Problem Assignment Loss of Major Program 2A Objective To gain experience in coping with situations that could cause a severe financial loss to an organization and lead to a reduction in force.
To explore the role and responsibilities of the senior technical manager in guiding the organization through troubled times. Background The company background is the same as that described for the Newly Appointed Senior Manager scenario. Six months have elapsed since you have assumed the position of Vice President and Chief Engineer. You have done well in transitioning into the new position. Of the problems you encountered on assuming the job, most have been resolved satisfactorily. Your direct reports and corporate management have welcomed your work ethic and energetic approach. Chet Chandler has been helpful with advice when asked, and has been careful not to intrude on your operation. With your concurrence and help, he has become interested in two independent research and development (IR&D) projects dealing with development of automated machine tools, and has taken time off from his corporate duties to contribute his expertise to the investigations. In the area of new business, things have not turned out nearly as well. In fact, three potential programs had been either lost or indefinitely postponed. • Although you had quickly formed a strong proposal team for the Synthetic Aperture Radar System, the team would have only 45 days to respond to the request for proposal (RFP). An STA assessment of the competition concluded the chances of winning against the expected competitors, some of whom had evidently been working on the problem for six months, would not warrant an STA investment in a crash proposal effort. • Another program for the U.S. Government, planned to begin full scale development, stalled because of Congressional cuts in the sponsor’s program and funding demands from overruns in higher priority sponsor programs. • A promising venture into implantable biomedical devices not cleared clinical test and evaluation as scheduled. STA had hoped the venture would develop into a new product line and open up a new marketing area. Assignment Scenario After you became Chief Engineer, an opportunity to bid on a National Aeronautical and Space Agency (NASA) RFP for Ocean Research Satellites (ORS). STA formed a proposal team immediately and produced an excellent proposal. You contributed substantially to the planning and were well satisfied with the result of STA’s proposal. You felt STA’s chances of winning the NASA contract were excellent because of STA’s previously demonstrated experience in spacecraft development and economies made possible by STA’s design to use existing hardware for ORS. This morning NASA announced Huge Aircraft Company (HAC) as organization to receive the ORS contract. In your debriefing NASA informed you the STA proposal had been excellent, but the HAC proposal was judged superior to STA’s proposal. Reading between the lines, you understand HAC’s systems approach, larger staff, and facilities had provided the margin. The loss of the NASA program was a very serious development because the loss added to the failure of other potential work to materialize. The completion of STA programs currently in progress will create a situation in which STA personnel not covered by active program work will grow 100 engineers within six months with no new work. The impact on support staff will be delayed an additional six to twelve months. In addition, 12 key technical specialists, who had been working on the ORS proposal effort, need reassignments. The 12 key technical staff would have been the core staff for the new ORS program is STA had won the contract. A critical situation exists now. You returned from the NASA debriefing session late in the afternoon and discovered from your secretary word has already spread throughout the engineering department that HAC won the contract. Various gloomy rumors are flying around about STA’s future business prospects. Recognizing it is essential to provide the STA staff with authoritative information on how they are likely to be affected by the program loss, you went immediately to President Anderson’s office to discuss the perceived impact of the loss and your latitude in addressing the problems it has created. Anderson assured you STA is financially sound and enjoys an excellent reputation in both government and industrial circles. However, he admitted concern regarding the apparent interval in winning new business. He told you to use your good judgment in speaking to your direct reports. Thereupon, you asked your office administrator to convene a meeting of all Engineering Department, Branch, and Group Supervisors for 8:00 a.m. the next day. You plan to spend much of the evening preparing for the morning meeting. You need to consider carefully how to address the obvious concerns of your supervisors, especially those who had been scheduled to participate heavily in the NASA satellite development. In the STA value system, the integrity of the technical staff is of top priority. At the same time, you would be less than candid if you did not admit that a real problem existed. 1. What would you do prior to the 8:00 a.m. meeting, either the previous evening or early morning, in the way of preparing to communicate with others in the organization? List, using the following format, at least three people with whom you would communicate. For each person, state a key topic you would discuss. In the amplification, explain your rationale for the topic selected. Cite the applicable general principle(s) in selecting the key topics to be discussed. Provide references for the general principles cited and support your viewpoint in the amplification section (50 words or less per person). PERSON TOPICS GENERAL PRINCIPLE(S) AMPLIFICATION Hint: In addressing person, topics, and general principles consider the following four factors in developing your response: o The personnel factor, including current and expected staff needs, morale, and the probability of personnel losses o The potential impact on workload, both short term and long term o Financial factors o Cultural factors 2. Using the tabular format shown below, address the following: • To prepare to answer the most pressing concerns of the first line supervisors, list four major questions, in priority order, that you would expect at this meeting. • For each anticipated question, state four key points, along with the general management principle(s) that apply in selecting these points that you intend to get across in your opening remarks. In the amplification, include your rationale for the prioritization of the questions. Provide references from readings and support your viewpoint in the amplification section (50 words or less per question). QUSTIONS KEY POINTS GENERAL PRINCIPLE(S) AMPLIFICATION Hint: In addressing questions/concerns, key points, and principles that apply, consider the following four factors in developing your response: o The personnel factor, including current and expected staff needs, morale, and the probability of personnel losses o The potential impact on workload, both short term and long term o Financial factors o Cultural factors
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