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College of Administrative and Financial Sciences
Assignment 1
Decision Making & Problem Solving (MGT312)
Deadline for students: End of Week 7 (23/10/[email protected] 23:59)
(To be posted/released to students on BB anytime in Week 4)

Course Name:

Student’s Name:

Course Code: MGT312

Student’s ID Number:

Semester: 1st


Academic Year: 1442/1443 H, First Semester
For Instructor’s Use only

Instructor’s Name:

Students’ Grade:

Level of Marks:
· This assignment is an individual assignment.
· Due date for Assignment 1 is by the end of Week 7 (23/10/2021).
· The Assignment must be submitted only in WORD format via allocated folder.
· Assignments submitted through email will not be accepted.
· Students are advised to make their work clear and well presented. This also includes filling your information on the cover page.
· Students must mention question number clearly in their answer.
· Late submitted assignments will NOT be entertained.
· Avoid plagiarism, the work should be in your own words, copying from students or other resources without proper referencing will result in ZERO marks. No exceptions.
· All answered must be typed using Times New Roman (size 12, double-spaced) font. No pictures containing text will be accepted and will be considered plagiarism).
Submissions without this cover page will NOT be accepted.
Course Learning Outcomes-Covered
· Describe decision making process for complex issues pertaining to business environment both internally and externally (C.L.O :1)
· Define different perspectives and concepts of problem solving in diverse contexts and business situations. (C.L.O :2)
· Explain and apply critical thinking and cognitive psychology as it pertains to analyze and synthesize information for problem solving and decision making. (C.L.O :3)
Assignment Instructions:
· Log in to Saudi Digital Library (SDL) via University’s website
· On first page of SDL, choose “English Databases”
· From the list find and click on EBSCO database.
· In the search bar of EBSCO find the following article:
Title: “Is Your Team Solving Problems, or Just Identifying Them?”
Author: Rebecca Knight
Date of Publication: April 14, 2021
Published: Harvard Business Review
Assignment Questions: (Marks 05)
Read the attached article titled as “Is Your Team Solving Problems, or Just Identifying Them?” by Rebecca Knight, published in Harvard Business Review, and answer the following Questions:
1. Summarize the article and explain the main issues discussed in the article. (In 500-600 words) (Marks 2)
2. What do you think about the article in relations to what you have learnt in the course about improving decision-making and problem-solving skills? Use additional reference to support your argument. (In 300-500 words) (Marks 2)
Critical Thinking Question
3. Successful teams—whether in sports or business—usually perform well because each member contributes talents and skills to the group effort. What contribution do problem-solving skills make to team efforts? Provide at least one example that illustrates your points. (Mark 1)
Is Your Team Solving
Problems, or Just Identifying
by Rebecca Knight
Published on / April 14, 2021 / Reprint H06ARP
Alessandra Desole/Stocksy
Some teams are really good at spotting potential problems. When
colleagues present new ideas or propose new initiatives, team members
readily ask tough questions and point out possible risks. But team
members ought to provide constructive feedback as well. How can you, the
manager, help change the culture on your team from one that’s focused on
identifying problems to one that fixes them? How can you set new norms
that engender a positive tone? And what’s the best way to reward
employees for thinking critically while also making helpful suggestions?
HBR / Digital Article / Is Your Team Solving Problems, or Just Identifying Them?
Copyright © 2021 Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved. 1
What the Experts Say
Having a team that’s quick to identify problems and voice potential
obstacles is not necessarily a bad thing. “Intellectually honest resistance”
to a new idea is worth airing, according to Liane Davey, professional
speaker and author of the book The Good Fight. But when your team is
overly focused on finding problems instead of solving them, it can be
detrimental to productivity and morale. “Talent is attracted to possibility,
opportunity, and agency,” she says. “You will lose great people if your team
is always talking about why it can’t, rather than about how it can.” And yet,
says Heidi Grant, social psychologist and author of the
book Reinforcements: How to Get People to Help You, the best teams balance
the two. As the manager, your job is to “create an environment that allows
for both creativity and analytical thinking” in order to come up with
solutions that are informed by reality. Here’s how.
Recognize underlying issues.
For starters, you need to appreciate that your team’s tendencies are not
unusual. There are several deep-rooted dynamics at work, according to
Grant. When faced with a new challenge or idea, many of us react by
“getting into the details and focusing on obstacles,” she says. “We
ruminate on the problem and its many facets rather than thinking of ways
around it.” This predisposition “gets compounded when we work with
other people — there’s a social element” that often exacerbates a group’s
inclination to think in negative terms. This social aspect is more or less
evident depending on the personalities that compose your team.
Hierarchy also plays a role. “Managers and people in power think about
the ‘why’ — the vision,” Grant says. “The less power you have, the more
you tend to think about the details.” (Perhaps it’s because those people are
often the ones who need to deal with the nitty-gritty in the execution
stage.) Understanding these dynamics will help you map out the process of
changing your team’s culture.
HBR / Digital Article / Is Your Team Solving Problems, or Just Identifying Them?
Copyright © 2021 Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved. 2

Reflect on your goal.
You need to be clear about the changes you’re looking for from your team.
“You want your team to be more ‘solutions-focused,’ which is a bit like
saying you want your team to be more innovative or more agile,” says
Grant. Many managers aspire to those things, “but it’s not obvious how to
get from here to there.” Consider how your team currently responds to
new ideas and proposals. What, or who, are the sources of opposition?
Where does your team get stuck? Which details cause the most agita?
Then, think about what you’d like your team to do differently. This will
help you define the specific behaviors you seek.
Reflect, too, on why you wish to change your team’s culture, says Davey.
“As a leader, you need to make sure you’re devoting time and energy to
things on the horizon and the bigger picture,” she says. “You can’t spend
all of your time on today. You need to keep time and mindshare reserved
for tomorrow.”
Talk to your team.
Next, Grant recommends talking with your team about your observations
and what you’d like to see them do differently. Explain that you want the
team to do a better job of “looking for alternate routes,” rather than
dwelling on the details of a problem. Ask team members for their take on
what stands in the way of that and then listen carefully to how they
respond. You might hear, for instance, that team members believe they’re
under a lot of time pressure, or perhaps they feel that new ideas aren’t
Maybe the team fixates on problems because people feel overwhelmed,
says Davey. They might resent you asking them to focus on solutions when
they’re already overstretched. “They’re thinking, ‘I can’t cope with the
status quo, how am I going to manage tomorrow?’” If that’s the case, you
need to think about how to “solve the bandwidth question”; otherwise,
“you’re not going to get buy-in.” Ask what you can do to help. What tasks
can you remove from their plates? “You need to be constantly pruning the
HBR / Digital Article / Is Your Team Solving Problems, or Just Identifying Them?
Copyright © 2021 Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved. 3
workload,” she says. “Retire old ways of working so that you have room for
new ones.”
Set new norms.
Changing your team’s culture requires getting people on board with new
ways of thinking and speaking, according to Grant. To accomplish this,
you need to set new norms “that deliberately lift up other ways of
working.” Norms are powerful because we’re heavily influenced by other
people’s behavior, she says. Simple things like “beginning each meeting
with a positive reflection” or creating “a trigger word to remind people to
be solutions-oriented” can make a big difference, she says. That way, if the
conversation veers off course, colleagues can help get it back on track.
In that spirit, Grant recommends empowering employees to hold others on
the team accountable and speak up if someone is “being too problem-
focused.” She acknowledges that encouraging employees to call out
colleagues will be hard. “It doesn’t come naturally.” But ultimately, it’s
worthwhile because “it will help speed up the shift in how people work
Role model.
In order to inspire your team to think more creatively about solving
problems, “others need to see you doing it,” says Grant. “You need to put
your ideas out there.” Be direct and straightforward. “Say, ‘We’re going to
talk about solutions now; I don’t want to hear about obstacles just yet. And
I am going to get us started.’” Be disarming. Make sure team members
know that their ideas don’t need to be perfect. “When people are afraid of
making a mistake or they’re worried about being evaluated negatively,
they get risk averse.” The implicit message ought to be: This is a safe place
to propose new ideas. Use “your body language, tone, and words to invite
others into the conversation.”
Bring in new information.
Davey recommends “using external information to trigger creative
conversations.” For instance, at your next team meeting, you might say, “I
HBR / Digital Article / Is Your Team Solving Problems, or Just Identifying Them?
Copyright © 2021 Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved. 4
read an interesting article about a trend in our industry. How do you think
this will affect us? What opportunities does this trend create? If this trend
continues, what might we need to pay attention to? What hard choices
might we need to make?” Asking questions takes the pressure off team
members to have specific answers, says Davey. “There’s no need to be
prescriptive.” It spurs “people to think about how they respond to how the
world is changing,” she says.
Including outside voices can also be effective. Invite a consultant or
someone from the accounting or legal department to attend a team
brainstorming session, Davey says. “They have data and credibility to
contribute” and might spark new strands of conversation.
Deal with challenges productively.
When you encounter resistance to a new idea, it’s important to listen —
but also to make sure that team members’ fault-finding does not
monopolize the conversation, says Davey. Say, for instance, your colleague
discounts a possible new strategy because “the company tried it once
decades ago and it didn’t work.” First, you must “validate their feelings
and their perspective.” Say something like, “‘You’re concerned that we
tried it before, and it wasn’t successful. That’s a good point.’” If you fail to
acknowledge your colleague’s objection, “the other person might feel
bruised and not heard.”
Second, you need to figure out a way to address the resistance in a
productive way. You could either create a so-called “parking lot” where
you place concerns (writing them on a white board that you’ll return to
later in the meeting, for example). Or, even better, start a dialog to explore
possible solutions. “Ask questions to continue the conversation.” Davey
suggests: “‘Hypothetically, if we could do it again, what would it look like?
How could risks be mitigated? What would we have to solve for?’” The
goal, she says, is to combat “lazy cynicism” by ensuring that there’s “fact-
based rigor” behind any concerns.
HBR / Digital Article / Is Your Team Solving Problems, or Just Identifying Them?
Copyright © 2021 Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved. 5
Reward positive behaviors.
When you observe team members seeking to solve problems productively,
you need to “publicly affirm that they’re doing the right thing,” says Grant.
“New habits don’t form unless they’re rewarded.” Acknowledge great ideas
and creative thinking. Be genuine. “Say the positive thing you’re thinking
out loud” in order to “increase the sense that norms are shifting.” Other
team members will take notice of the boss’s support and approval. “Social
affirmation is powerful for changing group behavior.” Davey agrees.
“There’s a certain amount of pride” that employees feel when their
manager says, “‘This is what we’re looking for.’”
Principles to Remember
• Reflect on how you can create an environment that allows for both
creativity and critical thinking.
• Practice what you preach. Role model the problem-solving behaviors
and attitude you would like to see in your team.
• Create a trigger word to remind team members to focus on solutions.
That way, when conversations veer off course, colleagues can help get it
back on track.
• Ignore or discount resistance to an obstacle. Instead, explore possible
solutions by asking questions.
• Go it alone. Invite a consultant or a member of a different department to
attend a team meeting. They might spark new strands of conversation.
• Be stingy with compliments. Publicly acknowledging team members’
creative thinking helps increase the sense that norms are shifting.
HBR / Digital Article / Is Your Team Solving Problems, or Just Identifying Them?
Copyright © 2021 Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved. 6
Advice in Practice
Case Study #1: Stimulate new ways of thinking by role modeling and
setting solutions-oriented norms.
Kean Graham, CEO of MonetizeMore, a midsize Canadian ad tech
company, says that years ago, his team was overly focused on identifying
problems, rather than remedying them.
“Team members would bring up issues without any recommendations for
how to fix them,” he recalls. “When I tried to get people to think about
solutions, people weren’t willing to engage, or they would just give me a
list of reasons why an idea wouldn’t work.”
This mindset dented productivity. “It prevented problems from being
solved quickly,” he says. “In fact, many would linger, causing much more
damage than necessary.”
Kean knew that he had to make a change. First, he reflected on the
challenge. He thought about things he wanted the team to do differently
and specific behaviors he wanted to see from employees. He adjusted the
company’s culture doc to reflect a renewed “focus on being solutions-
Then he talked to his team about it. “I told people that we were going to
try a new approach and we, as a team, needed a new mentality,” he says. “I
said, ‘From now on, we can’t complain about problems without providing
a possible solution.’”
Kean knew that he needed to model this new orientation and be ready
with fresh ideas and solutions. “It’s important that I’m the best example of
the culture we want to exhibit,” he says. “I am naturally a solutions-
oriented person, and I’ve made even more of a point to focus on an
actionable solution as quickly as possible.”
HBR / Digital Article / Is Your Team Solving Problems, or Just Identifying Them?
Copyright © 2021 Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved. 7
He also worked on setting new norms and even created a special term to
encourage his employees to think differently. For instance, he calls
discussing problems without a fix a “dead-end.” And he encourages team
members to hold one another accountable. “During meetings, if we hear
someone only mention a problem, we remind them to not give us dead-
ends,” he says. “We ask instead for that person to suggest a solution so that
they take ownership of the process to make sure it gets solved.”
Kean makes sure to publicly acknowledge and appreciate team members’
creativity. “It’s important to be positive, especially when you’re trying to
change group behavior,” he says. “A lot of that is just saying, ‘Great idea,’
or, ‘I like where you’re going with that.’”
Eventually, with practice, most employees have shifted their mindset.
“Now it’s second nature,” he says. “Our new culture is solutions-oriented,
and employees tend to have a high locus of control. They are now
proactive about problem solving and feel more empowered to come up
with solutions on their own.”
Case Study #2: Ask probing questions and encourage team members
to take ownership of solutions.
Declan Edwards, founder and CEO of BU Coaching, an Australian
consulting startup that focuses on employee emotional well-being, says his
team could once be described as a group of “people searching for fires but
with no tools to put them out.”
“They were great at identifying issues, but they had never been
encouraged to solve anything for themselves,” he says. “As a result, they
kept bringing all the problems to me and my co-founder. Before we knew
it, we were spending more time fighting fires than actually building the
Declan felt burnt out and resentful. “I remember attending a team meeting
where there was a whole range of problems being brought forward, and no
one was taking responsibility for solving them.”
HBR / Digital Article / Is Your Team Solving Problems, or Just Identifying Them?
Copyright © 2021 Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved. 8
He realized he needed to change the culture. He wanted his team both to
think more creatively and to take more ownership for solving problems.
“When people have a hand in creating the solution, they are instantly more
invested in making it work.”
To encourage new ways of thinking, Declan made his expectation clear. “I
said to the team, ‘For every problem you bring to the table, you must also
bring one proposed solution,’” he recalls.
Declan says that he was wary of putting undue pressure on his team. “So, I
highlighted that it didn’t have to be a perfect solution, but it had to be
something that would at least get the ball rolling.”
At first, employees needed guidance. But over time, they adapted to a new
way of thinking and acting. Today, when an employee presents a problem,
Declan encourages the team to have a short discussion about it — but he
makes sure the conversation never devolves into a complaining
session. “Confirming that the problem is real validates people’s
perspectives,” he says.
Next, Declan asks a series of probing questions. What needs to be done?
What are our options? What opportunities and risks are there? What is
your recommendation? What resources do you need? What are the next
steps you’re taking to implement this solution?
To spark new ideas, Declan often relies on outside sources. They offer
fresh perspectives and new information, he says. “We have a team of
consultants and business advisors supporting us, and we regularly use
resources such as podcasts, articles, and more formal training programs to
ensure our entire team is at the top of our game,” he says.
Today, employees arrive at meetings with solutions and ideas to share.
“Culture change takes time, so there are definitely still fires to be put out;
however, now it doesn’t feel as if all of that is set on my shoulders,” he
HBR / Digital Article / Is Your Team Solving Problems, or Just Identifying Them?
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says. “It now feels as though we have a united front that is creative,
collaborative, and solves problems together.”
Rebecca Knight is currently a senior correspondent at Insider covering
careers and the workplace. Previously she was a freelance journalist
and a lecturer at Wesleyan University. Her work has been published in
The New York Times, USA Today, and The Financial Times.
HBR / Digital Article / Is Your Team Solving Problems, or Just Identifying Them?
Copyright © 2021 Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved. 10

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