Bob Baker: MBA student and Internal Consultant Introduction The case, a conversation between the MBA professor and Bob, is very fluidic in nature and hence interest-? sustaining. It brings into light some ‘not so complex’, yet important issues that Steelco is facing. The semantic gap in communication at Steelco, as described by Bob is a major concern in many organizations. The issues, the role of organization staff and Bob are thought provoking and definitely informative. Bob’s Approach The balanced approach that Bob assumed is an example of the ‘The Process
Consultant” style1 of consulting. Given that Bob was an MBA student on a summer job for a period of few weeks, the company’s issues facilitated in providing Bob with a platform to test his knowledge and practice his consulting skills; hence the P-? C style was an appropriate choice. The choice is also strengthened by the following reasons: • The Pneumonic Drive, factory and all other divisions/ departments knew that things weren’t right but no one really knew the origins of the problem and the flaws in the system. • The staff wanted to solve the problems. All the information was taken from the staff and consequently the organization as a whole was participating in solving the issues. Another aspect worth observing is Bob’s method of debriefing. Quite intelligently, he provokes the staff to deepen their insights to better understand the situation. In the conversation with the professor, he admits that he would often try to lead the staff to conclude based on their understanding rather than concluding himself. His interviewing techniques align well with the ‘tactical goals of intervention’2, as discussed in he class. They are: Exploratory Enquiry ? Diagnostic Enquiry ? Action Oriented Enquiry ? Suggestions Other than asking the right questions, Bob made sure he asked them to the right people. He listened to as well as gained confidence of people from all concerned departments which got him different perspectives and aided in understanding the bigger picture better. He also made sure that he advised to the right people (manufacturing manager/controller) as a result of which the issue, the proposed solution and plan were escalated to the President of Steelco.
Not to forget, Bob’s practice of reconfirming what he had understood must have removed the possibility of misunderstandings. 2 Referred from Management Consulting course slides by Professor Thomas H. Olson 1 Referred from Management Consulting course slides by Professor Thomas H. Olson Case Analysis Steelco’s problems If we try to study the company’s (in)effectiveness using the 7-? S Analytical model3, that emphasizes on synergizing the hard S’s (Strategy, Structure and Systems) with the soft S’s (Style, Staff, Skills and Shared values) for best results, e might feel inclined, with the limited knowledge we have from the case, to associate the problems faced by Steelco with their Strategy and Staff aspect. True that the final plan was to setup a new facility but it was a result of poor forecasting of sales and resources, and hence the poor strategy. Further delving into the causes clarifies that the forecasting was poor due to lack of coordinated information from the different departments, an aspect of intra staff communication. Bob summarizes the situation simply by saying that, “the manufacturers did not now how much needed to be sold, the sellers did not know how much needed to be produced”. A final word I think Bob did much more than what must have been expected out of him. It would definitely enhance not only his own reputation but also the university’s. Having said that, it is of utmost importance that Bob follows up the implementation progress with his ex boss and colleagues. As a company, Steelco should take home a major lesson on the ‘Importance of Communication’ to produce results. 3 In Search of Excellence by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman, McKinsey