How will you analyze the data collected? How will you make sense of the situation at Peppercorn?
This should probably take a majority of the class period, since how the consultants see the organizational issues will, in part, determine how the feedback process will be designed.
Choosing a diagnostic/analytic model is no small issue. There is no evidence in the case that a particular diagnostic model is driving the data collection process (a potential problem), and there are at least two models that would work. First, the consultants could use an individual based model – such as the one described in Chapter 6. For each job at Peppercorn, the consultants could ask what their data reveals about task identity, skill variety, task significance, autonomy, and feedback in the context of Peppercorn’s structure. But this is a more limited perspective and not as good a choice.
Second, and perhaps more relevant in this case, would be an organization-level diagnostic model such as the one presented in Chapter 5.
Inputs: Based on their initial discussion with Drew as well as data from the interviews, we can see that the labor market has gotten very tight. It is more and more difficult to find workers and in particular student workers. This tightened market has forced the dining services unit and Peppercorn to increase the pay rates twice (although with little apparent effect). In a related category, we also know that a union represents full-time employees. It is this labor shortage that is driving many of the dynamics of the case.
The primary customer, students with meal plans, suggests that there is little likelihood that price increases can be used to offset the labor scarcity. On a more general level, we know from data in the interviews that the food-service industry is known for its low wage levels and long and odd hours. Design Components. The observation and interview data provides some information on each feature of organization design. In some cases, there is much data of high quality while in other cases the amount of data (and its credibility) is thin.
Strategy: The mission and goals for the university’s dining unit lays out their purpose and operating goals. There appears to be a broad interest in providing nutritious food, creating a good social and aesthetic atmosphere, and serving the economic needs of the university. The goals reflect this broad interest by addressing customer satisfaction, facilities quality, management excellence, financial management, alignment with the university’s mission, and industry leadership. There is little in the case suggesting that Peppercorn’s strategy is any different.
Peppercorn, according to Drew, is trying address the difficult labor market by providing an enjoyable place to work although the consultants note a certain disconnect between what is said (decentralized and participative) and what is practiced (more centralized, less participative) based on their observations and interview data.
Technology: The overall transformation process is moderately interdependent and fairly low on uncertainty. The key workflow issue seems to be the supply system. Supplies, in the form of food, aprons, cookware, and so on, are ordered through a computer system that isn’t working very well and resulting in frequent outages of different items. Since this process sits at the front end of the transformation process, its ineffectiveness is a key source of problems for the kitchen and service staff. In some way, the whole of Peppercorn is held hostage by this computer system.
Once the raw materials have arrived, food is prepared – sometimes as much as a day in advance – according to meal plans and recipes that are well understood. [Although some of the cooks seem proud of their recipes and interested in creating new ones, do you really want people to be very innovative in this situation? In some ways, this conflicts with the situation.] The prepared meals...
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