Operations Management

Greenhill Community Center

These teaching cases present dilemmas and escalating crises facing the new executive director of a small, multipurpose nonprofit organization. Greenhill Community Center was in transition between its founder and a new executive director, Leslie, who had a very different style, professional background and approach to management. The cases present a good overview of general management responsibilities of an executive director of a small nonprofit but also the particular challenges of taking charge after a popular founder/executive director leaves.

Express Maintenance

The "Express Maintenance" case examines a broken culture and formal and informal incentives that work against the mission and purpose of an urban bus system. An award winning transit system, known for its effectiveness, has not aligned its safety inspection system with the high importance of passenger safety. Instead, seemingly modern data, budgeting, and incentive systems mask a careless and ineffective system of inspections and reporting.

Managing Student Aid in Sweden

New leadership appointed to head Sweden's National Student Aid Board faces a near desperate situation. So inefficient is the agency in processing student applications for college living expenses that some students, strapped for cash, face the prospect of asking for public assistance for the poor. CSN chief Billy Olsson, whose background had been in politics, and computer expert Karl-Johan Johansson face the task of finding a way for the agency to provide financial assistance, within the constraints of student income qualifications, in a timely fashion.

Permit Processing on Mercer Island

Instructors may use this case to teach operations analysis, and demonstrate the use of "continuous improvement" or "work re-engineering," inclusive decision-making and strategic organizational development. This case is ideal for provoking classroom discussion about the risks associated with different problem solving strategies from the perspective of the chief executive, about work flow systems and identifying moments of key customer contact ("moments of truth").

Registry of Motor Vehicles: Watertown Branch

As the agency responsible for licensing and certifying motor vehicles and their operators, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles serves over five million people a year - 3.5 million on a person to person basis - bringing the state in excess of $200 million in revenues from fees and sales taxes. This case presents an in depth look at the operations of the Watertown office, one of the busiest of the Registry's 37 branch offices, focusing particularly on activities involving interaction with the public.

Denise Fleury and the Minnesota Office of State Claims

When Denise Fleury left the insurance industry to become head of the Minnesota Office of State Claims in June 1984, she knew the job would be challenging. Recent changes in state law aimed at lowering workers' compensation costs across Minnesota had changed and broadened the mission of the state claims office, which administered workers' compensation benefits for all state employees. But when she took the job, Fleury did not realize how badly state claims was handling its old responsibilities.

Muni Equipment Maintenance Division

Ann Branston, a white-collar professional, finds herself in charge of the large blue-collar workforce of the equipment maintenance division of the San Francisco public transit system, "Muni." Beginning with her arrival in the midst of a serious service delivery crisis for the transit system, this three part case traces Branston's actions during her five year tenure as deputy general manager. The A case sets the stage by outlining the service problems, organizational structure, human resources issues, political environment and the budgetary status of the unit.

Ellen Schall and the Department of Juvenile Justice

This "Innovations in State and Local Government" case begins in January 1983, when Ellen Schall is appointed commissioner of New York City's Department of Juvenile Justice, an agency in upheaval. DJJ was established to detain seven- to fifteen-year-old children between arrest and adjudication. Most of DJJ's charges are held in a 25 year old secure detention facility called "Spofford," a notoriously violent and dilapidated facility in the South Bronx. The case describes the situation as Schall walks into it.

Customer Service Innovations at the Seattle Solid Waste Utility

While there was a myriad of policy decisions that plagued the Seattle Solid Waste Utility, the agency also faced mounting customer dissatisfaction from consumers and the press who were becoming more vocal about problems at the Utility. This case describes the steps the division took to streamline its customer service department, given the many changes in garbage rates and services, such as the addition of a citywide recycling program. This case shows how the customer service manager brought a new vision of customer service to a section plagued by low worker morale and poor productivity.

Improving Decision Making and Patron Service in the King County Library System

Everyone’s life has been touched by experience with a library. That familiarity allows a quick and vivid understanding of the value of the service and what must be managed and decided to ensure the quality of service. At the same time, the King County Library System in the case displays classic tensions between customer service priorities and the needs in a service delivery system to have standardized policies and effective resource allocation.