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Management Information System

Here are five questions written by one of your systems analysis team members. Her interviewee is the local manager of LOWCO, an outlet of a national discount chain, who has asked you to work on a management information system to provide inventory information. Review these questions for your team member.

1. When was the last time you thought seriously about your decision making process?
2. Who are the troublemakers in your store, I mean the ones who will show the most resistance to changes in the system that I have proposed?
3. Are there any decisions you need more information about to make them?
4. You don't have any major problems with the current inventory control system, do you?
5. Tell me a little about the output you'd like to see.

Referring to the scenario above, how would I:

a. Rewrite each question to be more effective in eliciting information.
b. Order the questions in either a pyramid, funnel, or diamond-shaped structure, and label the questions with the name of the structure used.
c. What guidelines can you give your team member for improving her interviewing questions for the future?
d. Write six closed questions that cover the subject of decision-making style for the manager described in the scenario.
e. Write six open-ended questions that cover the subject of decision-making style for the manager described in the scenario.

Any help would be much appreciated. Thank you.

Solution Preview

Now, let's take a closer look.

a. Rewrite each question to be more effective in eliciting information.

This is straightforward. It is only a matter of making the questions and statements more specific and open ended to elicit more information than closed question (e.g., yes or not answers). The last statement was vague; it is important to use powerful words instead of the word 'little'" in reference to the information required because that is exactly what you will elicit, a 'small' amount of information. Words are powerful determinants, as is the structure of the sentence.

Let's take a closer look at one way to re-write the questions to be more specific, concise and focused.

(1) In your decision making process, what steps did you take?
(2) What types of resistance did you meet as a direct result of the proposed changes in the system?
(3) How did you decide what information you required? What additional information do you need to address the decisions effectively?
(4) What is the problem? What are the specific problems you experiencing with the current inventory control system and be specific as you can in describing them?
(5) Describe the output you would like to see and be as specific as you can in your description.

b. Order the questions in a pyramid, funnel, or diamond-shaped structure, and label the questions with the name of the structure used.

This is addressing a specific type of decision-making model and the above questions will address one of the five steps of the decision- solving model. Have you taken up a specific model in class? The above questions will therefore be ordered according to the steps in the problem-solving model.

For example, based on the illustrative model below, the questions might be ordered in the following way:
ยท #4: Problem ...

Solution Summary

Referring to the scenario and by examples, this solution assists in rewriting each question to be more effective in eliciting information, ordering the questions in either a pyramid, funnel, or diamond-shaped structure, labeling the questions with the name of the structure used, guidelines for improving her interviewing questions for the future, writing closed and open-ended questions.

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