On Tap Today:
Project One is due by 11:59 pm Tuesday, 9/16/14:
Post to Wikipedia (or other knowledgebase) and provide a copy of the text with a link to the Wikipedia entry (see an example here). Provide “before” and “after” screenshots as linked files with your references on your team blog page.
Send me an email by 11:59 pm Thursday, 9/18/14
Every team member will be responsible for an email that includes the name of your team and a numbered ranking of your teammates. Numbers are based on the number of people in your team excluding yourself (you will not rank your own contributions). The highest number should be assigned to the person who you felt turned in the best performance while working on this project (e.g., if your team has five members, in this ranking the highest number will be four).
The teammate with the “highest” score will receive a bonus point. Likewise, the teammate with the lowest score will lose a point from their grade for this project.
Project Two: Audiences and Contexts
Choosing an Organization
Project Two requires you to devote a significant amount of time and work toward researching the processes of a particular organization. It also requires you to be in contact with the “decision-maker” for your particular objective (i.e., the individual or individuals who have the power to consider and/or implement the recommendation you will make in Project Six). As such, the organization you choose for the project should be one that you belong to or at least one with which you have some familiarity/contact. Likely candidates include:
- An organization that you belong to (such as the one that employs you or the one that you volunteer for)
- An organization containing one or more members that you have contacts with (such as a business run by a family member or that employs a family member) (e.g., the former student projects involving a cabinet-building company and a dental file manufacturer)
- Some segment of the University, including student groups (e.g., the previous project on creating a wireless campus at Wayne State or refashioning student government at WSU)
Choosing a Problem
You may already be aware of a problem facing the organization you choose, or you may query a representative of the organization in regards to what problem they would like assistance with. In any case, the problem should be one that requires technical or professional communication as a tool of analysis or even possible solution (i.e., the problem you identify might be a breakdown in communication, but whatever the problem is, you will use technical and professional communication both to obtain information and present recommendations to your decision-maker).
Types of Problems
The easiest problems to identify are the ones that are significantly hindering an organization or stopping it from achieving its goals. However, the problem you identify might be also be one revolving around possible opportunities or the need to decide on future actions. The following are the three primary problem categories that you might use to brainstorm:
- Problems in functioning, wherein there is “conflict, discrepancy, or inconsistency between an actual or existing situation and the ideal situation” or goal.
- A problem of “potential missed opportunity” in which an organization need to figure out how to maximize productivity. For instance, a “company doing well in its present operations may see the possibility for expansion.”
- Similarly, an organization may simply be faced with a decision that that they are having difficulty making (for instance, which operating system the should choose when updating their IT); in this scenario, you might offer to do the research and evaluation needed to make this decision.
The Problems of Problems (Criteria and Research Methods)
Organizational problems that require decision-making reports are often social in nature and ill-defined – this is what makes them “worthy” of formal attention.
As such, there will likely be many possible solutions to the problem and you need to figure out how to evaluate multiple solutions using three types of criteria:
- Technical criteria (those that relate to basic questions of feasiblity)
- Managerial criteria (those that relate to the quotidian operations of the organization)
- Social criteria (those that relate to values and the impact of possible solutions on stakeholders)
Below are examples of criteria used when considering remodeling a school library.
These criteria, as well as the general dimensions of the project you are taking up will drive your selection of research methods (e.g., as in the chart below reproduced from our reading):
As show above, criteria based on concerns over size, structure, access, displacement effects, and cost led to such research methods as interviews, site inspections, stakeholder surveys, and professional consultations
Steps in the Project
The work leading up the Recommendation Report will take place in three sequences, starting with Project Two, continuing with progress reports, and ending with Project Six. The actions for each of these sequences are listed below:
Initial Objectives (for Proposal Memo)
- Defining the Problem
- Identifying Research Questions
- Establishing Research Methods
- Establishing Selection Criteria
- Establishing a Schedule for Conducting Research and Composing the Final Report
Intermediate Objectives (for Progress Reports)
- Forecasting Possible Solutions
- Researching and Interpreting Information
- Adjusting Existing Schedules
Final Objectives (for Final Report)
- Presenting Research
- Identifying Feasible Solutions
- Applying Criteria
- Making a Recommendation
Project One is due by 11:59 pm. Post to Wikipedia and your blog. Provide screenshots on your blog of the changes made in Wikipedia.
Email rankings (excluding yourself) are due by 11:59 pm Thursday, 9/18.
Read TC, ch. 19.
Write a memo (300 words) to your teammates in response to “Apply Your Expertise” #3. Consider your execution of Project One and suggest three ways your team can improve productivity heading into Projects Two and Six. Persuasively explain each suggestion.