Discovery and Dialogue

Published: 2020-02-24 07:14:35
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The discovery of the problem was a common occurrence. All businesses operating within the storage yard experienced access problems in winter months due to heavy snowfall, which blocked access to the shared business premises. Several individuals representing various businesses sharing the communal storage yard were instrumental in identification and definition of the problem. Their hard work led to the initiation of joint efforts to solve the problem that was affecting all businesses sharing the storage yard, causing losses to property, and risking the health of employees.

Preston Heights Limited is one of the businesses sharing the storage yard. Their operations manager Mike Ashbury contributed a lot to the definition of the problem. He was the first person to do a letter to all other businesses affected by the problem of snowfall asking them to come together and address the issue. His involvement was based on the fact that his business was under threat of incurring serious losses if they could not get their deliveries out in time to their clients. One of his drivers was injured while trying to force his way through snow blocking the entrance to the storage yard. The truck made it through the pile of snow onto the road but skidded and the driver lost control of the vehicle, which subsequently rammed into a water hydrant.

The night manager at Axon Incorporated, Steve Kowalski, was also instrumental in defining the situation. A lot of snow fell in the winter nights. His trucks could not leave or enter the premises. A driver was once stuck on the road for hours in freezing temperatures because the vehicle could not move through the mounting snow. Kowalski suggested the use of a gritter to prevent snow from piling up on the access road and storage yard parking lot. In a bid to demonstrate his idea, he did a little experiment with a hired gritter and called other representatives of the other businesses sharing the storage yard to see the results. The experiment succeeded in convincing other businesses that a gritter would go a long way in solving their problem.

Burgerz manager Anthony Smith suggested a meeting between the businesses in order to chart a way forward to solve their common problem. Smith called the meeting and volunteered his business conference room to host the meeting. He also chaired the meeting overseeing proceedings of the assembly.

Among the earliest residents of the communal storage yard was Galldip Stores. They were among the first businesses to set up shop at the shared premises. The owner, George Richards identified a possible hitch in the winter due to snow since the area was on level land. The slope of the land was not supportive for efficient drainage and snow would accumulate. In addition, he observed that there were barriers off the road that would make it problematic to maneuver around the road in case access to it was blocked by heavy snow. Before the winter, Richards warned his fellow business people of the possible risk in order for them to prepare for the possibilities.

The manager at FAM Ltd., John Hayes, also played a role in identification of the problem and its definition. FAM Ltd. initially tried to solve the problem using a hired snow truck in order for them to carry out business uninterrupted during the winter. However, the costs turned out to be too high for them to go it alone and they asked the other businesses sharing the access road and storage yard to chip in towards footing the bill. FAM also explored several ideas before deciding on the snow truck. The sustainability of hiring the snow truck in the long term prompted FAM to re-evaluate their solution. In the end, FAM reached out to the other businesses that had begun the search for a solution to their common problem.

JTK Drapers incurred losses amounting to thousands of dollars after one of their supply trucks slid on the ice and ran off the road into a small ditch. Not only was the truck driver injured in the accident, but also stock worth thousands of dollars was damaged and a communications cable destroyed leading to disconnection of the premises for a few days before the fiber optic cables damaged were restored. The manager at JTK Drapers, Simon Williams sought to find a solution to the problem and suggested the hiring of a consultant to look into the matter. Williams suggestion was among the first steps that would lead to a conclusion in solving the common problem.

Scion Transport had one of their supply trucks ram into another that was stuck on the road. The transport manager at Scion, Andrew May immediately called the other businesses inquiring if the piling snow was a problem to them too and if so, what they could do to solve the problem. May together with Williams of JTK Drapers began to actively look for a consultant to chart the way forward for the businesses in their quest to solve the snow and ice problem. May was also for the idea of buying snow removal equipment and having the equipment work for the benefit of all the businesses.

TwoWays Deliveries transport manager Giles Francis had expressed concerns to the business directors that there was a possible encumbrance from snow piling up on the access road since there was no alternative route and the area was in the past subject to snow piling up and blocking access. The management who contacted the owner of the premises on a possible solution noted the concerns. TwoWays Deliveries however could not get a favorable reply from the owner of the premises. The management went out of their way to obtain special trucks that stood better chance of moving through the snow than their normal trucks for use in the winter before a more effective solution was established.

The individuals mentioned all in their own way contributed to identifying and defining the problem that afflicted them all. The problem affected all the businesses using the access road and storage yard. The owner of the yard did not have a solution for the businesses so they had to find a way forward on their own. Individually, some businesses made some efforts in attempting to solve the problem. However, these solutions were not effective since some were too expensive and could not be sustained in the long term and some were not directly addressing the cause of the problem. It was therefore necessary to engage collaborative efforts in solving the problem as opposed to individual efforts, which were proving unfruitful.

The approach that was decided on was to obtain a quad bike with a shovel and a gritter. The quad bike was decided on since it was highly mobile and could work in confined spaces as compared to bigger solutions like snow ploughs and snow trucks. The quad bike was also chosen because it was cheaper to buy and therefore the businesses together could easily afford to purchase one together in the least time possible. In addition to cheap initial cost, maintenance of the quad bike was proven to be cheaper than other alternatives and could be easily afforded on short notice as opposed to larger alternatives. The gritter would be used in preventing the recurrence of snow and ice after removal using the quad bike and the shovel. The quad bike and the shovel had been observed elsewhere to be effective in situations similar to the situation at hand.

However, before it was agreed that the quad bike, shovel and gritter were the best possible solutions to the problem at hand, some ideas were discussed and rejected. Among the ideas that were discussed and eventually turned down was the collective hiring of a snow plough in cases where the snow piled up. The snow plough due to its capacity and power would have been an effective solution since it would have been quick and done a clean job of clearing the snow. However, the idea of a snow plough was turned down because it was expensive to acquire. The cheapest snow plough cost more than several quad bikes and the businesses would have to dig a little deeper in their pockets to acquire one. In addition, the snow plough would not be effective in handling small areas due to its size. Consequently, a smaller alternative was preferred that would minimize the need for additional shoveling by hand. Lastly, the maintenance costs of the snow plough would be quite high in the long term and therefore a cheaper alternative was preferred.

Another alternative that was rejected was a snow truck. Due to its size and capacity, a snow truck would easily clear snow several inches deep off the access road and in the storage yard. It would also work faster and required less effort. However, the idea was turned down since to begin with, a snow truck was expensive to acquire. The initial acquisition costs were a bit steep for the businesses and some feared they might not recover costs incurred. In addition, the maintenance of the snow truck was also a major issue since it was high in consumption. Moreover, the snow truck was not effective for clearing out smaller sections or working in confined spaces.

Duration of the Consultancy

The consultancy took approximately one month. The data that was collected included several multidimensional aspects of the problem and proposed solution. To begin with, weather data was collected. The average amount of snowfalls was established in order to have an idea of the scope of the problem and the effectiveness of the proposed solution. In addition, finding out the level of snowfall will also determine whether the problem solving process is a viable exercise. If the businesses engage in an exercise that is not viable, they stand to lose money and time spent in arriving at solutions, which eventually turn out to be of no use to them.

In addition to weather data, other data that was collected is the effect of the snow levels on each individual business. The consultant should identify each business and its needs, which are troubled by the blockade caused by snow. Assessing the level of damage each business faces from the blockage of the access road will enable the consultant to fully evaluate the viability of the whole enterprise and where possible increase the efficiency of the whole process. Moreover, it is important to have knowledge of the whole scope of the problem in order to determine whether the solution suggested will be effective for all the stakeholders and at the same time sustainable. The risk of the suggested solution not being suitable for all stakeholders is avoided. The consultant has to be certain that all the businesses needs will be met by the suggested solution.

The consultant also has to find out the costs of implementing the whole project. The project needs to be evaluated and the costs of acquiring and maintaining should be assessed in order to be certain that the project is affordable to the stakeholders. The consultant needs to find out the costs of the quad bike, shovel and gritter and associated costs such as operational costs and other associated risks. In addition to the associated risks, the consultant has to find out the manner in which the machine will be best operated. In this context, it has to be established whether the businesses will collectively provide labor to run the machinery or they will hire external help and how much each alternative will cost. In addition, the consultant needs to find out how viable the idea to hire out the machinery when not in use is. Hiring out the machinery to other businesses or individuals could assist in generating revenue that would go through maintenance of the machinery. The consultant needs to find out how viable the idea is by establishing the need for such services and the market rates of such services.

In addition, the consultant needs to establish how committed each business is to the idea of purchasing the quad bike, shovel and gritter. The level of commitment of the businesses to the enterprise will determine the...

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