From sponsoring Oratorical Contests to entrenching Knowledge Enrichment Programs, the KSearch management always manages to push the envelope in relentlessly developing its consultants' skills. This time around last week, we got exposed to tackling a case about real life, workplace scenarios where we had to assess the personalities involved, identify the issues, zero in on the real problem, and then provide alternative solutions to the problem – hopefully arriving at one that offers the longest positive impact at the least possible cost or trade-off.
The combined KSearch and MatchPoint personnel were divided into four “Can Groups” where each group was to discuss and resolve the same case on different afternoons within the week. Our CEO, Manny Guillermo (or MRG to us), orchestrated the case discussion. MRG set the tone at the outset by announcing that “the rule is that there is no rule”, referring to the manner we were to go through the discussions. He encouraged everyone to seize every opportunity to speak his or her mind about any aspect of the case. The case was made available to each group the night before the discussion, so the group who would have gone ahead was not allowed to share any information to the next group so as to not gain any advance insights from the preceding discussion.
The case was about two senior level employees who both hold a director rank and are having a serious clash on the implementation of new procedures. One of them was very adamant about the rules while the other is a newly promoted manager who is showing nonchalance over -- or a lack of motivation to comply with -- such new protocols. Apparently, both have had enough of each other and were simply at each other's throats. Our task was to take the role of the company president who just recently took over the company and is managing it from afar – a good four hours’ flight away in another state.
MRG provoked us to take sides between the two principal characters “at war” with each other, then later on challenged us to assume the role of the President in resolving the problem. He also encouraged us to “read much” into the case and make assumptions or even express our own biases. When after some vigorous discussions, for instance, in my own group where we thought we had arrived at an ideal solution, MRG would again throw a “curve ball”, so speak, by creating yet another scenario and would ask: “What if what you have decided to do still fails to work say, after one month? Would you have to fire anyone? Who would you replace if you need to?”
The whole exercise proved to be an exciting learning experience, even if it’s just roughly over a one and a half hour session. Everyone felt that the case method is a good way to simulate being tested on how to address real-life issues. We learned to take positions or stand based on our respective analysis and apply our own set of principles that we have already assimilated over our relatively short working career. MRG pointed out that in real life one is compelled to take risks when making decisions and this is exactly what the case study attempts to replicate, although, obviously, in a controlled environment.
One group admitted to being tense at first, anxious about not knowing what to expect, but quickly found the process enjoyable when they started to be comfortable about speaking their own minds on the issues of the case. One striking point that MRG cautioned the participants was to watch out for symptoms masquerading as the problem. Often, he said, what are seemingly obvious are only the symptoms and not the real problem that need solving with a firm resolve; then added: often, in a case as in life, that is the challenge.
Overall, everyone had a good taste of how to solve workplace issues and faced differing perspectives. The combined KSearch/MatchPoint group was genuinely surprised at what the exercises allowed them to experience. Everyone, it seems, looks forward to the next CAN group discussions which, I understand, might take place in next quarter.
David Bien Paje
Can Group One