MSCI 506: Problem Solving Skills for Consultants
(Phase 1 and 2 – Autumn and Spring Term)
The main concern of this course is the process of conducting analytical studies for clients. It runs alongside the technical and applications courses of your MSc and should be regarded as the core 'professional' element. There are lectures, case exercises and group work, and we particularly stress the need to develop sensible approaches to problem structuring and model formulation.
You will develop an understanding of the ways in which modern Management Science methods can be effective in supporting decision making and analysis in contemporary organisations. In addition, you will gain an appreciation of theories of decision making and choice and some understanding of the ways in which data produced by accounting systems can be used in analytical consultancy practice.
The course aims to:
- introduce you to problem solving as seen here at Lancaster, with its emphasis on relevance and rigour.
- provide a context for the use of analytical techniques.
- provide practice in group work.
- develop your report writing and presentation skills.
- provide you with a background appreciation of basic accounting ideas.
By the end of the module you should be able to:
- work on complex unstructured problems and conduct a preliminary specialised analysis that might serve as a precursor to more detailed work, should that be appropriate. Such preliminary analysis will rest on the statistical and other analytical methods taught on other modules.
- understand the requirements of writing technical reports,
- understand the requirements of making presentations to client organisations
- understand the requirements of working effectively in teams.
Outline Lecture Plan
- An introduction to a problem solving approach
- Formal presentation skills
- Using academic literature
- Report writing
- Developing group skills
- Employability skills, including CV writing
- Basic accounting
A short series of lectures give a basic introduction to problem solving. These are interspersed with a set of group based case exercises leading to presentations. These are not assessed, though feedback will be given. There are lectures which aim to develop skills in the writing of technical reports and in making presentations. There is an introduction to accounting. In addition, there is input from the Centre for Employability, Enterprise and Careers.
- Individual report (20%)
- Group report (20%)
- Group presentation (20%)
- Problem solving exam (40%)
Pidd M. (2009) Tools for thinking: modelling in management science (3rd ed). Wiley, Chichester.
And these may be useful:
Checkland P.B. (1999) Systems thinking, systems practice (Revised ed). Wiley, Chichester.
Checkland P.B. and Scholes J. (1999) Soft Systems Methodology in action. Wiley, Chichester.
Rosenhead J.V. and Mingers J. (Eds) (2001) Rational analysis for a problematic world revisited. Wiley, Chichester.