Henry Tam Case

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Problem Statement

We have to evaluate the performance of a distinctly diverse team aiming to create a business plan for MGI’s “Music Puzzle” Game to enter the HBS contest. The team comprised of MGI founders, Sasha, Igor and Roman, two HBS students Henry and Dana and subject matter experts Alex and Dav. In addition, we have to recommend actions for Henry Tam, which would foster better team dynamics to accomplish the task at hand. The team, after much deliberation and little success, has just 3 weeks before entering the case at the HBS Business Plan competition. In the team there is, Sasha, a former HBS MBA student with experience in drastically different industries; Igor and Roman, exceptionally gifted Russian musicians; Henry & Dana who are finance professionals in the second year of their HBS MBA; Alex, who is a specialist in computer music applications from Berkley; and Dave, a software developer from MIT.

Root Cause Analysis

The major strengths of the team were a presence of diverse talents, close affinity between the founders, great product, shared passion and complementary skills. However, there is much conflict and failure to deliver results, due to a variety of factors. These factors include a lack of cohesion as a team, an ambiguity of roles definitions, a lack of clear leadership, and a weak working culture. The team has a common goal to develop the business plan, but the focus is different, with the HBS students focused on the contest deadlines, and the MGI founders striving to create a viable business. The team is unable to come to a consensus on which market to penetrate. Additionally, the team is functioning more as a group; as they are unstructured, have an unevenly distributed workload (Katzenbach & Smith, 2005). There is no collective work product, and there is an individual approach to problem solving, as opposed to shared resolutions. Within the group, there are also factions or subgroups. Adding to the frustration was that they were in a small confined workspace on the HBS campus. And finally, the team was completely lacking in interrelationship trust. Drawing from Tuckman's stages of group development: Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing, and Adjourning (“Tuckman’s Stages, n.d.), developed in 1965, we can assess the team building processes. The forming stage was spread over three meetings as all the members were not introduced at the very beginning. During the storming stage, team members’ expectations were not aligned. Dana and Henry perceived the role to be more strategic, as opposed to Sasha’s perception of them as interns focused on writing the business plan only. The modus operandi suggested by Sasha to contact HBS alumni added to the chaos. Plus the introduction of Dav forced Henry and Dana to speculate on Sasha’s motives. In the norming stage we do not see any cohesion but constant disagreements, all primarily due to not defining the norms at the onset. Issues in the norming stage lead to unclear orientation in the performing stage, not adhering to the timelines. Benchmarking the meetings against Belbin’s Team Roles (Belbin, 2010), we see how the seven team members fluctuate between different roles during the three meetings. In the first meeting, Igor, Sasha, Henry and Dana met with different perceptions and reservations and a complete lack of clear strategy. At this point it is very unclear as to who is in each role: Plant, Resource investigator, Coordinator, Shaper, Monitor Evaluator, Team worker, Implementer, Completer Finisher, or Specialist. Roman and Alex join the second meeting, and amidst a lot of brainstorming and ‘creative’ discussion we can see the team members conforming to Belbin’s Team roles. There is a notable understanding between Henry and Dana to try and handle Sasha’s aggression and confrontational style. The third meeting witnesses the entry of Dan the specialist, which adds fuel to the fire and worsens the stance between Sasha and Dana. We can now...
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