304 Case Study

September 2, 2017 Marketing

Lynn Hou, Alexander Jun, Lara Kasian, Stephen White, Jennie Zhang Jody Tolan BUAD 304 Section #14728 3 March 2011 Team Case Analysis: Are Five Heads Better Than One? In the case “Are Five Heads Better Than One? ” a newly formed marketing group, composed of Evan, Conner, Alexis, Derek, and Judy, failed to resurrect the firm’s revenues. First, management failed to select a group of diverse individuals who would be able to contribute unique ideas towards the project. The backgrounds of these five members bared too many similarities for the members to work together efficiently.

The article states, “Evan, Conner, Alexis, Derek, and Judy were around the same age, had worked for the company for about the same amount of time, and because they all tended to be sociable, friendly, and valued getting along with others, their personalities seemed to mesh as well” (700). Management felt that these surface-level similarities were sufficient enough to put together a team that would create a stellar commercial. On the surface, it appeared these members would work well together.

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However, they did not have the in-depth connection found within individuals who share deep-level characteristics. Second, there is an uneven power distribution among the group members. Conner takes control and nobody stands up to him, even when the other members of the group who have, in this case, more accurate ideas to contribute. There is no diffusion of responsibility, members were not able to emphasize individual accountability or clarify job responsibilities. Throughout the entire project, Conner develops an overconfidence bias. This inevitably leads to the downfall of the marketing assignment.

He leaps straight into the project without gaining a clear prospective on what needs to be done and works outside of his expertise when he takes on the role of being a leader for the client. Third, there is a lack of conflict within the group. Conflict can be both constructive and destructive (destructive if it leads to a greater level of personal attack, or relationship conflict). Task conflict is beneficial for a team because it provides protection against groupthink. In this case, “P” (performance), is fuzzy; in other words the marketing managers did not clarify what the goal would be.

The team focuses too much on the team morale, rather than focusing on creating a worthwhile commercial for the plasma-TV client. Poor management is another contributing factor and reason the project fails. Initially, the company, “allowed [the team] as much autonomy as possible” (700). The firm intended to give the team “freedom to see the project through from start to finish by coming up with their own ideas, hiring someone to film the commercial once the idea was in place, creating and maintaining a budget, and presenting the final commercial to the client. However, this proves to be too much autonomy for a team which worked together for only a week. The team is not given enough guidance or information by management to properly pursue this “home run” project. Management does not provide the necessary steps the team should have taken to effectively complete the assignment. In addition, as stated before, a strong bias exists towards the choice of which members would comprise the “home run” team. Management failed to choose group members based on group performance.

Rather, they chose members based on surface-level attributes, such as age, time within the company, and sociability. Lastly, there is a huge problem with communication. The marketing team created an ineffective ad: there was no feedback from the other members in their own group, the company wanting the ad, or the marketing company the group members are working for. Within their own group, there is no communication apprehension, members of the marketing group fear speaking up and presenting their own ideas. Conner is the dominating figure within the group and no one else feels they have the right to object to his ideas.

In addition, there is a sense of downward communication: Conner begins to talk down to his group members, being rude and pressuring others to agree with his ideas. For example, in lecture, our class watched a video comparing the communication habits of women versus men. The women are far more passive, saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ in an extensive manner, while men are more aggressive and straightforward. “Are Five Heads Better Than One? ” presents the same scenario. The women are extremely passive and back down whenever Conner brushes off their ideas. Group think becomes a major issue, especially when Derek gives in to Conner’s idea.

Derek is the most experienced in regards to the TV client since he had worked with the client on previous projects; this gives his opinion the most credibility. This occurred during a discussion activity in the ELC. A student in this discussion section had taken a class on surviving in the Arctic wilderness. Her group members overlooked her experience when students were asked to rank the “objects that would be of most use if a plane had crashed in the middle of nowhere on an arctic island. ” Even though she was formally trained, she was overly passive and did not present her ideas well.

This led other members to completely dismiss her training: a mirror image of what this case team experienced. A constructive solution for the team would be to create different stages in development and structuring a more stable approach towards their project. In the first stage, team members should ‘test the waters’ to work on the group dynamics whilst determining what types of behaviors are acceptable. In stage two, the group should create a storming stage, one with intragroup conflict, in which members accept the existence of the group but resist the constraints imposed on individuality.

In stage three, the Norming stage, the members should develop close relationships and shape cohesiveness within the group. This gives the group a strong sense of group identity and structure. When this Norming stage is complete, the group structure solidifies and understands a common set of expectations that outlines correct member behavior. In stage four, the performing stage, the group structure should be fully functioning and accepting. At this point, members should be able to carry out the project. The group energy moves from getting ‘acquainted and understanding each other’ to ‘performing the task at hand. In the last stage, the Adjourning stage, members would prepare to disband, wrapping up activities being focused on rather than high task performance. In addition to this solution, our team has come up with two alternative courses of action, which could also be used to mend the problems this marketing group encountered. The first alternative solution, “Management Restructuring,” suggests solely revamping the management team. The second alternative, “The Multi-Step Process,” involves a series of steps, which if followed, would solve the issue at hand.

The first step involves marketing managers selecting a group that is well diversified and has shown success in the past. Rather than creating a group based on individual success, the marketing company puts together a group based only on diverse internal attributes. The next step involves marketing managers explaining the goal of the commercial to the group members. In this step, the managers would strongly push the group to research the company beforehand, to outline what the client wants, and to give a mock assignment trial test to observe how the group performs together.

This helps prevent Conner from taking over and destroying the project. In addition, the marketing managers should provide self-assessment tests, such as the Myers Briggs test, so that the group might see for themselves how they react in various situations. Next, the company should research what the client desires for their ad. The group needs to identify the client’s values, needs, and culture in order to access and convey the client’s proper image.

The client wanted a classier commercial rather than a college party scene, a scene which could have been avoided with such knowledge. Afterwards, the group should brainstorm their ideas. The group did not talk about how they would go about doing the project. However, it is crucial for them to assess and implement the stages of group development. By bouncing ideas off of each other, it would enable them to get a broader perspective of what they really need to accomplish. In this case, Conner was the only member who contributed ideas. Lastly, the group needs progress reports.

Firm managers should talk to each individual in the group without any other member’s influence to assess how things are going. The managers also need a progress report and a meeting with the team as a whole to discuss how the project is coming along and to decipher whether the project is headed in the right direction or not. Our team has come to the conclusion that the second solution could be the best way to carry out the project. We feel it would allow the team to get a real sense of how they need to approach this marketing campaign to make the client truly satisfied.


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