1. The inability to recognize important problems;
2. Difficulty in formulating the central problem;
3. The inability to actually visualize or understand the situation;
4. Theinability to communicate with other managers and decision makers;
5. Not meeting the assumption of the quantitative techniques being used;
6. A lack of experience of working with "messy" data; and
7. A lack of experience in working with complex organizational environments.
The Case Approach
The case approach offers an excellent opportunity for students to consider operations management decisionsin realistic situations. It also provides a number of advantages that are either impossible or difficult to realize using standard lectures alone. A few of the advantages of the case method are:
1. The chance to identify and isolate real problems from symptoms and trivial problems;
2. Experience in developing one or more models that embody the essential elements of a particular situation orproblem;
3. Increased awareness of the organization and how it really functions;
4. The ability to understand the impact of various environmental concerns, such as political, social, and legal systems, on the organization and the application of appropriate operations management techniques;
5. The opportunity to ask the appropriate questions when formulating the problem and gathering relevantinformation;
6. Experience in applying quantitative operations management techniques;
7. The ability to understand barriers that have blocked the successful application of quantitative techniques;
8. The opportunity to identify and isolate qualitative factors that will have a significant impact on the application of quantitative analysis methods;
9. The ability to think clearly in ambiguous andcomplex situations;
10. The chance to develop recommendations and action plans that are consistent with the organization's goals and problem-solving strategy;
11. The opportunity to determine what information is required in applying one or more operations management techniques in an actual setting;
12. Practice making verbal presentations and participating in operations management discussiongroups; and
13. Practice in writing formal reports that use quantitative techniques to solve problems.
How to Analyze a Case
There is no one best approach to analysis of an operations management case. However, a number of general steps and guidelines can be followed to ensure better case analysis. Although the following steps are presented sequentially, it may be necessary during a specific caseanalysis to reorder or modify them, as they are intended to provide a general framework.
1. Preview the case. The purpose of the first step is to give you an overview of the case and the existing situation. You may wish to read rapidly or to skim through the case, taking notes and jotting down important ideas, key problems, and critical factors. You may even wish to write down ideas relatingthe main problems or issues in the case at this point.
2. Read the Case. Once you have previewed the case read it in detail, taking careful notes on important facts, problems, and issues found within the case. While you are reading the case in detail, you should be looking for major problems, sub-problems, controllable and uncontrollable variables, constraints and limitations, alternativesavailable to the organizations, and possible quantitative techniques that might be used in solving the problems facing the organization. To formulate the problem, it may be necessary to reread certain parts of the case. After the problem has been formulated, it should be summarized and recorded in writing.
3. Formulate the Problem. If you have done a good job with the first two steps, problem...