IDCC

IDCC 320 – Managerial Communication

Assignment Four

Three Organizational Approaches for the Discussion

 

 

 

 

 

Selecting a Strategy for Structuring the Discussion or Body of the Document

  • Rhetorical Purpose (structure that supports persuasion applied primarily to findings)
  • Problem Solving Approach (structure that supports persuasion applied primarily to methodology)
  • Subject Matter (structure based on the characteristics of the subject: the configuration of its features or characteristics; the architecture of the subject as a system)

 

 

Rhetorical Purpose

Use this strategy when your argument centers primarily on results, conclusions, and recommendations rather than on the methodology (i.e., the problem solving approach). Relegate the details of methodology to the appendix (or attachments), to free up space in the Discussion for your argument on findings. This approach assumes that your methodology was relatively straight forward and conventional. You must not think methodology unimportant. It is, but place that information in a location that has the least degree of emphasis in the document. Since this strategy assumes that only a select minority of your readers will read the methodology, it is important to be sure that your approach receives relatively little emphasis in the executive summary.

 

The Discussion section of a rhetorical purpose document might look like this:

 

Executive Summary

  • PPS (emphasis on the organizational problem; some mention of the professional assignment as a set of questions addressed or tasks carried out; focus on the purpose of the document as a decision making instrument: to explain, recommend, propose, authorize, etc.)
  • Results, conclusions, recommendations (as products of the professional assignment and its set of questions or tasks)

Introduction to Discussion

  • PPS (organization restated briefly; emphasis on the professional assignment: more detail on the questions addressed, the tasks performed, the technical issues involved).
  • Rather than a statement of the document’s purpose, introduction forecasts the main topics that make up the bulk of the forthcoming Discussion. (Readers ought to be able to quickly locate the heads of these topics within the body of the Discussion).

Discussion

  • Detailed argument that begins by identifying, defining and perhaps “weighting” the criteria the solution to the problem (findings) had to satisfy. Sample criteria:
    • Need
    • Feasibility
    • Reliability
    • Practicability
    • Fairness (legal, ethical, moral)
    • Safety
    • Value (return on investment; cost effectiveness; efficiency)
    • Significance (relative importance)

Conclusion

Problem restated: a restatement of the document’s objective and the problem that brought about the investigation.

 

Summary: a review of main points, including evidence.

 

Recommendations: an explanation of subsequent action or a list of specific questions for further investigation.

 

 

Problem Solving

The Discussion section of a problem solving document might look like this:

Introduction to Discussion

  • PPS (organization restated briefly; emphasis on the professional assignment: more detail on the questions addressed, the tasks performed, the technical issues involved).
  • Rather than a statement of the document’s purpose, introduction forecasts the main topics that make up the bulk of the forthcoming Discussion. (Readers ought to be able to quickly locate the heads of these topics within the body of the Discussion).

Discussion

  • Detailed argument organized as follows:

Background

Previous work: an explanation of what was done about the problem (if anything) before you took on your professional assignment

Procedure

  • Resources: description of and justification for materials, equipment, and personnel used to produce findings
  • Methods: a step-by-step explanation of the procedure used to produce findings by means of the resources identified earlier.

Criteria used for Evaluating Findings (same as “solution” criteria in rhetorical purpose approach). Define the criteria and perhaps “weight” them.

  • Need
  • Feasibility
  • Reliability
  • Practicability
  • Fairness (legal, ethical, moral)
  • Safety
  • Value (return on investment; cost effectiveness; efficiency)
  • Significance (relative importance)

Conclusion

Problem restated: a restatement of the document’s objective and the problem that brought about the investigation.

 

Summary: a review of main points, including evidence.

 

Recommendations: an explanation of subsequent action or a list of specific questions for further investigation.

 

 

Subject Matter

The Discussion section of a subject matter document might look like this:

 

Note: Primarily used in procedures, systems specifications, product descriptions, training materials, the subject matter approach is appropriate in other documents, such as reports, only when the other two alternative approaches will not support your purpose. Subject matter requires you to search for and discover a logical strategy for taking the subject and breaking it down into logical units and subunits. In this approach, the rhetorical modes known as partition and classification often become the dominant tools for producing and organizing content. In addition, details can often be organized as follows, depending on the nature of the subject:

 

  • As a hierarchical breakdown (e.g., software architecture; training modules)
  • In a spatial manner (e.g., left-to-right; side-by-side; inside-to-outside; outside-to-inside)
  • In order of importance (e.g., most important to least important; least important to most important)
  • In order of function (e.g., mechanical and digital sequences–the latter for software modules)

 

Example

Excerpt from the Report of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident outlined below:

 

Chapter IV: The Cause of the Accident

 

            Overview of Findings and Investigative Methods

 

                        Analysis of the Accident:          Three Investigative Questions

 

                                    Causal Analysis of Shuttle Component by Component

 

  • External Tank
  • Shuttle’s Main Engines
  • Orbiter and Related Equipment
  • Payload/Orbiter Interfaces
  • Payloads and Initial Upper Stage and Support Equipment
  • Solid Rocket Booster (left rocket motor eliminated as cause)
    • The Right Solid Rocket Motor
      • Structural Loads Evaluation
      • Failure of the Case Wall
      • Propellant Anomalies
      • Loss of the Pressure Seal at the Case Joint

 

Analysis of the Wreckage:

Continues to take a component by component analysis

 

Findings:

Enumerates each findings, items 1-16

 

Conclusion:

In view of the findings, the Commission concluded that the cause of the Challenger accident was the failure of the pressure seal in the aft field joint of the right Solid Rocket Motor. The failure was due to a faulty design unacceptably sensitive to a number of factors. These factors were the effects of temperature, physical dimensions, the character of the materials, the effects of reusability, processing, and the reaction of the joint to dynamic loading.

 

Appendices

 

Appendix A:     Commission Activities: Documents Commission’s Administrative and Investigative

Methods

 

Appendix B:     Commission Documentation System: (how the commission tracked and labeled                                    evidence)

 

Appendix C:     Observations Concerning Processing and Assembly of Flight 51L

 

 

Appendix D:     Supporting Charts and Documents Referred to During the Commission

                       Investigation and Report:

 

  • Internal Documents: memoranda and briefing charts documenting key deliberations of principal decision makers at NASA and Shuttle contractors
  • ETC
  • ETC

 

 

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