the-four-principal-variables-of-problem-solving

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Project – Team Analysis

Introduction: The main objective of this project is to
identify and analyze a team/group of which you are currently a member using
principles and concepts from A-I theory. You will work through the analysis of
both the people and the problems involved, considering the gaps between them
and how those gaps might be managed most effectively. The idea is to dig into a
real-world example while we study team problem solving, so you can apply what
you are learning as we go!

Documentation: You will be submitting a written report for
this project, which should contain documentation on everything you do to
complete it. You may choose the specific format for this report, as long as you
provide the requested information for each task in a neat and complete fashion
at a level appropriate (writing quality does count). Both the content of your
work and its presentation are important and will be evaluated as follows: 80%
on quality of content (completeness, correctness, degree of advanced thinking,
etc.); 20% on quality of communication and presentation.

Task 1: A New Group (and Problem A) to Analyze

First, you need to choose a specific group/team of which you
are NOW a member. The team can be large or small (although a minimum of at
least 3 team members is required), operating at work or at home, and your role
in the group can be of any kind (just joined or long-time member, junior or
senior position, etc.).

Two caveats apply, however:

· You
must be willing to discuss the dynamics of this group openly (potentially
sharing some details with your classmates, although you need not reveal actual
names);

· There must be some
dynamics involved that you would like to (perhaps need to) understand better;
these assignments are aimed at giving you practical experience that will be
useful immediately! Choose a group that will provide some rich ground for
analysis (and some experimentation on your part) during the course.

With this backdrop, this first task has two parts:

1. Identify and describe the group/team members in detail
(including yourself!), based on the four principal variables of problem solving
– i.e., level, style, motive, and opportunity:

a. Please begin with
some basic facts about each individual to help set the stage – i.e., who are
they, what are their functions/roles in the group, how long have they been a
member of the group, etc.

b. Proceed to describe each individual’s problem solving
profile in as much detail as you can – i.e., provide a description of each
person’s level (both type and amount), style (your estimation), motives, and
access to (and perceptions of) opportunity – all as relevant to the group’s
current Problem A (see #2 below).

2. Identify,
describe, and analyze the group’s shared Problem A in detail – using Lesson 2B,
Section B as your guide. That is: consider level, style, motive, opportunity,
and the problem as a moving target in your analysis of the problem. Remember to
consider why this particular group was formed in general, as well as the
particular problem of interest.

Task 2: Toward the Management of Cognitive Gap 1. Consider
your chosen problem solving group and describe in detail (as much as possible)
the cognitive gaps in level, style, motive, and opportunity present within the
group (as relevant to the Problem A you described in Task 1). Include both Person-Person
and Person-Problem gaps in your analysis, using the following steps to guide
you:

a. Begin with the basic “group diversity audit” you
completed in Task 1; enhance it (if needed) using what you have learned in
Lessons 3 and 4.

b. Describe in detail the cognitive gaps within your problem
solving team/group (Person-Person and Person-Problem; level, style, motive, and
opportunity).

c. Use diagrams to help illustrate your cognitive gap
analysis (see Lesson 2, Section A and Lesson 3, Section A for some ideas about
diagramming gaps).

d. Discuss how you might begin to “narrow” some of the gaps
you have just described [see note at the bottom of this task] and experiment
(briefly, but deliberately) with at least one of your ideas – then report on
the results (whatever your degree of success!).

2. Analyze your group in terms of agents of change (AC1 ’s,
AC2 ’s, and AC3 ’s), using the following steps to guide your analysis:

a. Who are the AC2 ’s and AC3 ’s within your group? Justify
your views with specific examples. If the statistical distribution of your
group doesn’t match that used in your textbook (i.e., Figure 10, p. 230), focus
on the roles played by each group member (and his/her relative influence on the
team) in order to determine “who’s who”.

b. Use diagrams to help illustrate your analysis (see, e.g.,
Lesson 4, Section B).

c. How do the various AC2 and AC3 sub-groups enable the
performance of your overall group? How do they limit it?

d. What impact do “authority” and/or “status” have within
your group? For example: is the group member with the most authority an AC2 or
an AC3 ? What impact does this fact have on the dynamics of the group? On his
or her leadership within the group?

3. Consider your group in light of our study of resistance
to change:

a. How has this phenomenon exhibited itself in your group
thus far?

b. Recalling that no one resists or accepts all change,
consider who within your group (including yourself!) appears to resist/welcome
which (kinds of) changes? How might you explain these variations in
acceptance/resistance using principles of A-I theory?

c. Is resistance to change (of all kinds) being managed well
in your group? How might it be handled even more effectively?

4. Finally, consider Tuckman & Jensen’s model of group
development (from Lesson 4) and describe the progress of your problem solving
team in terms of this model and its links to Adaption-Innovation theory:

a. Use specific examples to illustrate each stage of the
process your group has passed through (or is currently experiencing).

b. Close your assignment with comments on how Tuckman &
Jensen’s model reveals new insights about the relationship between Problem A
and Problem B within your group.

Note: You may find both Granville Gott’s article (“Creating
Differential Advantage and Profit”) and Bill Diana’s article (“Kirton Theory in
R&D Management”, from this course) helpful in generating practical ideas
for beginning to manage cognitive gaps.

Task 3: Toward the Management of Change 1. Using your
analysis of agents of change within your group (from Task 2) as a foundation,
describe the cognitive climate of your group. In particular:

a. Comment on the relative “integration” of the various AC3
’s within your group: do they each play positive roles as well-respected
members of the team, or are they neutrally or negatively positioned in terms of
their contributions? How might their role(s) be enhanced to enable better group
performance overall?

b. Consider the impact of coping behavior on the climate of
the group: who is doing the most/least coping within the group? What impact
does this have on individual contributions and performance?

2. Discuss the presence and impact of bridging (in both
level and style) within your group as a means for managing some of the
cognitive gaps existing within it:

a. Who is acting in the role of a bridger now? Under what
circumstances, and in what ways (provide examples)? Are they effective in their
bridging efforts? Why or why not?

b. Where and how might additional bridging be used
effectively to improve the problem solving performance of the group? Who would
be the best candidate(s) for a bridging role and why?

c. Use diagrams to help illustrate your analysis (see, e.g.,
Lesson 5, Section B).

3. Finally, in light of Lesson 6 and what you have learned
about the progression of change and the continuum of style within that
progression, revisit the characterization of your group’s Problem A from Task
1:

a. Enhance your description of this Problem A as a moving
target, providing an updated analysis of the shifting balance of level (both
type and amount) and style that will be needed to resolve it over time.

b. Comment on how you can continue to track this shifting
balance, making the necessary adjustments (and readjustments) in both level and
style within the group in order to solve Problem A effectively.

4. Close this task with a discussion of the insights you
have gained about your problem solving group and its shared Problem A during
this analysis (and this course in general!). What have you learned about them
both through your written assignments, and how will you use this knowledge in
the future (short and long term) to help facilitate the problem solving efforts
of your team?

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