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Sectra case study: team building

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One may say that for this project, the project was successful in recruiting and integrating new employees into the project team. The issue of the project managers was to build a real team, "almost like a family". They focused on a strong team spirit to make all the employees closer. One of the reasons of the success of the project is that the project team really felt being part of a family. The managers were really eager to create a strong team spirit and wanted the new team members be welcomed and feel also integrated to the project.

We will then see how they [the project manager and the team members] acted to facilitate a favorable incorporation of new team members and how they managed to attain and retain a relatively positive team spirit. Here you can talk about the autonomy that the teams had - responsibilities, knew knowledge (here for the technical project manager: about managing, for the other engineers they did nothing about GSM before, etc), the activities (challenges, games), the fact that the team was mixed with seniors and young graduates (energy and dynamism, structure and stability.

But also explain in which way it contributed to the good atmosphere). Then talk about the negative points also, that they were kind of a little corporation as they weren't at all with the whole company, they were apart. So my suggestions would be that you should more develop the different points and note quote so much as it gives the impression of a listed part. Try to start with your own ideas. For example you mention the staff acquisition model that is proposed in the PMBoK, but you do not really explain the stages and why you actually present it. - Integration of new team members.

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The project team was a mix between seniors and newly graduated. Both groups could seem very different but actually they played a special role within the organization. The first group provided stability and structure whereas new employees provided energy and ambition.

  1. We can say that the team grew steadily during the first year, reaching 26 engineers by the end of 1997. It was a real challenge because about 50% of these engineers were new employees and in most case there were recently graduated.
  2. The incorporation of new team members started from their first interview.
    The project manager allows the team to meet the candidate, have a lunch with him and could affect the final employment decision. From the first day, the new employee has a mentor within the team and a delimited task. His responsibility increases step by step within the project. To federate the team, social activities as a project championship in go-cart racing, a driver's course or softball games were organized.
  3. We can also notice that in spite of the diversity, there were 5 engineers constituting the core of the organization and we think that these engineers were very important for the stability and the integration of new employees.

The project manager's tasks: We think that a good positive spirit was attained very quickly because the project manager gave a lot of responsibility to the members of the team. All the team was involved in the recruitment of new employees. As we saw before they could meet the candidate, talk with him and established more informal discussions. The project managers succeeded in uniting the employees toward a common goal and involving them into the project. The team was dynamic and flexible thanks to the new workers.

The project manager put in place a relationship and a communication based on respect and trust. He was ready to listen to the problem and to come up to the team expectations. To finish, he used suitable tools to federate the team. He passed the importance of a team on the employees. The most important was that the team had a common goal and all of these increased their motivation to succeed in working together for this project. We can see on the following table (from the PMbok) the different steps for a team development used by the project manager.

Staff acquisition:

We saw that the most important output of team development is to improve project performance (improvement on individual skills or team behavior). So we can think that the project manager had an important role in this project for the team cohesion. The only setback that we can notice is that he didn't manage to unite the team with the whole company as it is explained by Technical Project Manager. For him, there was almost a conflict between the GSM project and the rest of the company.

So it was maybe the work of the Project Manager to implicate more the rest of the company by a better communication.

As a conclusion we can say that the Sectra's project manager succeeded in building a real team with a good team spirit and this case could be an example for all the companies. At the end of the project the team had the feeling to have been a "coherent team with a shared mission" and they all got T-shirts with prints that said: "Tiger - we made it! ".

We can link this case with Google Company which was elected "Best Place to Work" by Fortune Magazine. 8 Google employees have access to free restaurants, massages, doctors, fitness center, game room...

As a result they are very motivated and they could do almost everything for the company. We can see that the responsibilities of the main project manager and the technical project manager are quite different. The main project manager had only an overview of the whole project and was only taking care of the team and the project in general. He was the one who always had contact with the customer, the CEO of Sectra, the suppliers, the experts and the technical project managers so that he knew what was needed but could also ask to some of them more specification and renegotiate the deliveries.

He also took part to the employment process and wanted a team that had a positive spirit by mixing senior experts with young individuals. In that way, the young brought a sense of ambition and energy to the team and the senior experts gave structure and stability to the team. Another point seemed to be very important to the main project manager: the respect of the deadline. He planned the schedules and when he saw that the team was taking to much time and that the delivery time was approaching, he pushed them to finish on time in putting them a lot of pressure.

But it was also important to him that everyone could learn from this experience by giving them a lot of responsibilities and make them growth individually. He also guided the technical project manager to manage the project and the team as he [the technical project manager] had no previous management experiences. Whereas the technical project manager was more involved into the project and had to lead one of the project team. He decided to put in place brief meetings in order to solve the main problems and clarify today's structure.

The different roles that held both managers were really important as the project was long in time and difficult to implement. Hence that it was necessary to add middle-level project managers because otherwise the project manager himself would not have been effective enough to implement the project and be aware of everything. The middle level managers are here to manage the project in the field they know better. As the technical project manager explained in the case (T. Magnusson, 2003, p8), the main project manager was more preoccupied about the shape of the project than the content of it.

According to Clark and Wheelwright (1992) the project manager has to have different qualities/skills depending in which kind of teams he is working. We can see that the main project manager was a kind of multilingual translator as he transmitted the customer's needs to the other managers and also transmitted the managers' specifications to the customers. He also orchestrated the project team as he was aware of the time and then pushed the teams when needed. The other managers were more problem solving as there were more suitable for that.

They had the necessary knowledge to know how to solve the problem. Hence they shared their abilities to work in a project and in a team so that the project could be led successfully. Each manager could focus on their tasks and could on this way structure the project in a good way. If they would not have been additional layer maybe some problem could have appeared. Getting to an end-point The Delta project was a separate project which purpose was to correct the amendments and to prepare for mass production. As soon as the project started, problem occurred.

We will list the different problem that appeared during the Delta project and will explain why actually it failed by saying if it could have been avoided or not. Communication problem with the suppliers and subcontractors from the original project: we do not know specifically what the problems of communication were. If it was concerning the attempts and specification of the products it could have been avoided if it would have been clearer at the beginning. But this take a lot of time to understand what does the customer really wants as he does not always have the knowledge of the product he is asking for.

Internal resources: most of the resources were allocated to the other project so that the Delta project could no be implemented correctly. It could have been avoided by building a new team that would be especially focused on this project. The engineers spend most of their time on the primal project and could not be committed so much in this project.

The Delta project was not seen has being a priority from the team project even though it was considered as being a top priority from the Sectra's management: as written below even if the Delta project was a top priority the individual engineers set their priorities in a different way.

Maybe if the Sectra's management would have shown the importance of this project and the consequences that could occur after the end of the project, the team would have been felt more involved to the project. It is also difficult to put individuals on different project because after that it would not be easy to define which project is most important. The individuals could then feel a lot of pressure and have a lack of time to do everything. The quality of the work could also suffer from that.

A solution could have been to detach the engineers working on the primal project to the Delta project or to find other engineers that were not working on the primal project.

Difficulties to find a new project manager that would be responsible for the project: when the project started, the original project manager could not take responsibility of it because he had a parental leave. The two other managers that could have fit to the project also left the project because of vacation and parental leave. It is difficult to say if this problem could have easily avoided because a lot of uncertainty occur in this case.

As the original project took a lot of time and as the Delta project started later, it would have been difficult to anticipate for example a parental leave. And in this case you cannot oblige your employee to stay to work on this project even if he was chosen to take the responsibility of this project before it started.

Several delays: the several delays led to additional costs so that they spend a lot of money to recover the delays. The delays were mostly due to the production. Actually it could be have been avoided but it is depending on the factors that delayed the production.

Was it a problem that could be identified before, was it because of the schedule, etc... the delays can be caused by different reasons. Some causes can be detected some others are more unexpected and then cannot be solved in time. (for example supplying delays, etc... ) Actually the most of the problem that occurred during the Delta project could have been avoided. But it is clear that a project that has been planned several years before can face a lot of unexpected events and problem that did not appeared before.


Clark & Wheelwright (1992): Organizing and Leading "Heavyweight" Development Teams. De Meyer et al.(2002):

Managing Project Uncertainty: From Variation to Chaos, Mit Sloan Management Review, Winter 2002.

Eisenhardt & Tabrizi (1995): Accelerating Adaptive Processes: Product Innovation in the Global Computer Industry.

Duncan (1996): A guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, PMI standards committee.

Magnusson et al. (2003): Architectural or modular innovation? Managing discontinuous product development in response to challenging environmental performance targets, International Journal of Innovation Management, Vol. 7, No. 1, pp. 1-26.

Magnusson (2003): GSM Grand Prix, Sectra's development of the Tiger telephone.

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