Rhylee Suyom has hopped in three different worlds: the academe, the corporate, and the media. He enjoys being with nature and his family.
The Nuance Group
A Critical Analysis of the Nuance Group Case
The Nuance Group’s problem of fabricating credentials of its consultants in order to attract client seeking for consultation services caused by lack of proper screening and credential validation from the human resource department (HRD), misleading encouragement from the management, and lack of potential policy deterrent from would-be cheater applicants and can only be solved using a thorough Systems Analysis of the root-cause of the crisis, identify all possible effects and the initial problem, knowing the extent of the fabrication of consultants with their credentials, and award honest and able remaining consultants.
The Nuance Group was created as a consulting firm. It boasts of its many consultants with impressive credentials. Some 50,000 brochures of the group’s consultants containing services offered, biographical description, and contact information were sent to potential clients. Dorfman Associates founder Charlene Dorfman got one of the brochures and asked for a meeting with its senior associates for a decision on using one of the Nuance Group’s consultant. One senior associate named Randy chanced upon Jack Patten’s credentials among the choices for outsourced consultant. Randy disclosed that Jack’s credentials contain grand fabrication. Dorfman the contacted the Nuance Group concerning Randy’s revelation. A Nuance group superior officer confronted Jack Patten who did not deny the fabrication yet retorted that the management and HRD encouraged them (consultants) to “put their best foot forward.” Following the investigation within the Group, the superior found out that there was indeed much fabricated information in the consultants’ credentials. (p. 233)
Following these events, it is certain that a crisis is happening. The best course of action would be to create a crisis management team which will address the entire problem and will even be in-charge of creating contingency plans to guarantee that such will never happen again. However, in case that the situation becomes impossible to fix such as when the bad publicity has already destroyed the reputation of the Group, clients have sued, and no one wants to avail of the services offered by the Nuance Group due to trust issues, then the Group’s management has no choice but to relocate and re-establish a new business using whatever resources left.
Identification of Key Stakeholders
The management – there will be obvious repercussions and capital loss since there will be massive losses both financially and possible legal sanctions from the local government or any previous client(s) who may have felt cheated for the fees vis-à-vis fabricated credentials presented.
The honest consultants – since the impact will be felt in the entire Nuance Group, those who have been honest in their credentials will suffer as well since their services will be in question. Moral damage will also be felt since people may generalize that all consultants at the Group have fabricated their credentials.
The clients - since they may have to thoroughly weed through the industry just to find honest and trust-worthy businesses offering consultancy. There will always be an issue of trust following this crisis.
Long-established consulting firms – many potential and repeat clients may have to rethink of cross-checking the credentials of their current outsourced consultants since they may suspect that they may be paying more for less.
Statement of the Problem
The consulting firm Nuance Group has experienced a critical crisis following the discovery of a potential client, the Dorfman Associates, that consultants’ biographical information and credentials are fabricated. This lessens the trust of clients not only to the Nuance Group but also to almost all consulting firms. The root-cause of the problem may be traced to the management’s lack of proper system in verifying applicants for consultant position, stringent policy in penalizing such cheaters, and effective human resource team in employee oversight.
The short term problem will be that many potential clients will lose trust to consulting firms and honest consultants will also be part of the spillover effect of the crisis.
The long-term problem will be that there will never be complete trust among all consultants and their firms unless proper credential validation systems are set in place. Similarly, many upstart consulting firms will have more difficulty in securing trust from long-established businesses because of the repercussions of the crisis involving Nuance Group.
Following these short and long-term problems, it would be best to re-establish the brand name, if possible change the name of the firm and rebuild it from the ground up by relocating and restarting elsewhere so that the stigma of the Nuance Group will be totally removed and forgotten. And the business reports revealed by Robert Pletzin and the Indian Times seem to prove that the Nuance Group may have indeed followed this advice and ventured away from the initial consultation business.
Causes of the Problem
The given definitions of the word crisis reveal interesting yet repeating adjectives such unpredictable, threatening, and destructive (p. 234). All of these descriptions fit the case of the Nuance Group for a crisis (p. 233). The following are the causes of the crisis:
- Lack of oversight or systematic method of verifying the credentials of applicants for consultants or systematic soldiering (p. 34).
- Lack of proper communication within the Group which foster proper organizational culture and values or lack of Building Communication Theory (p. 32) and Interdepartmental Communication (p. 39).
- Present hiring system for consultants has loopholes and human resource personnel can be easily fooled during interviews or lack of proper implementation of Human Resources Theory (p. 45).
- Lack contingency measures for the Nuance Group in cases of fraud or cheating or Contingency Theory (p. 54 – 55).
- Lack of stringent rules or organizational policies which can legally penalize cheating applicants and employees or proper understanding and use of the principles of Systems Theory within the group (pp. 62 – 63).
While the issue cannot be fixed by itself since the organizational structure and perhaps the organizational culture of Nuance group does not give it the ability to be a self-checking or reciprocating system, the following suggestions are given to help fix the crisis.
- Find a computer application or system which may serve to search for the validity of applicant or employee credentials or presented information.
- Outsource an organization which specializes in ‘head hunting’ and information verification which even offer authentication of public and personal documents.
- Retrain all the human resources department personnel in-charge of screening, interviewing, assessing, hiring, promoting, and firing applicants and workers.
- Rewrite or review the management and employee handbook of instructions. Look for possible loopholes which cheating applicants and workers may have exploited and used to protect them from legal actions. Include stringent policies which may penalize and legally punish those who will be caught intentionally cheating.
- Create open channels of communication within the organization fostering a spirit of mutual trust and relationship building.
- Create a crisis communication and management team designed to investigate, detect, isolate problems or symptoms of problems, and execute contingency measures in case of such crisis/crises.
Recommended Solution, Implementation, Justification
The best logical answer is to create a crisis communication and management team. This special team may be a small group of selected few with much background in organizational management, early crisis detection, systems thinking, and contingency approach (p. 239). The reason behind this can be explained by the concept presented in the book called equifinality which states that multiple methods can result in the same output (p. 62). All other suggestions presented in Chapter V can be performed, observed, and expected to be done by the crisis management team. The people in this team may be tasked to double-check credentials, perform background checks, fraud detection, review and rewrite the employee and management handbook(s), have a monthly or quarterly brainstorming of future plans and symptoms of problem observed, and even represent the Nuance Group in case of critical issues such as the Dorfman case or a media coverage. Clearly, this is the best way to guarantee that everything else will run smoothly and as planned. The rest of the operations can be supported by all other employees but this team must be granted access to critical personal information of all workers so that they can plan for the best contingencies. This, according to the book is termed homeostasis or a state of balance when an organization responds properly to communicated inputs entering the system through permeable boundaries” (p. 64). When everything seems to be working in its proper sphere of influence and at the appointed time and manner, this justifies the symbiotic theory which can be described as all people within a system communicating well, constituting culture, clearing and opening lines of communications, having contributory decision-making schemes, and actively having group communication (p. 74) thus becoming a learning organization which regularly soliciting and exchanging information from and with its relevant environment hopefully leading to Systems Thinking or the theory of inter-connectedness of all things in a particular entity (p. 65).
However, the actual selection of the team may be really difficult especially if key individuals within the organization are subject for the revamp or contingencies. In fact, the book suggests that perhaps the greatest challenge yet is to make sure that the top management is committed to the goal and objectives of the crisis communication and management team. In line with this, even if the people in higher management echelon will show that they support the newly formed team, the element of mutual trust especially in the advent of granting complete access to critical personal information may seem next to impossible (p. 238). Even when a team is already in place, the next biggest problem would be the possible leakage of critical information to others as some people may have the tendency to tell tales especially when forced to do so or intoxicated. Another would be the willingness of all workers to allow the chosen team to look into their personal information; if they will not be informed about the special privilege given to the crisis management team, there will surely be a legal case facing the Nuance Group yet again. All these possible challenges can be explained in the Critical Theory which highlights workers’ abuse of power, relentless criticisms, oppression of others, ignoring others, sites of domination, and emancipation (p. 70).
Another challenge would be the type, nature, approach to, and delivery of communication to all people concerned within the issue. Note that stakeholders are highly sensitive since there was a breach of trust; the collateral damage of honest consultants are equally sensitive to their conditions since they do not know if someone believes and knows if they never tampered their credentials; and the people in the management will be on the lookout on who could be the genuine and who is fabricated (p. 240). Honestly, trust issues are very difficult to resolve and may even require a lifetime in order to prove that things change and something better can be done especially in the case of the Nuance Group.
To our dear clients:
In line with the present issue involving the investigation and finding of questionable credentials of some of our consultants in the Nuance Group, we, the Crisis Management Team, are deeply sorry for such problem. We have been created to make sure that all possible problems will never happen again. Rest assure that we will work to the best of our abilities to guarantee that no one will ever work in the Nuance Group again without going through the rigorous process of screening, intensive background check, and four-level credential verification interviews.
In behalf of the Nuance Group, we thank you for your continual support and patronage. We promise to deliver the best service our business can offer.
The Crisis Management Team
The Nuance Group
Pletzin, Robert. The Nuance Group (Sverige) AB awarded service concession contract with airport group Swedavia AB. (2017, October 31). Retrieved November 15, 2018, from http://www.mynewsdesk.com/swedavia/pressreleases/the-nuance-group-sverige-ab-awarded-service-concession-contract-with-airport-group-swedavia-ab-2244029
Zaremba, Jay. (2010). Organizational Communication. Oxford University Press. Pp. 62 – 74, 234 – 248. https://drive.google.com/open?id=1sE5wXzwW23uEZDJzk48lZuxHB48CDIQ2
Shoppers Stop to exit Nuance Group Joint Venture. (2017, August 23). Retrieved November 15, 2018, from https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/industry/services/retail/shoppers-stop-to-exit-nuance-group-joint-venture/articleshow/60196374.cms