Management Planning & Control: Assessment 1a (Learning Portfolio)

Learning Portfolio Activity (10 marks): Apply innovative problem solving processes to address business issues related to Management Control Systems (MCS)

You must work with another student in your seminar on this task (maximum 2 people per group).

This set of activities is based on the case study: Responsible Brewing: Performance Measurement Challenges at CUB (this case is available for download from UTS Online in the assessment folder)

The objective of this task is:

to design a new performance review report for management, to allow them to better understand and manage the trade-offs between short and long term objectives, and environmental and economic objectives.

There are three learning objectives for this activity:

1.       Learn to find and use innovative problem solving processes

2.       Apply innovative problem solving processes to address business issues (program learning objectives 2.2)

3.       Learn something about how to come up with innovative management planning and control solutions

Task 1 innovative problem solving processes selection (5 marks; 300 words and one visualisation maximum)

Search for some different innovative problem solving processes, and select one which you think would be useful in completing task 2. Apply it to task 2, and if you do not find the process useful in completing task 2, try a different process.

In less than 300 words, explain what the process is and how you found it, why you selected it, and how it was (or was not) useful in completing task 2.

Task 1hints:

·         We define an innovative problem solving process as the use of any process to support innovative problem solving which is new to you, and it is effective. The process should be designed to enable you to think differently. An example would be the use of the business model template and set of questions we use in Seminar 1, which can be used to better understand and communicate key characteristics of organisations. Other examples include the double diamond approach, design thinking approaches, reframing, prototyping, ‘what if’ thought experiments, visual thinking, among others. You may focus on one, or combine more than one, innovative problem solving process

·         Quite a few students in the past chose very generic frameworks describing the common problem solving processes (e.g. the Osborn models from the internet are among the most popular choices), without actually explaining “how” new ideas or innovative solutions are generated and what’s special about the way you do it (that is, did we learn anything new about how we think from undertaking Task 1?).

·         The innovative problem solving process has to be used by you (i.e. the students) to derive your solution for task 2.

Task 2 Apply innovative problem solving processes in the context of Management Control Systems (8 marks; 600 words of text maximum excluding visualisations, and no limit on visualisations which may include graphs, tables, charts, diagrams etc.)

A key challenge for John Baxter is how to design a performance measurement report to enable relevant information to be communicated to senior managers (and the board of directors) to allow them to balance the trade-offs between short and long term objectives, and environmental and economic objectives.

The company already uses a triple bottom line reporting template. Your task is to design a performance review report for Baxter that effectively addresses the control problems (as mentioned above), by following the innovative problem solving technique you identified in Task 1.

You must provide a logical justification for your solution.

Task 2 hints:

  • You may like to find a new way to visualise the trade-offs so that they are easier to understand and interpret. We would expect that your performance report will be predominantly in the form of visualisations with some supporting text.
  • Absence of actual problem-solving: some reports did not propose solutions; or there is very little indication that the approach described in task 1 has been used to facilitate real problem-solving by yourselves (students), instead, the discussion moves straight to some obvious suggestions that most of us are familiar with (therefore making task 1 redundant); or in some cases the processes themselves are posed as solutions and the students “imagine” that they should have been be adopted for task 2 (e.g. more “brainstorming” or simply meetings in general, are said to be solutions to a variety of problems).
  • Lack of in-depth problem solving: some popular recommendations are proposed as easy and obvious fixes to a range of complex problems; but in many instances the organizational context is oversimplified, with significant control costs/consequences ignored.

Peer Review

Each member is expected to contribute equally. In order to calibrate individual marks, each group must complete a Peer Review Sheet. Please note that if you have assigned a group member non-equal percentages, you must attach a statement explaining why you believe they have not contributed their fair share to the project, a breakdown of tasks you both have completed in the project, an estimate of the time you think each of those tasks has taken and any other positive or negative contributions made.

Marking guide:

Below expectations (Fail): Incomplete submission; lack of awareness of how to apply innovative problem solving processes to address business issues in the context of management control systems).

Meets expectations (Pass, Credit): Complete submission; Demonstrated awareness of how to apply innovative problem solving processes to address business issues in the context of management control systems).

Exceeds expectations (Distinction, High Distinction): Complete submission; Demonstrated awareness of how to apply innovative problem solving processes to address business issues in the context of management control systems; Able to justify why the ‘problem solving processes’ and / or ‘solution’ are innovative).

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