The Car
1. To teach quality and other problem-solving teams how to
recognize a real problem.
2. To teach quality and other problem-solving teams how to write a
clear problem statement.
Works with an intact team of up to 12 people or as a session in a team
training workshop. In a training workshop, the class can be divided
into small groups with each one doing this activity.
45 to 60 minutes
Round or rectangular table and chairs.
1. A copy of The Car Case for each person.
2. Easel, flipchart, markers, tape or push pins or overhead projector,
screen, and transparency pens.
1. Explain the purpose of the session. Ask teams to brainstorm
answers to the question, “What is a problem?” Post answers on
the flipchart or overhead transparency.
2. Distribute The Car Case. Ask the team to read the case, decide
what they think is the problem, and write a problem statement.
3. The facilitator leads a discussion on the team answers and writes
the problem statement developed by the team on the flipchart or
overhead transparency. The statement is edited by the team.
4. The session concludes with a lecturette on problems and problem
statements. The original brainstormed list is used as a
springboard for the lecturette.
50 Activities for Team Building
The Car Case
1. Present the lecturette on what is a problem and the elements of a
good problem statement prior to analyzing the case.
2. Prior to working on the case, give the team some sample problem
statements to analyze to determine if they meet the criteria of an
acceptable problem statement.
3. A related activity is Activity 37, Selecting a Team Problem.
50 Activities for Team Building
The Car Case
Background Information
Your job requires you to be at work promptly at 7:00 a.m. to relieve the midnight shift
operator. You live 20 minutes from the job, driving by car.
Your spouse also works and has a car that he/she uses to take the kids two miles to
school on the way to work. The kids start school at 8:00 a.m. and your spouse begins
work at 8:30 a.m. One of your children has a driver’s license.
You have a neighbor two houses away who works where you do, but he begins work at
7:30 a.m., 30 minutes later than you do. He carpools with two other men.
There is a bus that passes a block away from your house and goes by the plant.
However, the first bus in the morning does not get to the plant until 7:30 a.m.
The Situation
On Monday morning, you go to the car as usual at 6:35 a.m. and find that it will not
start. It will turn over slowly but will not start. You not only need the car to get to work,
but you need it to go out of town to a training session tomorrow morning. This is the
third time this winter the car has not started.
What is the problem?
Write a problem statement:

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