Case: Western Oceanography Institute
This case illustrates the importance of building social networks within an organization. Astrid Young appears to be technically competent, but she ignores the need to build positive relationships with project stakeholders. As a result she has little positive credit to absorb the fallout when Murphy�s Law strikes the project.
1. How would you respond to the Director at the end of the case?
This is an emotionally charged situation, and before reason can be applied, the anger and frustration need to be dissipated. Astrid should avoid responding defensively and accept the �verbal whipping�. She should acknowledge that the project is currently experiencing some problems but these problems are solvable. She needs to restore confidence in the project and her ability to complete the project. If there is a blackboard available, she should write down the problems identified by the Director and ask if there are any others. She should record the names of the people who have been affected by the problems so that she can follow up after the meeting. People are likely to be more forgiving if they perceive that you are diligent in correcting mistakes.
2. What mistakes did Young make that contributed to the problems at the end of the case?
- Committed the cardinal sin of not keeping her sponsor (Green) informed on the status of the project (this needs to be highlighted)
- Failed to anticipate the fire safety problems
- Ignored signals that there was a negative attitude within the Institute about the IS department (for example, Smoky the Bear sign, 70% response to her email).
- Deleted the wrong files
- Mismatched the relationship with Samantha so that she was unwilling to share the problem she was encountering with Netscape web pages.
- Failed to build positive relationships with key people at the Institute
- Failed to build support for the conversion beyond Green.
3. How could she have better managed the conversion project?
Corresponding suggestions include: