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Case Study: Productivity and quality problems

Case Name: The Contradiction of Business


Lucy Winters managed a branch bank office. The office was located in a good location and had many customers. However, the bank itself had been under severe pressure to improve profits. As a result, the staff in Lucy's office had been reduced by a third. Now there seemed to be a constant backup of customers in the branch. Because of long waits, customers were often abusive to the tellers when they finally reached the window. The staff was feeling increasingly stressful, and the quality of work began falling off. The contradiction of this business was that, as things stood now, Lucy had more customers than she was capable of handling. Two days after a particularly disturbing incident, Lucy prepared to conduct a mandated "sales meeting" in the branch. These meetings seldom went well as far as Lucy was concerned. She wanted to find some way to deal with the real problems of the branch, and felt she had to come up with something before the meeting on the following day.

Case Questions

1. Can Lucy use this meeting to help solve some of the problems at the branch?

2. Describe the process that Lucy can follow with her staff to address productivity and quality problems.

Format for case Study:

1. Case Name

2. Statement of the problem: Usually in one carefully constructed sentence the problem may be stated. Search for the cause; do not state symptoms. Low quality is a symptom. Inadequate training could be the cause and thus the problem. Basic rule: Look beyond the obvious to the underlying cause of the problem. Do not make general statements such as...The problem in this case is poor management. Be specific.

3. Pertinent Data: List in complete sentences any information revealed in the case that supports the Problem Statement. You are looking for objective evidence. Be careful of making assumptions and judgments. Let the facts support the Problem Statement. If the facts do not support, the Problem Statement is probably incorrect.

4. Possible Solutions: State separate alternative solutions to the problem i.e. Solution A, Solution B, Solution C. Force yourself to investigate several ways to solve the problem. Each solution should be realistic in the context of the case material. Do not present a $1,000,000 solution to a $50,000 problem. It may be possible to arrange alternatives where one or more solutions could be backups if the preferred solution encounters problems. This type of thinking or anticipation is a valuable asset in real-life situations.

5. The Solution: Indicate the solution above that seems to solve the problem best and explain why this would be the best course of action. If backup solutions are appropriate to the case, explain why and when they would be utilized. The defense and rationale for solution choice is very important. Challenge your own thinking and assumptions.

Solution Preview

1. Can Lucy use this meeting to help solve some of the problems at the branch?

Yes, Lucy can use this meeting to solve some of the problems at the branch. In order to make the meeting successful, Lucy will need to provide adequate opportunity to all the participants in the meeting to express their views, opinions and suggestions for identification of the problems, their root causes and alternative solutions. Lucy will need to arrive at a consensus in terms of the preferred approach to resolve the various identified problems. Such meetings are very helpful in terms of generating alternative solutions to the various issues via brainstorming.

2. Describe the process that Lucy can follow with her staff to address productivity and quality problems.

First of all, Lucy will need to gather list of all the issues and ...

Solution Summary

Discusses case study questions related to productivity and quality issues.