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Management Planning and Control

Management Planning & Control: Assessment 1a (Learning Portfolio) – Spring 2017
Learning Portfolio Activity (10 marks): Apply innovative problem solving processes to address business issues related to Management Control Systems (MCS)
This set of activities is based on the case study: University of Southern California (US): Responsibility centre management system (p. 786 textbook). This is the same case as for activity 5 and 6. There are three learning objectives:
Learn to find and use innovative problem solving processes
Apply innovative problem solving processes to address business issues (program learning objectives 2.2)
Learn something about how to come up with innovative management planning and control solutions
Task 1 hints:
We define an innovative problem solving process as the use of any process to support innovative problem solving which is new to you, and it is effective. The process should be designed to enable you to think differently. An example would be the use of the business model template and set of questions we use in Seminar 1, which can be used to better understand and communicate key characteristics of organisations. Other examples include the double diamond approach, design thinking approaches, reframing, prototyping, ‘what if’ thought experiments, visual thinking, among others. You may focus on one, or combine more than one, innovative problem solving process
You may want to revise the Mandatory open source learning module on creativity which you did during the preparation / orientation weeks before attempting this task.
Quite a few students in the past chose very generic frameworks describing the common problem solving processes (e.g. the Osborn models from the internet are among the most popular choices), without actually explaining “how” new ideas or innovative solutions are generated and what’s special about the way you do it (that is, did we learn anything new about how we think from undertaking Task 1).
The innovative problem solving process has to be used by you (i.e. the students) to derive your solution for task 2.
Task 1 innovative problem solving processes selection (300 words and one visualisation maximum; also a photo of you applying the innovative problem solving process to task 2)
Search for some different innovative problem solving processes, and select one which you think would be useful in completing task 2. Apply it to task 2, and if you do not find the process useful in completing task 2, try a different process.
In less than 300 words, explain what the process is and how you found it, why you selected it, and how it was (or was not) useful in completing task 2.
HINT: you may want to revise the Mandatory open source learning module on creativity which you did during the preparation / orientation weeks before attempting this task.
Task 2 Apply innovative problem solving processes in the context of control problems and Management Control Systems (300 words text maximum and unlimited visualisations)
A key challenge for USC is how to get academics to (i) do be more innovative (ii) do multidisciplinary research (iii) get more external grant income to support research. Apply the innovative problem solving processes from task 1 to generate a suggested management control system ‘solution’ as to how USC could address at least one of these challenges.
In less than 300 words and at least one visualisation, briefly describe the ‘control problem’, your innovative ‘solution’, and the reasons why you think the solution would work. Provide a logical justification for your solution, such as reference to cases or other evidence to support your logical argument.
NOTE: A visualisation includes any visual medium including picture, diagram, causal map, graph etc. Marks will be awarded for ‘solutions’ which demonstrate a solid understanding of the subject.
You must provide a logical justification for your solution.
Task 2 hints:
Absence of actual problem-solving: some reports in the past did not propose solutions; or there is very little indication that the approach described in task 1 has been used to facilitate real problem-solving by yourselves (students), instead, the discussion moves straight to some obvious suggestions that most of us are familiar with (therefore making task 1 redundant); or in some cases the processes themselves are posed as solutions and the students “imagine” that they should have been be adopted for task 2 (e.g. more “brainstorming” or simply meetings in general, are said to be solutions to a variety of problems).
Lack of in-depth problem solving: some popular recommendations are proposed as easy and obvious fixes to a range of complex problems; but in many instances the organizational context is oversimplified, with significant control costs/consequences ignored.

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