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YGMP Capstone Project:
Utilizing CSR Programs to Address Social Issues
As part of their Capstone course, Young Leaders Global Management Program (YGMP) students developed a project focusing on assisting local organizations with continuous improvement activities. To facilitate the project, students were tasked to investigate, observe, and ask questions that would enable them to identify potential sources of issues, challenges, problems, and/or opportunities. In four weeks, the students were required to narrow the issue, analyze the problem, and provide a simple, realistic and cost-effective solution. One group of YGMP students chose to work on Automotive Design Company (ADC).
ADC is a very successful company. Is there anything we can do to help?
During the group's site visit to ADC, the students met with the senior managers in the Human Resources, Technical Engineering, Sales, and Finance departments. The organization presented an overview of the company, their business model, their technical capabilities and skill training, as well as gave our students a tour of the facility. Through their inquiries, the group gathered that one of the major competencies of the company is its strict adherence to providing quality customer service. Through their research, they felt that one of the areas they could address was the platform by which customers communicate with ADC. Per their experience, when they tried to call the customer hotline, the automated answering machine gave limited options and very limited time for consumers to respond. Most of the time, the call hung up before they could even choose from the menu. They also found that there was no opportunity for customers to schedule appointments online. A customer either has to call or submit their personal contact information and wait for someone to call them back. With these in mind, the group thought of developing both an online and mobile platform that would allow customers calling ADC to be directed to the correct department and be able to perform tasks on-demand, thereby eliminating unnecessary wait times.
We bit more than we could chew. What should we do?
The group felt confident with the problem and the solution that they thought of. They decided to share it with the ADC team and the Capstone Project coach, and found that the solution was rather complex and may not provide value to the organization as they thought it would. Given the amount of time left to come up with the project, the students had to re-visit the drawing board and reflect on the next course of action. The group went through a series of brainstorming activities, even to the point of changing companies, in order
to have something to present. As they were ready to change course, one of the group members thought of looking into a partnered approach with another company - Social Service Institute (SSI).
What is Social Service Institute (SSI)?
SSI is a non-profit organization that provides comprehensive human services with the mission of ending homelessness in Hawaii.The institute provides a slew of services, including emergency, shelter, social, and employment, to name a few. During their site visit, the YGMP students were educated on the growing number of homeless people in Hawaii as well as the inability of the homeless people to get back into the workforce. They found that the main driver for homelessness is lack of unemployment opportunities. Given that ADC's main core specialty is training, a potential project emerged.
What about an ADC/SSI partnership to eliminate homelessness?
The group thought of the idea of creating a partnership between the two organizations that would help solve an alarming social issue in Hawaii by leveraging the expertise of both organizations. The group believed that SSI has the expertise in giving homeless the opportunity to better themselves and prepare them on a path of success through its various services and programs. SSI conducts a series of background checks and reviews to ensure that their guests are well on to the path of improving their lives. However, what it lacks is the path to employment. While it can prepare its guests to get back to the workforce, the institute does not have direct means to ensure that path. The group thought, "What if we propose to ADC to consider expanding their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programs to include hiring highly-vetted individuals by SSI and give them a path to employment?" As the group considered this idea the following questions arose:
- What would be in it for ADC?
- Should ADC be concerned with security issues?
- What kind of jobs should ADC offer to SSI applicants?
What's the plan?
The group thought that this proposal would benefit ADC in three ways: 1) provide contribution to solving social problems (reduction of homeless people and creation of jobs), 2) obtain manpower and help its mechanics increase productivity leading to potential increases in profit, and 3) increase goodwill and public reputation.
The group researched ADC's current CSR programs and found that the company had an opportunity to play a significant role in impacting this community challenge. Most of ADC's CSR programs targeted the youth and education. According to the group's analysis, the current state of homelessness in Hawaii has increased by 4% from 2015 to 2016, with 35% triggered by loss of job. To execute the plan, the group designed a three-step process of selection:
- 1st step: CATEGORIZING. This involves educational/professional review and interview. There will be three areas of concern: Basic Knowledge, Clerical Advanced Knowledge, and Mechanical Knowledge.
- 2nd step: TRAINING. The chosen participants will undergo rigorous training to understand their adaptability and skill retention level.
- 3rd step. ASSIGNMENT. Based on their skill performance and evaluation, the successful applicants will be assigned to a specific functional assignment.
What would that look like?
The group used an example of decreasing lead time and increasing customer satisfaction during a maintenance visit. The group mentioned that there are three main steps in a maintenance visit: 1) Appointment, 2) Fix, and 3) Completion. The group highlighted that the assistance of the new recruits would be based on their acquired skills and mostly geared towards completing tasks that are procedural and low-risk. For instance, during a maintenance procedure, the new recruit would be tasked getting the car ready, having the necessary documents ready, and performing simple mechanical procedures (i.e. starting engine, checking coolant temperature, checking injection connector, etc.) The thought behind the idea is that by allowing the new recruits to conduct a pre-diagnosis and get the tools and car ready for the mechanic to perform the repair, it will help increase productivity on all levels.
What is the expected effectiveness of this proposal?
According to the group, the expected effectiveness of expanding the CSR program will lead to: 1) a decreasing homeless situation, 2) increased productivity (decrease in lead time), 3) increased customer satisfaction and enhanced reputation, and 4) potential tax reduction.
Overall, the group feels that the potential partnership between ADC and SSI has win-win benefits. The YGMP students and JAIMS would like to extend their gratitude and appreciation to both organizations for hosting us.
Team ADC/SSI won the first prize in the JAIMS Capstone Competition.
*Actual names of organizations and personalities have been replaced. Although fictional, the information mentioned in the article are based on true events.
On February 7, 2017, the 2017W cohort of YGMP successfully completed the program. For four weeks, the YGMP students immersed themselves in an intense and diverse program harnessing their communication and presentation skills, expanding their social and professional network, and sharpening their critical and analytical skills.
One of the highlights of the program was visiting the University of Hawaii (UH) at Manoa where the students got a chance to meet with local students. Through this activity, not only did the students meet new friends, but it also allowed them to learn more about life as a student at UH. The experience gave the participants the opportunity to think about some differences and similarities in regard to university education. On top of which, the students got a chance to attend and participate in a Marketing Strategy Capstone class, taught by Dr. Constancio Paranal III, at the Shidler College of Business. The YGMP students were given a copy of the case beforehand that allowed them to participate in the discussion. The case was about a Korean Coffee house, "Cafe Benne," which all of the YGMP participants were familiar with. During the case discussion, the YGMP students were paired with local students to discuss the merits of the case. By providing their own analysis, observation, and actual experiences on Cafe Benne, the YGMP students contributed great insight to the local students who had not had a personal interaction with the brand. Similarly, both groups realized the differences in consumer behaviour of each market segment with respect to coffee houses. Overall, the collaboration between the two groups was very productive.
As the culminating activity of the program, both groups presented their final Capstone presentations based on their chosen topics. Both groups presented interesting topics related to their site visits. The first group focused on increasing Corporate Social Responsibility programs for an automotive company by partnering with a social service organization. The second group presented a Marketing Promotional Strategy for a public elementary school to increase brand awareness and recognition. Despite the limited amount of time, the students utilized every resource and opportunity to present a thoughtfully analyzed project. The groups practiced late into the night, in their host family's garage - projector and all - to ensure that they provide a well-rehearsed presentation.
On the day of the presentation, both groups not only had to present to an audience, but they had to face a tough panel of judges who critiqued each of their proposals and recommendations. The judges were truly pleased with the presentations and were surprised when they found out the amount of time allotted for the project. The judges had a tough time deliberating on who should be the winner of the competition as both presentations were very different and each had some strong points. At the end of the day and all things considered, the team that tackled the automotive/social service organization won the competition due to their creative solution of utilizing a bi-sectoral approach in addressing a critical social issue.
The winners were announced at the Aloha Reception held the next day. In addition to the winning team, two individual awards were also given. SuperTrack presented monetary gift prizes to the teams. The winners are as follows:
- First Prize: Team ADC/SSI
- Second Prize: Team Elementary School
- Top Two Presenters: Peter and Lucia
Furthermore, at the Aloha Reception, the JAIMS staff (Hannah and Shay) decided to give our very own "Shaka Awards." This is a fun way to remember and celebrate the uniqueness of each of the participants.
YGMP was truly an enjoyable and worthwhile journey shared by the students, professionals, host families, SuperTrack, and JAIMS staff. The success of the program is a manifestation of our shared collaboration, one that embodies a living and breathing ohana.
As Dr. Paranal shared, "Each year, we meet different groups of students and each group having a unique personality. Like other groups, YGMP2017W has a special place in our long history. In our 45th year as an institution, we welcomed you as the newest members of the JAIMS ohana. During your time at JAIMS, together, we celebrated history and created memories. While our time together is about to end, we are hopeful that we will keep in touch. We hope to see all of you sometime in the future; if and when that happens, we promise it would be as memorable as the day we met and the day we said good bye. A hui hou, YGMP 2017W participants. From all of us here at JAIMS, mahalo and aloha. "
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