Topic: Simulation Report- Managerial Problem Solving
Assessment Managerial Problem Solving
Before you do anything else. You must read the following case study. After you
read this the rest of the assessment will make sense.
You are excited. You have just been appointed as the managing director of the
biggest supply chain company in Australia, Max-Rail. In your previous role you
managed a small team to create an optimized inventory system that saved your
company three milli on dollars. The success of that campaign has gotten you this big
Max-Rail is a formerly state owned company that was “set free” under the current
regime. Their policy was based on a view of the world that said all utilities, whether
they b e: rail, sea, air, electricity or water, should be competitive en tities. That is, all
companies, private or public, should be able to compete with each other to deliver
optimum value. You didn’t see the big deal with this because in your previous
position you had to optimize a small group of people managing the supply of stee l
into Northern Australia. As you showed ‘commercial’ initiative in your work, you
were handpicked to manage the supply chain nationally to ensure that outcomes
were delivered smoo thly across the business. In fact, your main key performance
indicator is that you are to manage the supply chain across the market to ensure
positive outcomes. In particular, your bosses want to see a robust, efficient, supply
chain that can go from ge nerating several million dollars worth of revenue to
generating several billion. As you have been assigned this role, you are quite
nervous but carry a certain confidence that you can achieve this based on your
One of the reasons you have been asked to do this is because your boss is a
sustainability expert. At the welcome function you had a bit too much wine and
found yourself talking to your new boss discussing the value of sustainable
enterprise. He mentioned that he had a project coming up called the ‘green train’
initiative. The idea was to used existing rail, with a green energy company in tow,
to promote sustainable enterprise. You spotted him a cab charge back and he, full of
promises and smiles, promised you a management role in the project. You smiled
realizing that this would never happen.
One Month Later
You are now quite stressed. It turns out that the bosses didn’t really know what
they meant when they created your position. There are no clear guidelines, rules,
policies or anything you can draw from to deal with the critical issues you engage
with on a daily basis. The budget they gave you is full of rubbery figures. None of
the current stakeholders you engage with are happy, clients are not happy and the
team of people you now manage are showing signs of declining morale. Not only
that but sales are down because the market has perceived the company as not being
‘ready’ and are voting with their feet. Your route from Darwin to Perth has two
other competitors who are quickly eating in on your territory.
One day you are sitting at your desk contemplating the wisdom of your decision
went the phone rings. It’s your immediate boss with that offer to run the green train
initiative . He asks you to meet him to discuss it. On the way to the meeting you feel
an ulcer growing steadily in your stomach. After the meeting you feel that you have
grown two. In short they have given you a month to sort out the main issues with
your role in the project.
You have been tasked with overseeing this project. Your boss in a flash of
inspiration decides that your success in the new role w ill be measured by how well
you perform in managing this project. You will learn more about his project as you
progress through the simulations. You have four key selection criteria in this role:
1. To demonstrate a high conceptual ability
2. To organize plans for the ‘green train’ initiative
3. To deliver timely advice and strategies
4. To demonstrate a highly developed problem solving capability
Your deliverables are:
1. A plan to fix the communication breakdown between the ‘green train’
initiative and business optimization team
2. Coming up with the pros and cons of the ‘green train’ plan.
3. Mapping out alternatives to the ‘green train’ plan after it failed to make a
profit on it’s first run
You have three ‘scoping exercises’ to complete before writing a final short report. If
you succeed in this your boss will be excited and your future will be secure.
To help you along the way the people in charge of the business have isolated three
groups of issues you need to tackle. You will b e given a brief on each issue and
asked to write a one -page plan to respond to the issue. If you are successful you get
to keep your job.
To assist you with this task you have to conduct three key things. The first is a
series of simulations due at different points in the semester. The simulations are
separate handouts offered through the course to help you along the w ay.
Simulation #1 – Communication Breakdown
As part of the merger you have been asked to work with a newly purchased
business entity specializing in business optimization. From the start of your time
working with these people you have had a problem with their lack of
communication with the rest of the team. They have good ideas but fail to
integrate with the group. Currently they reside in another building and don’t feel
the need to cross the street to liaise with you or your newly appointed team. The
problem is this unit has the information you need. What can you do to learn to
work with this eclectic bunch of nerds?
At the moment they simply go about running mathematical models without sharing
the results with the team other than th rough email. This annoys you and your team
because this crucial data is essential to the successful design of the merger.
Your task is to outline a one -page plan to better engage with the optimization team.
Remember you were hired to optimize the new s upply chain, you need the talent,
skills and resources of this team. Your plan must include the following:
A) A general overview of the problem and what the causes of the
communication breakdown might be (one paragraph)
B) A communication improvement strategy
C) A timeline for planned improvement
Your boss has given you one day to complete this task. You will hand this task
one week after the class date.
Due date is 23
September 6pm via the course website
Simulation Exercise #2 – The innovation problem
After the success of the first communication exercise, you feel a boost of confidence.
The data from the optimization team has led to several service improvements. The
sales coming in have made your bosses happy. The growth in the core logistics
business of moving freight from one part of the country to the other have resulted in
a couple of good opportunities for development.
The first opportunity is a new green energy company that is asking for the rail
services you provide. They want t o ship coal from Queensland to Western Australia,
which is a route you already provide. However they want to do it in such a way that
you are no longer uses your own rail carriages. They want to use their own rail
carriages with their own branding on it . Further, your big boss is a sustainability
advocate and got his current job by promoting sustainable development in the rail
industry. He has put pressure on you to accept this proposal. To make matters
worse your finance team has crunched the numbers and this deal would mean that
for every three trips, there and back, the profit margin is likely to be less than one
half of a percent (0.5%). To add to your woes in making this decision, your boss is
a powerful political figure. He has organized a site visit to see the trains to promote