The Case

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Peter Jefferson was the general manager of a corporate division office of a company, Digital Power, which developed large software systems. The company claimed that “Working under stress to meet deadlines, staying on our clients’ budget, and meeting clients' needs” was their first and last motto. Peter had four project managers reporting to him, each with a project worth between US$3 and US$5 million. William Jordan was one of those project managers. The head of the finance department, Audrey Smith-Whitney, also reported to Peter. Audrey, 42, had two children in their early secondary school years. Though she knew William as a colleague, she did not have personal relationship with the staff working for the software development projects. Peter arrived at work one Monday morning at 8:00 am. By 8:01am every member of the finance department, including Audrey, was lined up outside his office complaining that someone had stolen all their personal computers (PCs) right off their desks. The first question he asked was, “Had we been robbed?” By 8:15am they knew the answer: No robbery had occurred. The PCs weren’t taken out from the building; they had just been moved. All the PCs from the finance department had been found on the desks of William’s software development team. William’s team was made up of 15 system analysts and programmers working on a 2-year project worth about $3.5 million. As the financial staff was ready to castigate William, Peter instructed them to leave the computers on the engineer’s desks for the moment, until he could figure out exactly what happened. By 8:30am William arrived at Peter’s office, but none of his team had yet arrived. When William arrived Peter asked to see him in my office alone. “What the heck happened, William?” He didn’t yell it out, but just said it with emphasis on the word “What”. William calmly explained that his team had promised the customer that a specific product would be in the customer’s hands by Monday morning. His...
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