Informational Writing BCM 1420
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Albina Gibson on Wednesday September 30, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to BCM 1420 at Western Michigan University taught by Jo Wiley in Fall. Since its upload, it has received 35 views. For similar materials see /class/216836/bcm-1420-western-michigan-university in Business Technology at Western Michigan University.
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Date Created: 09/30/15
20 Solving a Problem Problem solving and decision making are at the core of most business activities as well as courses in the business curriculum Situations that require Writing involve the same problem soIving skills in fact as you solve a particular business problem you will be able to use the identical process in creating a written document that communicates your solution Effective business writing also re ects the problem solving method you used to arrive at the solution Here are the basic steps in problem solving that you employ in both simple and complex situations Identifying and understanding the problemsituation Determining the purpose ofthe solution and messaue Establishing criteria to use to evaluate possible solutions Analyzing and evaluating information using these criteria Analyzi g the audience involved in the problem Organizing the message to re ect purpose and audience analysis mmAuJiQI A Although the steps suggest an order to the process you should remember that problem solving is not necessarily a linear process that you will deal with the steps almost simultaneously and that on occasion you will move back and forth among the steps as you re ne your understanding and work toward a solution ldentifvinU the Problem Identifying the problem involves a careful analysis ofthe situation requiring some solution Identifying the problem effectively also requires the ability to read andor listen carefully because your first task is making sure you understand etactly what you are being asked to do and what your response should be For written cases you must consciously read for implications or signi cance ofthe material including what may be implied but not stated or simply missing It is use il to look for key words or pertinent facts that will help direct your thinking If you are given an oral assignment it is best that you write out what you think the instructions are then verify them before proceeding Finally it is also a good idea at this point to determine the players or people involved in a situation including their relationships to each other and to you This last step will be immensely useful as you consider audience Determining Eurposgg Problem and purpose are in some ways like the two sides ofa coin as they are related yet different particularly in written documents The problem is a situation or a task requiring some solution or action The purpose is what you hope to achieve by solving the problem The following examples illustrate the complementary nature ofthese two steps and the way you want to approach them for problem solving Problem The president ofSimmons Inc is considering purchasing a new computer system to improve the productivity and ef ciency of the firm and the individual units within it Purpose My purpose will be to analyze the features ofvarinus computcr systems to determine which will best meet the current and future needs ofzha rm and ofthe various department heads The purpose of my report will be 10 recommend the system that will best meet the president39s objecmes Note there is a slight skill in petspecrive as you move from analysis oldata to writing of report Stating the problem and purposes in this way helps you focus tit st on what you need to do as you collect and analyze the data and then on the purpose of yOur report Also note the repetition ofkey words from the problem in the purpose statement Problem The owner ot a small locally Owned diner has approached you an independent consultant with concerns about a gradual but noticeable decline in her business She warms you to nd out why and rail her what to do about the situation Purpose My purpose will be 0 determine the major causes for the decline in business at the diner The urpose cfmy report will he to outline the causes and recommend a plan of action that will correct the problem Dcvcloging Criteria Before collecting information or evaluating pnssible solutions you must develop a set of criteria to use in the evaluation itself Criteria are srandards a solutiOn must meet or information needs a message must satisfy In situations where you are given data as part of the case you must resist the tendency to evaluate data or rush to a solution before establishing criteria Ol critical importance in objective problem solving rlie crireria need to be written independently Otherwise your solution runs the risk nt bclng biased subjective or super cial imagines fer example developing a list at criteria that a poreutial employee should meet now imagine writing the criteria a cr you ve interviewed several candidates Tailoring criteria in suit preferences a cr meeting candidates would seriously attest the objectivity in decision making The same concept applies to writing about solutions to case problems While using the information provided in the case to develop criteria is tempting ycu should avoid generating standards prompted only by case information Using only information from the cases and not any ideas ni your awn generated by using common sense and knowledge gained from other courses or personal experience leads to super cial solutions that merely restate the case without providing solutions to a problem Good criteria contain some quotvaluequot attached to the standard andfor are readily provable For example instead ofusing a general word Such as inexpensive to apply in evaluating a clothing purchase prcwiding zr range ofprices i e between fill 00 and 1300 would add depth and meaning to the criterion There can he no misunderstanding ifyou use precise objective terms such as the range On the other hand general terms like inexpensive tend e su iective and open to a wide range of interpretations which means you either lack speci crty in your message or you spin chcourse explaining what you mean Here is another example YOU need to write an abstract ofa business periodical article for a class To select an appropriate or acceptable article you need to consider the currency of the topic the re evance to business the lengzh and scope of the article and its source Speci cally the criteria you might apply are the following no older than 6 months a topic in international business range is 2 5 pages in a fulllength periodical accessible to uninformed reader yet substantial information hardcopy publication is preferable but combination onlinehardcopy sources approved egv Five iiioxromzsgi looo Evaluating thmatinm Data Collecting relevant information naturally precedes this step in the decisionmaking process and the Research Techniques section of this guide Offers tips for effective and ef cient collection ofcredible and reliahie data At this point in the problem39solving process it is important to remember that using criteria as a means ofsorti a through data and analyzing possible solutions requires careful application oi the criteria you developed in step three As the following suggestion makes clean analysis of multiple solutions should employ the mental ptocesses ofclassi cation and comparison contrast even if what you nally write is not a traditional oomparisom contrast paper For complex cases making a chm to assist in organizing the data is sometimes helpful List possible solutions the criteria all solutions should ideally meet and provide space to cite wooleninformation relevanr to each criterion A rudimentary table follows Criterion is Criterion 2 Criterion 3 Candidate A Candidate B Presenting a Solution Organize the message to re ect your understanding ofthe problem the speci c purpose of the message the criteria you used to arrive at the solution and the solution itself The purpose of the message may indeed be the solution statemem a recommendation For example I recommend that we hire Candidate A for the systems analyst position This candidate meets our three top Criteria For informational messages not requiring an explicit solution to a literal problem the soiuhon is the presentation ofrhe information irself For examp e Here is the information you requested about Candidates A and B with respect to our top three selection criteria All solutions informationai or anaiyrieal must re ect audience needs and expectation Techniques and tips for writing mader odemed documents are presented in the next section See Exercises on I mblem Purpose and Criteria in Section 5
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