Analysis of business problems is one of the core courses of the E-MBA programme at the Lagos Business school. The aim of the course is to promote critical thinking skills among students taking the course. These skills are then used to identify problems in business and provide feasible solutions.
A problem is a gap between what is and what should be. It is the gap between where we are and where we want to be. At the root of every problem is change. To identify the cause of a problem, find out what changed. Problems are bound to occur either in our individual lives or in business. Being able to identify these problems and proffer appropriate solutions is an important skill to learn and master.
Businesses are faced with different problems on a day-to-day basis. The problems may be due to factors within the business enterprise. Other problems may be due to factors or policies external to the business concern. Problems in business may lead to an existential threat. This makes it important to recognize business problems when they occur and promptly identify workable solutions.
Each solution proffered must be evaluated using a define set of criteria. Thereafter, the solution which will have the greatest impact on solving the problem is chosen. After deciding on a line of action, measures to implement the resolutions are explained in detail. A time line for carrying out the solution is then specified.
Furthermore, indicators are selected to track the progress made on resolving the problems. Next, data is collected to assess the implementation of the chosen solution over time. The information derived from this process will be used to modify the implementation plan as required.
Challenges of understanding the ABP course
A major challenge of the ABP course is that is assumes several competencies by the students. These include strong literacy skills and fine analytical skills among others.. Other skills required for the course are excellent numerical skills and good problem solving-skills. A thorough understanding of how businesses operate may also be beneficial.
Steps in analysing case studies
Frankly, there is a difference between reading and analysing case-studies. Considering the name of the course, this should be rather obvious. Analysing case studies involves reading the case several times over. Next, the core problem described in the case is identified.
Defining the problem
Defining the problem involves providing answers to these questions: Who, what, where, when, why, and how? It also helps to understand the context within which the problem has arisen. A clear problem statement helps to identify who is affected by the problem, how and why. It describes the magnitude of the problem as well the underlying causes of the issues at hand.
Stating the objectives
After identifying the problem, the next step is to state the objective of the problem-solving exercise. Having solved the problem, what would success look like? A clear statement of the objective will provide direction on how the problem will be addressed. Note that objectives should be smart i.e. specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timebound.
Generate alternatives solve the problem at hand. Thereafter, define a set of criteria with which to evaluate each option. Apply weighted criteria to each of the options as required. Choose the alternative which will have the greatest impact on solving the problem at hand.
Developing an action plan
After choosing an option, the next step is to develop an action plan. The action plan explains in detail how the chosen option will be implemented over a period of time. While implementing the action plan, it is important to evaluate the effectiveness of the chosen option and make modifications as required.
Need to analyses cases before classes
In order to gain maximally from lecture sessions, students should thoroughly analyse the cases in advance using the steps above. Student should read the cases thoroughly, identify the problems and proffer feasible solutions.
Synthesis of ideas
Consequently, the lecture sessions moderated by the lecturer will then be a melting pot of ideas. Each student will bring forth solutions to the unique problems they have identified from the case study. In the course of brain-storming ideas with other class participants, students are able to bring unique insights based on their backgrounds to solve the problems at hand.
Like any other skill, analysis of business problems requires patience, practice and consistent study. Our world is plagued by so many problems. Correctly identifying the problem is the first step to providing a lasting solution. Incorrectly identifying the problem will result in a problem that does not work. Having a good knowledge of how businesses operate would be helpful in understanding the ABP course. Having an analytical mind and a flair for numbers is another bonus for students taking the course. In the final analysis, we hope our problem-solving skills would have improved by the time we complete the ABP course. The journey continues. #EMBA27