Case Study on Teamwork Problem

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Case Study Summary
Mike Garcia and Jill Hendrickson have been butting heads for months at work. Mike is a manufacturing manager at Auto Safety Products, which is a firm in the Midwest that designs and produces automobile seat belts and infant and child safety seats. Jill is a design engineer for the same firm. Top management at their work instituted concurrent engineering, a team-based system that integrates manufacturing and design processes.

Concurrent engineering is intended to eliminate the problems that often occur in industry when designers are unaware of the needs of manufacturing. Through concurrent engineering, management hoped to improve attention to all elements of the product life cycle and manufacture a quality, low-cost product that will meet user needs. The company was also hoping to decrease the amount of time it takes to move from initial conceptual design to actual production.

Both Mike and Jill are on the team working on toddler booster seats. This is an important product for Auto Safety Products, as research has indicated that parents do not use safety seats once children reach toddler age. The reason for this is because they are difficult to use in cars and uncomfortable for the children. Thus the team at Auto Safety Products worked to make the seats easier for parents to use by making them more comfortable, more portable, and more compatible with a range of automobiles from small sports cars to sedans to minivans to SUVs.

Mike is 55-years-old and has worked in manufacturing for most of his life. He has spent the past 22 years working at Auto Safety Products. Mike has always felt some animosity toward the design side of the firm. He found the engineers unwilling to listen to the problems faced in manufacturing. He often complained that the design department generates projects that run into all sorts of problems once they hit manufacturing. He approached the new concurrent engineering program at his work.

Jill is 25-years-old and is a mechanical engineer who has been with Auto Safety Products since her college graduation. Jill is assertive and strong-minded; she believes she has to be effective in the male-dominated world of engineering. She learned about the concurrent engineering concept when she was in school and she believes it can greatly improve the effectiveness of design and manufacturing. Unfortunately, it has not worked at Auto Safety Products.

The manufacturing side has not really bought into the process, and management did not take the time to introduce the team management system properly and train people to work together.
Jill has a hard time with Mike Garcia, who is the lead manufacturing representative on her team. Jill and Mike had to work together frequently on a booster seat design in a variety of vans. Their inability to work together has gotten so bad that their supervisor had to set up a meeting to help them deal with the problem.

Adam Shapiro is the project supervisor at Auto Safety Products. He oversaw the booster seat project team that Mike and Jill worked on. Adam knows the two of them have not hit it off on the concurrent engineering team and had decided that the conflict had gotten to the point where he must step in and help them settle it. He brought them in individually and asked them about the problem and what the problem was.

Jill was the first person Adam talked to. According to Jill the problem is that Mike would not listen to her ideas and downplays the contributions that design can make to concurrent engineering. On the other hand she sees design as the most important part of the concurrent engineering process. Jill suspects that Mike has problems with her because she is young and a woman, and this has made her push even harder for her point of view on project disagreements.

After Jill discussed the problem with Adam, Mike was the next person to discuss the problem with Adam. Mike thinks the concurrent engineering system...
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