The Orion Shield Project: Doomed from the Get-Go
“Projects account for about one fourth of the U.S. and the world’s gross domestic product” (Schwalbe 2012). With that said, there are many challenges and issues that hinder the ultimate success or completion of a project. So is evident in the case of the Orion Shield Project, whose execution faced issues of technical, ethical, legal, contractual and interpersonal natures. Taking on a role that assumes responsibilities in stark contrast to newly appointed project manager Gary Allison’s professional background and experience doomed the project from the start. Not only did Gary not have the experience, he failed to research and prepare himself, prior to the project’s inception, with the proper project management tools and techniques that are pertinent to the success of a project. The ethical issue of false promise, regarding the maximum temperature at which the shield could operate successfully, was apparent before planning had begun and the role of project manager was officially accepted by Gary Allison. This dishonest proclamation was unsettling to Mr. Allison but he failed to voice his concerns, therefore perpetuating his anxiety and lack of confidence of the projects success. Technical issues, straying from strictly scientific measures which were Mr. Allison’s sole forte, existed in the execution (or lack thereof) of project milestones. Contractual issues arise when Gary and is team failed to follow contract protocol and policy, regarding problems with communication and weekly data share amongst all stakeholders as well as manufacturing delay demands, and cost overruns. Legal issues tie into the contractual breaching that served as a continuous theme of Gary’s non-cohesive managerial process. Interpersonal or social issues continued to surface and resurface with the lack of initiated data share, communication, and responsiveness amongst all the project stakeholders. While, ultimately, Gary Allison achieved his personally desired outcome of being reassigned to his old position, the negative connotations and sentiments amongst his colleagues and superiors regarding his integrity are irreparable. The once proven positive working relationship between Mr. Allison’s employer, Scientific Engineering Corporation (SEC), and the customer, Space Technology, is null and void. Industry networking will inevitably offer distaste for SEC, substantially lowering the likelihood of subsequent hire.
A project can only be successful if the criteria for a project’s success are clearly defined and understood by all stakeholders and project team members. A foreseeable goal is necessary for streamlining the conclusion and successful delivery of a project. The exercise of establishing specific project criteria for success hints at the overarching necessity of project organization. In the case of newly appointed and inexperienced project manager Gary Allison’s attempt to manage the initiation, process, and execution of the Orion Shield Project was substantially unsuccessful. While facing the inevitable challenges of acquiring new responsibilities in reassignment, no excuses can be attributed to Mr. Allison’s failure to seek resources, tools, and techniques that such a feat would require. Contrary to this acquisition of project management (PM) know-how, the lessons learned and exercised throughout the project’s process were derived from negative practices witnessed and learned. The fundamental issues projects face are defined by the PM industry as the Triple Constraint of: Scope, Time, and Cost. While these are anticipated issues and risks, there are many other challenges realized throughout the lifespan of a project. The Orion Shield project life was riddled with themes of common PM issues such as: technical, ethical, legal, contractual, and interpersonal/ social. In order to recognize the deficiencies associated with this project, we must understand...
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