Management consultancy involves working with clients to solve complex problems. Often these problems present themselves as complex and ambiguous with multiple stakeholders. This assignment will involve you in applying the concepts and tools and techniques of consulting to a problem situation of your choice in order to develop recommendations for improvement.
For the assignment, you should choose a problem situation to be the focus of your analysis. This problem can be a social or an organisational problem. It can be a problem situation that you are interested in exploring, or it could be a problem in an organisation you are familiar with. The important thing is that it meets certain criteria. The problem should be complex (ie it should have several stakeholders) and it should be ambiguous (ie it should have no obvious solution).
You should submit a brief one page description of your problem using the one page template provided (BNM817 one page project approval form) by the end of week 3 of the module. The module tutors will give you feedback, advice and guidance in selecting your problem situation. In formulating your problem, you should identify a notional client. This could be a real client or it could be a stakeholder who would be interested in the findings of your study.
Using the concepts, tools and techniques taught in the course, develop an analysis of the problem situation and use this analysis to develop a set of recommendations to improve the problem situation. Guidance on the development of this coursework will be given in the weekly tutorials.
Module Learning Outcomes Assessed:
- Appraise a complex situation using problem structuring.
- Prepare a soft systems analysis of a complex, ambiguous problem situation.
- Recommend the most appropriate consulting approach for a particular organisational challenge.
Word Count: 3,000 maximum
Font Size: 12
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Submission Date & Time:
To be confirmed
Assessment Weighting for the Module:
For this assignment, we will be making use of the Soft System Methodology (SSM) as an overall framework for exploring a complex, ambiguous client problem (see Figure 1 below). In following this approach, the following marking schema will be used.
Part 1 – Rich Picture – Stage 2 of the Methodology (20%).
Task : Prepare a Rich Picture of the client’s problem situation.
Evaluation : The Rich Picture should be comprehensive, broadly follow guidelines and be useful. It should use symbols and pictures with a limited amount of words that mostly only relate to the detail. It should clearly show the relationships between issues. It should be easily understood and absorbed at a glance, rather than require reading.
Part 2 – SSM Analysis – Stages 3 and 4 of the Methodology (50%)
Task : Conduct an SSM analysis of the problem situation.
Identify the key stakeholders in the problem situation. Select two stakeholders you consider to be important in this situation. Justify and explain your selection. For each of these stakeholders, develop:
- PQR statement
- Expanded as a CATWOE
- Simplified to a root definition statement
For each of the root definitions, prepare:
- A conceptual model
- Include 3Es
Task: Extend the analysis of the situation. This should contain any additional modelling, thinking or insights relevant to your understanding the situation.
Select two further stakeholders that you consider as important in the situation. Develop the same deliverables as above.
Evaluation : Evaluation: The SSM Analysis will be marked on technical accuracy of the modelling: PQR, CATWOE, RD, 3 E’s and Activity Model and the coherence between these.
Part 3 – Complementary Analysis (10%)
Task: Complementary Analysis. Carry out additional analysis as you see fit outside of the scope of SSM. Here you can use techniques and tools that you have come across outside of the module in your other studies and reading.
Evaluation : The complementary analysis will be evaluated according to the appropriateness of the additional tool(s) chosen and the insights achieved by their application.
Part 4 – Recommendations – Stages 5 and 6 of the Methodology (20%)
Task : Based on your analysis, compare the desired situation with the current state. Use this to generate potential changes to the system. Evaluate these changes and make recommendations to our client. Bear in mind the difference between ‘accommodation’ and ‘consensus’ as described by Checkland (2006) on pages 54,55.
Evaluation : Recommendations should demonstrate that you appreciate the breadth of issues that you have uncovered in your analysis. In addition, you should examine how these desired changes can be brought about.
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