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Management Planning & Control: Assessment 1a (Learning Portfolio) – Autumn 2018
Learning Portfolio Activity : Apply innovative problem solving processes to address business issues related to Management Control Systems (MCS)
This set of activities is based on the case study: Vitesse Semiconductor Corporation (p. 333 textbook). This is the same case as for activity 7 and 8, and the two in-class activities in Seminar 6 (you need to attempt these prior to starting this assessment). In addition to this assessment brief, there are two documents in the Assessment folder Online, Vitesse IRR Calculations Template.xlsx and Vitesse Semiconductor Corporation case information for students.pdf.
There are three learning objectives:
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 hints:
• 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 innovative problem solving 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 approach described in seminar 6 (which is a combination of Think, Pair, Share and some other methods), 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.
• You may want to revise the Mandatory open source learning module on creativity which you did during the preparation / orientation weeks before attempting this task.
• 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 whats 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 1 innovative problem solving processes selection (300 words plus unlimited visualisations, plus a 1 page appendix describing how you applied your innovate problem solving approach to Task 2, also a photo of you applying the innovative problem solving process to task 2 as evidence that you actually applied the process)
Search for some different innovative problem solving processes, and select one (or more) 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 until you find one which is useful.
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 2 Apply innovative problem solving processes in the context of control problems and Management Control Systems (three page report, with maximum 400 words text plus unlimited visualisations)
Assume the role of CFO at Vitesse. A key challenge for senior executives and the board of directors (BOD) is which projects to select? At the next board meeting, a decision will be made about which projects to invest in over the next 3 years, with an investment target of $24m to $30m (the conditions of the investments are outlined in the document: Vitesse Semiconductor Corporation case information for students.pdf.
You have been tasked to produce an innovative BOD level report to help the BOD to understand and evaluate the 13 projects, so that they may make a wise decision. Unfortunately for you, there is no optimal solution as there are several combinations of projects which would satisfactory, dependent on factors such as: innovativeness of project product / service, risk, return, time horizon. Further, some information cannot be quantified, but are important.
Further, some senior executives incentive structures which favour short term performance, while others favour long term performance, so this is likely to be an issue with what projects they will favour.
In your report, you must identify projects which should NOT be invested in, and provide enough information in such a way as to enable the senior executives to understand the various trade-offs and come to a wise choice of projects.
NOTE: A visualisation includes any visual medium including picture, diagram, causal map, graph etc. Marks will be awarded for solutions (report design) which demonstrate a solid understanding of the subject.
Task 2 hints:
• Absence of actual problem-solving: some reports in the past had 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 such as a traditional balanced scorecard (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.
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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