Analysing Problem Situations: The Dock Workers of Liverpool

Analysing Problem Situations: The Dock Workers of Liverpool

Enid Mumford (Manchester University, UK)
Copyright: © 2003 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-118-6.ch004


The book now introduces some case studies on organizational design and asks you to think what you would do if you were a manager, researcher or consultant in the same situation. As we have seen, change and its environment are often complex and difficult to understand. The change initiators, frequently management, may know what they are trying to achieve but may have little understanding of the problems involved in the introduction of a new system or of the uncertain reception it may be given. Wise change agents will start by obtaining a comprehensive understanding of the situation that will receive the change and of the problems that may accompany its early use. This information, if wisely applied, will assist the creation of well thought-out strategies that lead to effective application. Successful change depends on comprehensive knowledge. Without this, decisions will be taken in the dark and lead to consequences which are undesirable and little understood. Metaphors may be helpful here. Gaining an understanding of a problem situation can be seen as similar to a rock climber working out the route for a future climb or an army commander making a battle plan before moving into action. What I am proposing is the creation of a “management map” before any implementation action is taken. I would also like to stress the importance of knowledge and experience of the kind of problem in which many variables may affect the outcome. This could be especially useful for those implementing technical systems such as information technology. Technical problem solvers frequently see technology as the dominant variable and give it exclusive attention. The consequence is that a neglect of other interacting variables, especially those relating to people, can lead to system failure.

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