of Organizational change, Academy of Management Journal, 55(2) 381-398.

Beauchamp, T. L. (1998). Case studies in business, society and ethics. 4th edition, Prentice-Hall.

Bentley, T. (1996). Sharpen your team’s skills in creativity. McGraw-Hill.

Blair, G and Meadows, S. (1996). A Real-life Guide to Organizational Change. Gower.

Burke, R. (1993). Project Management – Planning and Control. 2nd edition. Wiley.

Burnes, B. (1996). Managing Change. Pitman.

Carvalho, AD, de Matos, EA and dos Reis, DR (2012). Creativity management tools and their Organizational influence, International Journal of Organizational Innovation, 5(1) 6-25.

Chang, H. (1995). Step by step Problem-solving: a practical guide. Kogan Page.

Clark, J. (1995). Managing innovation and change: people. technology and strategy. Sage.

DeBono, E. (1992). Six thinking hats. Little, Brown and Co.

Ettlie, J. (2012). Managing innovation. Routledge. New York, NY.

Gardner, M. (2005). Human resource alliances as a means of improving the recruiting, management, and retention of employees, International Journal of Human Resource Management, 16(6) 1057–1074.

Griffiths, K. and Williams, R. (1998). A learning approach to change, Gower, Aldershot, UK.

Higgins, J. (1994). 101 creative problem-solving techniques. New Management Publishing, UK.

Hill, R. (2011). Cause and effect analysis (Fishbone diagrams). Web.

Jensen, R. (1995). The handbook of experimental economics, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.

Jones, R. (2007). Project management survival: a practical guide to leading, managing and delivering challenging projects, Kogan Page, London.

Kauffman, S. (1993). Organization and complexity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Leigh, A. and Walters, M. (1997). Effective change: 20 ways to make it happen, London: Institute of Personnel and Development.

Mantere, S, Schildt, H. and Sillince, J. (2012), Reversal of strategic change, Academy of Management Journal, 55(1) 173-196.

Marwah, G. (2011). Change management: exploring the understanding of an Organization’s capacity to change in Atkins and Rio Tinto. Munich: GRIN Verlag.

McLoughlin, I. (1999). Creative technological change: the shaping of technology and organizations, Routledge.

McWhinney, W. (1997a). Creating paths of change. 2nd edition. Sage.

Mohanty, J and Rath, B. (2012). Influence of Organizational culture on Organizational citizenship behaviour, Global Journal of Business Research, 6(1) 65-76.

Mullins, L.J. (2013). Management and organizational Behavior, 10th edition. Harlow: FT Publishing.

Mullins, L. J. (1999). Management and organizational behaviour. London: Financial Times Pitman Publishing.

Nasim, S and Shusim, D. (2011). Revisiting Organizational change: exploring the paradox of managing continuity and change, Journal of Change Management, 11(2) 185-206.

O’Connor, J. and McDermott, I. (1997). The art of systems thinking, Thompsons.

Odagiu, C and Piţurlea, M. (2012). Organizational change management: a cultural approach, Scientific Research & Education in the Air Force – AFASES, 2(3) 157-163.

Padar, K, Pataki, B and Sebestyen, Z. (2011). A comparative analysis of stakeholder and role theories in project management and change management, International Journal of Management Cases, 13(4) 252-260.

Proctor, T. (2009). Creative Problem-solving for managers, London: Routledge.

Rickards, T. (1990). Creativity and Problem-solving at work, Gower.

Scheffknecht, S. (2011). Multinational enterprise-Organizational culture vs. national culture, International Journal of Management Cases, 13(4) 73-78.

Scott-Morgan, P. (1997). The accelerating organization, McGraw-Hill.

Senge P. (1994) The fifth discipline fieldbook, Century.

Shaw, J Park, T and Kim, E. (2013) A resource-based perspective on human capital losses, hrm investments, and organizational performance, Strategic Management Journal, 34(1) 572-589.

Straker, D. (1995) A tool-book for quality improvement and Problem-solving, Prentice. Hall.

Tassoul, M. (1994) Paths of change – Will McWhinney. Journal for Organizational and Social Policy, 48(1) 1-5.


Appendix 1: Action Plan

Diagrammatic representation of the results of the action plan
Diagrammatic representation of the results of the action plan.
Task Person Responsible Required resources Resources needed by Date task completed
Improve cross-functional communication Communications manager Money
4thJanuary 4thFebruary
Train the staff and senior management Human resources managers Conference room
Wall chart
Felt pens
Computer support programs
7thFebruary 28thFebruary
Training employees Human resources managers Conference room
Wall chart
Felt pens
Computer support programs
1stMarch 31stMarch
Review of the current system Operations manager Money
Computer support programs
1stApril 15thApril
Determining the employees specific needs Human resources manager Money
Computerized support programs
16thApril 30thApril
Putting in place new systems Operations manager Money
Computerized support programs
1stMay 30thMay

Appendix 2: Cause and Effect Diagram

Diagrammatic representation of the cause and effects results.
Diagrammatic representation of the cause and effects results.

Appendix 3: Extracting the quality

Diagrammatic representation of the extracting the qualities results.
Diagrammatic representation of the extracting the qualities results.

Appendix 4: Checklist Technique

Checklist Technique

An example of how the potential solution of improving the cross-functional communication was developed using the checklist method.

Appendix 5: Force-Fitting Ideation Technique

Force-Fitting Ideation Technique

Appendix 6: The wildest idea method

The wildest idea method

Appendix 7: The trigger method

The trigger method

Appendix 8: Awareness techniques

Awareness techniques

Appendix 9: Personal analogy technique

Personal analogy technique

Appendix 10: Symbolic Analogy Technique

The issue: The organization’s autocratic management style.

Symbolic Analogy Technique

Some of the symbolic descriptions of the autocratic organization management.

Appendix 11: Vision building

Vision building

Appendix 12: Symbolic Representation technique

The issue: The organization structure and design.

Redefining the problem: Complex organization structure.

Symbolic presentation of the organization structure.

Symbolic Representation technique

General viewpoint from the symbolic representation of the organization structure

Reduce the hierarchy to improve free interaction and communication among the employees and the staff.

Appendix 14

Activity 17: Reviewing the thinking and decision-making strategies

The decision-making inventory.

In context Statement                    
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
Field dependent I am comfortable making decisions in the context of the decision (e.g. for a workplace problem I prefer to decide on the workplace)                  
Field independent I am comfortable making decisions in any context (e.g. study, university, library, train, car – the place is not important)                  
Structured environment I prefer to make decisions in a structured environment (e.g. my own office)                  
Flexible environment I can make decisions in all kinds of environments (e.g. office, staff rooms, staff restaurant, in quiet or noisy places)                  
Interdependent I prefer to make joint decisions with colleagues – we share our successes and failures                  
Independent I prefer to make decisions by myself                  
Dependent I prefer to work with others either in pairs or small groups                  
Task-driven I think it is more important to get the work done than to get on with my colleagues                  
Relationship-driven My relationship with my colleagues is more important to me than achieving the task or solving the problem                  
Information input preferences                      
Visual-external I prefer to look at information (e.g. tables, charts, diagrams)                  
Visual-internal I prefer to visualize the options in my mind                  
Auditory-external I prefer to discuss the options (e.g. with colleagues, with other students)                  
Auditory-internal I prefer to talk things through ‘in my head’ and ask myself lots of questions                  
Kinaesthetic-tactile I prefer to take in information by working with the ideas and problems (i.e. a hands-on approach)                  
Kinaesthetic-internal I prefer to take an intuitive approach to the problem and use my ‘gut feelings’ and intuition                  
By processing it                      
Global I prefer to decide by thinking about the big picture                  
Detail I prefer to decide by thinking through all the details                  
Sequential I prefer to decide by thinking about things in sequential steps, one at a time                  
Conceptual-abstract I like to think about the solutions abstractly; I find it quite hard to apply the theory to practice                  
Conceptual-concrete I like to think about the solutions in a practical hands-on way; I prefer to think through specific examples and try things out in practice                  
then reacting to it                      
Externally-referenced It is important to me to take other people’s ideas and thoughts into consideration when I am making a decision                  
Internally-referenced It is not important to me to take other people’s ideas and thoughts into consideration when I am making a decision; I prefer to make decisions based on my thoughts and findings                  
Matcher I like to use solutions and follow processes that fit the way we do things; I like things to make sense and for changes to be slow and incremental                  
Mismatcher I like looking for differences and doing things differently; I like to use new approaches and ideas; I like to do things differently and to experiment                  
Impulsive-experimental I like to jump into action and solve problems by working on them; I like trial and error and learn from my mistakes                  
Analytical-reflective I like to think about things and weigh up all the options before I move into action; I like to think about all the possibilities                  

Appendix 14

Solution generating techniques.

Solution generating technique Methods used Potential solutions identified
Morphological analysis and related techniques The method used in solving the problems at United Steel will include checklists and force fitting triggers.The checklistis often gauged against the existing literature on morphological analysis of existing studies. The method utilizes empirical evidence obtained from organizations that effectively solved appraisal system problems through the implementation of ERP system in the past. On the other hand, force-fittingideation is a tool used to generate options for the solutions of the problems facing the firm (Proctor, 2009). Through the application of the checklists technique the following solutions were identified:
Improving cross functional, communication, enhanced training to both employees and the staff.
The force-fitting triggertechnique identified the following solutions:
Adopting horizontal organizational structure and design, coming up with new policies and strategies.
Brainstorming and its variants In this method, The trigger methodand the wildest ideatechniques are applied to the ERP implementation problem of the firm. The wildest ideais a technique where all the concerned persons are allowed to come up with an idea related to the problem. The wildest ideais chosen because of its potentiality in generating new proposals. (Proctor, 2009). Conversely, the triggering technique is closely linked to the wildest idea. However, in this case, the idea is openly discussed among the members of the group. The wildest ideawas applied to the problem of lack of employees’ skills as the main impediment to the development of the appraisal system through the implementation of ERP system. The solution was to train employees and the staff concerning the new ERP system. However, the trigger methodwas applied to find solution to the most complex issue of resistance to change by both junior and the senior staff. The potential solution was to provide new vision and increased assurance on the job retention.
Lateral thinking and associated methods In the lateral thinking method, provocative methodsand awarenessare applied to find the solutions to the problems. On the other hand, awarenesstechniques are mainly applied because of the ability to find solutions to the current problems through the definition of the past situations. The provocative methodwas applied to the issue of staffing identified as the cause of the problem of ERP implementation.
The potential solution identified is to change the mode of interaction among the members of the organization.
On the other hand, the awareness techniqueidentified the change of organizational structure as the possible solution to the staffing issue.
Synectics In synetics, the personal and symbolic analogy techniques are used to describe the problem. In personal analogy, the feelings and emotions are applied to explain the need of the ERP system within the organization. Similarly, the symbolic analogyis where objective and personal images are utilized to describe the need of ERP implementation process within the firm. The personal analogy was applied to find solutions to the problems of organizational systems particularly related to the new changes brought about by the new ERP system.
The potential solution generated by the techniques was to increase employees’ engagement in decision-making.
The symbiotic analogy technique was used to generate solution to the management style of the organization.
The potential solution was to change the autocratic tendencies and adopt the transformational style of management
Miscellaneous ideation In miscellaneous ideation, vision building and symbolic representation techniquesare applied. Vision building is the creation of the future aims and objectives of the problem in other words, establishing what is to be achieved by getting the solution to the problem. Symbolic representation is the diagrammed representation of the situation or problem. It is critical in the implementation process of the ERP systems since it can easily be used for references. In vision building techniques, clear strategies and policies were identified as the potential solution to the problem of lack of organizational strategy towards the implementation of the ERP system.
The symbolic representation techniqueslooked at the issue of the organization structure and design. The possible solution was to change the organization structure to allow free interaction and communication among the employees and the staff.

Cite this paper

Select style


BusinessEssay. (2022, December 30). Applied Problem Solving in the Workplace. Retrieved from


BusinessEssay. (2022, December 30). Applied Problem Solving in the Workplace.

Work Cited

"Applied Problem Solving in the Workplace." BusinessEssay, 30 Dec. 2022,


BusinessEssay. (2022) 'Applied Problem Solving in the Workplace'. 30 December.


BusinessEssay. 2022. "Applied Problem Solving in the Workplace." December 30, 2022.

1. BusinessEssay. "Applied Problem Solving in the Workplace." December 30, 2022.


BusinessEssay. "Applied Problem Solving in the Workplace." December 30, 2022.