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Introduction, Situation Analysis, Instructions, Technical Background

Case 17 Quality Problems and a New Parent Company

Setting: Automotive Manufacturer; Your Position: Vice President, Engineering

Your company, which has a reputation for advanced styling and design but only average quality of manufacture, has recently been purchased by a large German firm with conservative styling and an outstanding reputation for both safety and quality. While it is not clear what effects this merger will have, one message is clear--quality and safety must become much higher priorities. Consequently, it was of great concern when an airbag designed to protect against side collisions failed to activate under required conditions in your flagship automobiles. The company president, to whom you report, has asked you to solve this problem and to do so as quickly as possible.

The initial data that you have compiled implies that correcting the problem will require major modifications, which could result in significant delays in production. The new parent company has offered their proven airbag and/or their aid in solving the problem. More than likely their airbag would require modifications to the door assembly, and time would be required before the new part could be integrated into existing operations.

Several of your department heads have implied that a timely modification of the existing airbag is feasible thereby allowing production to be resumed much more quickly. While you are not an engineer and certainly don't have the answer to this problem yourself, you question the reasoning underlying this position. You are concerned that your department heads' resistance to going to the new parent may be influenced by their desire to save "face." They have been accustomed to working closely together and are defensive about the products they develop and the people who work for them. The number of orders has significantly dropped in recent months, and layoffs are a distinct possibility. The purchase of airbags from the parent would take work away from these departments and represent an "unfortunate precedent."

You must decide on a course of action soon. Though you know your department heads would not like the idea of using an external source for the airbag, their high regard for you will help them understand any decision that is made.

Your answer: Consult Individually

Decision SignificanceHow important is the "quality" of the decision, i.e. to what extent does the decision have material, strategic impact on your clients or beneficiaries inside or outside of the organization. (click for details)   Group ExpertiseDoes the group collectively have the necessary knowledge to solve the problem and or make this decision? (click for details)
Importance of CommitmentTo what degree will the implementation of the decision require the support and cooperation of the group to be effective? (click for details)   Interaction ConstraintAre there time or geographic constraints which would prevent you from bringing the team together (physically or by telecom) to make the decision? (click for details)
Leader ExpertiseTo what extent do you, the leader, have the necessary knowledge to solve the problem or make this decision? (click for details)   Team Competence How competent is the group at working together as a team in solving problems or making decisions. The issue is not their factual or analytical technical knowledge, but rather their ability to work together synergistically. (click for details)
Likelihood of Commitment How likely is it that the group would accept your decision as the best course of action even though not included in the decision making process itself. (click for details)   Time/Dvpt PreferenceChoose the importance of time and development individually or use the values specified by either the Time or Development Driven model.(click for details)
Goal AlignmentTo what degree are the members of the group committed to the achievement of the oganization goals which are at stake in this decision? (click for details)      Value of TimeThe value of time varies with the number and intensity of other activities confronting you and your group. Considering your current workload, rate the value of time. (click for details)
Likelihood of DisagreementHow controversial is this decision likely to be among the members of the group? (click for details)      Value of DevelopmentHow important is it to you to develop the capabilities of your group or team, i.e. increasing their knowledge, their commitment to the organization, and their effectiveness in working together? (click for details)
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