Juan's Problem

 

Jose's father, Juan, is a manager of a small department store. Juan has a problem. Recently, sales have dropped off. What are the first things Juan should do? Select as many answers as apply, and then compare what you have selected with the list below.

 

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Compare your list to this one:

Things Juan Should Do

Reasons

Fire any staff who received a bad job review - they are inefficient.

Some staff may need to improve in their job, but this is probably only a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself.

Conduct a customer poll.

Juan could do this, but he should be careful to separate fact from opinion.

Decide who this problem affects.

Juan should decide who is affected by this problem.

Talk to other store owners.

It is good to talk to other key people when determining the true problem.

Have a sale.

This is a possible solution to the problem, but Juan should first define the true problem before deciding on solutions.

Talk to his staff about the problem.

Juan should talk to key people to see how they feel about the problem.

Increase inventory

You do not have enough information to know if this is a correct move.

Find out what economic influences could be affecting sales.

This is a good idea. Always try to look beyond the boundaries of a problem for outside influences.

 

After Juan talked to other employees, other store owners, and reviewed the economic status of his customers, he made a list of reasons on possible effects. What should Juan include in his list? Choose all that apply, and then read the next section to see if your list agrees with Juan's:

 

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Here's what Juan should include in his list:

Things Juan Should Include

Reasons

What would happen if he solved the problem.

Juan should list what would happen if he solved the problem to make sure he understands the unintended consequences of any solutions.

Items he could place on sale.

Setting a sale is a possible solution to the problem. Juan is not ready to set solutions, so he shouldn't include this.

Projected sales for this month vs. expected sales for this month.

Juan should define the gap between the actual and desired situation.

What would happen if he reduced all part-time employee hours.

This is a possible solution to the problem. Juan is not ready to set solutions, so he shouldn't include this.

Salary revisions based on projected sales.

This is a consequence of the problem, and shouldn't be listed here.

What the store policy is on monthly sales loss.

Juan should list what happens when a standard is violated.

What would happen if he waited until next month to deal with it.

Juan should list what would happen if the problem was left alone.

What would happen if he reduced inventory?

This is a possible solution to the problem. Juan is not ready to set solutions so he shouldn't include this.

 

Next, Juan decided to list what would happen when the problem was solved. Here is what Juan wrote. Which of these are appropriate explanations?

  1. Sales are down this month.
  2. Everyone is scared.
  3. If this problem is solved, the store's projected sales for this month will meet or exceed the expected sales.
  4. My boss will be so happy, I might get a raise for solving the problem!
  5. Store employees will not have to worry about a layoff.
  6. The store's projected sales will meet the expected sales, which were set by the store's owner.

 

Here are the explanations why Juan should include some phrases in his writing.

 

One thing Juan never thought to question was the expected sales figures for this month. What if they were unrealistic? Then the problem is not that sales were to low, but that the expectations were set too high. If that is true, then everything that Juan does to solve the problem will only address a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself.

Keep in mind that identification of the true problem is the most important step in problem solving.

After careful consideration, Juan decided to look at sales figures for the same month over the past five years. He found that sales were consistently lower for the same time period in the previous years. From this information, he determined that the figures for expected sales were incorrect and needed to be adjusted downward. After meeting with the store owner and presenting all of the relevant information, the owner agreed to adjust the figures.