Management 306

Week 07

This is the Management 306 lecture on the Mauna Loa Cafe Assignment. Again, you can see on the website I have the assignment link itself. As well as examples you're free to imitate those examples. You just cannot copy them. I also have a sample website that I put together it's not a real business website. This is actually just one I assembled but it looks real because I take elements from what real coffee shops really put up there, and then just adapted those for the purposes of this class itself. So, the assignment reads pretty short, Mauna Loa cafe a 220-store coffee and pastry company is facing several challenges. The company is asking you one of their smart new employees for ideas to improve the business. Write a memo to management proposing your ideas for improving the business. That's the extent of the assignment instructions. You can see that some of your former classmates have actually taken these ideas and really developed them out. So, there's a lot of potential here for you to sort of insert your ideas into this memo for company management. For elements that I want to address, audience, purpose, structure and style start with audience. Your audience is company management they've specifically asked you for ideas. This is your opportunity to impress them. So, my advice if you're asked and they did in fact ask you. My advice is to run with it and have fun and you know, show them some of the things that they were hoping to get, which is by asking you, a new employee, who has been impressing them you know show them that you've really brought somethings, ideas to the table. So that you know the company can grow and hopefully you can grow along with the company, and this is possibly an opportunity for you to move up and to you know gain more responsibilities and more income. So, think about the audience and this opportunity that this creates for you. Purpose, your goal is to convince management to adopt your ideas. Consider what will persuade them and what they need to make a decision. For purpose of this assignment you can invent, and I put invent in quotes. Marketing studies, cost-benefit analysis, profit projections, etc. Be sure to include enough background and evidence to enable them to make a decision. Focus on benefits but also acknowledge obstacles. Now, what I want you to consider is how and some of the, by the way audience and purpose sort of combined here a bit. What I want you to consider is that this is a fictional business Mauna Loa cafe. Even though I'm sure there's real business out there they're virtually identical looking. But in this class, this is a fictional business. So, you're allowed for purposes of this class to invent marketing studies or to invent facts. Do not do that in real life, in real life don't invent stuff, in real life you need to go out and do the marketing study or go find the research. But here for this class you're allowed to create your own series of facts and statistics and close from experts and so on. Strictly for the purpose of this class. I want to distinguish what we're doing here is practicing writing, but you have to put something in your writing, so you're allowed to invent things, but only do it for these guys, do not do it in the real world. So, you can make up something since you understand your audience is upper management and they will always be concerned with cost because you're trying to sell your ideas you're trying to convince them to write checks. So, I would say be sure to always factor in into whatever your discussion is of your ideas, factor in what things might cost because that's something that people have to consider. So, cost benefit analysis is simply, what's this going to cost and how much money are we going to raise from this. What are the revenues and ideally, you're proposing something that would bring in more money than it costs to do. For example, and I can give you one example, if you suggest adding drive-through to all of the 220 stores in the coffee chain. That sounds pretty good, but you have to imagine the sheer expense of actually adding a drive-through is not a small amount. It's actually pretty large because there's construction, and there's permits and then there's the time when you're basically doing the work on the outside of the store and you're disrupting business and revenues being lost. You have all of that to consider and then how much more coffee are you going to sell? What are the projected revenues? So that's where something like a very expensive idea might pay off and might be worth doing or it may not. So, doing a comparison of what the costs are versus what the benefits are it's probably a pretty useful thing to include in your discussion for an idea. That said, you want to put in enough specific information, hard information like statistics and so on, to persuade management to agree with you, but you also should acknowledge potential problems or potential obstacles. Believe it or not that doesn't necessarily convince someone or weaken your ideas. What it does is the problems that are there should be considered as well. So, generally most ideas also have trade-offs and so if you acknowledge the trade-offs, but point out that the benefits outweigh, that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. That's a pretty powerful effective and persuasive way to approach your ideas. So, the structure you can include as few or as many ideas as you wish. Each idea should be in a separate paragraph. However, the description of idea makes the paragraph too long find a natural break point and continue to another paragraph. Also range your ideas in order of importance your first idea should be the most important. Your next idea should be the next most important and so on. How do you determine what is most important consider your audience? Decide what is most important to Mauna Loa cafe management. So, there's two parts to that section on structure, my thoughts on structure. The first is you don't want a paragraph that stretches the entire page or the entire screen. That's simply too much there's too much in there. You want to make your paragraphs fairly short five, six, seven sentences should be the upper limit really. You can always continue on the same idea. Just start another paragraph and say continuing. Because you're improving readability when you do that. In other words, you're not asking somebody to take in visually this entire giant block of text but what you're actually doing is you're showing them that indeed, here's a small piece of writing five, six sentences, and here's another small piece, and it's easier just to read it so you just take that in. So, you want to always make sure your paragraphs don't run too long. You also don't want to put two separate ideas into the same paragraph. That is just confusing. Paragraphs, and I spoke about this earlier with organization. Paragraphs really should focus on one singular idea that you put in that first sentence called the topic sentence. Which I spoke about, and then the paragraph is just about that and nothing else. So, if you have several different ideas you want to at the minimum put them in several different paragraphs, and that's just what readers expect. In addition to simply separating ideas into paragraphs you also want to make a decision of how to organize your paragraphs which idea comes first and which comes next, and that's pretty simple. Typically, in most business communications, you're going to arrange whatever it is you're saying in the order of importance. The most important points, the most important ideas, the things you're trying to convey come first and as you go down, as you go down the screen, as you go down the page, you're moving to lesser and lesser importance. If everything is equally important, then that doesn't apply but typically, especially when you consider what's important to the reader, then you want to start with the most important and then work your way down. That is an old convention that actually goes way, way back when newspapers used to fit, and this is before digital, this is all very, when newspapers were mechanically printed on presses and they used to fit columns of writing, get it onto a page because now they have to take words, but they have to fit them into this visual space that doesn't change. These newspapers were set a certain size, the printing press was set a certain size. They actually would when they would write long on purpose as a reporter as a journalist and then whoever was setting the page would actually then start cutting to fit things, but they would cut from the bottom up. So, you intentionally put the least important things last so that if you had the cut, you cut from the bottom. You didn't cut from the top. And as a convention that's now what readers expect. We expect you to start with the most important things. There are by the way, some exceptions to that when you don't start with the most important thing. Those are unusual, has to do with dealing with an audience, a non-receptive audience, for households. I would say don't even worry about that, especially not for this assignment and then generally, it's not something that's going to come up very often. So finally, style, you are writing to people above your position. Choose a sincere, reasonable, and respectful tone. Also, because your goal is to convince your readers to make confidence in your ideas. So, you're addressing people that you work for, they hired you, their position is above you, so you want to be respectful, but at the same time, can make confidence. These are your ideas. Probably the most effective thing you can do when it comes to actually persuading people and selling people is you have confidence in your ideas. These are good ideas, you're confident about them. You can say that in a very respectful way but be confident. If you're not confident with your idea change your idea but put forth in your memo to management something you feel very confident would be a good idea or good ideas in a way to improve the sales at Mauna Loa Cafe. Okay, enjoy the memo. Thanks.