Operations management and customer service in a political environment are crucial skills for public and non-profit managers. The Snow Removal case is a classic in public administration for teaching ways to analyze operational circumstances. To many students and instructors, analyzing capacity and demand often seem daunting. But this case, and a companion case on service delivery systems Case Processing of Welfare Assignment Collections allows plain language, low-math skills approaches, which take into account important dimensions of politics and resources.
In a compelling presentation of how to deal with the seeming unpredictability of a snowstorm (which could shed light on how to prepare for other seemingly unpredictable circumstances), the case provides a backdrop for teaching students to develop demand projections for geographically dispersed and highly seasonal municipal services to estimate service capacity in a man-machine system given a series of constraints on productivity and resource availability. To outline ways efficient resource allocation can increase the capacity of a public service delivery system. To explore the political dimensions of performance failures in a basic municipal service. The case is used in warm weather and cold weather areas of the country with nearly equal success.(Electronic Hallway, 2013)
Encouraging your people to take the long view: Measuring the performance of people, especially managers and senior executives, presents a perennial conundrum. Without quantifiable goals, it’s difficult to measure progress objectively. At the same time, companies that rely too much on financial or other “hard” performance targets risk putting short-term success ahead of long-term health — for example, by tolerating flawed “stars” who drive top performance but intimidate others, ignore staff development, or fail to collaborate with colleagues. The fact is that when people don’t have real targets and incentives to focus on the long term, they don’t; over time, performance declines because not enough people have the attention, or the capabilities, to sustain and renew it. Employees’ Decision Making in the Face of Customers’ Fuzzy Return Requests: Frontline service employees frequently encounter customers’ fuzzy requests, defined as requests that are slightly or somewhat outside company policy but not completely unacceptable or detrimental to the company. Employees’ compliance decisions can profoundly affect customers, organizations, and employees themselves. However, the complex decision process in which service employees engage is largely unexplored.
The authors draw from script and motivated reasoning theories, as well as qualitative interviews, to model employees’ responses to customers’ fuzzy requests in a retail setting. The results, which are based on a national survey of retail employees, indicate that employees with higher customer orientation and higher conflict avoidance tend to handle fuzzy return requests in a friendlier, more effortful manner, especially when customers demonstrate an affiliate style. In contrast, when customers display a dominant style, employees engage in motivated reasoning and perceive the request to be less legitimate, reducing their likelihood of complying. In addition, the employees’ perceived flexibility influences their compliance decisions, but punishment expectations do not. The authors conclude with some managerial implications, including better identification of these requests and more training of employees to handle those appropriately.\
Few things endure long term without being changed. Even well-known brand names, familiar slogans, and classic songs face updates in today’s changing culture. Organizations are no different, and must respond to changes in their environments as well. Whether it is technology upgrades to meet customer demands or policy updates to accommodate employee growth, managers must be both willing and able to deal with the challenges of change. An organization’s structure is defined by its configuration and interrelationships of positions and departments. Organizational design is the creation or change of an organization’s structure. The organizational design of a company reflects its efforts to respond to changes, integrate new elements, ensure collaboration, and allow flexibility. Organizing a business is difficult. Once an organization has a plan, the next step is to make it happen. The major characteristics of organizational structure are, in many ways, like the important parts of a jigsaw puzzle—you pick them out, one by one. In particular, the two basic forms of organizational structure are mechanistic and organic.
Managers must make choices about how to group people together to perform their work. Five common approaches — functional, divisional, matrix, team, and networking—help managers determine departmental groupings (grouping of positions into departments). The five structures are basic organizational structures, which are then adapted to an organization’s needs. All five approaches combine varying elements of mechanistic and organic structures. For example, the organizational design trend today incorporates a minimum of bureaucratic features and displays more features of the organic design with a decentralized authority structure, fewer rules and procedures, and so on.
As the simplest approach, a functional structure features well-defined channels of communication and authority/responsibility relationships. Not only can this structure improve productivity by minimizing duplication of personnel and equipment, but it also makes employees comfortable and simplifies training as well.
Conclusions and Recommendations
According to quality consultant Armand V. Feigenbaum, the end user best defines quality, which means that quality is open to subjective interpretations. Consumer perceptions have to be changed if a company wants to change a product’s quality image. Extended service programs and improved warranties can help accomplish this feat. As examples, Whirlpool Corporation promises that parts for all models will be available for 15 years, and Mercedes-Benz provides technical roadside assistance after service hours. Another means of ensuring a commitment to quality “after the sale” is via a product or service guarantee. Wal-Mart is known for its no-hassles return policy for any product—with or without a receipt. Mail-order house L. L. Bean will replace a pair of hunting boots purchased ten years earlier with new boots. Saturn automobile retailers provide total refunds for vehicles within 30 days if the customer is not fully satisfied. However, many companies are not willing to incur the short-run costs associated with such guarantees.
To be effective, the TQM philosophy must begin at the top. From the board of directors to the hourly line employees, TQM must be supported at all levels if the firm is to realize any real improvements in quality. In addition to commitment from the top, the organization must meet these requirements if TQM is to succeed: A change in corporate culture about the importance of quality. Forging of internal team partnerships to achieve quality, process, and project improvements, and the creation of external partnerships with customers and suppliers. Audits to assure quality techniques. Removal of obstacles to successful implementation, such as lack of time or money in the short run. Typically, two to ten years are needed to reap the benefits of a successful TQM program.
Sijun, W., Beatty, S. E., & Liu, J. (2012). Employees’ Decision Making in the Face of Customers’ Fuzzy Return Requests. Journal Of Marketing, 76(6), 69-86.
Sela, A., & Berger, J. (2012). How Attribute Quantity Influences Option Choice. Journal Of Marketing Research (JMR), 49(6), 942-953. doi:10.1509/jmr.11.0142
Gibbs, T., Heywood, S., & Pettigrew, M. (2012). Encouraging your people to take the long view. Mckinsey Quarterly, (4), 129-133.