CIS600 – Project Management
Case Study 3: Military Arsenal Systems (A) (50 points)
Due March 4, 2020
Case: Military Arsenal Systems: Preparing to Lead a Team (A), Lyn Purdy and Ken Mark,
Ivey Publishing (W14584).
Key elements:

Taking responsibility for leading a troubled project
Turning a dysfunctional team into a higher-functioning team
Risk assessment
1. Describe the status of the XR16-THOR program on the day of Gibson’s departure.
What are the primary risks to the program at this point? What could prevent the
program from being completed successfully?
2. Analyze the team members that Abrams will be leading and the project
environment, including engineering, management and customers. What issues
should he be concerned about?
3. If you were Abrams, what immediate steps would you take to turn the project
around and improve the chances of success?
For the exclusive use of J. Williams, 2020.
Ken Mark wrote this case under the supervision of Professor Lyn Purdy solely to provide material for class discussion. The authors
do not intend to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of a managerial situation. The authors may have disguised certain
names and other identifying information to protect confidentiality.
This publication may not be transmitted, photocopied, digitized or otherwise reproduced in any form or by any means without the
permission of the copyright holder. Reproduction of this material is not covered under authorization by any reproduction rights
organization. To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, contact Ivey Publishing, Ivey Business School, Western
University, London, Ontario, Canada, N6G 0N1; (t) 519.661.3208; (e);
Copyright © 2014, Richard Ivey School of Business Foundation
Version: 2014-11-24
“Since taking charge of the team was my idea, my immediate challenge is to find a way to turn the project
around,” thought Michael Abrams, newly promoted engineering area manager at Military Arsenal Systems
(MAS), a Vancouver-based defence contractor, as he walked briskly back to his desk. He added:
I don’t have much time, seeing as we’re already behind on the delivery schedule. More
distressingly, there seems to be a lot of communication issues and there is a low level of trust
between team members.
It was early March 2010, and Abrams, sitting down and switching on his computer, noticed that there were
at least 10 emails that had arrived within the five minutes he had stepped away for a cup of coffee. Earlier
that morning, Lawrence Gibson, engineering area manager and Abrams’s former manager, had requested a
move to another project after he returned from a stress leave. Their five-person team, which included
Jackie Hampton, Teresa Wallace and David Welker, all engineering managers, had been working to
deliver high technology XR16-THOR vehicles to the U.S. Army under the “Attack Mobility — Ultra
Protection” (AM-UP) program, a high-profile project designed to deliver safer, more powerful vehicles for
the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.
A few hours later, Abrams was given the go-ahead by his immediate manager to take over the XR16THOR program, representing $30 million in deliveries. “The one key resource we lack is time,” Abrams
said. “Our client can see that we’re two months behind schedule.” He thought about the list of issues —
engineering, financial, logistical — he had to address. He started to jot down a few notes:
I have to have a meeting with my team. They will be surprised to hear that I am their new team
leader. What do I need to do to win their trust and get everyone working on the same page? We’ve
got time to salvage this project. But we have to change the way we’ve been doing things for the
past few years.
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Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Military Arsenal Systems (MAS), with over 90,000 employees
worldwide, was the manufacturer of one of the world’s most highly regarded armoured vehicles (AVs).
AVs were a type of military vehicle that had armour suites and different weapon packages, with variants
on the basic model depending on the mission profile and customer requirements. For example, AVs could
be an 11-crew personnel carrier or a three-crew 120mm turreted vehicle with a high explosive gun system.
MAS was a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) with revenues of $32.5
billion in 2010.
Although a subsidiary, the Vancouver location was unique in that it was a stand-alone business unit
making AVs. It reported to the MAS Combat Group, which was responsible for $8.9 billion in 2010, the
largest budget of all the groups within the parent company. In its Vancouver location, MAS, with 2,100
employees, had a contracts office, program office and finance, purchasing, engineering, marketing,
research and development (R&D) and production departments with a very diverse workforce. MAS was a
one-stop shop, mostly for government military departments around the world who were looking for new or
upgraded AVs.
MAS supplied XR16-THOR vehicles to the U.S. government under the AM-UP program, which was the
most aggressive acquisition program put in place by the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps since World
War II. Adhering to the strict delivery schedule was of the utmost importance, as the number one priority
for this program was to deploy vehicles into war zones as quickly as possible. Upgraded and new AVs
were often credited with saving military lives that would have otherwise been lost to IEDs (improvised
explosive device, also known as a roadside bomb) or other attacks.
The XR16-THOR vehicle was a 6×6 mine-protected vehicle equipped with a weapon station and able to
survive extreme mine and IED attacks: it was a perfect fit for the U.S. military’s needs in Afghanistan. The
AM-UP contract, at $1.2 billion, was the largest contract for MAS in the last three years. The majority of
the contract dollars were production-based, meaning that the funds were allocated to purchasing more than
1,200 XR-16 THOR vehicles.
Within this AM-UP contract, the U.S. Army had requested a number of high technology XR16-THOR
vehicles to be delivered on a shortened schedule. The contract delivery program, named XR16-THOR after
the vehicle, accounted for $30 million of AM-UP’s $1.2 billion contract.
The AM-UP contract also had various vehicle upgrade opportunities, which came in as contract change
proposals (CCPs). CCPs varied in size and were not part of the $1.2 billion base contract. XR16-THOR
was getting on average $25 million in CCPs each year, and Gibson’s team was getting 90 per cent of that
effort and budget. As a result, its share of MAS’s engineering budget was three times larger than that of
any of the other project teams. The engineering organizational structure at MAS can be found in Exhibit 1.
Due to the aggressive nature of the AM-UP contract, MAS needed to put a special team of high
performance employees together as part of an integrated product team in order to meet the contract
requirements and the deliverables. The details were as follows:
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There were 4,000 parts per vehicle, and each of the 4,000 engineering drawings per vehicle variant had
to be created and verified with government personnel within a six-month timeframe. This scope of
work typically took 18 to 20 months on a regular program.
Every drawing of the 4,000 produced required a record of maintenance engineering tasks. Maintenance
engineering took the drawings and depicted, word-by-word, how to tear down and rebuild each part
based on the U.S. Army’s maintenance philosophy. For instance, the engineers would write a step-bystep instruction for removing and tearing down a transmission, including what parts could be rebuilt
and what parts needed to be purchased or replaced. The instructions were created based on cost,
maintenance times and Army personnel qualifications as presented in the terms and conditions of the
contract. This activity took 10 months on a typical program, but the AM-UP contracted schedule
required this effort to be completed in six months.
The reliability and maintainability team developed a level of repair analysis (LORA) based on the U.S.
Army’s tactical mission profile, environmental conditions and combat requirements. Cost, distance,
transportation, maintenance facility capabilities and logistics support were all considered. This report
addressed all of the 4,000 parts and typically took four to five months to create. Under the AM-UP
contract, this analysis was due one month after the drawings were released.
Diagnostics engineering wrote the vehicle’s troubleshooting manual to address symptoms and fault
codes for the military. For example, should the vehicle not start, troubleshooting would take the driver
through a series of steps on how to start the vehicle while at the same time finding the problem of why
the vehicle would not start. The diagnostics team was under the same schedule constraints as the
maintenance engineering team.
The provisioning team was responsible for working with the U.S. Department of Defense and
addressing each part with a NATO stock number (NSN). These NSNs were required to support spare
parts when the vehicles were deployed and contained a lot of detailed information about the part that
was stored in a database that contained fields such as quantity, size, weight, cost and maintenance
level. This effort was typically done over a 10-month period, but under the AM-UP contract it was due
in six months.
Lawrence Gibson was MAS’s engineering area manager for the AM-UP program. He was responsible for
XR16-THOR, which was initiated in October 2008. There were eight area managers in his engineering
division, each of whom led a team that relied on over 400 engineer resources in the organization. Gibson
was very knowledgeable about the products, services and program he was running. He understood all
aspects of the job and was considered a key employee and top performer by MAS.
Gibson started his career “working in the weeds,” as an engineer. He had come to MAS from another
defence contractor and brought many skills and strategies with him. He had been employed with MAS for
over 15 years and had over 25 years of engineering experience in the defence industry. With his knowledge
and experience, Gibson seemed capable of making tough decisions and accepted a tremendous amount of
responsibility. While he was more comfortable doing something himself as opposed to delegating to his
team, he was very well-respected throughout the organization. He had personally performed the required
work during different points in his career so came to the project with a great deal of personal knowledge.
Having Gibson in charge was a great asset to MAS when dealing with the customer as no detail, it seemed,
would escape his scrutiny. As the years went on, Gibson gradually moved up the organization and took on
jobs with increased responsibility. His moves up the corporate ladder were the result of his tremendous
knowledge, experience, hard-working nature and strong interpersonal skills.
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Gibson was married with two grown children. By the start of 2010, strains on his marriage were getting
worse as much of his time was spent on XR16-THOR; the pressure, combined with the hours, started to
create real trouble for him. The average program required a team working a 40-hour week when bidding
new contracts. XR16-THOR had Gibson working 55 to 65 hours a week for over a year as CCPs and
condensed schedules increased his workload.
Gibson had a team of four employees — Michael Abrams, Jackie Hampton, Teresa Wallace and David
Welker. Personnel sketches for Hampton, Wallace and Welker can be found in Exhibit 2. Gibson played a
direct role in selecting each of these employees for his team because of their experience and knowledge in
the fields that they controlled. Each was responsible for a different part of the program; they worked
directly with the customer and drove the work in an engineering department that housed over 400
engineers. They were all very high functioning employees, strong in their areas of expertise; their
motivation was second to none. Like Gibson, they worked long hours — putting in a minimum of 50 hours
a week — and travelled 25 per cent of the time.
Abrams had worked at MAS for 10 years when he was selected to work for Gibson. Like Gibson, he had
worked his way up the ladder from design engineering technician to an engineering design lead position
and eventually into the supervisor level with project engineering. He had worked on other programs but
knew Gibson and would greet him in passing. Abrams’s experiences brought a different dynamic and fresh
way of doing things. His position on Gibson’s team was a promotion as he would be Gibson’s second-incommand.
In Gibson’s absence, Abrams would attend the senior management and functional department meetings
and would take on international travel, budget, schedule and department performance responsibilities. He
worked directly with the U.S. military on a daily basis and with all the functional departments within
MAS. He was considerably younger than Gibson but that did not seem to matter: Gibson appreciated that
Abrams was just as performance-driven as he was. Moreover, Abrams was easy to get along with and
understood Gibson’s approach and personality type. There was never any friction between them even when
they disagreed. Abrams also had a good relationship with the other members of the team, and his
reputation with other departments was just as strong as Gibson’s. His approach was a little softer than his
boss’s, and they worked well together.
Abrams had a very busy personal life. He had an 11-month-old daughter and a new baby on the way while
also working on his MBA. With the busy pace of the AM-UP program, combined with his personal life, he
was burning the candle at both ends.
Gibson, was not someone who spent much time on team building or who believed “team chemistry” made
a big difference in team performance. For example, on one occasion Abrams suggested holding a weekly
team meeting. He had come from a team environment where regular team meetings were encouraged, and
he believed it was very beneficial for a group to get together so that everyone could talk about their
challenges, share advice and redistribute work. To his surprise, Gibson did not like this idea and voiced his
opinion that the team was doing just fine and that getting together would be a waste of valuable working
time. Abrams persisted, trying to get a team barbeque arranged as an attempt to get to know each team
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member outside of the work environment. Once again, Gibson wanted nothing to do with this idea, saying
that he was spending enough time with the team during the work day. To emphasize his point, during
conversations with different members of the team, Gibson would openly state that team activities,
gatherings and meetings were not necessary for team performance. He was very good at joking around and
making light of dire situations but, in the end, always wanted just the facts. This approach worked well for
him at times, but the team was unsure about which Gibson they would see on any given day, the
“understanding friend who was supportive” or the “hard-nosed boss who was unforgiving about mistakes,”
By the start of 2010, as a result of the combination of work pressures, Gibson’s leadership style and the
impact his strained personal life had on his demeanour, it was evident to Abrams that the XR16-THOR
team was in trouble. Gibson seemed disengaged and the team followed suit. There were feelings of distrust
and low value, no energy, poor morale and dysfunctional dynamics. But these symptoms of a crumbling
team were completely overlooked by Gibson. Abrams noticed that, even though he brought these issues to
his attention, Gibson displayed no interest in spending time or energy in building strong team dynamics.
This lack of interest had a negative impact on the team, who were forming bad habits — lack of
communication, lack of follow-up on items — and the problem was getting out of control.
Gibson was very good at disguising the team dysfunction to management, as his ability to smooth
situations and talk around issues was outstanding. On a few occasions, the customer was driving
considerable scope into the engineering organization. Gibson accepted this additional scope and forced the
engineering teams to include it within their current budget and schedule.
Unfortunately, this approach could only work for so long before the engineering cost variances and
schedule variances started to become negative, as the work could not be completed under the current
budgets and schedules. Budgets were being overspent and schedules were unrealistic, which resulted in
incomplete deliveries.
These delays and missteps forced Gibson to find “workarounds;” he hid the issues from management by
masking the severity of the problems. He stuck to the quantifiable, tangible deliverables with senior
management and made sure all the numbers, metrics and performance measurements were met. Every
month, senior management would look at the different program performance metrics using the earned
value management system (EVMS) required by U.S. military contract law. Under EVMS, budgeted and
scheduled work was compared to planned and actual hours charged versus work performed. Gibson would
present corrective action plans to explain the negative cost and schedule variances. This kept the
organization in the dark, and so nothing was done from a higher level. Knowing this would fall on Gibson
to correct and knowing his approach to team dynamics, Abrams felt that this situation was not about to get
better anytime soon and was headed for disaster.
Deteriorating team dynamics were not communicated to senior management by Gibson or any other
member of the team for a variety of reasons: they were afraid of retribution, they were conscious of their
pride and they did not want to seem unprofessional.
In spite of these internal issues, the team was professional and always polite to one another when they were
in front of management or customers. Observing from the outside, it was difficult to sense that there were
internal issues. Among themselves however, the team felt frustrated because communication was breaking
down and many of their suggestions were not accepted by Gibson. Gibson arbitrarily rejected strategies
that the team considered beneficial to the business for no apparent reason other than he did not like the
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One such idea was to involve the Contracts Office (Contracts) by getting them to lead all Statement of
Work activities on new bids and proposals. The team saw this as a time-saving effort as they could send
the technical requirements to Contracts and Contracts could put formal language together as they did for
many other departments within MAS. The team would have the ability to review the documents before
submission to ensure accuracy. But Gibson wanted to retain this activity because he did not want other
departments making any mistakes about his team’s requirements.
Secondly, the team wanted management meetings once a week or twice a month to ensure communication
was clear; Gibson felt these meetings would be a waste of valuable work time.
Third, the team thought it would be best to have everyone attend the U.S. Army XR-16 THOR contractor
meetings so that they could split up into different breakout rooms and address many issues at the same
time. Afterwards, they could huddle and talk about their specific meetings, ensuring the message was
consistent and everyone knew what was going on. Again, Gibson rejected the idea, saying that sending too
many people to these meetings was a waste of company funds; only he would attend and go to the
meetings he deemed suitable.
As individuals, each team member was strong and confident. As a result, each tried to carry on with his or
her work regardless of how they felt about the team’s dynamics. But on a personal level, the team members
stopped looking forward to attending work each day and dreaded what situation they’d be thrust into
without any back-up or support. They felt as if they worked on an island and could not reach for support
when needed. Communication between them was broken.
Over time, the customer team, which consisted of 10 people communicating directly to Gibson’s team and
30 subordinates, began receiving mixed messages from the XR-16 THOR team. As a result, the customer
team perceived that the XR-16 THOR team was disorganized and inconsistent. But the mixed signals were
a result of the team not communicating within itself and Gibson not supporting team meetings or
communicating direction to all members of his team.
Abrams recognized that the customer was starting to get frustrated and held some team meetings without
Gibson being present. He and the other three team members agreed to break up some of the work and take
leads for different platforms and projects so that the customer would have one voice and a consistent
message. This action helped but was not enough and was far from perfect; Gibson was making deals with
the customer without informing his team. This became an issue when he was not with the other members
of the team in meetings with the customer or with the internal functional engineering teams that they
In February 2010, Abrams was in a meeting with the customer. There was a major issue about getting a
global change done to a technical manual that impacted 16,000 pages. Without telling Abrams, Gibson had
agreed earlier with Randy Guillory, the U.S. Army’s program manager, to make the corrections at no cost.
When Abrams began to address the hours required, schedule relief and cost considerations to MAS,
Guillory exploded and told him that Gibson had agreed to do this without any impacts on the U.S. Army.
What follows is a transcript of the meeting between Abrams and Guillory.
Abrams: Welcome, everyone, to the meeting. I would like to address the global changes in this
presentation that the Army would like to make. Before going into all the technical content of these
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global changes, the first things I would like to talk about are cost and schedule impacts to the
Guillory: What do you mean, Michael?
Abrams: In order for MAS to make the changes the Army has requested, there will be extra effort for our
Guillory: Hold on one minute, that’s a bunch of crap, Michael. I was talking to Lawrence and he told me
the Army would not be charged a cent. Now you are trying to tell me something different! I
personally don’t like this game you guys are playing.
Abrams: I’m very sorry, Randy. Please understand that this is not a game and the intent was not to get you
upset. I was not aware that Lawrence had agreed to do this under the current budget. All of the
engineering teams are done their work and have told me this is scope for them. I have gathered up
all their information and have it in this presentation.
Guillory: No way. As a company you cannot go back on your word. This is not right. I am going to raise
this up the ladder on my side.
Abrams: I completely understand your concerns, Randy. Let’s break early for lunch and I will talk to
Lawrence and get back to you. I will also see if we can get Lawrence in here after the break to
discuss the agreed-upon direction.
Guillory: Sorry for getting so upset. I like that approach. Let’s talk later when you’ve finished talking with
This was just one example of the dozen or so heated arguments with customers that were the result of intrateam miscommunication. Abrams could see that the team was disconnected and that no one knew what
each other was doing and no one knew much about one another personally. He understood that for a team
to be functional, they needed to understand a little bit about each other. He was also very busy with his
personal life but could see a silver lining with this team and wanted to make a positive impact in some
way. Abrams spent a lot of time after work thinking and talking about what he could do.
Although Gibson put on a brave face, could “talk the talk” and mask issues, by early 2010, he had hit a
breaking point. The pressure of the AM-UP program combined with a personal life in turmoil and a
frustrated team was just too much. At 9 a.m. on March 7, he asked Abrams to step into his office.
Gibson: Michael, I really need to talk to you about a few personal things. Do you have a minute?
Abrams: Yes, of course, what’s on your mind?
Gibson: Please close the door behind you and have a seat. I gotta be honest with you; I’m falling apart at
the seams, Michael, and holding on by a thread. I’m having some real challenges at home right
now and working long hours is not doing me any favours. My wife and I have agreed to go to
counselling, and I’m so stressed right now I think I’m going to get physically sick. I sincerely
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think if I stay in this position I am going to fall apart. I just can’t continue in this position with
what is going on at home right now.
Abrams: Is there anything I can do or the team can do to help you with this?
Gibson: I’m afraid the damage is done. I physically feel broken. It’s like I can never get a breath of air, and
no matter how much I clear off my plate, it seems I’m always looking at a mountain of daunting
tasks. There are days I just want to close my door and disengage. I know this is coming from my
personal life as these thoughts and feelings are not me or who I am and I need to get that fixed.
I’ve seen my doctor about my feelings and thoughts. I don’t know what is going to happen, but
we’ve always been close, so I want you to know what is happening. I hope we can still be friends
no matter what.
Abrams: I will always be your friend, Lawrence. I hope that everything works out well for you and your
wife and that you get everything sorted. I hope you get some rest and find new purpose. If you
ever need anything, don’t hesitate to call.
Gibson understood that he needed help with his personal life first and foremost. An hour after his meeting
with Abrams, Gibson asked for and received a transfer away from XR-16 THOR. His manager assigned
him a less stressful job with MAS in another city. In this new job, he would work on his own and did not
have to worry about a team to manage or internal politics. His new position seemed to suit his situation
nicely: he would be the on-site MAS representative for a different customer and his responsibilities became
strictly technical in nature.
Abrams understood that Gibson’s personal life needed to be corrected before he could correct anything at
work. Abrams had respect for Gibson and understood the decision he needed to make. There was never
any resentment between the two men. However, the other team members were not privy to what was
happening since many of Gibson’s issues were very sensitive, personal and confidential. Abrams was the
only team member in whom Gibson confided.
At 10:30 a.m. on March 7, 2010, after being informed by Gibson that he would be leaving the team,
Abrams decided to approach senior management and volunteer to take over its leadership. All the metrics
and measurements were in poor shape, and inheriting this would be an extreme challenge. Abrams
recognized that it would be a gamble on his part and the plan could backfire if his manager did not feel that
he was ready. He also considered that he might end up in the same position as Gibson, considering he was
very stretched outside of work with his family and MBA studies.
But Abrams knew that although his personal life was busy, it was stable, unlike Gibson’s. Besides, he had
more communication with the team on a daily basis than Gibson had ever had and he understood the
customer and program better than any of the other team members. If the company brought someone in
from outside the department, Abrams was concerned that it would take too long for the new person to get
up to speed with all the different aspects of the AM-UP contract, customer relationships and internal team
nuances. Given all this and sizing up the situation, Abrams took the chance and met with his manager.
Abrams: I’ve been thinking a lot about this team and the program and what our possible next steps might
be now that Lawrence will no longer be part of it.
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Manager: I’ve been thinking about the same thing. We have to do something as an organization very
Abrams: I understand that it will be very hard to bring someone in from another program or from outside at
this point and having someone new would be hard. The time it will take to train someone on all the
contractual nuances will put the program at risk.
Manager: So what are your suggestions? I’m open to listening to all kinds of ideas at this point as I’m
worried about the health of this program.
Abrams: Because of my background on this program and extensive experience with the customer and my
relationship with them, I am willing to step in for Lawrence and run this program. I know I don’t
have a lot of experience in dealing with executive management internally, but I know I can help
and might be your best option.
Manager: I’m glad you asked. I was thinking about you as the next lead. I’m not overly worried about your
exposure to the executive management; we can fix that quick enough. Like you said, we are more
concerned about successfully completing this contract on target. I like your suggestion and
appreciate you coming to talk to me.
Senior management agreed that Abrams would be a good fit to lead the team. Abrams believed that they
wanted to have someone a little older in this position and felt some added pressure to perform.
Nevertheless, the decision was made, and a new direction was now underway.
The XR16 engineering team had some issues with Abrams taking over. While Hampton, the newest
member, had no current aspirations of taking over as the team lead, she was uncomfortable with changes
in leadership. She was happy with Gibson as the leader in charge and respected the way he tackled some
tenacious issues. She was not one to rock the boat, preferring the status quo. She believed that in a
situation where there was change, risk would be introduced. She was concerned about how the team
would function, how work would get accomplished. This anxiety revealed how she approached work: she
valued continuity in leadership and was happy to work under the direction of a strong leader. On the other
hand, in her personal work projects, she could be aggressive and hardworking in order to meet deadlines.
She was a people person and well-liked by others. Outside of work, Hampton and Abrams had been
friends since they both worked at another company years ago. In fact, Hampton had come into the
engineering department at MAS because Abrams had hired her. She worried that his promotion would
affect how they interacted outside of work.
Wallace was angry because she had the most seniority in the team and, as such, felt that she deserved to
be promoted ahead of Abrams. In terms of positioning herself for promotion, she felt that she had done
everything she could. She was older than the other team members by at least five years and had worked
on many high profile contracts in the past, successfully contributing to her teams’ success. She believed
she knew the most of any team members about the project’s engineering needs. Wallace was very
analytical, a trait that served her well in her projects. She had been diligent in upgrading her skills, taking
continuing education courses and steps to correct her weaknesses. But her communication skills were still
an issue. Although she was friendly, she would often freeze up in the middle of presentations with senior
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management. On one occasion, after a particularly direct question from management, Wallace had no
response at all and an awkward silence filled the room.
After that incident, Gibson was informed to never let Wallace present to senior management again. On
other occasions, in the middle of speaking with team members, Wallace would stop herself in the middle
of an explanation, seemingly deep in thought, with no concern about how the other team members would
react. The people with whom she worked had grown used to her quirky behaviour, but those who did not
interact with her on a daily basis tended to believe she was either rude or unprofessional. Wallace was
conscious of how others felt about her tendencies, but did not try to change them. In addition, she had
been know to be jealous of others’ assignments, always believing that the “grass was greener on the other
side.” When she learned that Gibson would step down, she made no attempt to hide the fact that she
wanted to be the new team leader. She made it a point to learn any gossip concerning the issue in order to
reassure herself that she was still in the running. She would not react well to the announcement that
Abrams would be the new team leader.
Welker was very competitive and had aspirations to become team leader as well. In his personal life, he
was a real sports enthusiast, competing in mountain biking, eco-challenge races and triathlons; he worked
out on a regular basis and was a hockey referee on weekends. He relished any chance to take on a
challenge and lead a group. A natural leader, Welker was hard driving and prided himself on doing a good
job. Abrams had a good working relationship with Welker and believed he was a great asset to the team.
But the one thing that was holding Welker back was his lack of experience in engineering. Despite this
obstacle, he continued to believe that he would be promoted to team leader after Gibson left. In addition,
he was not shy about his ambitions, telling everyone around him that he was the best choice for team
Abrams’s first focus and main concern was the state of the team. He felt he needed to build cohesion and
trust as quickly as possible. His personal belief was that a good team, strong in leadership and
communication, can do the impossible and succeed in very challenging circumstances. Although this belief
was, in his words, “corny, fluffy, idealistic, or all three,” he was determined to prove that it was the right
strategy for his team.
Abrams knew that he would be walking into a troubled situation. The team was disconnected and falling
apart. Strong leadership was required quickly; not only each team member’s emotional well-being but
customer relationships were in dire need of transformation as failure was right around the corner. From a
business standpoint, major deliveries were at stake and millions of dollars in potential revenues were about
to be lost. It was the afternoon of Gibson’s departure, and Abrams was faced with one of the biggest
challenges of his young career. He was excited about the possibilities, yet he was scared to death of failure
and knew how much was riding on getting this right.
This document is authorized for use only by James Williams in CIS600 Spring 2020 taught by Tim Rodgers, University of Colorado – Boulder from Jan 2020 to Jun 2020.
For the exclusive use of J. Williams, 2020.
Page 11
Source: Created by case writers.
This document is authorized for use only by James Williams in CIS600 Spring 2020 taught by Tim Rodgers, University of Colorado – Boulder from Jan 2020 to Jun 2020.
For the exclusive use of J. Williams, 2020.
Page 12
Jackie Hampton
Hampton has been with the XR16-THOR project engineering team for two years and has proven to be a
tremendous asset since the first day. She has a lot of potential, works hard and is not afraid to ask tough
questions. She is very detail-oriented and looks for structure on projects (big or small). She controls
projects with pinpoint accuracy and never gives anything less than 100 per cent effort on her projects. One
of her best assets is her ability to make sense out of complex situations and find the optimal way to move
forward successfullly.
Hampton is the lead project engineer for the XR16-THOR sustainment contract. Without her, the
sustainment upgrades would have fallen behind schedule. She has managed this program at the macro
and micro level by hosting daily teleconferences with team members, has been walking around on the
shop floor in person twice a day without fail and manages communications between the functional teams
and the Program Management Office. She also manages daily customer integrated reporting in order to
support the sustainment upgrades and ensure their success. Her strong communication and personal skills
are keys in getting the many XR16-THOR projects finished on time, and she is considered a tremendous
success story and asset to MAS.
Hampton’s supervisor noticed that the XR16-THOR project engineering team was lacking project
management skills. Hampton had recently passed her Project Management Professional (PMP) exam and
was now an accredited professional member. She was approached to develop a team training course on
PMP principles. She embraced the challenge and did a great job with the content and delivery of the
material beyond expectations. In 2010, Hampton was given increased responsibility by taking over
subcontractor drawing issues. While she has not worked in design engineering and has had limited
exposure to the provisioning side, she was able to decipher subcontractor drawings and manage technical
issues effectively. These actions have helped boost her career prospects. Looking to the future, Hampton
has a lot of potential in the engineering organization and can really add a positive impact to the
organization. She is being groomed for future management roles and responsibilities.
Teresa Wallace
Wallace has done a very good job in 2010 by taking on more responsibility as the project engineering lead
on all budget corrective resolution (BCRs) documents, engineering change proposals (ECPs), program of
record (POR) and much more. She also purchases all the required special tools and test equipment
(STTE) to perform verifications and support the data development teams. She does this without direct
supervision and is a self-starter in these areas.
Wallace’s experience with the engineering logistics support analysis record (LSAR) has proven to be
invaluable for the XR16-THOR team, and all members of the team have commented positively on her
experience and knowledge. She is very active in supporting the entire AM-UP project engineering team
along with all the functional teams when it comes to the internal budget tracking database. She is the
quintessential team player, loyal to her work, team and supervisor(s). She is conscious of her personal
preferences. If there are any personal conflicts, she identifies them and treats them as “growth
opportunities” while working towards the team’s goals. Wallace is not afraid to point out weaknesses and
will work hard at overcoming any shortfalls. A good example of this is how she has taken on supporting a
new engineer in the AM-UP program. She is a valued person on the team.
This document is authorized for use only by James Williams in CIS600 Spring 2020 taught by Tim Rodgers, University of Colorado – Boulder from Jan 2020 to Jun 2020.
For the exclusive use of J. Williams, 2020.
Page 13
David Welker
Welker has shown very strong leadership on the XR16-THOR project engineering team. He has proven
that he is able to manage large amounts of work and has taken on increased responsibility in 2010. He is
now the lead for the technical manuals, which consist of over 16,000 pages just for maintenance activities.
He tackles many large contract change proposals (CCPs) for vehicle upgrades. Welker has also taken on
validating many maintenance tasks and vehicle troubleshooting issues. These projects were handled by
multiple employees in previous years, yet he keeps showing a strong desire to take on more challenges
and has embraced new projects.
Welker is very organized and focused on customer requirements, always keeping the highest standards
and not willing to sacrifice anything for quality and accuracy. He is a team player and communicates well
with all the members of the XR16-THOR project engineering team. He has proven time and again that he
only needs a task/project handed over to him and he has the ability to do what it takes to get the job done.
He has proven during the product verifications that he is willing to work longer hours when required, call
meetings, communicate with other departments and see issues to completion without constant supervision.
He is a fast-moving performer who shows a lot of initiative and energy while keeping focus on the bottom
Welker needs some formal training in project management as most of his style has been self-developed.
He is intuitively good at program management, yet a few courses in these areas would help give him the
tools and skills required to be “razor sharp.” He is also a good leader with a confident voice. MAS is
currently investigating ways of channelling these skills and identifying them to him so that further growth
can occur. This again could be in the form of training. Functional team members feed off Welker’s energy
at venues such as verifications and look for his direction in all meetings. Many of the functional engineers
feel that if he is in their corner, then they have nothing to worry about.
This document is authorized for use only by James Williams in CIS600 Spring 2020 taught by Tim Rodgers, University of Colorado – Boulder from Jan 2020 to Jun 2020.

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