Problem Definition


Read the Toyota: Accelerator Pedal case and review the unit 9 readings related to case-based learning. These articles provide a methodology for planning, analyzing, and writing a case study analysis. Prepare a 1,500-word (double-spaced, 12-point font) paper to analyze the case using the case study analysis methodology described in the readings. Include the following:

  • Title Page
  • Table of Contents
  • Step 1: Statement of the Problem
  • Step 2: Summary of the Facts/Justification of the Problem
  • Step 3: List of Alternative Solutions
  • Step 4: Evaluation of Alternatives
  • Step 5: Recommendations
  • Step 6: Conclusion
  • References List

The steps addressed above should be covered as follows:

Step 1: Problem Definition

There may be more than one key issue in the case. Determine the issues or symptoms that need to be most immediately addressed. Consider the causes of these issues.

Be sure to differentiate between immediate problems and more basic issues. For example, an immediate problem in another case scenario could be high employee absenteeism, but the more basic issue may be low employee morale or lack of motivation. How you define a problem determines how you will resolve it. For example, a short-term solution for absenteeism would differ from solutions to improve morale or motivation. Identify both the symptom and the underlying cause. Also bear in mind that this course is about communications, so focusing on technical issues is likely not the main goal of analyzing this case.

Step 2: Summary of the Facts / Justification for Problem Definition

Summarize key information from the case that relates to your stated problem. You may need to make some assumptions. Identify your assumptions and state key facts. Any assumptions made should be based on your knowledge of typical managerial practices and should be consistent with the facts about the case. Management decisions are often based on limited information.

Step 3: List Alternative Courses of Action

Brainstorm ideas that may solve your stated problem. List as many as you can without evaluating them. You can always cross them out later. The point is to let your imagination take over. Include 5 or 6 in your list.

Step 4: Evaluate Alternatives

Evaluate each of the alternatives generated in Step 3. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative in terms of solving your stated problem?  Or, can you use some other tool for evaluating, such as a SWOT analysis? Determine the most appropriate method for evaluating, given the nature of the case and the stated problem.

Step 5: Review (This is not part of your written paper! It is part of your writing process)

Reread your notes and consider your ideas. You may want to set your case aside overnight and “sleep on it.”  Come back to it later after you have considered your work.

Step 6: Make Recommendations and Conclusions

Based on your evaluation in step 4, choose the alternative(s) you would recommend and explain why this is the best solution. Explain how you will implement your recommendation(s) in an action plan that states who should do what, when, and how.

Step 7: Follow Up and Evaluate

Of course, you cannot actually implement your recommendations in this classroom setting and evaluate their impact. But, in this step, explain how you would evaluate the success of your implementation. Include a schedule and methods for evaluating the outcome. Indicate who will be responsible for the evaluation.

Source: Myers, T., & Myers, G. (1982). Managing by communication: An organizational approach. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Book.


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