Finding the critical issue

26 March 2014

One of the most useful tools coming out from last week’s reading by Ohmae (1982) is the idea of determining the critical issue. In many ways, this should be your initial goal as you tackle any case, including this week’s case on United Parcels. Is the ‘solution’ provided by scenario planning actually a remedy for a symptom rather than a real solution–why might an organisation change its approach to strategic planning?

And yet, given the reading by Mason and Mitroff (1998) on wicked problems, the idea of finding the critical issue may seem counter-intuitive. Given that wicked problems comprise of interlocking networks of problems is it feasible to identify the critical issue?

For me, the answer has to be yes: As one engages in the necessary analysis around identifying the critical issue, one necessarily also traverses much of the network of problems.

So, my opening question on Friday will be along the lines of ‘What is the critical issue at UPS?’ Good answers will framed towards a solution and provide a robust justification of why it is the critical issue.


Mason, R. O., & Mitroff, I. (1998). Complexity: The nature of real world problems. In B. de Wit & R. Meyer (Eds.), Strategy process, content, context: An international perspective (2nd ed., pp. 41–50). Minneapolis, MN: Thompson Learning.

Ohmae, K. (1982). The mind of the strategist: The art of Japanese management. New York: McGraw-Hill.