The Team Is Formed
Friday the 13th
No sooner had Alice exited the doorway to Herb’s office when Bob entered. Herb could
tell that Bob had a problem. Bob then stated:
In one of our team meetings last month, you stated that you had personally contacted some of my
engineering technicians and told them to perform this week’s tests at 70°F, 90°F and 110°F. You
and I know that the specifications called for testing at 60°F, 80°F and 100°F. That’s the way it was
always done and you were asking them to perform the tests at different intervals than the specifications
Well, it seems that the engineering technicians forgot the conversation you had with them and
did the tests according to the specification criteria. I assumed that you had followed up your conversation
with them with a memo, but that was not the case. It seems that they forgot.
When dealing with my engineering technicians, the standard rule is, “if it’s not in writing, then
it hasn’t been said.” From now on, I would recommend that you let me provide the direction to my
engineering technicians. My responsibility is engineering and all requests of my engineering personnel
should go through me.
Yes, Friday the 13th had become a very bad day for Herb. What else could go wrong, Herb
thought? It was now 11:30 a.m. and almost time for lunch. Herb was considering locking his
office door so that nobody could find him and then disconnecting his phone. But in walked
Betty and Frank, and once again he could tell by the expressions on their faces that they had a
problem. Frank spoke first:
I just received confirmation from procurement that they purchased certain materials which
we will need when we begin manufacturing. We are a year away from beginning manufacturing
and, if the final design changes in the slightest, we will be stuck with costly raw
materials that cannot be used. Also, my manufacturing budget did not have the cash flow
for early procurement. I should be involved in all procurement decisions involving manufacturing.
I might have been able to get it cheaper that Betty did. So, how was this decision
made without me?
Before Herb could say anything, Betty spoke up:
Last month, Herb, you asked me to look into the cost of procuring these materials. I found a
great price at one of the vendors and made the decision to purchase them. I thought that this was
what you wanted me to do. This is how we did it in the last company I worked for.
Herb then remarked:
I just wanted you to determine what the cost would be, not to make the final procurement decision,
which is not your responsibility.
Friday the 13th was becoming possibly the worst day in Herb’s life. Herb decided not to
take any further chances. As soon as Betty and Frank left, Herb immediately sent out e-mails
to all of the team members canceling the team meeting scheduled for 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. that
Case Studies 331
1. How important are communication skills in project management?
2. Was Herb the right person to be assigned as the project manager?
3. There were communications issues with Alice, Bob, Betty, and Frank. For each
communication issue, where was the breakdown in communications: encoding,
decoding, feedback, and so on?