Henry Tam Group Case

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1. Problems and their root causes
The MGI team, in light of their working and performance so far, can be considered as an ineffective team of highly skilled people. They act more like a collection of split individuals, full of conflicts, no team consensus, easily lose track of time and lack commitment and devotion etc. All of these superficial problems have its root causes. And as this report is solution oriented, it will start from the analysis of problem to the exploration of root and deep cause, and arrive at the final solution.

The first problem is that there is no clear task assignment and role identification for each team member, especially to clarify who should act as a leader in this team. For example, Sasha considered the HBS student as business plan writer and just as some interns who can share their heavy workload, that’s why he even asked them to phone the alumni to ask help in product marketing [1], while Henry and Dana think they should set the tone during the contest session and ultimately design the business plan for the company and the product. However, the HBS students gradually felt that they are being overused by the founders of MGI and that is affecting their efficiency [2]. This problem is caused by the fact that at the very first beginning, each part of group members haven’s sit down calmly to clarify their role and reach an agreement on task they should take responsibility for.

The second is they do not have consensus on direction, agenda, plan and easily lose track of time. As we see in this case, only three weeks left to close the contest, however, the biggest disagreement about the target market still haven’t been dealt with [3]. In addition, when we take a look at each meeting they had, it can be observed that they were quite disorganized and unproductive. Henry and Dana realized the emergency of time limit and want to see progress in each meeting, whereas the founders of MGI seemed to be less concerned with that and were quite satisfied with brainstorm sessions [4] which were literally leading them to nowhere near their goal. This situation exacerbated since they do not have a powerful leader to carry on the process. This problem is partly because of the difference between creative people and business people, as well as the stereotype and mindset of each kind of group. But the root cause derived from failing to establish a clear, engaging agenda and to form a mutual understanding of the goal and direction.

The third problem is lack of measures taken to resolve the major conflicts amongst the team members. The most severe and obvious conflicts are between Sasha and Dana, with the contest going on, it appeared to be they begin to reject each other’s opinion or suggestion for rejection’s sake, make judgment relying on personal emotion and assumption and even doubt each other’s ability [5]. Besides this, there are also frictions between founders. This problem can partly attribute to the difference existing inherently in culture and personality, and it also results from the inadequate measures to mediate the conflicts. Though Henry and Alex have tried to resolve the prevailing tension between Sasha and Dana by resorting to a midway approach [6] but it can be easily argue that in every situation this approach is not the most effective way to reach to the best results. Compromise is not always in the best interests of the company. From the case, it did not seem that any other team member noticed the conflicts or considered them as a results threatening barrier. Not a single time, the members tried to sit down with Sasha and Dana and discuss how these conflicts were affecting the overall efficiency of the team and how things could be improved. However, the root cause is the missing the important part in the team building process—building team trust and defining the norm of how does this team operate: including how to communicate, to make decisions, and to resolve conflict.

Another problem...
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