• the key variables — the target, the current state, and the gap — are generally quantifiable, even if they
cannot be measured objectively;
• it is as neutral as possible concerning possible diagnoses or solutions;
• and it is sufficiently small in scope that it can be tackled quickly.
To tackle complex problems, executives need to complement good problem formulation with a structured
approach to problem-solving. The authors recommend an approach using a modified version of the A3
form, which was originally developed by Toyota Motor Corp. to support knowledge sharing in its factories by
summarizing a structured problem-solving effort in a single page.
REPRINT 58330. For ordering information, see page 4.
The Smart Way to Respond to Negative Emotions at Work
Christine M. Pearson (Thunderbird School of Global Management) pp. 49-56
It is impossible to block negative emotions from the workplace. Whether provoked by bad decisions,
misfortune, or employees’ personal problems, no organization is immune from trouble, and trouble agitates
bad feelings. In many organizations, negative emotions are brushed aside or are altogether taboo. However,
discounting or brushing aside negative emotions can be costly to organizations — leading to lost productivity and employee disengagement.
For more than two decades, the author has studied workplace circumstances that evoke negative
emotions, from exceptional organizational crises to everyday incivility.
One fundamental finding is that few executives handle employees’ negative feelings well. Many managers report that they do not know how to deal with negative emotions in the workplace. To address this
condition, the author details how to improve competence and confidence in responding to negative
emotions. She recommends specific actions to prepare for and step up to negative emotions at work —
including anger, fear, and sadness, in particular.
Promptly stepping up to negative emotions, the author points out, can stem interpersonal turbulence
and keep satisfaction, engagement, and productivity intact. What’s more, when negative emotions are
acknowledged openly, the author argues, employees can learn to anticipate and interpret their colleagues’
reactions to difficult circumstances more astutely. They grow to understand their own reactions better,
too. With these improvements, appropriate responses to challenging situations can be made earlier,
when adjustments are generally easier, more effective, and less expensive.
REPRINT 58305. For ordering information, see page 4.
Getting Past the Hype About 3-D Printing
Jaime Bonnín Roca (Carnegie Mellon University and University of Lisbon), Parth Vaishnav (Carnegie Mellon
University), Joana Mendonça (University of Lisbon), and M. Granger Morgan (Carnegie Mellon University)
Although additive manufacturing — also known as 3-D printing — was developed back in the 1980s,
lately it has become increasingly talked about as managers look for ways to improve efficiency and
reduce production costs. The appeal of additive manufacturing is its potential to reduce the need for
expensive materials and energy, cut lead times, and make supply chains more efficient.
Despite the promise of additive manufacturing, the authors argue, near-term expectations are overblown. Based on dozens of interviews, study of the literature on the history of materials and process