The Heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning controls (HVAC) is one of the Honeywell Building Controls (BCD)’s four product areas. In 1989 HVAC controls was pitching a multimillion project on the Mod IV--- an advanced motor used in HVAC applications. It was envisioned as “Golden Egg” by a senior manager because it was a main pitch of the company, and once it was ready to produce and successfully introduced into the market, it would account for 30% of the division’s profits. The central issue revolved around the division’s product development team and their commitment to meet the schedule. This led to multiple lower-level issues, such as communication disparity among various groups, mistiming in changing the team format, technical difficulties in designing and manufacturing the Mod IV. All these problems, along with external pressure from competitors, rippled out and created challenges for the division’s goal to stay on schedule and continue to profit in the industry in a long run.
Traditionally, BCD has been a Mechanic Structure, which means it was a bureaucratic model with formal and concrete hierarchy. Control, authority, and division of labor, and thus delegation of responsibility, as well as product development, were achieved in a sequential manner. The communication and interaction in between was minimal. Sometimes (most of the time), project was segregated into multiple stages, each of which encountered problems created by work done in earlier stages. People in each stage did not have visibility upstream nor downstream, neither did they care to communicate or correct the problem. The process became a game of “tossing the bear over the wall”. As a result, small problems tended to snowball into bigger ones as project progresses. The process was slow and costly, and worst, the lack of communication and visibility created animosity among functional areas.
While the problems with the Mechanic Structure did not create... [continues]
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