Critical Analysis of Cliffside Holding Co. Memo (CHCM) Applying the 10 Steps of Critical Analysis by Brown & Keeley (2010)
The current coursework provides the analysis of the memorandum given to the company by using critical thinking analysis. This analysis was prepared and presented by Brown and Keeley. In the memo, Cliffside Holding Company of Massapequa the author Mr. Anil Ravaswami (2014) analyzed the necessity of establishing a leadership development program for the preparation of junior executives for future advancement into executive positions. The person who advocated the leadership development program proposed to provide pieces of training for 20 employees every year. The author stated that the total cost of this program will be about 100,000 USD per year for pieces of training and about the same amount for the lost time on the position. Mr. Anil Ravaswami argues that the development and realization of this program are unnecessary because leadership skills and abilities are inborn and could not be trained. The main purpose of the current coursework is to analyze the Cliffside Holding Company of Massapequa (CHCM) memorandum by using the critical thinking analysis and the ten-step scenario that was presented in the work Asking the right questions: A guide to critical thinking.
1. What are the Issue and the Conclusion?
Ms. Florence Forsythe, one of the members of the senior staff of the Cliffside Holding Company of Massapequa, offered the proposition to establish a leadership development program for junior financial executives in order to increase their prospects of climbing the career ladder to the executive positions. The cost of this program is rather high. Mr. Anil Ravaswami performed the analysis of this program and described his personal vision concerning the necessity and the effectiveness of this initiative. His visions are directed to Ms. Cynthia Castle, the CEO of the company, who takes the final decision concerning the above-mentioned program. Mr. Anil Ravaswami states that leadership training is unnecessary due to several reasons. The first reason is that the company has been prosperous for many years without pieces of training. The second reason is that leadership skills are inborn and they cannot be trained or studied. Moreover, as per the opinion of Mr. Anil Ravaswami, these skills are closely connected with the genetics of the person, particularly with height. Also, he elucidates that if the company needs skillful and professional leaders, it may hire them from the outside. Numerous talented leaders are searching for work at the moment. Hence, it would be easier and less expensive to hire a leader than to train him/her. The proposition of Ms. Florence Forsythe is considered to be a personal agenda against Mr. Anil Ravaswami for his personal discretization and the method of pushing theories of the institute which would be involved in the process of establishment of leadership courses.
2. What are the Reasons?
There are several reasons why Mr. Anil Ravaswami considered that establishment of a leadership development program in the Cliffside Holding Company of Massapequa is unnecessary. The first reason is that the company has been successfully presented in the market for over 50 years with the constant growth rate of about 12 percent annually without any additional pieces of training (Ravaswami, 2014). Consequently, as per his opinion, the prosperity of the company does not depend on any courses. The second reason is a strong belief that leadership abilities are inborn. He supported his idea by the citation of Dr. Irwin Corney, examples of famous leaders, and references from Wikipedia. As per his opinion, these examples show that personality traits predict whether a person is a leader or not. Therefore, these skills depend on genetics. Also, Mr. Anil Ravaswami provided his personal opinion concerning the correlation between the height of a person and the leadership skills of an individual on the example of American Presidents.
One more considerable reason to reject the idea of leadership pieces of training for employees is a considerable amount of skillful leaders who are searching for work. On the basis of the understanding that leadership skills are innate, Mr. Anil Ravaswami states that it is better to find and hire a leader than to train him or her. Moreover, at the very beginning of the memorandum to the Cliffside Holding Company of Massapequa, he made emphasis on the considerable cost of pieces of training. The cost of studies and the denied profit (the time lost on pieces of training) will comprise about 200,000 USD every year.
3. What Words or Phrases are Ambiguous?
There are a lot of ambiguous ideas in the memorandum to the Cliffside Holding Company of Massapequa. The author gave examples of famous leaders, like Winston Churchill and Mother Theresa, who, as per his opinion, “possessed such leadership traits as ambition, self-confidence, and intelligence” (Ravaswami, 2014). It should be mentioned that the understanding of leadership traits can vary for different people. Also, the additional attention should be paid to the term of “wrong people” used in the memorandum: “if we spend money sending wrong people to leadership training, the whole program will be waste of money” (Ravaswami, 2014). Various people have a different understanding of who is inappropriate for executive positions. Moreover, these insights can be gained only in the course of time. Additionally, Mr. Anil Ravaswami mentioned that his company had been successful and prosperous for over 50 years. However, it is obvious that the performance of the company was not at the same level during this period. Moreover, people may understand these terms differently. Consequently, some of the insights and visions of the author of the memorandum cannot be considered as the world’s foremost authority.
4. What are the Value and Descriptive Assumptions?
Both value and descriptive assumptions are presented in the described memorandum. A value assumption is considered to be the implicit preference for one value over another in a particular context. Unlike value assumptions, descriptive assumptions are based on the author’s hypothesis.
One of the most notable value assumptions in the memorandum presented by Mr. Anil Ravaswami is the definite cost of the leadership development program. It was calculated by multiplying the number of employees by the cost of studying one person. The idea that it would be more beneficial, i.e. less expensive, to hire a leader instead of training leaders for the current employees has a weak background. The author of the memorandum does not provide strong evidence that leadership skills cannot be trained and that there is a sufficient amount of professionals with the necessary leadership skills who are searching for work. Consequently, it cannot be considered as the value assumption.
Among the most notable descriptive assumptions is the view that leadership skills are inborn and cannot be trained in adult life. Also, the additional attention should be paid to the fear of Mr. Anil Ravaswami that the person who advocates this leadership development program (Ms. Florence Forsythe) has “personal agenda to discredit” him (Ravaswami, 2014). There is no clear support of this opinion. Additionally, Mr. Anil Ravaswami states that the establishment of this program will lead to attracting additional expensive training programs, which has no basis behind it.
5. Are There Any Fallacies in the Reasoning?
The memorandum to the Cliffside Holding Company of Massapequa (CHCM) contains various types of fallacies in the reasoning.
The first and most apparent fallacy is the faulty cause. Mr. Anil Ravaswami assumes that the major reason why Ms. Florence Forsythe advocates the leadership development training is that this person “has a personal agenda to discredit me [Anil Ravaswami] and push theories of the Aspen Institute” (Ravaswami, 2014). As per his personal opinion, these were the major reasons why the leadership development program was proposed to the Cliffside Holding Company of Massapequa. This type of fallacy is called faulty cause. It refers to a mistaken association for causation and wrong assumptions.
Also, Mr. Anil Ravaswami presents fallacies which can be considered as a faulty analogy. When he provides the examples of six American Presidents and their heights, he makes stress that the person with strong leadership skills is usually tall. This means that Mr. Anil Ravaswami makes his assumptions due to the fact that the American presidents and notable leaders were tall; therefore, managers with strong leadership skills should also be tall.
The slippery slope fallacy that the author develops in his conclusion claims that the costly leadership training requests will follow once a few people are sent to this leadership training.
The additional attention should be paid to the glittering fallacy. It is reflected in the statement that the Cliffside Holding Company of Massapequa has been successful for more than 50 years. Mr. Anil Ravaswami does not present clear figures which may support this information and the statement of a stable annual growth rate of 12 percent.
6. How Good is the Evidence: Intuition, Personal Experience, Case Examples, Testimonials, and Appeals to Authority & Personal Observation, Research Studies, and Analogies?
The evidence provided by Mr. Anil Ravaswami was not good enough to prove that the establishment of the leadership development pieces of training for preparation of junior financial executives for future advancement into executive positions will not provide any benefits to the company. The analogies reflected in the information concerning the height of the American presidents were inappropriate. Also, examples of leadership skills of outstanding personalities did not assure that these skills are inborn. Personal observations concerning the fact that the majority of senior staff of the company were tall were also unconvincing. At the same time, he ignored the fact that the only member of the senior staff who was not as tall as a woman, which corresponded with statistics that women are usually lower than men. Provided quotes of Dr. Corey concerning the nature of leadership skills did not support the idea that leadership could not be learned.
Additional attention should be paid to the outcomes of researches and studies presented by Mr. Anil Ravaswami. He chose only those parts of articles which might indirectly support his point of view. At the same time, the author did not perform a broad investigation of the nature of leadership and its reflection. There was no statistical information from broad researches. Consequently, the information and the conclusion of the memorandum to the Cliffside Holding Company of Massapequa are very questionable.
7. Are There Rival Causes?
The memorandum developed and presented by Mr. Anil Ravaswami is partly based on the spirit of rivalry between him and Ms. Florence Forsythe. As per his opinion, the facilitation of the establishment of the leadership development program is based on Ms. Forsythe’s intends to replace him on his position. However, he presents no clear evidence supporting this opinion. At the same time, the described memorandum reflects the fear of Mr. Anil Ravaswami that the successful implementation of the program may weaken his position in the company.
There is a possibility that Mr. Anil Ravaswami stands against any changes in the company. This person has a clear understanding that before the establishment of the leadership development program, the company has been prosperous. At the same time, there is no confidence that after the implementation of this initiative, the Cliffside Holding Company of Massapequa will remain successful. This uncertainty frightens the Vice President of Human Resources Department.
8. Are the Statistics Deceptive?
The data provided by Mr. Anil Ravaswami in his memorandum to the Cliffside Holding Company of Massapequa is deceptive. He mentioned that the average growth rate of the company during the time period of 50 years was 12 percent annually. It is obvious that this rate changed over a period of time. At the same time, he did not mention any information that would reflect the company’s prosperity, like revenue, profit, market share, etc. Additional emphasis should be made on the economic environment and the global trends on the market.
Much attention should be paid to the statement that all the leaders of the company did not complete leadership pieces of training. Mr. Anil Ravaswami did not perform additional investigations concerning this matter. He just reflected his point of view that was not supported by facts. It was possible that the senior staff and executive managers who worked in the Cliffside Holding Company of Massapequa had completed leadership or similar pieces of training at their previous places of employment or during their studies in educational institutions.
Also, the emphasis should be made on the examples of tall American Presidents who were great leaders. This statement is rather deceptive since Mr. Anil Ravaswami does not provide the information concerning the height of all American Presidents or great leaders of this country.
9. What Significant Information is Omitted?
Mr. Anil Ravaswami omitted a considerable extent of significant information that would be useful for a more detailed study of the question on the necessity of establishing leadership pieces of training. The Vice President of the Human Resources did not perform an investigation of the methods pertaining to the leadership skills training of employees which existed at that moment. He resorted to the strong belief that these skills could only be inborn. On the contrary, Muslim Ali (2014) in his article provided numerous examples that leadership skills, like accountability, self-consciousness, competence, and passion, could be trained.
Also, he did not perform a thorough investigation concerning the causes of the prosperity of the company during the previous 50 years. These investigations would be helpful for the understanding which employees’ abilities and skills should be trained for further development of the Cliffside Holding Company of Massapequa.
10. What Reasonable Conclusions are Possible?
After the thorough analysis of the memorandum, a reasonable conclusion can be reflected in the statement that the additional investigation should be made to determine the necessity and effectiveness of establishing the leadership training program. Mr. Anil Ravaswami did not provide strong evidence to his ideas. He adhered to the ideas that leaders were tall, leadership skills were inborn, and training of these skills was a waste of money. The Vice President did not want to change the established order even if these changes could be beneficial to the company.
The current work provided a thorough analysis of the memorandum prepared by Mr. Anil Ravaswami to the Cliffside Holding Company of Massapequa. This analysis shows that the Vice President presented only a limited understanding of the nature of leadership. His work contains numerous questionable ideas, like the statement that leadership skills are inborn and leaders are tall. The additional investigations of the necessity of establishing the leadership development program and related issues should be performed by the person who can provide outcomes based on strong facts and clear pieces of evidence. Additional attention should be paid to the fact that the analysis of the program should be performed by an employee who has no personal concerns towards the person who proposed the program. This is necessary for the elimination of biases during the assessment process.