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I had the pleasure of teaching two segments of the Business Problem Solving course at the Mendoza College of Business at Notre Dame this past week.  Each segment has about 40 students who are juniors and seniors in one of the business majors.  The description of the one semester class is as follows: 

  • Just days before Christmas in 1999, Toysrus.com realized that it was not going to be able to fulfill tens of thousands of toy orders that it had promised would arrive before Christmas – even though the inventory was on the shelf! Two days before Christmas, top management decided to issue “We’re Sorry” emails to everyone whose
    package was not shipped. Is this the business decision you would have made?  This class will help develop your “corporate street smarts” to leverage your creative and problem solving skills. Through hands-on techniques and exercises you’ll learn how to ask the right questions, gather the right data, and use it to improve your judgment and make better decisions.

The SAP lecture included three segments.  The first segment included a background on SAP, our company strategy and how business problem solving is an important part of the way we work with our customers.  The ever evolving improvements possible with information technology solutions provide us the opportunity to solve new or more complex business problems for our customers every day.

 

The middle of class focused on elements of SAP’s Business Transformation methodology and the importance of leading organizations through the challenges of change management.  I led the students through a simple problem solving exercise where they answered questions about typical project team participation challenges.  As students often work in teams in the business school, they could comment on their personal experiences and offer solutions to common problems.  We discussed the importance of focusing on the root cause of teamwork problems, not just the symptoms.

 

The final segment was an overview of SAP’s Value Management process and demonstration of the online tools our customers us to build business cases for business transformation efforts.   Students were exposed to the SAP Value Lifecycle Manager and we looked at the inventory of benchmarking surveys and supporting resources on the customer portal.  I closed the lecture by sharing excerpts from a real SAP customer value management engagement and the business problem solving elements of that particular case. 

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