Incidents For Discussion

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^ CLASS DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

1. Elaborate on "... it is not sufficient for the PM simply to possess these skills; they must also be perceived by others."

2. Can you think of several ways to assure "breadth of communication" in a project? Do you think "socialization" off the job helps or hinders?

3. Contrast the prime law for projects, "Never surprise the boss," with the corporate adage "Bad news never travels up."

4. 'The successful PM is a fire fighter by avocation." How much do you think fire fighting is a result of the PM's style? Can some project managers anticipate problems better than others? Do some PMs create their own fires, perhaps out of a love for fire fighting?

5. Discuss why the project manager must be an overachiever.

6. How does a project manager, in some cases, work like a politician?

7. What are some of the conflicts that are bound to occur between parties that have legitimate interests in the project?

S. Project managers must be generalists rather than specialists. Yet, team members need to have more specialized, technical skills. Can a generalist manage a team of specialists effectively?

9. Why do you think cost drops in importance as an objective right after the formation stage?

10. Why is it more difficult to keep the project on its time and cost schedules the later the project gets in its life cycle?

11. Suppose you have a talented scientist temporarily working for you on a client contract who is due to be transferred back to her regular job. Although you could do without her efforts at this point of the contract, you happen to know that she will be laid off for lack of work at her regular job and her personal financial stituation is dire. You feel it is important that her talent be kept on the company payroll, although keeping her on the contract will increase expenses unnecessarily. Is the transfer decision a business decision or an ethical one? Why? If the decision were yours to make, what would you decide?

► INCIDENTS FOR DISCUSSION

Smithson Company

Eric Smithson is the CEO of the Smithson Company, a privately owned, medium-size manufacturing company. The company is 20 years old and, until recently, had experienced rapid growth. Mr. Smithson believes that the company's recent problems are closely related to the depressed U.S. economy.

lane Smatters was hired as the director of corporate planning at Smithson six months ago. After reviewing the performance and financial statements of Smithson for the last few years, Ms. Smatters has come to the conclusion that the economic conditions are not the real problem, but rather exacerbate the real problems. She believes that Smithson Company products are becoming obsolete and that the company has done a bad job of reacting to market threats and opportunities. She also believes that the strong functional organization impedes the kinds of action required to remedy the situation. Accordingly, she has recommended that Mr. Smithson create a new position, manager of special operations, to promote and use project management techniques. The new manager would handle several critical projects in the role of project manager.

Mr. Smithson is cool to the idea. He believes that his functional departments are managed by capable professional people. Why can't these high-level managers work together more efficiently? Perhaps a good approach would be for him (Smithson) to give the group some direction (what to do, when to do it, who should do it) and then put the functional manager most closely related to the problems in charge of the group. He assumes that the little push from him (Smithson) as just described would be enough to "get the project rolling."

Questions: After this explanation Ms. Smatters is more convinced than ever that a separate, nonfunctional project manager is required. Is she right? If you were Smatters, how would you sell Mr. Smithson on the idea? If a new position is created, what other changes should be made?

Ohio Hospital

A 500-bed hospital in Ohio is in the planning and design stage of adding a new ambulatory service building and is scheduled to begin construction in two months. The engineering department is normally responsible for assigning a project manager for all projects within the hospital. Currently, the engineering department has no one with experience in the construction of an entire building. As a result, the presi dent is considering using the architectural firm that is currently designing the building to do the project management as well. The engineering division head believes his senior project engineer can handle the job for three reasons.- she has a good technical background, she pays meticulous attention to detail, and she is currently available.

Questions: If you were the president, what would your choice be? Why? What additional information would you try to obtain before making a decision? Would someone with experience in building construction be an even better choice?

^ INDIVIDUAL EXERCISE

Assume that your class is faced with the task of producing an answer manual for this book within the next month. Assume that all pedagogical material has to have answers—all the questions, the exercises, the incidents, the problems, the cases. List the characteristics you would look for in choosing a classmate to lead this project. Then compare your list with the ad vice given in this chapter. What are the differences? Why do they exist? Would your list of characteristics differ if this project constituted 15 percent of your grade as compared to 85 percent? How would the list vary if you were the instructor and were attempting to choose a PM?

► PROJECT TEAM CONTINUING EXERCISE

The project team now needs to select its project manager. It should detail the various factors important in the selection of a PM and evaluate each member on each of the factors. A weighted scoring model might be appropriate here, with the heaviest weight on ability to get the job done. It is also important that the PM have the support of top management (the instruc tor) and be a talented facilitator rather than a knowledgeable supervisor.

Following selection of the PM, the team should proceed to evaluate the team members in terms of their effectiveness on the project. Pay particular attention to having a problem orientation rather than a discipline (e.g., marketing, finance) orientation.

^ BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. Archibald, R. D. Managing Higft Technology Programs and Projects. New York: Wiley, 1976.

2. Atkins, W. "Selecting a Project Manager." tournai of Systems Management. Oct. 1980.

3. Avots, I. "Making Project Management Work: The Right Tools for the Wrong Project Manager." S.A.M. Advanced Management tournai. Autumn 1975.

4. Barry, V. Mora) Issues in Business. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 1979.

5. Beer, S. Diagnosing The System for Organizations. New York: Wiley, 1985.

6. Blanchard, K„ and N. V. Peale. The Power of Ethical Management. New York: Morrow, 1988.

7. Boulding, K. E. "General Systems Theory—The Skeleton of Science." Management Science. Vol. 2, No. 3, April 1956.

8. Churchman, C. W., The Systems Approach, rev.ed. New York. Delta, 1979.

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Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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