Case Study: The Project that Wouldn’t Die

Review case study 14.2 on page 471. Answer the three questions at the end of the case. Your answers must be supported by the facts of the case. You will be graded on the content of your answers as well as your feedback to other responses.

Case Study 14.2: The Project That Wouldn’t Die

Ben walked into his boss’s office Tuesday morning in a foul mood. Without wasting any time on pleasantries, he confronted Alice. “How on earth did I get roped into working on the Regency Project?” he asked, holding the memo that announced his immediate transfer. Alice had been expecting such a reaction and sat back a moment to collect her thoughts on how to proceed.

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The Regency Project was a minor legend around the office. Begun as an internal audit of business practices 20 months earlier, the project never seemed to get anything accomplished, was not taken seriously within the company, and had yet to make one concrete proposal for improving working practices. In fact, as far as Ben and many other members of the company were concerned, it appeared to be a complete waste of time. And now here Ben was, assigned to join the project!

Ben continued, “Alice, you know this assignment is misusing my abilities. Nothing has come from Regency; in fact, I’d love to know how top management, who are usually so cost conscious, have allowed this project to continue. I mean, the thing just won’t die!”

Alice laughed. “Ben, the answer to your question can be easily found. Have you bothered taking a look at any of the early work coming out of Regency during its first three months?” When Ben shook his head, she continued, “The early Statement of Work and other scope development was overseen by Harry Shapiro. He was the original project manager for Regency.”

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All of a sudden, light dawned on Ben. “Harry Shapiro? You mean Vice President Harry Shapiro?”

“That’s right. Harry was promoted to the VP job just over a year ago. Prior to that, he was responsible for getting Regency off the ground. Think about it—do you really expect Harry to kill his brainchild? Useless or not, Regency will be around longer than any of us.”

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Ben groaned, “Great, so I’m getting roped into serving on Harry’s pet project! What am I supposed to do?”

Alice offered him a sympathetic look. “Look, my best advice is to go into it with good intentions and try to do your best. I’ve seen the budget for Regency, and top management has been trimming their support for it. That means they must recognize the project isn’t going well. They just don’t want to kill it outright.”

“Remember,” Alice continued, “the project may not die because Harry’s so committed to it, but that also means it has high visibility for him. Do a good job and you may get noticed. Then your next assignment is bound to be better.” Alice laughed. “Heck, it can’t be much worse!”

Questions

1. What termination method does it appear the company is using with the Regency Project?
2. What are the problems with motivation when project team members perceive that a project is earmarked for termination?
3. Why would you suspect Harry Shapiro has a role in keeping the project alive?

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4. In considering how to make a big change in organizational operations (as in the case of switching to CCPM), why might it be necessary to focus on changing the organization’s current culture? That is, why does a shift in project scheduling require so many other linked changes to occur?( This question isn’t based on the case study above)

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