I don’t know how to handle this Business question and need guidance.
STUDENT 1 (Dan):
I could talk for days about decisions that bosses make that do not affect them. I will limit it to one topic for now. I have to bid contracts all the time. The goal for everyone is to get the job done for as cheap as possible without working for free. The problem comes into the mix when the bosses want to cut more than can be cut. I personally do not add fluff to bids, so if the boss want’s to cut more than we can, we are going to end up working for free to complete the project. The manager is not going to be the one completing the project. The boss has a duty to improve numbers and get the cheapest rates that they can, but when the justification is there and they cut anyway, it can cause serious problems. Now, the short term impact is that people build fluff into the bids so that when they are cut down they come out to a realistic number, this drive distrust within the ranks. The long term impact is disrespect for management and project overruns, client dissatisfaction, and lost follow on work.
STUDENT 2 (Ted):
I have to say, in my many years of working I cannot recall many decisions that were later seen as bad ones. The majority of my working life has been in the military and many of the decisions that are made come from individuals who have already analyzed and thought the processes through. Ok, I was joking. The military does not always get it right. One of the most memorable situations I was faced with was having one person be the coordinator for vehicles during a military movement for 60 people. Now, the situation would have been better if the people involved would have just listened. Instruction was given but when there are many individuals trying to do their own thing the plan starts to fall apart. It was decided that one person would be the sole individual to coordinate, distribute, and return 60 plus vehicles after training was done. This training was done at an out of state location so the coordination piece was a nightmare. The short-term impact was the level of frustration displayed by one individual trying to ensure all training personnel would receive a vehicle and have a ride to work. Not being from the area, the vehicle coordinator had to make a lot of phone calls while still out of state. That individual also had to coordinate fuel and manage fuel cards for all vehicles with multiple drivers. The training was 30 days long so the long-term impact was identified throughout the month. Some people showed up late to work because vehicles were not where the vehicle coordinator thought they were and, on the weekend, vehicles were not properly accounted for. At the end of the training, the Chief stated next time we will make sure that the Section Chief coordinate, distribute, and return vehicles for their particular section. It is a smaller number to manage and the Section Chief know their people and have their numbers. So, some good came out of it even though throughout the process there was mass confusion.
STUDENT 3 (Chris):
A poor decision made relatively recently at work that is a prime example of hindsight being 20/20 is upgrading the phone system in our operations center. Without going into too much detail, the operations center is comprised of two groups that were previously distinct groups, each with their own managers and in different facilities. Now, they are in one facility together and considered to be one, though they had very different phone system configurations. A year or so ago, we moved from a very dated system to a modern one, but never stopped to consider the benefits that the modern system could provide us.
The only thing that my boss wanted was a mirror image of the old system. This made implementation fairly straightforward in concept, so everyone was happy. Once we started working with the implementation team, we began to realize that the new system was not designed to operate like this and, instead of stopping to think, the team pressed forward and made it work (who moved the cheese?!?!).
Now, there is always some level of turmoil when some major component of an operation changes – that is to be expected as people adapt in their own ways and time. This, however, has continued to create problems, particularly as the organization updates other systems and begins making more data-driven decisions. As other components are upgraded, we can get better analytics to help maintain operational awareness and to make better business decisions. Now, trying to get data for metrics purposes from the phone system is like pulling teeth and we are considering paying to essentially redesign the phone system to make it the way it should have been instead of the way it used to be.
This decision had the effect of making life easy in the short term, outside of typical growing pains, but creating a great deal of pain long term, because we will either have to continue living with a disjointed system that is so complicated that the engineers who implemented it don’t fully understand it because it is not being used as intended, or we will go through the design & implementation process once more, which costs a significant amount of money, and cause everyone to have to re-learn the new system for the second time.
Neither option is ideal, but ultimately, I feel as though it would be worth biting the bullet and fixing the problem sooner rather than later so we can start reaping the benefits. It would have been better to have taken the time to think this through from the start, analyzing the impact of making the change, and maybe we wouldn’t be in this position. It would not have cost much more money or even less, be easier to support, and would have given us all the modern tools that are crucial to becoming a truly data-driven organization.
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