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Although the various warning signs, taken together, clearly indicated that Japan was getting ready to launch an attack against the United States, they remained ambiguous as to exactly where the attack was likely to be. There was also considerable “noise” mixed in with the warning signals, including intelligence reports that huge Japanese naval forces were moving toward Malaya. But, inexplicably, there was a poverty of imagination on the part of Kimmel and his staff with regard to considering the possibility that Pearl Harbor itself might be one of the targets of a Japanese attack.

The accumulated warnings, however, were sufficiently impressive to Kimmel to generate considerable concern. On the afternoon of December 6, as he was ponder- ing alternative courses of action, he openly expressed his anxiety to two of his staff officers. He told them he was worried about the safety of the fleet at Pearl Harbor in view of all the disturbing indications that Japan was getting ready for a massive attack somewhere. One member of the staff immediately reassured him that “the Japanese could not possibly be able to proceed in force against Pearl Harbor when they had so much strength concentrated in their Asiatic operations.” Another told him that the limited-alert condition he had ordered many weeks earlier would cer- tainly be sufficient and nothing more was needed. “We finally decided,” Kimmel sub- sequently recalled, “that what we had [already] done was still good and we would stick to it.” At the end of the discussion, Kimmel “put his worries aside” and went off to a dinner party.

Source: Janis, I. L., & Mann, L. (1977). Decision making: A psychological analysis of conflict, choice, and commitment. New York: Free Press. Copyright © 1977 by The Free Press. All rights reserved. Reprinted with the permission of The Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group.

Discussion Questions

  • 1.

    Identify the conceptual blocks that are illustrated in this case.

  • 2.

    Outline the problem-solving steps followed by Kimmel and his advisors. What steps in analytical problem solving were skipped or short-circuited?

  • 3.

    If you were Admiral Kimmel’s advisor, knowing what you know about problem solving, what would you have suggested to help his problem-solving processes? What kinds of conceptual blockbusters could have been useful to Kimmel?

  • 4.

    What do you learn from this case that would help you advise Microsoft in its anti- competitive case with the federal government, or advise Barnes & Noble.com to displace Amazon.com, or advise American Greetings to become the dominant player in the greeting card business? What practical hints, in other words, do you derive from this classic case of analytical problem solving gone awry?

Innovation and Apple

In his annual speech in Paris in 2003, Steven Jobs, the lionized CEO of Apple Computer, Inc., proudly described Apple in these terms: “Innovate. That’s what we do.” And innovate they have. Jobs and his colleagues, Steve Wozniak and Mike Markkula, invented the personal computer market in 1977 with the introduction of the Apple II. In 1980, Apple was the number one vendor of personal computers in the world. Apple’s success, in fact, helped spawn what became known as Silicon Valley in California, the mother lode of high technology invention and production for the next three decades.

Apple has always been a trailblazing company whose innovative products are almost universally acknowledged as easier to use, more powerful, and more elegant than those of its rivals. In the last ten years, Apple has been granted 1300 patents,


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