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Expert System

Introduction, Situation Analysis, Instructions, Technical Background

Case 21 An Unexpected Budget Cut

Setting: Automobile Parts Manufacturer; Your Position: Systems Manager

You work for a company manufacturing auto parts for the replacement market that was bought out two years ago by a large competitor. The exhaust system group, which you head, is one of the few groups that was not deeply affected by the takeover. More than three quarters of the managerial ranks of the old firm have been eliminated as the parent company sought to eliminate duplicated functions and make the new company as lean as possible.

The eight engineers who report to you are bitter about what has happened to their associates in other departments but are grateful to you for your ability to protect their jobs from external pressures. Whatever actions you have taken with higher management seem to have been both effective and to have earned you the engineers' respect.

While they respect you, they do not exhibit a great deal of respect for one another. When you first took charge of the group three years ago, you were surprised at the amount of backbiting and friction in the group meetings. The situation has not changed appreciably since that time, and you must admit that it has made you more reluctant to call group meetings.

It came as a surprise to you when you were told that further cutbacks were necessitated by a decline in the replacement market and that your budget was being cut by 20 percent for next year. You do not know how this can be achieved and whether the cost saving can be effected without a reduction in personnel. However, you do know that thoughtless trimming of labor or equipment costs could have disastrous effects on your group's ability and motivation to carry out its important role. While they resent the impositions of these cuts, your direct reports undoubtedly have the knowledge necessary to make these judgments. On the other hand, they express the view that this is what "you are paid for." You have two weeks within which to draw up a plan.

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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