Step 1a: (CMU Task) Understanding the Context of the Problem (Research)

Workplace problems affecting personal success and collective performance exist in a mental, social, and cultural context. They are often caused by built-in conflicts within situations, power structures and standard practices, including the use of technology. For example, workers may need to follow updated procedures, but the standard ways of communicating change may not be adapted to this part of the workforce. The Think Tank research team starts with the big picture, reviewing the current professional research to identify common problems and solutions others are trying.


Step 1b: (CMU Task) Understanding the Common Conflicts (Interviews)

To get beyond familiar generalizations, the Think Tank team uses "critical incident" interviews to collect a large pool of specific but typical problematic situations from a range of players. See an example of the questions asked during critical incident interviews.

The Think Tank team analyzes these incidents:
  • to identify some common points of conflict felt by managers, employees, and clients,
  • to place them in their larger social and economic context,
  • and to name critical issues such as "teamwork," "on-the-job training," or "respect" as the players see them.

Step 1c: (CMU Task) Constructing a Problem Scenario (Writing)

Out of this initial inquiry, the Think Tank team builds a concise, locally specific but representative problem case which brings the critical issues named above to life. Like real problems, the events in these scenarios are open to interpretation. They invite culturally diverse readings of common conflicts and new options for action.

See the scenarios created for the Think Tank's held so far: