The situation in which Sloan Women in Management (SWIM) occurred is disastrous from every possible angle. The conference is under threat of cancellation, and tough decisions must be made. In such moments it is critical to consider all stakeholder’s positions in combination and produce a weighted course of actions as soon as possible to avoid unnecessary costs. In this paper, the solution, contingency planning options, and organizational decision-making will be discussed to make better sense of such situations and their managerial implications.
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Recommended Decision and Consequences
Arguably, the best course of action SWIM may take is to arrange a half-a-day conference. One of the reasons for this is that it gives room for adjustment and adaptation (Pettigrew, 2014). All technical preparations will be in place, and there will still be time to reinforce all constructions and make necessary arrangements to safeguard visitors and all other parties from adverse weather events. Such a decision will incur some additional costs but minor in comparison to rescheduling or cancellation. Furthermore, the news of a reduced duration conference will unlikely shock all guests and other stakeholders more than the two other decisions if delivered together with safety reasons for such choice.
One possible consequence of this course of action is the additional time and financial resources that leaders will have to allocate to the project. Due to the need to reinforce all physical structures and constructions from the winter storm, project originators will have to anticipate additional spendings. In addition, project starters will have to manage the risk of MIT closing. The consequence of that will that of cancellation, which also incurs tremendous losses. The third outcome is the possible lack of visitors due to adverse weather effects. Yet, if weather predictions are true and the storm only beings late at night, this consequence will be minimally impactful.
Recommendations on Future Contingency Planning
Given the present experience, the organizers will probably account for weather in their future contingency plans, but the main takeaway should be the identification and prioritization of resources. In this case, one of the key resources was the fact of the conference occurring as it is a memorable event that unites all the stakeholders (U.S. Election Assistance Commission, 2017). As long as the key element is in place, there is room for adjusting the other ones. In addition, one should always have insurance if there is a possibility of substantial losses due to force majeure circumstances. While it does not safeguard from reputational damage, it may mitigate financial losses and saves resources for a second chance.
In addition, the contingency plan should always be evaluated and revisited at different stages of the project. As the circumstances may change and new information may be uncovered, there is a need to update risk management procedures so that they are relevant at all times during the project. Furthermore, the calculation of losses for every most possible event may be made so that organizers could have a better apprehension of the key goals, stakeholders, and actions. Such estimates, if accurate, could save time and aid in decision-making in the critical moment.
Decision-making in organizations may indeed be challenging due to the frequent absence of ideal and non-damaging options. Often, each possible outcome entails substantial sacrifice, and there is no way to avoid it. In times like these, managers’ and owners’ resolve and mental stability are put to the test. A decision that occurred to be not optimal may ruin one’s career as an executive. On the other hand, people who have such events in their experience are more knowledgeable about the correct course of actions and possible difficulties. Nonetheless, such a fact does not diminish the weight of decisions that have to be made in critical moments.
Not only personal liability and career-related consequences but also stakeholder effects make organizational decision-making challenging. Unwanted circumstances may endanger others invoke moral, economic, and sometimes legal consequences. The liability and weight of a decision grow proportionately to the size of an organization and the breadth of its financial connections. Many projects start to involve multiple investors, thousands of employees, and customers, which makes the cost of mismanagement extremely high.
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All of those people may lose their jobs, endanger their careers, health, reputation and suffer multiple other consequences because of a single mistake. But the weight of failure is not the only reason why it is difficult to engage in decision making. It is also the number of possibilities from which executives need to choose only one. The amount of doubt and consideration one has to endure may be rather daunting on some people (Mikes & Kaplan, 2013).
All in all, arguably, the most viable decision for SWIM is to hold a conference within a reduced time frame. This will curb their losses they would have in two other options and allow them to take steps towards reinforcing the endeavor’s success. Three possible outcomes of this decision are time and resource costs, possible MIT closure, and a low influx of visitors. The core pieces of advice on contingency planning are establishing the priority for resources, an insurance plan, and an estimation of possible losses. The difficulty of decision-making primarily resides with the cost of strategic or tactical managerial misconduct and the array of possibilities, many of which may be misleading.
Mikes, A., & Kaplan, R. S. (2013). Towards a contingency theory of enterprise risk management. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network.
Pettigrew, A. M. (2014). The politics of organizational decision-making. Abingdon, UK: Routledge.
U.S. Election Assistance Commission. (2017). Six tips for contingency and disaster planning from EAC. Web.