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Acton-Burnett Summary

In: Business and Management

Submitted By Fermions
Words 2124
Pages 9
BUS 160
Acton – Burnett: Case Analysis Questions

Response by Fermions

1. What differences, if any, exist between the problems that the task force has been asked to address and the “real” problems?
Two Vice Presidents for the company Keene and Ryan come to the conclusion that a task force must be created to make sense of the final forecast and product demand forecast that the four marketing managers created. The task force found many problems some being systematic bias and that it seemed information was being withheld. In the end at the presentation it becomes obvious that the problems were poorly done incorrect forecasting and a collaboration to prevent people from becoming aware of it, by withholding information and having an aggressive negative manner when discussing the topic. 2. How appropriate was the selection of task force members? What criteria were used/should have been used for member selection? What would have been the effect of having Hunneus head it instead of Baker?
Keene and Ryan began formatting the selection of task members by appointing the main focus, which was the market division. They started out by identifying the key groups. However, they decided not to include the marketing managers but their product managers whom reported to them. However, failure to concluded or contribute them in the forecasting task group may have been reason to the results of significant lost of information, influence and lack of decision making. Secondly, they appointed higher titled individual employees to assign someone to contribute into the group, rather then including these higher titled individuals. The final team included: three project managers, David Baker, Cynthia Schraftt, Ezra Bowe, and Jason Cassis but these individuals did not represent the key functions; instead the chosen group included employee that were not the major decision makers in the firm.
It was clear that the selection of the task force team members was not a well planned out selection to come together and bring answers and solutions to impact the team. Main reason was due to the fact that its lacked top management support. Therefore it was no surprise that Baker found the initial meeting to be less than satisfying. This due to the fact that the selection was put together basically in two methods, first using employee members under those whom would most likely be most beneficial to the forecasting task force, such as project managers instead of marketing managers; Special asst. to the VP of Sales rather then the Vice President of Sales himself etc. Secondly, they select a few whom they thought would bring balance as well as contribute to the team. However, both methods didn’t seem to be an appropriate choice as Schraftt and the project members were nearly contributing in the initial meeting and later they felt uncomfortable to presentation towards the possibly of offending or creating an awkwardness position towards their boss/ managers.
Therefore, such selection should not withhold members from feeling insecure and should freely allow each individual to express themselves and contribute to the team. A possible method of selecting task members is to concentrate on the main focuses and including the possible leaders of each focuses. By doing so, these should be the most knowledgeable personnel in the organization whom is most familiar with the area and would be the best candidate to contribute. However, often times this may mean that managers of certain department area would be chosen and fact is fair. By doing so, these members are representing their area and would most likely not feel awkward to present nor contribute as they are the known leader in each area, whom is greatly aware of it subject matter.
Addition to the change upon selection method used, if Dr. Hunneus, whom is VP of economic analysis, was appointed head instead of Baker, whom is an assistant to the VP of corporate planning. The whole proposed for the task group was to identify the basic for underlying assumption upon which the product demand forecast was based. Moreover, Hunneus has been with the organization for over 20 years while Baker has been employed there for nearly two years. They basically chose a leader which was fairly new to the organization as well as quite young at age 28 compared to Hunneus whom was 50 years old. However, the group structure only insisted of one personnel to represent economic analysis and forecasting. The had three members representing corporate planning, three project managers representing marketing, one sales division representative and one economic analysis and forecasting.
Since Hunnesus was familiar with his field of economics their may have been a less of tension and disagreements between Baker and task member Stephen Eldredge, whom was an economic analysis which focused on economic analysis and forecasting. For the fact that Eldredge was one of the most involved members in the task force whom freely expressed his opinion and ideas, he was nearly acknowledge for his inputs, perhaps this was due to the fact that he had an overpowering of representatives in corporate planning whom disagree and no one whom understood his suggestions. Which is clearly shown when Eldredge suggested to work from a forecast model and was denied, as Scharafft felt “it was more difficult to develop a single-firm forecasting model then it was to develop the macroeconomic model that Hunneuus group worked with.”
Hunneus group could have brought many possible answers and inputs into the group rather then the project managers because the internal product demand was their specialty and they should have been involved. With Hunneus’s leadership, his group, who are familiar with forecasting, would have brought much input to the forecasting group. They would have been able to get support of data from the regional sales management as well as direct problems to Ernest, the VP of Sales. However due to Baker’s leadership, he disagreed with Elderedge’s inputs and created teams which excluded Elderedge and gave him the task of traveling and gathering data, rather then using his economic forecasting knowledge.

3. What task, maintenance, and personal roles were adopted by Baker, Bowe, Cassis, Eldredge, and Schrafft?
David Baker’s task roles are the consensus tester and the informer. He is a consensus tester because Baker asks Schraft and Bowe if they would be willing to work on the sales division’s inputs into the forecast. Baker was seeking agreement amongst his workers.
Baker is also an informer because he gave Eldredge information about the results of the meeting he had missed. He demonstrates his ability to exchange findings and information.
Baker portrays maintenance roles in his discourse with the other employees. He is a harmonizer—reconciles differences—because Eldredge confronted Baker about Bowe’s confidential data. Baker explained his side of the situation and then he listened to Eldredge’s side of the situation. He then apologized to Eldredge about the misunderstanding. Eldredge accepted the apology, and the differences were reconciled in a professional manner.
Another maintenance role Baker displays is the follower role where he helps implement decisions. There was a consensus that the individual subgroups would stay in contact with Baker. If there are any decisions to be made by the subgroups, Baker can help them using his insight.
Ezra Bowe’s task roles are the informer, information seeker, elaborator, and reality tester. He is an informer because Bowe shared and explained his information about the regional managers and their sales estimates to Baker.
He demonstrates the information seeker role by his report on the regional managers and their sales estimates.
Bowe takes on the elaborator role by using his report to find new conclusions about the sales estimates.
The reality tester role is also displayed by Bowe when he says that he needs more information to see if he has enough information to make a credible report.
Bowe’s role of being the observer/commentator is displayed when he provides feedback about the sales division’s inputs to the forecast.
Jason Cassis adopts the task roles of being an initiator when he initially suggested that the task force should divide the work into appropriate portions. He got everyone started on developing the model by making that statement.
Cassis plays the maintenance roles of the observer/commentator and the gatekeeper. He demonstrates the observer/commentator role by sharing the feedback he got from the sales reports to their bosses.
He also demonstrates the gatekeeper role by receiving and accepting recommendations to improve their product demand forecasts. Cassis is able to keep the communication lines open, so other people can be heard.
Stephen Eldredge is associated with task, maintenance, and personal roles. He adopts the task roles as the information seeker and elaborator. Eldredge searches for data that can help him with his report.
He demonstrates the role of elaborator by trying to use any relevant data to come to any new conclusions that may stem from his initial ideas.
Eldredge displays his observer/commentator role by providing feedback to Baker about his suspicions that the regional sales managers were hiding relevant information from him. He also stated his feelings of frustration.
The personal roles that Eldredge displays are the aggressor, dominance, and prince roles. The aggressor role is displayed by Eldredge when he thinks that the regional sales managers are hiding information from him. It seems he is taking his frustrations out on the group because of his lack of data.
Eldredge demonstrates the dominance role by criticizing Hunneuus’s group about their models.
The other personal role Eldredge portrays is the prince role. He goes to New York to gather data and does not make it back to a group meeting. This shows his lack of involvement in this particular group task.
Cynthia Schrafft also displays all three categories in the functional group roles. She demonstrates elaborator and information seeker task roles. When they describe Schrafft’s qualities—analytic ability, quickness, and perceptiveness—they go hand in hand with the elaborator and information seeker task roles.
Schrafft’s adopts the observer/commentator maintenance role when she gives feedback about Eldredge’s idea.
She also displays the dominance role when she interrupts Eldredge to give her opinion about the task force’s purpose.
Another personal role she demonstrates is the special-interest pleader role by condescendingly interrupting Baker and saying, “You’ve got a problem, man, which you’d better fix in a hurry.”

4. Was splitting the task force into three subgroups a good idea? What impact did this have on the group’s communications, cohesiveness, interdependence, and productivity? We think splitting the task force into three subgroups was clearly not a good idea, since the selection of the task force team members was not well distributed to the appropriate employee in the first place. Due to this it made a major impact on the group's success in developing possible solutions for the company.

Communication: Task force team members have usually a brief and infrequent communication with one another, therefore their ideas were not clearly presented to the most in-charge or to the most familiar on the field task. The lack of communication also brought tension from the group. The issue of withholding information from Eldredge, made him feel that he was betrayed and unsupported by his colleagues.

Cohesiveness: The team's cohesiveness declined since some members do not agree on structure, objectives and their roles. Although the three project managers were enthusiastic with their task, logically their were not connected with the task force, their insecurity towards their presentation on the meeting limited their commitment to work towards group goals and does not want to be liable about the sensitive subject.

Interdependence: It did not exist because group members failed to share information and all subdependently work on their own. Productivity: Due to inconsistency and unreliable recommendations the group did not promote an opportunity to grow or seek help from other members, therefore there was no productivity or valuable results occured.

5. What types of reference groups were present among task force members? How did they impact the task force's functioning?
The types of reference groups that were present among the task force members are "actual" and "represented". The "actual" reference group which consisted of David Baker, the chairman of the group; Cynthia Schrafft, a financial planning analyst; Jason Cassis, a corporate development specialist; Peter Wainwright, Charles Lloyd, and Charles Milensky, the three product managers from the marketing division; Steve Eldredge, an economic analyst; and Ezra Bowe, a special assistant to the vice president of sales. The "represented" group is the job position each person held prior to being assigned to the task force. Having such a wide range of "represented" groups affected the task force's functioning because many of the members had conflicts of interest, and presented information which was obtained through their "represented" group, yet the "actual" group was unable to use it.…...

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