This case illustrates the conflict that can arise between a project team and its stakeholders. 1.
If you were Steele, what would you do?
Some students may feel that Susan Steele should stand her ground and attempt to convince Jon Wood to change his mind. However, this is an emotionally charged situation, on the verge of turning into a shouting match. Susan needs to acknowledge Jon’s concerns about money and restore civility if she has any hope of depolarizing the situation. Possible paths forward include: •
Convincing Jon to buy new corporate standard file cabinets – this seems unlikely. •
Locating excess corporate standard file cabinets from another location to substitute for buying new ones. Alternatively, locating additional funding to pay for new cabinets – this seems unlikely. •
Escalating the conflict to the two general managers – this may be seen as an admission of failure, and may be considered a nuisance by the general managers. •
Allowing the non-standard file cabinets to move – this raises the issue of aesthetics. The cabinets are not corporate standard, but they are nice-looking, and there is no ergonomic issue. Did the project team go too far in their mandate that only corporate standard furniture would be moved? This leads to the second question. 2.
What, if anything, could Steele have done differently to avoid this problem? •
Project scope. Much of the difficulty with this situation traces back to the project scope. Workstation ergonomics is clearly in the intended scope, and all the business units responded to the ergonomic survey. Moving to corporate standard workstations would be easily defensible and, if necessary, escalation to the general managers would be a viable alternative. However, forcing replacement of all furniture (file cabinets, bookcases, wastebaskets, etc.) to the corporate standard is a question of aesthetics, and could be seen as scope creep. Susan and her team decided this, and got...
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