Exploring Business Process Improvements Ed:672: Case Studies in Adult Education & Training
Systems Analysis & Design
Systems Analysis is used in business to solve internal problems, improve efficiency, expand opportunities and it has a direct result on the bottom line of the organization (Benge, (nd). According to Benge (nd), systems analysis and design is used to analyze, design, and implement improvements in the support of users and the functioning of businesses that can be accomplished through the use of computerized information. It’s important to focus on improving business processes because that will enable you to stay competitive and to increase your responsiveness to your customers, the productivity of your employees doing the work, and your company’s return on investment (Page, 2010).
Types of Methods for Process Improvements
Process improvements are actions that are taken to analyze and improve current business process in a company. The goal of process improvements is to make changes such as increasing revenue or reducing costs. There are a variety of methods that can be implemented to meet new goals and objectives or implement more effective strategies thus improving business processes. Many of these methods though have similar phases in the process such as planning, analyzing, implementation and evaluation. Some methods include additional components to the methodology such as documentation, establishing processes and selecting team members as is the case with the PI&M or Process Improvement of Management Model (Forster, 2006).
Other methods include the Just-In-Time Model which is developed for the inventory process of an organization. (Just in Time, 2009). Other models are developed specifically for telecommunications as is the case of the Trillium Scale (Model Description, nd). The Twelve Leverage Points focus on the economics of an organization (Meadows, 2005). So you can see, there are a variety of processes or models that can work to improve a business as a whole or can focus on an individual sector or component.
Process improvement models are generally developed by, with or for an organization and have a specific purpose from which they can grow. Six Sigma is a model for process improvement developed by Motorola Corporation (Motorola University, nd). From there, it was picked up by General Electric and then became a very popular model for other organizations. The Twelve Points of Leverage was developed by a scientist and inspired by her attendance at a NAFTA conference (Meadows, 2005).
Business Process Improvements
Businesses have a variety of reasons for wanting to improve their process. According to Page (2010), some of the reasons businesses may need to improve include:
· An organization’s customers, clients, or suppliers complain about the business process. · The organization finds that a department makes numerous errors and/or makes the same one again and again. · Organization’s leaders want to understand how a department can improve its efficiency so that employees can spend their limited time on more valuable work. · A new business or department has been introduced and an understanding of the work needs to be shared with a group or an individual particularly if a handoff from another group in the company is required. · There is a need to increase a department’s productivity. · Management has noticed duplication of data or tasks in multiple departments. · An individual has started a new job and wants to understand how the department works.
One way to improve systems or processes within an organization is Business Process Improvements or BPI. Before implementing a tool such as BPI, it is important to have a clear understanding of business processes, what the future outcomes should be and how to implement the steps of BPI.
There are important factors to consider when implementing a Business Process Improvement. According to Radnor (2010):
when implementing business process improvement methodologies in the public sector factors in terms of organizational readiness, success and barriers should be considered. In terms of organizational readiness, this includes elements such as having a process view, developing a culture focused on improvement and, an understanding of the customer and the ‘value’within the organization. These elements of readiness are critical as the foundation for process improvement as they provide a basis which the tools can be applied. Without these elements it may be easy for people to go back to the ‘way it was before’ and so not sustain any improvements made (p.10).
Business Processes Defined
According to Forster as cited by Smith & Fingar (2003), a Business Process is the complete and dynamically coordinated set of collaborative and transactional activities that deliver value to customers. Business Process Improvements are systematic approaches to help organizations to archive significant changes in the way they do business (Forster, 2006). In Griesberger, Leist, & Zellnor, (nd), the Oxford English Dictionary describes improvement as the turning of a thing to profit or good account” or “realization of the profits of anything.”
According to Griesberger et al., (nd), Business Process Improvement is achieved by changing the state of elements of a business process. Therefore, the state after the change exceeds the state before the change in such a way that the degree of accomplishing organizational goals is increased, which improves the performance of the business process.
Key Factors for Implementing BPI
Once the development team is clear on the terms of processes and improvements, they can then begin implementing the steps necessary for effective BPI. According to Aura Advanced Technologies (2005), these steps include common elements involving any BPI initiative, such as:
· Developing business and process objectives · Identifying the processes to be redesigned · Understanding and measuring the existing processes · Identifying levers · Modeling the new process design
According to Radnor, as cited in Radnor and Walley (2008), drivers for change are necessary when initiating a Business Process Improvement. Drivers can include:
· A change in existing leadership · Poor performance · New technology being introduced into the organization · Governmental agendas · Competition · A demand for increased efficiency · The expansion of current services
Additionally, according to Radnor (2010), the organization must be ready for the change to occur via the process and have the necessary manpower, materials and knowledge of the customers’ needs.
The organization must also have the proper training in place to train people on the new process once it is implemented as well as the proper communication channels to be able to announce the change and the new process. A communication channel could be an email to all staff of the organization or an announcement on the company intranet outlining the change and the process.
Applying Steps to Business Processes
No matter what type of business process you use in your case study methodology, you will have to utilize steps to get the job done. In order to properly develop BPI and effectively incorporate it in case study design, it is important to have a solid understanding of the problem you are facing, where you currently are in the organization and where you want to be in the future.
BPI begins with, like other system analysis tools, defining the problem. According to Page (2010), an easy way to begin setting the foundation for the BPI is to begin with a process inventory. That is, determine which processes you are going to use to map out what needs to be done. The process inventory or process map should include the steps that are going to be taken and the resources used in the process. The process inventory is quite similar to a logic model in that it shows the activities needed to be done and the resources needed to perform the activities.
Defining the Problem
The first step in achieving this objective is to identify where the company went wrong from a customer perspective. When identifying problem areas, the company should decide, on a strategic level, which market segment to target first (Botha, Kruger, & deVries, 2012).
Tasks and Resources
A value chain may be useful to identify all the key business processes that may deliver value to the customer. After the value chain is defined, business processes may be determined that deliver each of the value-adding activities to the customer (Botha et al., 2012).
Once the company realizes the value to the customer, they can then list whether they have the necessary resources such as those discussed above including manpower, communication channels, etc. to effectively implement the new process.
One of the easiest ways to show the effects of your improvement plan is to use a process map. Page (2010), discussed a process map that is little more than a flow chart showing activities and how they link together for the development of the process. The process map flows from left to right and discusses the various activities that will occur.
Process Improvement Implementation
When beginning a BPI, an understanding of the steps in the methodology is paramount. According to the Basic Process Improvement Handbook (1996), there are a series of steps to consider and utilize when implementing BPI including:
1. Select the Process. a. Select the process to be improved and establish a well-defined process improvement objective. The objective may be established by the team or come from outside tasking.
b. Time the process so that it cycles through a period of no longer than 90 days so the people involved do not lose interest.
2. Organize a team to improve the process. a. This involves selecting the correct people to serve on the team, figuring out what resources are going to be needed for the improvement including people, time and money, who does the team have to report to and what is going to be needed in the reports.
b. Designate a team leader or leaders.
c. Set ground rules for team meetings such as attendance policies, participation in meetings and follow up from the meeting.
3. Define the current process using a flowchart. a. The flowchart or other tool is used to generate a step-by-step map of the activities, actions, and decisions which occur throughout the BPI process.
b. Revise the flowchart along the way if necessary after gathering the information for the current process.
4. Simplify the process a. Remove redundant activities.
b. Pair similar activities into one step.
c. Determine if the steps add value. If not, remove them.
5. Collect data a. Collect and analyze statistical data which will be used in the decision-making process.
b. Data is based on the objective of the BPI. For example, if the process is to make a web-site easier to navigate, the data that will be included can be feedback from current customers and a focus group comprised of new users.
6. Assess whether the process is capable and stable. a. Assemble the data.
b. Develop a chart to identify causes and variations in the data.
7. Identify whether the process is stable. a. Denote unique patterns in the data that may be cause for alarm.
8. Identify root causes. a. Determine whether the root cause will change the improvement process you had envisioned.
b. Determine other root causes of problems that should be changed.
9. Implement the change process. a. Work on one root cause from Step 8 at a time.
b. Eliminate or reduce each root problem by implementing the plan for BPI.
c. Ask questions such as “who will be responsible for implementing the change” and “who will be affected by the change”.
10. Modify the data if necessary. a. Review the data collection from Step 5.
b. Ensure that the data collected methods will be able to effectively measure performance.
c. If the data will not be able to measure performance, modify the collection process.
11. Test the process a. It may be possible to implement the plan on a limited basis. For example, if changing the navigation of a website, provide the link to the unpublished page to a small group of evaluators who can test the process.
12. Assess whether the process is stable once again. a. Make changes if necessary after the comments from the test are collected.
13. Assess whether the implemented process made an improvement. a. Determine whether a positive improvement was made.
14. Determine whether additional processes are needed. a. If positive improvements were made, is the process complete?
b. If not, are further tests or processes needed?
After using your methodology to improve processes, you will then need to inform the organization of the impending changes. There are several questions to ask when implementing change into an organization (Page, 2010), including:
· Who do you need to inform? · How much information do they need? Do they need to be aware of the entire change process from start to finish or do they just need to know about the parts that affect them? · How do you communicate the change to the organization? Will a company-wide email suffice or do you need to have everyone come together for a meeting? Will the same strategy of communication you use for directors or board members be the same mode of communication you use for lower-level employees?
A word of caution regarding change management: don’t let the word get out before you announce it. In the days of popular social media posts, people seem to have an indelible need to be the first to announce something to the public. Do not let the word of change in your organization get out via LinkedIn or Facebook before you have had the chance to make the announcement. Also, it is important to proactively deal with negativity toward change. Many people are adverse to change and may be opposed to even slight changes in the “way things are and have always been”. Therefore, if you want people to accept change; be proactive and circumvent any negative discussions before they occur. Finally, adhere to the current corporate culture and be careful not to veer too far off course. If the culture of the organization has been a certain way for a long time, change may not be greeted with positivity. Try to stay within the parameters of the current culture and make small steps toward change as opposed to trying to make huge cultural shifts and except everyone to be pleased and jump immediately on board.
According to Abudi (2009), process improvement initiatives are continuous. As organizations grow, they need to continuously analyze and refine their processes to ensure they are doing business as effectively and efficiently as possible. Fine-tuning processes gives an organization a competitive advantage in a global marketplace.
Advantages of BPI
Business Process Improvements can save a company money. Waiting to implement an improved process can be costly. These costs can increase for as long as the problem remains. This can impact many facets of an organization including revenue and expenses.
If there is an existing problem within an organization, corporate morale could be affected. If individuals continually are faced with customer complaints, morale could drop as people could become disheartened by the complaints. Improving the business processes could increase morale.
The steps of BPI are easy to understand. Unlike other processes such as Six Sigma where participants must embark on a specific path to become a Six Sigma “black belt” or “green belt” which means that person has achieved a certain level within the methodology, a person does not have to have specific training in order to implement a BPI.
Disadvantages of BPI
According to Aura Advanced Technology (2005), some of the biggest obstacles that BPI projects often face include lack of sustained management commitment and leadership, unrealistic scope and expectations, and resistance to change.
If management is not committed to improving processes or is unwilling to fund an improvement process, it may be impossible to implement BPI.
If the scope of the current nature of the problem is not identified, the process improvement could fail. Knowing what is not working within the current system is paramount to turning the process around.
People do not like change and therefore can resist a new process particularly one that is costly or affects them directly. A change management procedure is paramount if the BPI is going to work. It is important to get everyone on board and to approve the process.
In conclusion, while there are many methods that can be implemented into an organization to change processes or to make improvements, BPI is one method that can be implemented with steps that are easy to follow and effective for diagramming current problems and incorporating methods for solutions to those problems. While it is a company decision as to what methods they like to adhere to as far as tools and methodologies, BPI can certainly bring light to an existing situation and show the steps that can be implemented to initiate change and bring a positive solution to the problem.
Using a Logic Model Tool in a Case Study. Ed672: Case Studies in Adult Education & Training
A Logic Model is comprised of resources, both human resources and financial, and activities including the steps that are needed to produce the program outputs. Program outputs are additional resources and consist of the products, goods or services available to the customers, customer interviews, outcomes and external influences (Wholey, as cited in McLaughlin & Jordan (1999). According to Bickman, as cited by McLaughlin & Jordan (1999), Logic Models present an idea of how a program will work under certain conditions to solve identified problems.
Benefits to using a Logic Model tool include the fact that Logic Models help provide a common understanding of the program reviewed as well as the expectations for resources. Logic Models are ideal for sharing ideas, identifying assumptions, team building and communication (McLaughlin & Jordan (1999). Another benefit to using a Logic Model in business, as stated by McLaughlin & Jordan (1999) is that they are helpful when a company is designing or improving a project that is critical to the company’s goals or a program that has inconsistent linkages among the elements of the program.
In other words, a Logic Model is a graphic representation of a program, initiative or intervention that is a response to a given situation (Taylor-Powell, et al, 2003). Some consider it a roadmap to getting to the expected outcomes of a problem. Logic Models are the core of program planning, program management, evaluations & communication (Taylor-Powell, et al, 2003). Another description of Logic Model is that they are a systematic and visual way to present the relationship between your planned work and your intended results (Goodwin, 2008).
In organizational planning, Logic Models “bridge the gap” between where a program presently is and where a person would like it to be. Logic Models are helpful with a specific program design; however, they are also helpful with large, broad-scale planning (Taylor-Powell, et al, 2003). In an organization’s communication, Logic Models help to communicate as a graphic representation the program that is being developed. This depiction can be displayed to key stakeholders, including staff, people providing funding for the project, the management that oversees the project, etc.
According to Schmidt and Carson (nd), Logic Models are typically diagrams, flow sheets, or some other type of visual schematic that conveys relationships between contextual factors and programmatic inputs, processes, and outcomes. Logic Models can come in all shapes and sizes: boxes with connecting lines that are read from left to right (or top to bottom); circular loops with arrows going in or out; or other visual metaphors and devices. What these schemata have in common are they attempt to show the links in a chain of reasoning about "what causes what," in relationship to the desired outcome or goal. The desired outcome or goal is usually shown as the last link in the model.
According to Taylor-Powell, et al (2003), Logic Modeling is a way of thinking that has many applications. It is not specifically for “programs” but it can be applied to processes, entire organizations or a single-event such as a conference or a single-product such as an eLearning course. A simple Logic Model can even be used to plan out a family vacation. However, for the purposes of this paper, I will use the word program when discussing Logic Models, keeping in mind that Logic Models can be applied to many things.
Components of the Logic Model
In the most simplistic form, Logic Models show the inputs, or what is invested in a program, the outputs or what is being done and the outcomes or the results. This simple flowchart:
Inputs----- outputs ----- outcomes
illustrates the sequence of events that links the inputs (or investments) to outcomes or results (Taylor-Powell, et al, 2003).
In a program output, Ernst (nd) adds activities to the simple flowchart so you have the following:
Inputs – Activities – Outputs –Outcomes
In this model, activities including training, internships or counseling for example, are separated from outputs that are products including educational materials or courses offered. In this flowchart, the products are hereby separated from the services.
Generally, the Logic Models used for program planning include six components. They are the situation, inputs, outputs, outcomes, assumptions and external factors. The situation is the base of the program’s problem. Inputs in a Logic Model are the things that are needed to make a program operate. Inputs can be resources such as people or financial. Activities in the Logic Model include action words such as “teaching” or “providing”. Here one would not place something that is obtained. The outputs are often counts of things. For example, outputs could include the number of courses offered for a specific skill to be learned or the number of participants who went through the training. Outputs are broken down into three categories including long-term, mid-term and short-term. The short-term outcomes would be something that is immediately seen. Mid-term outcomes can generally be noticed after about 6-12 months to two years and the long-term outcomes will be noticed after 5-12 years (Ernst, nd).
A situation is the foundation of the Logic Model, according to Ernst (nd). The problem to be addressed is within a situation where the conditions are environmental, economic or sociopolitical. According to McCawley (nd), the situation statement provides an opportunity to communicate the relevance of the project. Other components of the situation, according to McCawley (nd), include:
*The statement of the problem. What are the problem’s causes and what are the symptoms of the problem? *What are the consequences if nothing is done when the problem occurs? *Are there financial consequences of the situation? *Who is affected by the problem? What are the demographics of those affected? *Are there other interested parties involved in the situation? *Are there other projects occurring currently that can impact this situation?
According to Keilitz (2005), inputs are the physical, financial and human resources allocated to or consumed by a particular program or strategy. Some examples of inputs used in a Logic Model include people (staff, consultants, etc), finances, equipment, computer software, research and other written materials, office and other supplies and time including a person’s caseload or workload. Other inputs that may need to be considered, according to Keilitz (2005) are laws, regulations and requirements.
In some Logic Models (as shown above), activities are included with inputs; however, some Logic Models are developed with activities being listed separately According to Keilitz (2005), activities are the methods, operations, techniques and tasks that are performed with the resources or inputs provided for the Logic Model. According to Keilitz (2005) activities result in outputs in an effective Logic Model.
Keilitz (2005) stated that outputs are the elements of operation or level of effort, the tangible products or services resulting from the implementation of the programs and strategies. The outputs of programs and strategies should produce the desired outcomes for participants in the programs and the recipients of services.
In a Logic Model, the outcomes are the changes that occur for participants in a program or in receipt of services after the program or strategy is implemented (Keilitz, 2005). Outcomes include a variety of things and can be, according to Keilitz (2005), related to knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors. Keilitz (2005) stated that outcomes are what participants know, think, or can do and, in the long-term, what their condition or status is following the program or strategy. According to Coffman (1999), outcomes can be both short and long-term:
*Short-term outcomes are the direct result of your program activities. They indicate a measurable change, and the language used often starts with “to increase” or “to decrease.”
*Long-term outcomes are changes in individual or group behavior or community conditions that a program hopes to achieve over time. Short-term outcomes contribute to the achievement of long-term outcomes, but other factors may contribute as well. It is important to remember, however, that programs typically are accountable for demonstrating success or progress in achieving long-term outcomes. As a result, they should be measurable and as specific as possible.
Outcomes are reported for various reasons. Some of these reasons include quality improvement, policy or procedure changes, or simple accountability. Outcomes are generally the changes that will occur in the way the stakeholder thinks, their action or their personal relationships (Ernst, nd).
Depending on the template an organization is using for Logic Model, it can contain other components. In Coffman (1999), these components included:
*Contextual variables: These are factors that may or may not be under your control, but that could impact your program’s implementation and/or the achievement of your outcomes.
*Intermediate outcomes: These fall between short-term and long-term outcomes. You might have several intermediate outcomes that are important to achieve before your longer-term outcomes are even possible.
*Impacts: These come after long-term outcomes. They typically refer to even broader-level change than long-term outcomes. It is usually impossible to demonstrate or“prove” scientifically that your program caused the desired change. However, a plausible case can often be made that the program contributed to the desired impact.
Assumptions will generally influence the program and whether or not it will work. For example, in a flowchart of a Logic Model for a toothache, the input would be the toothache, the output would be to take some aspirin and the outcome would be that the toothache would disappear and the person would feel better. Assumptions in this Logic Model would be that the person had aspirin readily available and that he took the aspirin as directed. Further assumptions would be that there were no side effects attributed to the aspirin that actually made the person feel worse.
The W.K. Kellogg Foundation is one of the most familiar names that appear in a search of Logic Models. They developed a guide to help other organizations with Logic Model planning. The Logic Model Development Guide developed by Kellogg recognizes that assumptions are “if…then” statements. For example, the guide used the example that an organization has certain resources available to operate a program. The organization could then use the following assumptions to begin creating the Logic Model:
• If you have access to them, then you can use them to accomplish your planned activities.
• If you accomplish your planned activities, then you will hopefully deliver the amount of product and/or service that you intended.
• If you accomplish your planned activities to the extent intended, then your participants will benefit in specific ways.
• If these benefits to participants are achieved, then certain changes in organizations, communities or systems might occur under specified conditions.
External factors include the culture of the organization that is creating the program, economic conditions and political factors. The program has very little control over the external factors. External factors can have much influence over the achievement of outcomes (Taylor-Powell, et al, 2003). When creating a Logic Model, it is important to consider what types of risk-management you can put into place to circumvent potential external factors that threaten the success of the program.
To Renger & Titcomb (2002), Logic Models should include: · Strategic and Program Planning to idetify your vision, rationale behind your program, and how your program will work. · Effective Communication to provide a snapshot view of your program and intended outcomes. · Evaluation Planning as a basic framework for an evaluation with outcomes in measurable terms. · Continuous Learning and Improvement as a point of reference against which progress towards achievement of desired outcomes can be measured on an ongoing basis.
Why Develop a Logic Model?
According to Schmidt & Carson (nd), Logic Models are useful for all parties involved in an initiative—the initiating organization’s board members and top administrators, initiative leaders and staff, participating organizations, evaluators and others seeking to understand the work. Logic models, Schmidt & Carson (nd) stated:
• convey the fundamental purpose of an initiative • show why the initiative is important • show what will result from an initiative • depict the actions/causes expected to lead to the desired results • become a common language and reference point for everyone involved in the initiative • serve as the basis to determine whether planned actions are likely to lead to the desired results
According to Conrad, et al (1999), Logic Models are helpful in program planning as they clarify goals and expectations of a project. They identify underlying theories they provide frameworks for process evaluations and determine whether a process is ready for evaluation and then finally they help focus the design of its outcome evaluation.
Another important fact regarding Logic Models is the fact that they can identify not only the main program plan; but also underlying theories. This is possible because Logic Models define assumptions. For example, in developing a Logic Model to explore abandonment rates of online training eLearning modules, an assumption might be that the student: · Has the time to take the training · Has the necessary tools he needs to take the training · Has support of management
If we assume that these assumptions are true; then the problem is not with the user but with the courses themselves. Ergo, there would be a line of reasoning between the output and the outcomes that if we had a better system, more training would be completed.
Some Logic Models include an evaluability assessment. According to Conrad, et al. (2002), logic models are useful in assessing the evaluability of the programs. To Conrad, an evaluability assessment is a study that is done before the actual evaluation to determine whether it is possible and desirable to conduct.
Strengths of Logic Models
Some strengths of a Logic Model include the fact that it is linear and shows the chain of events linking inputs to outcomes. Logic Models are valid, according to Renger and Titcomb (2002), as they have been used for over 20 years. Logic Models are used to identify gaps in assumptions that might be uncertain or help bring understanding to assumptions.
Because Logic Models are visual “road maps”, they are effective instruments for learning (Coffman, 1999). People can read about inputs, outputs and outcomes and also visually see how they are connected. According to Coffman (1999), the processes of a program are reviewed and not overlooked when viewed in a Logic Model. Evaluators are able to see both the process and the outcome. This would be ideal for finding flaws in the processes of a program. If they are laid out in a visual model, they could potentially be easier to see than if they were written into a long report, placed in a chart or some other type of document.
Disadvantages of Logic Models
Logic Models however, do have some disadvantages. Programs are not always linear so they will not always fit perfectly into a Logic Model. Logic Models also focus on expected outcomes as opposed to the real outcomes. Sometimes the expected outcomes are the same but sometimes they will differ as many factors will influence the outcomes.
Logic Models Use
According to Ernst (nd), Logic Models for planning and evaluation are required by many funding agencies (e.g., CDC, Untied Way). Ernst (nd) stated:
There are a few logic model development guides and references to models can be found in many journal articles. However, there is comparatively little practical guidance available on how to tackle common problems in logic model development. Four common problems novice developers encounter are: (1) how detailed a model should be, (2) what columns or categories to include, (3) what should be considered an output and what should be an outcome, and (4) how to use a model for planning and evaluation. These problems can be addressed with a few simple guidelines.
Other organizations that have effectively used Logic Models for planning and evaluation purposes include health care institutions, business organizations, nonprofits, community relations activities and even courts. Court planning would benefit from Logic Models, according to Keilitz (2005) by
developing a simple logic model that describes how the initiative, program or strategy theoretically works to achieve the desired results from program inputs through end outcomes. Critical thinking and discussion of the logic of how a proposed program or strategy may bring about results that benefit citizens and the community can reap great benefits for the design, implementation and evaluation of that program or strategy. Just by focusing on desired results -- how citizens may be better off as a result of the program and why -- gives court leaders and managers a better picture of the purpose and likely accomplishments of the program.
An example of using a Logic Model for community public service announcements is found in Dwyer & Makin, (1997). A Logic Model was developed in the North York community to decrease the incident rate and the severity of bicycle accidents in fourth and fifth grade students. The Logic Model included the inputs or resources of the community members and also the schools. The parents of the students in the target group schools were also included in the inputs. In this Logic Model, the long-term outcomes were to increase the number of students who use helmets when they ride bikes. However, short-term outcomes included increasing awareness of the number of students who knew about the importance of helmets and also the number of students who demonstrated the correct skills when purchasing a bike helmet and also in wearing a bike helmet. Short-term outcomes also included the increased number of parents who purchased bike helmets for their children.
Taylor-Powell, E., Jones, L., Henert, E. (2002). Enhancing program performance with logic models. University of Wisconsin-Extension. Retrieved from: http://www1.uwex.edu/ces/lmcourse/
Case Studies Methodologies in Business Analysis ED672: Case Studies in Adult Education & Training
Case study research is a valid tool in business analysis including the areas of marketing, operations and MIS (Dul & Hak, 2008). Business researchers generally choose a survey to study quantitative data or a case study to measure qualitative data if an experiment (where data can be manipulated) is not a feasible option.
According to Dul & Hak, (2008), a study is a research project in which a certain objective is formulated and achieved. The case is then the object of study. To Dul & Hak, (2008), a case study is an inquiry of one single instance or a small number of instances. The researchers refer to this as the single case study, where the data from one instance is sufficient to obtain the research objective. Or the comparative case study where data is collected from two or more instances is the other alternative. However, a vast number of instances would not be prudent in a case study.
Tellis (1997) argued that (as cited in Feagin, Orum & Sjoberg, 1991) a case study is ideal when a holistic, in-depth investigation is needed. Experienced researchers such as Yin created procedures for the case study and when these steps are followed, the researcher can rest assured that he is following a well-developed method. Yin (1993) and Stake (1995) identified specific types of case studies. These include exploratory, explanatory, descriptive, intrinsic, instrumental and collective.
Case studies have multiple perspectives and the researcher considers a variety of contexts. Tellis (1997) stated the researcher considers not just the voice and perspective of the actors (the participants in the survey), but also the relevant groups of actors and the interactions between them.
According to Barkley (2006): "A common use of the case study research methodology is the “evaluation” of businesses and government programs with the goal of identifying potential explanations for their successes or failures. Exploratory and descriptive case studies, on the other hand, examine the development and characteristics of phenomena often with the goal of developing hypotheses of cause-effect relationships. Finally, the use of case study research for hypothesis testing involves tests for casual relationships by comparing generalizations from case study findings with the underlying theory (1).
Business analysis case studies can extend an individual’s knowledge and reinforce intellectual skills and the need to remain continual learners (Johnson & Helms, 2008). Johnson & Helms (2008) also stated that using real-world problems helps motivate students to identify and research the concepts and textbook theories used to solve case problems (316).
Using local businesses for the case studies in education can enhance the student’s knowledge according to Johnson and Helms (2008) by exposing them to business issues a local organization may be facing, learning about the complexities of a company, gaining a background on a local industry and also have executives from the company close by who may be able to answer questions or address issues (317).
Business case studies are different from academic case studies. Business case studies generally have a narrow scope, focusing on one particular aspect or problem that the business is experiencing while academic case studies are broader in scope (Lowe& Draheim, 2012). Lowe & Draheim (2012) also stated that business case studies tend to have more researcher bias than academic case studies. The business case study will be written from the point of the researcher who Lowe & Draheim (2012)call the “Protagonist” and he tends to write with a bias; whereas, the academic researcher is more detached.
Another area, according to Lowe & Draheim (2012) where business case studies are different from academic case studies is in the information that is gathered to support the case study. In business, researchers can look at a company’s financial statements, timelines, biographies and multimedia content to help with the data analysis while the academic case study can include charts and other types of data that can be analyzed and incorporated into the paper. Finally, according to Lowe & Draheim (2012), the business case study stops short of making recommendations while the academic case study includes its findings or conclusions that summarizes the case study. The business case study would be handed over to the business to review and decisions to be made.
Strengths of a Case Study
Case studies are very useful as they allow for further explanations and new insights to be combined. Theoretically, a case study for business analysis can further explore certain content in the business organization as well. Case studies can offer new insights and information that can also contribute to helping the business perform better in the long run.
A compelling example of how a case study can effectively contribute to the success of an organization comes from a Richmond, Virginia organization called Unboxed Technologies. (Unboxed, nd). Brought onboard to assist NextWorth with a training initiative, Unboxed prepared a detailed case study to review the types of training that could help NextWorth employees in more-efficiently dealing with customers, closing sales and creating solutions for customers. However, the detailed case study showed that more training was not actually necessary. In actuality, the organization needed a more robust User Interface (UI) to enhance the customer experience. Unboxed found that the organization’s UI did not seamlessly guide organization’s associates through the trade-in process for customer’s used electronics (Unboxed, nd).
With the new UI, the organization’s employees can watch short videos while on the sales floor to help them in the decision-making process when working with a customer. Also, a branching mechanism was added to the employee computers allowing the employee to make a choice and then be given further options based on the initial choice. These branching mechanisms helped the employee find an effective solution for the customer; ultimately enhancing the customer experience.
Another successful case study from Unboxed Technology (Unboxed, nd) was a partnership with Comcast, Richmond Virginia’s local cable provider. Unboxed and Comcast partnered to create a training tool for employees in Best Buy retail stores to use to upsell Comcast products to customers who are purchasing home theater or computer equipment. By reviewing the current situation at Comcast, Unboxed found that the retail clerks in Best Buy needed a tool that would help them show the advantages of using Comcast services to their customers. They also needed a tool to help make recommendations for those services based on the customer’s needs. Finally, they needed to be able to measure the progress of the retail clerks: what packages were they showing customers, what were the customer’s needs, how much time were clerks spending with customers.
Based on the findings of the case study, Unboxed was able to offer solutions by creating an engaging User Interface tool to combine with the Comcast Xfinity Assisted Selling Tool application that would do all of the above. The results? An increase of more than 60% sales improvement and 40% rise in productivity was achieved.
Limitations of Case Study Design
According to Darke, et al (1998), using case studies in business is particularly beneficial for systems analysis in organizations; there are drawbacks to using case study design in business. One limitation would be, according to Darke, et al (1998) that case studies in business tend to rely heavily on qualitative data and not quantitative. Qualitative data is not often combined with quantitative as well. Also, in analyzing the qualitative data can be time-consuming as there is generally much more data with which to review and analyze.
Another limitation of case study design is the expense involved. If a company is not seeing high revenues, the executive team may be reluctant to invest money in a case study that may or may not achieve intended results (Barkley, 2006).
Positive benefits of Case Studies
According to Soy (1997) the advantages of the case study method are its applicability to real-life, contemporary, human situations and its public accessibility through written reports. Case study results relate directly to the common readers everyday experience and facilitate an understanding of complex real-life situations. For business analysis, having a well-documented case study on hand would be advantageous for new employees coming onboard with the organization. While employees may come and go, new employees could refer to previous case studies to gain understandings of how things work within the company.
Another advantage of a case study specific to a business is that the study could focus on concepts that are important to the growth of the business itself. Take, for example, a case study prepared for Aldi Stores (Nielsen, 2012). The case study showed that Aldi’s maintains a competitive advantage due to efficiency. Because Aldi’s core values are consistency, simplicity and responsibility, the case study found that the ways Aldi’s incorporated efficient systems into their stores added to their core values, particularly simplicity.
For example, customers shopping at Aldi Stores must pay a small fee to rent a shopping cart. If they return the cart after they are done shopping, they get the fee back. Paying the fee ensures that the cart is returned for the most part. This practice reduces costs in the organization as carts do not disappear. Aldi also does not have to pay employees to gather up the carts from all over the parking lots.
Another example of how the case study linked Aldi’s best practices to their core values was that they recognized how Aldi stores puts multiple bar codes on each product (Nielsen, 2012). This saves the cashier time as they do not have to hunt all over a package for a bar code. While bar codes are easily found on a small bar of candy, they are not always readily recognizable on a large bag of fruit or a giant bag of dog food. This best practice increased effiency and also adds to the core values of consistency and simplicity.
Case studies can help with competition, revenue, productivity issues, etc., if done properly and can help businesses overcome problems such as branding or market share.. According to Nielsen (2012), Apple changed its name from Apple Computers to Apple, Inc. based on results of a case study. Microsoft was able to gain significant advantages in the search engine field by developing a case study to research competition from Google and Yahoo. The result of that case study was the implementation of Bing!
Negative Benefits of Using Case Studies
Barkley (2006) mentioned three potential issues that could be problematic for case studies. While these issues are not specific to case study for business analysis, they do impact business findings. The first is research design in that the person doing the research may not identify all external factors or hypothesis in which to test (Barkley, 2006). Because of the fact that the needs of the case may require extensive research, questions, participants and sources, the case study may be very expensive to create. It may also be extremely time-consuming (Barkley, 2006).
Another potential issue with case studies, according to Barkley (2006), is that the responses gathered may be biased. Persons being interviewed may give a biased response and not accurately reflect the true impact of the situation. If people “feel” threatened by the questions, their responses may not be accurate. Investigators must also be aware that they are going into the world of real human beings who may be threatened or unsure of what the case study will bring (Soy, 2006). Barkley also stated that (as cited in North, 2005) researchers themselves may be biased and contribute to this problem as they filter information through their own personal belief structure which is shaped on their own experiences.
Finally, the third limitation attributed to a case study, according to Barkley (2006) is the misuse of the case study which can be used to justify a personal agenda. Another way that case studies can be misused is when a causal relationship cannot be found or the findings are not favorable; however, the findings are ignored. Barkley (2006) mentioned how legislatures keep passing the CAPCO act; even though case studies have found these programs to be ineffective.
Using Case Study Analysis in Business
While case studies can help many aspects of the organization, such as in the training and development or operations aspects listed above, case study analysis can be effective in other areas as well. One area where a business might successfully utilize a case study as analysis tool in business is with brand recognition and marketing. According to Hyatt, (2012):
Building a brand isn’t solely about numbers and figures. It’s about attracting an audience that will be an asset throughout your brand’s lifetime. Unfortunately, for a brand to be successful today, it has to distinguish itself amid the noise of thousands of others vying for attention on the same platforms.
Therefore, effective product branding should allow people to see you brand and immediately identify with the company and the vision for the production. Brenner (nd) stated that companies use branding to create an emotional relationship between customers and a specific product. The Times100 (nd) stated that people see a brand and then, if the branding is effective, differentiate between that product and others out on the market.
According to Edmonston (2006), Pepsi Co., effectively used branding to attract individuals to their website. Pepsi researched the wants of their target market when it came to website design and development. The target market of Pepsi is young adults and teenagers. To make their website compelling to their target market, Pepsi surveyed the target market and found that entertainment value and music was important to them when they visited a website. In order to effectively build brand awareness while marketing to their target audience of teenagers and young adults, Pepsi created a compelling, fun and interesting website that contains entertaining videos, upcoming events, a Twitter feed, more branding information and a variety of compelling links designed to hold the interest of the target market. Notice that this website (www.pepsi.com) is very different than the website of parent company (www.pepsico.com). That website is designed to give information to investors and stockholders and contains the company annual report and career information. It is apparent that much thought went into the analysis of the target market and the variables that are important for brand recognition and new and return visitors to the pepsi.com website.
In sum, using case studies for businesses seems to be more advantageous than negative. The benefits of case studies include the fact that case studies can directly impact major changes in an organization resulting in growth, increased production or revenue, or both. Case studies can impact how companies do business and allow for recommendations to be made in areas such as training and development, inventory control, branding, obtaining market share or dealing with competition. Case studies of competitors can be reviewed, if made public, to discern what is or what is not working for the competition. Case studies can narrow in on issues that may be problematic for companies and help companies gain an understanding of how to deal with the problems based on the case study research.
Although case studies may be expensive and time-consuming, companies may want to consider investing in a detailed case study to gain insight and use that insight to help the company grow.
Barkley, D.L. (2006). The value of case study research on rural entrepreneurship: useful method? Presented at ERS-RUPRI conference, Washington, DC.
Yin, R.K. (1994) Case study research design and application (2nd ed.). CA: Sage Publications. Chapters 1 and 2.
ED672: Case Study in Adult Education & Training
What is a Case Study? According to Wikipedia, a case study is defined as “a process or record of research in which detailed consideration is given to the development of a particular matter over a period of time.” It is also described as “a particular instance of something used or analyzed to illustrate a principle.”
Case studies have been developed for businesses, social sciences, education and even legal organizations for years. While there are a variety of definitions regarding the subject of case studies, experts seem to agree that case studies can explore problems or issues in a particular setting or group. Yin (2008) focuses on the case study as “an empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon…” and Stake (2005) sees the case study as the“end-product” of a vast amount of research. Whether the case study is an inquiry or an end result, the steps that are included in the development of a case study can be similar.
Case studies generally begin with a question: what is going to be studied? Case study questions can be initiated by someone wanting to facilitate change in an organization. They can be created by interests of individuals or groups of people (Davis, nd).
After the decision to what will be the main focus of the case study is made and the question is answered, the preparer begins a collection of data. There are a variety of ways to collect data which depends on the type of case study being developed. Once data is collected, the researcher can then categorize the data and begin to analyze it. One problem that novice case study developers may run into is reviewing the data too late in the analysis. Merriam (2009) cautions researchers to begin the data analysis while they are collecting data. This way, the researcher does not get to the end of the data only to realize that she did not ask extremely relevant questions or gather enough specific data on a topic.
While each case study may be different depending on the preparer and the needs of the organization for which the case study is being created, there are standard steps that researchers can use when preparing the case study. Initially, the preparer must identify the question of the case and then determine the type of case study to be implemented. Kitchenham, et al, (2002) states that an investigation can be a case study, a formal experiment or a survey. After the type of investigation is determined, the collection method can begin.
According to Fidel (1984), case studies are performed for various purposes. In the most limited sense of the concept, cases themselves may be of interest…when one studies an organization with the aim of improving its functioning.
Determine the type of case study early on deciding what types of collection methods will be used to collect data. Some methods include field studies, interviews, surveys and first-hand observations. Some of these may have advantages and drawbacks and will be discussed later in this document.
Basili, et al, determined a variety of methods for creating a case study. A case study could be single modal, wherein a single team or program was reviewed; multi-modal where a single team and multiple projects were reviewed; replicated project studies where a single project was reviewed in a variety of teams; and blocked subject-project studies which reviewed a set of teams and projects.
After the method is determined, the preparer can begin to select participants and collect data. Remember to collect and analyze data simultaneously and not systematically collect the data as a first step and then analyze it after collection.
After the data is collected and the report is created, an evaluation method needs to be determined. Voorhees (2000) stated that poorly designed evaluations can waste research effort or even mislead researchers with faulty conclusions.
According to Kitchenham, et al (2002), good case studies are rare, even though a case study may not provide scientific results; the information gathered can be beneficial to an organization. According to Zucker (2009), the key features of a “case study” are its scientific credentials and its evidence base for professional applications. Thus, one can see that there is little in the way of agreement about what an effective case study entails.
Preparing the Case
The first step in a case study requires the researcher to familiarize himself with the subject matter to be investigated (Fidel, 1984). The case study preparer must first determine a broad case to investigate (Davies, 2005). The preparer must identify the needs to begin formulating the case and also must begin to decide what information to explore for the case. (Lane, 2007).
When planning the case, determine what the outcomes of the case will be (Lane, 2007). Preparers should determine what context the case will be presented in and what the learning outcomes should be (Lane, 2007). Learning outcomes are brief, clear, specific statements that describe what the learner is expected to achieve as a result of instruction. The focus is therefore on the student.
Students should form a list of possible methods in their mind when reviewing their research question, and ask how can I get the information I am looking for?
According to Zucker (2009): "There are many considerations prior to embarking on case study method but at the onset it should be clear that no other descriptive method is possible or will get the level of description the researcher is looking for, except case study method. Time in the field, lengthy interviews and transcription and analysis are all factors that should be thought out well in advance of engaging with participants”(3).
When writing a case study, organizing the data is paramount. It is important to simultaneously collect and analyze data (Merriam, 2009). If data is collected and exploration begins afterwards, the preparer may miss opportunities to collect further, important data for the case study.
When developing a case study, it is imperative to set learning goals before collecting and analyzing data. Zucker (2009) stated that reasonable goals for the learner would include:
"to explore and understand the philosophical and aesthetic paradigms that are foundational to qualitative research methods, compare and contrast the distinctions among selected methods, evaluate traditional and emerging qualitative designs within their disciplinary area, and to apply methods and techniques" (4).
Case studies are not rigorously planned (Fidel, 1984). This is advantageous because the “case” can develop as a part of the research. Fidel further quotes Becker (1970) and stated that:
“It prepares the investigator to deal with unexpected findings and, indeed requires him to reorient his study in the light of such developments. It forces him to consider, however crudely, the multiple interactions of the particular phenomenon he observes. And it saves him from making assumptions that may turn out to be incorrect about matters that are relevant, though tangential, to his main concerns. This is because a case study will nearly always provide some focus to guide those assumptions while studies with more limited data-gather procedures are formed to assume what the observer making a case study can check on" (p. 76).
Advantages of Case Study Methods
One of the advantages of a case study is the vast amount of research one collects to perform the case study. While data may be collected solely for the purpose of one case study, the research can open up other avenues of study. For example, if a case study was being developed regarding employee morale; research could indicate that low morale causes higher rates of employee sickness which contributes to lower productivity or revenue for an organization.
Another advantage of a case study is that the stories told in the study can be illuminating (Davies, 2009). The research is collected and a timeline can be developed for the study. While this occurs and data is input into the timeline, it may be quite easy to see patterns developing about the case whether it is an organization or an individual. Once those patterns begin to manifest in the timeline, the researcher can make assumptions about the subject of the case. It may be easy to identify when problems began to arise in an organization or why the subject behaves in a certain manner.
Case studies are easier to plan than other methods of investigation including formal experiments and surveys. According to Colorado State, case studies are flexible and emphasize exploration. They are inclusive; allowing researchers to begin with broad questions and end with taking the data and narrowing it as their study progresses. Case studies go deep into data and can describe situations that can have an extremely powerful impact on the reader.
Disadvantages of Case Studies
One big disadvantage of case study methodology is that case study information may be advantageous to one person, it may not be to others. Lanthier (2009) states:
“…experiences of one person might not apply to other people. Researchers at the National Zoo are doing case studies with the two pandas (one male, one female). They have a great amount of information on the pandas, but what they find might not be true of all pandas. With case studies, we learn a lot about one case, but what we learn might not apply to the larger population.”
Another disadvantage to a case study is that the data acquired for the compilation of the case may not be reliable (Davies, 2005). According to Kitchenham, et al, (2002), case studies are difficult to interpret and generalize. Kitchenham, et al, use the example of a case study for choosing technology. While a case study can certainly provide information on the effects of a certain technology for one organization, it cannot generalize how that technology will work for other organizations.
Another disadvantage of case studies is the fact that even the experts cannot seem to agree on a typical format. While Merriam (2009) suggests simultaneously collecting and analyzing data; Kitchenham, et al, (2002) suggest collecting data and then begin the analysis.
Other disadvantages of case studies are that they can be very time-consuming. Data gathering can take weeks, months or even years, depending on the type of case study being completed. It can also be very expensive to pay people to do the necessary research. Also, a lot of data can be collected and analyzed and then the case study preparer may realize that she needs to go into a different direction with the case study. Then the initial data, research, time and expense of the initial study is nullified. Finally, there are ethical matters to consider when creating the case study. For example, how truthful are the people being interviewed or how biased is the case study preparer? Is due diligence going to be done on the data to ensure that the data and the investigator going to meet ethical standards?
Also, this is not entirely a disadvantage but case studies can have two or even more answers (Seperich, 1996). Again, this could be a result of the initial data or even a result of the turn a case study took in mid-data analysis.
Case Study Presentation Methods
There are a variety of ways to present case study research. Designmodo.com features some of the most impressive case studies on the web. These were created by professional studies and it shows. Some contain extreme animations and profound graphics, videos, audio and the presentations are interactive.
Not all case studies have to be presented in such illustrative fashions. Interesting case studies can be presented in a simple PowerPoint format accompanied by basic graphics. Case studies can be audio files or videos of a person reading a case study. While case studies can be presented in imaginative ways, they can be very simple as long as they contain information that is relevant and presented clearly.
Case Study Methods
The standard types of methods that can be included in case studies include open-ended surveys, closed surveys, interviews/discussions and independent evaluators.
Open-ended surveys are ones where individuals could discuss the impact of the case study at length. These make it difficult for the researcher because she needs to analyze the answers to make sense of them and some answers could be extremely lengthy. Closed questionnaires or surveys are easier to manage as the participant checks a box or ranks a set of predisposed answers. Interviews, discussions and independent evaluations can be lengthy, expensive and time consuming as well since the interviews must take place, answers documented and analyzed. However open-ended questionnaires, interviews, discussions and independent evaluations can glean the best results from the participants of the case study.
January 10, 2013 - My decision to choose “justice” as my core value while pursuing a Master’s in Education at St. Joseph’s College came as a result of my deep desire to help others. While studying and researching material for the various units, I realize that employees of companies had a real need to find happiness in their jobs. The bulk of Americans are unhappy at work. Chances are, this is prevalent on a global basis too.
If we come together to help others and address the increasing needs like this, we can place our mark on the world and make it a better place. If people can become enlightened and ultimately happier in the work lives, that feeling may indeed carry over into other areas in their personal lives as well contributing to an overall sense of wellness and peace.
My philosophy regarding Adult Education is as follows. I believe that adult learning must be defined. Is learning formal or will informal be sufficient? Will assessments be required? Will the education take place to satisfy an internal need that the learner wishes to develop or will it be required to learn a new skill?
I believe adult learning requires an emotional connection between an adult learner and teacher/facilitator. It is important for the student to trust the teacher and feel safe and supported in the classroom. I believe adult learning requires flexibility as well, taking into account the major demands that many adults have on them that can actually inhibit learning. Many adults, for example, may be fearful of going back to school for an advanced degree later in life as the demands of home and work take precedence. Education, if offered in a flexible manner, may be attractive to adults.
I believe adult learning requires action on the part of the learner. One does not simply learn through osmosis. Some action is required wherein the adult learner must make a decision to learn and then take action to pursue a course of learning. Reinforcement through discourse with others, further, more detailed learning and/or assessments of some sort are necessary to keep the material fresh.
In sum, my philosophy of learning is that Adult Learning requires:
My Philosophy of Adult Learning means that the student would need to define that something is not right in their workplace. They would need to take action by making a decision to attend a course of this type and be willing to make the commitment to see it through. The courses must be offered in a flexible manner so the student would not feel burdened by the obligation, hence the courses will be offered in a classroom as well as online. Finally, the student must be able to have a connection with the facilitator. As I plan to use a lot of my own experience as well as the experience of others in the course, students will be able to make a connection.
December 27, 2012 - What a joy it is to be able to find passion in coursework for school. For as long as I could remember, I would read bits of advice that said “do what you love and the money will follow” or “ think about the things you love to do and make that your job”. Okay - well I love to read. How am I ever going to find a job doing that?
But as I endeavored on Unit 4 of the Needs Analysis course for the Master’s program at St. Joseph’s, I was able to read so many books that I couldn’t finish them all. Each one of them is packed full of advice and inspiration to help readers find joy in their daily careers. With so many people in the United States being unhappy, finding the means to develop a course, with input from greats such as Stephen Covey, Thich Nhat Hahn and even a forward by Zig Ziglar, I feel like I can provide a link to help people heal their souls.
If people can find joy at work and not leave at 5:00 (or later) completely stressed out, maybe they won’t get into road rage situations, maybe they would not turn violent toward families, maybe they wouldn’t drink to excess. While this might be “pie in the sky”type thinking, I can’t help but wonder - could I change just one person by my work?
If so, it would be a dream come true for me.
Personal Reflections for ED668
December 3, 2012 - On February 14, 2013, I will join thousands of people around the globe as we rally in various locations to put an end to violence against women. One that day, we will come together and our numbers will shout to the world that we will not accept violence towards women and girls any longer. We will celebrate women that day. We will dance. We will drum. We will start a revolution!
People are violent, situations turn violent, crime is increasingly violent. One in three women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. One in three!
Why are people so violent? Is it because they feel trapped in situations they don’t want to be in? Are they miserable in their marriages or in their families? Are they in violent situations and violence just perpetuates from there? Are they unhappy at work?
Could a small change decrease violence in or outside the workplace? Could learning to find joy in a miserable situation decrease your propensity for violence?
In this unit, I want to explore the characteristics of people who may recognize they are unhappy at work and want to change their situations. If they change their work situation, they may be able to change their lives outside of work as well. If people can accurately assess their lives at work and recognize that they can make positive changes, this will undoubtedly cause positive changes outside of work as well. Having a willingness to change is the first step. However, if someone does not recognize that they are exhibiting signs of unhappiness, perhaps a human resource staff member could privately bring it to his or her attention and suggest taking a training on finding joy at work. Willingness cannot be forced open a person; however, having it brought to her attention can create a moment of recognition where the employee can see how their behavior is affecting colleagues, the workplace environment and their own work product.
November 12, 2012 - I found myself behind her again. The Buick sedan, the grey haired driver oblivious to the speedometer. To whom speed was arbitrary deceleration was taken to heart. Running late is my speed these days. Doing more before 7:00 am than some in the general population, I daresay, do all day, rushed, frenzy, frenetic is my pace. My instinct is to charge, to not just 'honk" but to lay with all my might on the horn, dictating to the lady and any unfortunate observers that I am in a hurry. Don't you see??
Because of personal situations, a lot of people are unhappy, both at work and at life. Fear is rampant starting with the economy and the divisiveness of the country: red vs. blue, liberal vs. conservative, American vs. everyone else, rich vs. poor, middle class vs. middle class...the list goes on.
How wonderful it would be to at least find some joy at work. Some ways to dig through the tragic garden of suffering, blame, litigation, fear and persecution (self-imposed or otherwise) and find happiness in your job. That joy would undoubtedly spill over onto the long commute home, where little old ladies in green Buicks would just warrant a patient smile and a deep breath, where an opposing view on Facebook would warrant a chuckle or a sigh and no more.
Finding joy at work could fulfill us in some many additional areas of our lives. Perhaps we would simply be happy all the time. Perhaps we would simply be happy. Perhaps we would simply be.
We could start a revolution.
Transformation for Better or Worse.
I have always thought of transformational learning as something which would be positive; an upward momentum, a way to utilize what I'd learned to grow for the better. However, sometimes a series of events can occur which teaches a person that it is better to shut down emotionally, be quiet, realize that all excitement and energy that has been spent on something has been wasted. After critical reflection of something I've spent several years doing, I realized that all I injested was toxicity and that my passion was not only unappreciated, it was completely rejected. A person can be transformed into being subdued, unenthusiastic, despondent, non-participatory. If, in private, someone loves your ideas but, in public, never supports them, you can learn to be transformed into something you never desired to be....a bit negative. You can learn not to care.
Implementing Justice in a Literature Review
Choosing the core value justice was not something I took lightly. Working in law enforcement, I learned early on how necessary a good justice system is to society. As a Catholic, I see how important social justice issues such as abortion, the death penalty, homelessness and poverty are and how we are called to be of service for the good of mankind. This also helps our society. However, how can I implement justice into my course work? One thing I thought about was incorporating a sense of justice or fairness into my literature reviews for ED658. I need to make sure that I do not arbitrarily choose any literature that comes up in a search just to get my work done quickly. I also need to make sure that I read through each document and that the literature I choose does not only agree with my point-of-view; I must also attempt to find articles that might cover the other side. When I do research for my job, I need to always make sure that the authors are thoroughly vetted to ensure I do not use quotes from a criminal or someone who is opposed to law enforcement. We always vet documents that we create with grant money to make sure any businesses or agencies that we use as examples are not under any type of federal investigation. I must also make sure I thoroughly vet authors and websites for my school papers. I also think it is important to try to reinforce all my Catholic values by staying true to Catholic doctrine whenever possible and also incorporating those values into my work as well.