Case Study: Project Firecracker
1. Brief synopsis
National Corporation, a large
international corporation manufactured speciality machines, components and
tools to the automotive and aircraft manufacturers. The case study portrays the
significance of project management which should have been followed. As a
result, they lost the order worth $40 Million due to their negligence.
At National, Jeff Pankoff was
initially assigned in the Engineering department and transferred to Ireland to
set up engineering department. After a successful three years, he was promoted
as a Chief Engineer when he returned to the Home office. Jeff, the head of the
engineering department and was responsible for purchasing capital equipment and
selection of production methods.
Ben Ehlke, Manager of South Carolina
plant wanted to purchase a CNC machining centre worth $250,000 based on the what
the aircraft company had requested. Jeff was responsible for approving the
purchase and had many questions about the purchase necessity and arranged a
meeting with the Tom Kelly, chief tool buyer of the Aircraft Company APC. Jack
White, the distributor salesman accompanied Jeff and Ben for the meeting. Jeff
was surprised to know that there was a big of $40 million per year worth deal
from Kelly. Jeff convinced his superiors about the deal that he had accepted.
Jeff suggested to approach Project Management method for this project but his
boss, Don Wolinski refused and said to follow the same traditional method that
they were using.
As they approached traditional
method, information from the customers through sales was delayed. Without
consulting the engineering team, 100 parts were promised to deliver in two
weeks. As a result, they were late by one week and the quotes were not able to provide
on time. APC received quotation from others competitors and therefore cancelled
the National’s deal. National realized their mistake and decided to implement
project management on the future projects.
2. What did Jeff, the chief engineer, do wrong?
Jeff did not consult Bob Jones, the sales representative before taking the
order from the APC. He took decision without consulting from the sales department.
Did National win the $40 million
National Corporation did not win the $40 Million order.
4. What approach should they be using? Why?
They should be using
Project Management approach in the future projects. All communication should go
by proper channel. In order to avoid delays, difference of opinions from every
individual and to have uniform priorities, a project manager should be assigned
to give a single voice for the project.
5. What did Jeff’s boss want to discuss with him about doing on
a trial basis?
Jeff’s boss, Don Wolinski wanted to
discuss about the Project Management concept with Jeff which he had mentioned
during the start of $40 million deal with APC.
Write a brief synopsis.
article discusses about the United Kingdom’s Strategic Rail Authority project
which failed. To minimize the inconvenience to the passengers, SRA had
announced to deliver the project earlier which resulted to cost huge amount
than their forecast. This illustrates the failure due to lack of leadership and
strategy. It discusses the cultural architecture and role of project managers
in the company. Even when the best practices are followed, the project’s
success depends on the Executive suites. Only with a supportive culture and
emphasis on project, project could be successful. Even when the project manager
leads the success efforts only executive sponsors can raise the success rate.
Tim Stockert, President of Innova says that the organization success can be
achieved by approaching in professional way by building trust, values, system
thinking, accountability and executives should communicate market strategy and
structure. Executive support and guidance are important to the project
managers. On the whole, article discusses about the co-ordination between the
executive sponsors and the project managers for successful project.
Why was the United Kingdom’s Strategic Rail Authority project
of clear leadership and strategy, United Kingdom’s Strategic Rail Authority project
failed to meet the requirements.
Who does the project manager depend on? To do what?
A project manager who exercises a good professional
approach depends upon executive to build a culture of trust, values, system
thinking, accountability and measurement. Project Manager depend on
these values to communicate within the team and executives provide support for
the managers to implement.
What are 4 of the Do’s and Don’ts of a Project Sponsor that you
Facilitate trust with accountability
Listen to the project team and understand what
they are saying about project risks.
See things in terms of potential. Don’t try to
define things in terms of schedule or event
Be a system thinker. Look at inputs and outputs.
When you have a problem, explore all alternatives, and make sure they’ll be
project teams to utilize the discipline of project management to communicate
Talk the talk but refuse to walk the walk
Communicate seemingly arbitrary and capricious
Treat project management resources as separate
groups. Integrate project management practices and resource into the business
Let project sponsors and or managers off the
hook by excusing poor project performance.
Any other Lessons Learned from this article?
mangers can take tough decisions on project when given an opportunity.
Executives should give the right to control on the budget. Employees should be
given the freedom to maximize their potential and when they could maximize, organization
will eventually grow.
Write a brief synopsis.
This article focuses on the corporate strategies on the
projects. Article emphasises to have a top down approach but most of the
projects get initiated from the bottom up. Attempts are usually made to solve
the departmental issues rather than to target on overall business goals.
Without portfolio management and project management, a company can struggle in
good projects. In the fast-growing companies, they fail to focus on the core
strategies. Using wrong measures drive the wrong way. Customer support and
people involving in the planning process would benefit. Successful change has
to be planned and managed from the organizational level to take the whole
system into account. To overcome barriers managers must consider external
market conditions, competitions and technologies. When the project’s success is
doubtful, stakeholders should be brought in to collaborate and reduce risks. Different
minds can look into a problem and bring different ideas to come up with
practical solution. Regularly to be ensured that the program goes off without
any problems, otherwise the project must be downsized or eliminated.
What caused the United Kingdom’s largest news
agency, The Press Association, Ltd, profit margins to slide down?
The United Kingdom’s Press association
fulfilled the core mission of extending its reach to all the corners of the United
Kingdom by acquiring several news organizations. The process and operations were
expensive to share news to all the organizations and thus led profit margins to
What does a focused portfolio
management do for them? Were their
projects a part of their strategic plan?
Focused portfolio management
did not benefit them. Their projects were not a part of strategic plan because the
company did not follow a top down approach. Seniors executives should focus to gain
attention from the very beginning to align properly.
Should programs deliver incremental
results to prove that they are on track?
What about proof-of-concepts?
Yes, the program should
deliver incremental results to prove that they are on the track. Proof of concepts
should not be attempted to give in a single chunk which would not give results after
spending huge money
Is there value in a project manager
networking with other project managers?
Yes, the networking
can uncover potential problems and find rough estimates on the budget and cost.
While we bring many people to have a look into the problem, different brains think
differently and bring a viable solution
Viewpoints: Listen and Learn
What is the difference between hearing
Hearing is the way
that they just grab ideas from the speaker but not actually processing the
message. Whereas listening is active search for meaning when the speaker
conveys something. A good listener pays attention to the speaker creating
rapport and asking questions to the speaker when it is not understood.
What are the six listening behaviours
and provide an example when appropriate/not appropriate to use?
largely crowded event, when there are more speakers about various topics,
hearing and information gathering can be done. One can pay attention only to
what they require so it is appropriate to use them. Whereas in the work
environment, classes and to the peers polite and active listening is
appropriate to benefit the purpose of being there in the workplace. In order to
give some respect to the peers, Offensive listening should not be done
What are the different causes of
process paralysis, and how to fix them?
There are different
causes of process paralysis which one-half to two thirds of the people
experienced in their organization.
Bureaucratic and inefficient methodology: Project managers must alter to fit to the
project needs. Think beyond the immediate step to avoid bureaucratic which
will benefit the organization. Always play by the rules and believe that
you have a better way to benefit the organization
Incomplete methodology: When the need is not met to your
satisfaction, try to convince the owner. If the owner does not agree, then
escalate the issue to higher authority. If that also fails, be creative to
solve the issue.
New methodology: Implementing new methodologies should depend
on the overall ROI. But it is to remember always that small increments
account to have long term benefits.
Resistive team members: When there are valid reasons from the
project managers for being resistive, their interest should also be validated.
If not, try to find middle grounds. If that fails, assert your position as
project manager. In rare cases, escalate the issue until resolved.
Accountability: The project manager, as a leader, are
expected to have good business judgements and be responsible for the
ensuring right methodology. Project
Managers are accountable for their decisions and management is to support
their ideas and they share little accountability.