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Case Study #1

The Uncooperative Workers
Sara Huston was hired about four months ago as the first operations manager for a established small business. She was excited about her new position and just knew that she could do a great job because of the success she had enjoyed in her last job. But now, she was a little concerned about whether she could do a great job with this new company. So, she made an appointment to talk to Steve, the owner, about her problems with implementing her plans.The discussion went like this:

Sara: “Steve, I’m just not satisfied with the way things are going. I’m having trouble motivating my people. Everybody cleans their desk and rush out of here at 5:00 p.m. They even walk out of meetings that run a little pass 4:30 p.m. because they don’t want to miss the car pool. I schedule morning meetings instead.”

Steve: “Sara you have to know that in this business our people know that they come first and the business needs come second. This is the way we work around here.”

Sara: “I’m always asking my people to come to me if they have problems but it seems that they don’t think that they need or want help. They just don’t communicate enough.”

Steve: “The people working here have been here quite a while and are mostly over forty. They are pretty set in their ways and you are the first operations manager that I have hired. Some of them may not like being managed by a younger person.”

Sara: “There is one person that seems to be interested in becoming an operations manager one day, but his boss said as long as the person is working well for him, he would never think of releasing him to move up.” We also planned to test a new product last week and two of my people said that they had planned to go on vacation and would not change it. One woman had planned a long distance shopping trip and the other had planned a community project. They we not willing to change their plans for the test.”

Steve: “In our company, we encourage outside interests and community involvement. We just hope that these interests don’t interfere with their jobs. Many of the workers can’t advance in our company because they are at the top of their pay scale, so they look outside for interesting things to do. It is your job to work with and motivate these people. Perhaps some research on how to motivate others would help you.” (Adapted from Harold Kerzner, Ph.D “Project Management Case Studies”.)
What are the problems here?(Considering the limited information that we have to work with.)

  1. The owner needs to clearly define the business Mission, Vision and Values.
  2. Growth and improvement are not business values.
  3. Leadership enforces the non motivational culture.
  4. The communications processes are poor.
  5. There was no change management process.
  6. The hiring process and Induction processes were inadequate.


How could GeniusCore LLC help the owner?



Case Study #2

Too Many Bosses

John was asked to manage the development and marketing of a new software program.  The work went very well and stayed within the projected time frame and budget.  John had good working relations with Rachael, the research and development manager and Ben, the  general department manager. They both encouraged John and told him to keep up the good work.

However, during the last weeks of the project, John began receiving conflicting requests concerning the style of the final reports.   Rachael told John that the report could be presented as an easy to understand power point presentation.  There was no funding for an extensive report.  The department manager had a policy that all new developments should be documented in an extensive and detailed report.  This policy was implemented a year ago when Ben became the department manager.  Some people were saying that Ben wanted these reports to make him look good at technical meetings.  All innovations  reports required Ben’s signature.  Ben, Rachel and John had a meeting:

Rachael: “Why pay for an extensive report that we don’t need.  A simple summary of the results is enough to build the next project on or anything else we want to do”.

Ben: ” I require that my signature appears on all department communications.  A fully documented process is all that I will sign.  Your R&D department has its own policies about reports but as general manager of this area, I also have mine.”

Rachael: R&D controls the budget for this project and we have specified a brief power point type report.  You’ll have to find a way to pay for a long report.  It will not come out of our budget”.

Ben: “As a rule the type of report that will accompany the prototype is specified.  It wasn’t specified.  Your plans didn’t specify this, so I went with what our department needs”.

Rachael: “I told John what type of report we needed.  Didn’t he tell you?

Ben: “I interpreted it a different way.  Maybe we need new official policies concerning project reports.  I’m going to establish a policy that all of my department’s requests for project reports get my signature at all stages.  I’ll be personally in charge of all reports.

Rachael: “Great! My first request to you is that I want a simple power point report, no detailed document.”

John: “Ok, since we’ve finished our meeting, I’ll go back to my office.”( When he got to his office, he began updating his resume.) (Adapted from Harold Kerzner,Ph.D “Project Management Case Studies”)

What are some the problems here?(Considering the limited information that we have to work with.)

  1. Lack of owner or general manager leadership.
  2. No evidence of a common Mission, Vision or Values.
  3. Inadequate organizational communications.
  4. Conflicting job responsibilities.
  5. Inadequate employee induction period (John was unaware of the culture)
  6. The new and successful employee may leave the company because of this conflict.


What help does this business need?

Mission, Vision and Value clarification

Enhanced Organization Communications

Strategic Management

New employee on boarding




Case Study #3

The Broken Workplace Culture

Brentwood Tech is a business organized to build computer security software for use by large colleges and universities.  Garmin is the supervisor for the First Step Innovation team.  That is, they are responsible for initiating the new product and setting up parameters that workers down the line will follow.  

It is their job to create elements that enhance the effectiveness of existing products.Innovation suggestions are determined by customer feedback and emerging related technologies.  The team has received an assignment to create a program enhancement by a deadline determined by upper management.  Senior managers have promised their largest customer that the new program will be available a week after the assigned deadline.  

The supervisor was sent an email describing the project and on the surface,to the supervisor, this seems to be something that the team can do. Immediately, Garmin held a meeting to discuss the project.  As they were determining specifics and how to proceed,  they discover several projects that must be completed before they can proceed with the assignment.

Three members were planning to work at home for the summer because school is out and they need to be home with their kids. This assignment would not allow them to do this because of the complexity involved. Two team members have booked vacations in two weeks and they don’t want to cancel them.  There is no way that they can complete the project by the deadline.  Garmin is devastated when he thinks about confronting upper management with the news.  He knows that they would possibly lose a big contract and impact the entire organization.

Analyze this case and design your solutions.  The following questions may be helpful.

1. What can Garmin do?

2. What could have prevented this flawed assignment?

3. What type of culture seems to exist in this business?

4. What would be a better culture for the work that they are required to do?

5. What would be a better way to present the assignment?

6. How would you feel if you were Garmin?

7.What company policies, rules and regulations should be in place?

Stay tuned…………We’ll address these issues in future posts.