The Blue Spider Project Kickoff

On November 3, 1977, Henry Gable, the director of engineering, called Gary Anderson into his office.

Henry Gable: Gary, I've just been notified through the grapevine that Lord will be issuing the RFP for the Blue Spider Project by the end of this month, with a 30-day response period. I've been waiting a long time for a project like this to come along so that I can experiment with some new ideas that I have. This project is going to be my baby all the way! I want you to head up the proposal team. I think it must be an en gineer. I'll make sure that you get a good proposal manager to help you. If we start working now, we can get close to two months of research in before proposal submit-tal. That will give us a one-month's edge on our competitors.

Gary was pleased to be involved in such an effort. He had absolutely no trouble in getting functional support for the R&D effort necessary to put together a technical proposal. All of the functional managers continually remarked to Gary, "This must be a biggy. The director of engineering has thrown all of his support behind you."

On December 2, the RFP was received. The only trouble area that Gary could see was that the technical specifications stated that all components must be able to operate normally and successfully through a temperature range of —65 °F to 145 °F. Current testing indicated the Parks Corporation's design would not function above 130 °F. An intensive R&D effort was conducted over the next three weeks. Everywhere Gary looked, it appeared that the entire organization was working on his technical proposal.

A week before the final proposal was to be submitted, Gary and Henry Gable met to develop a company position concerning the inability of the preliminary design material to be operated above 130 °F.

Gary Anderson: Henry, I don't think it is going to be possible to meet specification requirements unless we change our design material or incorporate new materials. Everything I've tried indicates we're in trouble.

Gable: We're in trouble only if the customer knows about it. Let the proposal state that we expect our design to be operative up to 155 °F. That'll please the customer.

Anderson: That seems unethical to me. Why don't we just tell them the truth?

Gable: The truth doesn't always win proposals. I picked you to head up this effort because I thought that you'd understand. I could have just as easily selected one of our many moral project managers. I'm considering you for program manager after we win the program. If you're going to pull this conscientious crap on me like the other project managers do, I'll find someone else. Look at it this way; later we can convince the customer to change the specifications. After all, we'll be so far downstream that he'll have no choice.

After two solid months of 16-hour days for Gary, the proposal was submitted. On February 10, 1978, Lord Industries announced that Parks Corporation would be awarded the Blue Spider Project. The contract called for a ten-month effort, negotiated at $2.2 million at a firm-fixed price.A

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