" The following appeared in a report presented for discussion at a meeting of the directors of a company that manufactures parts for heavy machinery.
“The falling revenues that the company is experiencing coincide with delays in manufacturing. These delays, in turn, are due in large part to poor planning in purchasing metals. Consider further that the manager of the department that handles purchasing of raw materials has an excellent background in general business, psychology, and sociology, but knows little about the properties of metals. The company should, therefore, move the purchasing manager to the sales department and bring in a scientist from the research division to be manager of the purchasing department.”
Here's my take on it.....
The argument claims that to improve on the falling revenues of the company, the present purchasing manager, who has good general business knowledge be replaced with scientist. Stated in this way, the argument fails to mention several key factors on the basis of which it can be evaluated. The conclusion relies on assumptions for which there are no clear evidences. Therefore the argument is rather weak, unconvincing, and has several flaws.
Firstly, the argument readily assumes that the planning in buying the raw material (metal) is flawed because of the poor understanding of the quality of the metal. This statement is a stretch and not substantiated in any way. There are many other factors which could affect the planning, such as the synergy among the team could lead to such problems. Mentioning the fact that manager is good at sociology, doesn’t provide a significant evidence to discount such factors. Also no relevant data regarding the pricing of raw material is mentioned. There is a possibility that manager being good at general business, is waiting for the right market price.
Secondly, the argument assumes that the decrease in the revenue is related to a delay in the manufacturing. This again is a flaw as the argument doesn’t create any co-relation among these two phenomena. To illustrate, the decrease in the revenue could also be due to fall in the demand for parts of heavy machinery, and this has nothing to do with delay in the manufacturing.
Finally, the argument concludes that present manager, who is good at general business, and sociology, be replaced with a scientist. Through this conclusion again the argument fails to consider the impact that this decision would make. For example, a scientist could hardly understand the general business logics which apply while negotiating a deal for raw material, which highly impacts the costing of the company. Further the manager is supposed to maintain a synergy within the team and act as a leader, but none of this quality can be attributed to a scientist, who is more of a metal expert.
In conclusion, the argument is flawed, and unconvincing. It could be strengthened if more relevant facts were mentioned, or rather more viable suggestion were proposed, like including a scientist in the team rather than making him take the position of the manager. In order to come to a conclusion it is important to have full knowledge of all the contributing factors.