Inter-relations

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tarheels4 - 2007

#11
JSW05 said:
There's that "top manager" thing again. I think it's safe to say that relatively few managers look for people who will tell them about their institutional inefficiencies. Most, I fear, have bestowed the title of "top manager" upon themselves and look for sycophants to provide some verisimilitude. .
:applause: Very imprssive Jim. You say it like it is without offending anyone.

JSW05 said:
Top managers never use task as a verb:D . Your "cost in place" is what Miner described as "total cost of ownership." Same concept, different words.
...you mean he isn't really a "top manager"? :D
 

Jim Wynne

Super Moderator
#12
tarheels4 said:
...you mean he isn't really a "top manager"? :D
Not at all. Wes's success speaks for itself, and his perspectives often help us to see things a different way, and that's always a good thing. It's just that use of words like "task" and "leverage" as verbs is like fingernails on a blackboard to my admittedly pedantic and oversensitive ears.
 
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Lori Beeler

#13
The Nut Problem

Hi Everyone,
Very interesting discussions...it pays to come in the day before class!
As far as the case study goes, realistically in business there are so many things that affect sales; orders received, production levels, worker attitudes, hurricanes...even the best top managers do not have a crystal ball. A manager must build into their "plan" provisions for those little surprises. One thing we discussed within our group is what would happen if the surplus was not sold and the company was stuck with the huge amounts of nut mixes. One of those things you could count on in this scenario, sales will exceed production levels, would not be something you could count on in real life... you just never know what tomorrow is going to bring. We can all try to plan and even have some level of probability but sometimes you just have to roll with the punches.
Lori b
 
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westerm

#14
Nice!

cwoehle said:
In my opinion, the main reason the whole never equals the sum of its parts is because we are rarely all working towards the same goal. Every person, every organization and every manager attempts to optimize what is in their or their organizations interest. This may at times be harmless, however, it may also result in the organization failing repeatedly to meet its goals or milestones. Every day I see a schedule that is supposed to be optimized for the company's goals, yet every day I see managers argue and scheduling change. The result of shifting priorities is always inefficiency and a less than optimal solution. Furthermore, this gives the workforce the impression that management doesnt know what it wants which results in a workforce that is working at a less than optimal pace.
I enjoyed reading your response. Nicely stated!
See you in class on Wed.
Melissa A. Wester
 
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westerm

#15
Right On!

scrowner said:
linear programming can be a fallacy. The value given does not take into account of the probabilities along the way.
In the example, if one department optimizes its cost, another department may and/or will have to do without. The "probability" of keeping all departments happy is not taken into account.

Next item-for this one I would have to use the "home" for the "whole part". Hurricane Katrina-people lost their homes. All of the personal belongings are the parts to this whole home (and we treasure our personal items very much). But yet, a home in value, can be replaced monetarily, before the personal belongings (the parts). So, when I person lives in an area where hurricanes are known, they take the chance, that a hurricane "probably" won't affect them.

In other words, when we lose the parts to the "whole", replacing the "parts" can be more, than replacing the "whole". Thus, the "whole" and "parts" do not equal each other.
Great Response!
See you in class Wed.
Melissa A. Wester
 
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westerm

#16
MC506-Melissa A. Wester-Response

Steve Prevette said:
This discussion thread is worth one extra credit point on the midterm - and may help you answer an essay question on the midterm. Please respond to this thread by October 27, but ongoing discussion is always allowed and appreciated.

In Case Problem one, we simply added up the profit contributions for the Holiday Mix, the Deluxe Mix, and the Regular Mix (of nuts). By the very nature of linear programming, we assumed no interaction between the various terms being added together in the objective function.

MBA (and project management) programs are rather typical of this - simply add together the contributions of the various components, and as long as each component does their best, all we have to do is add together these components and we will have an optimal whole!

In what cases might this be a fallacy? For example, what is the impact if the travel department attempts to optimize its costs? Might that negatively impact other departments?

Why is it that the whole rarely even equals the sum of its parts, let alone be more than the sum of the parts?

We will do an in class exercise on October 27 that will force you to examine the issue of interactions. In preparation for that, please record your thoughts here. Good luck, and have fun.

O.K. I think I am finally getting this. Will someone please let me know if any of this does not make sense...That way I will know if I am getting this or not!

In my opinion, the reason why the whole rarely even equals the sum of it's parts is because each of the parts are too busy trying to be the largest part of the whole. For example, when I worked for T***** the whole was broken into 2 parts; the "Store Side" and the "Security Side" The store side contributed a great deal to the whole and they did what ever they could to keep it that way. Security contributed very little (if at all) to the objective function, but it saved the whole millions in loss profit. Although this is a known fact, it is not recognized as a contributing factor by the store side. The optimal solution to the greatest objective function between these 2 parts of the whole would be to contribute equally; by working together! Basically, each part contributes unequally inorder to make a whole. That can never be broken down and distributed equally to each of the parts. Each part of the whole have some interaction because they are not equal. For example, in Case Problem 1, each unequal part (R.D.H) made a whole (Objective Function) The Linear program allowed us to see that each part was unequal in contributions to the whole, and at the optimal solution (what's in best interest for the whole!)

See you all on Wed.
 

Steve Prevette

Deming Disciple
Staff member
Super Moderator
#17
One thought - in order to optimize the WHOLE, it may be necessary for an individual component to take a loss. For example, one company ran an in-house cafeteria, selling food for below cost. Why? Because when the employees ate at the in-house cafeteria, they generally spent less time away from their desk than if they went farther away for lunch. Plus the cafeteria food was good and it was good for morale. So, the company found it was acceptable for the cafeteria to take a loss in its operations for the good of the whole.

Sometimes this can be captured by a linear program, sometimes the interactions are more hidden and hard to quantify, but they are still there.

I will tell you in class of Russ Ackoff's "Best Possible Automobile".
 
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tammye

#18
interrelations

In the example of a travel department optimizing costs – if a department head or top level manager has to spend 10 hours on layovers because a flight with 3 connections is cheaper, that means that department is basically paying him for 10 hours where he may be sitting around waiting in the cocktail lounge at the airport. So overall the agency can still be losing money; even though there may be some savings in the travel budget, the manager’s department could be taking a loss for paying him for lag time, also meaning more time away from the office and putting a burden on other staff.

As far as the ‘whole not equal to the sum of the parts’ question – in municipal government this can be true because there are numerous separate departments involved in the agency, each having their own priorities, possibly separate or not in agreement with the policy makers or legislative body (city councils, county commissioners, etc.). Even on a city council, members may have their own agendas or priorities. For example, a council person may say that their top priority is crime prevention, but in the police department their top priority may be to provide basic coverage due to being understaffed due to budget cuts.
Tammye
 
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bkramer - 2005

#19
In th real world people need to think about, or at least be aware of the unpredictable. If everything was certain and had an exact cost, length of time, or output, then life would be very predictable and easy to plan for, but it is not.

One example of the "whole rarely even equal to the sum of its parts" is the process of writing a research paper for a class or work. Your boss or professor may ask you to do research on a particular subjet that requirs you to find and go through multiple sources. You may seach the Internet, read through periodicals, and thumb through books. In order to produce the final product, the paper, you may need to gather quite a bit of information before you can even begin to have enough knowledge on the subject to start. After you have read through all the collected materials you can begin to consolidate your ideas into your own paper. The final product, the finished paper, is a result of all the research, including the information you may not have used directly in your final paper.

BreAnna Kramer
 

Steve Prevette

Deming Disciple
Staff member
Super Moderator
#20
bkramer said:
One example of the "whole rarely even equal to the sum of its parts" is the process of writing a research paper for a class or work. Your boss or professor may ask you to do research on a particular subjet that requirs you to find and go through multiple sources. You may seach the Internet, read through periodicals, and thumb through books. In order to produce the final product, the paper, you may need to gather quite a bit of information before you can even begin to have enough knowledge on the subject to start. After you have read through all the collected materials you can begin to consolidate your ideas into your own paper. The final product, the finished paper, is a result of all the research, including the information you may not have used directly in your final paper.

BreAnna Kramer
I (as the professor) would hope that the final paper is MORE than the sum of the parts. If all you did was collect a bunch of bits of data from various places and throw them on the paper (yes, I had an undergrad student do that once in Economics) then the paper is indeed at best the sum of the parts. But, what I hope you do as a student (and what your boss would hope you do on the job) is add VALUE to the data, converting the data to knowledge, or even wisdom.

But this is an interesting thought. I was a writer of half time shows in college. The hours spent writing and rehearsing were quite extensive for the band, just for a 10 minute performance. But I suppose if you look at the person-hours involved - 10 minutes in front of several thousand people may be more person-hours than that time spent by the 100 person band practicing.
 
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