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White Paper Assignment:

For this assignment, everyone is going to write a white paper. Since this assignment is based on the readings from Chapters 1-5, your white paper should focus on any element discussed in those chapters. For example, students find it easier to write on something they’re familiar with, such as customer focus, or, more specifically, on what your firm can do to improve its focus on customers. In the lecture series I've mentioned three distinct components that your white paper should contain. They are:

  • An introduction
  • A statement of the problem
  • A proposed solution to that problem

The requirements for the introduction are spelled out in the lecture. Using customer focus as the example, with respect to the statement of the problem you'll want to explain what the current deficits are in customer focus, and the evidence for these deficits. For example, you might want to say that 'internal research suggests that 28% of our current customers are unhappy with the quality of the help they receive from our help desk', or 'we have lost 14% of our market share to our primary competitor over the last 16 months'. Make sure this section persuades the reader that there is a real problem in customer focus, or at the very least that significant improvements can be made. If you're utterly convinced that there are no improvements whatsoever that your firm could make to its customer focus then you might want to look at how internal customers could be better served. Choose any element you want to focus on   from the chapters, based on your own interest, area of experience, or industry…the choice is yours.

For part three you will propose a solution. This should be a specific solution that makes sense for your firm, not a laundry list of generic improvement initiatives. For some ideas on how to tackle this you can look at the different sections of the readings, and how the text addresses the issue you are focusing on. For instance, you might want to consider some of the following if you are writing on ‘customer focus’:

  • A paper that explains how a firm might do a better job of identifying customers.
  • A paper that explains how a firm might do a better job of understanding customer needs.
  • A paper that explains how a firm might do a better job of linking customer information to design, production and service delivery.
  • A paper that lays out a blueprint for building a customer-focused culture.

Any of these would be excellent launching points for a white paper, though you need not limit yourself to these suggestions. If you're having trouble determining whether your topic is appropriate just email me and we'll talk it over.

As far as assignment requirements go, your paper should satisfy the following:

  1. It should be a minimum of 800 words, and a maximum of 1300. If a white paper gets too long your prospective readers are less inclined to read it.
  2. It should cite at least three sources. One of those sources can be your textbook, but be sure to draw on at least two other sources.
  3. It should have the three sections mentioned above, i.e, and introduction, a statement of the problem, and a proposed solution to the problem.
  4. The solution should be consistent with the ideas and philosophies we see in TQ. In other words, a solution that runs along the lines of 'let's fire Sandra the HR receptionist because she's a no-good busybody' isn't what we're looking for here.