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Erik Peterson (A) Case Solution
Jenkins founder of CelluComm hired Peterson to the position of General Manager of GMCT and communicated the challenging task required by the position, the learning involved in start-up business and exposure to the telecom industry. Peterson had limited knowledge of the telecom industry but was eager to join emerging technology-driven-industry, because of its potential. After joining he faced difficulties in; coordinating with the Chief engineer, unsupportive attitude from Hardy, delayed decision by headquarters, no strategic direction for pricing, questionable salary raise, and deteriorating relationships with subcontractors which resulted in a delay. Presently Peterson is stuck in a dilemma where he had to prepare for the meeting with Knight, newly appointed as Director for Pre-operations and brief him about the operational activity.
Following questions are answered in this case study solution:
What problems are facing Erik Peterson?
What are the underlying causes of these problems? How effective has Peterson been in taking over the startup, in terms of managing the new operation and of providing leadership?
What actions, if any, should Peterson take to turn the situation around and prepare for his meeting with Chip Knight?
Erik Peterson A Case Analysis
1. What problems are facing Erik Peterson?
Erik Peterson was initially confused by the fact that whom he should report to. There were no formal communication from the headquarters to define reporting line, and because of his initial interaction he assumed to be reporting directly to the President, Ric Jenkins, but he was bit disappointed to know that he had to report to Jeff Hardy, Director Budgets & Plans. Peterson also faced a serious issue with sub-contractor which resulted in delay, and hampered meeting deadline. He tried to coordinate and direct the sub-contractor to pace up his activities in order to meet deadline, but all the efforts to pace up construction work and improve his construction rate failed.
The issue of delaying and running behind schedule was further magnified by the un-organized chief engineer, Curtis Andrews, who according to Peterson was not fit for handling the administrative responsibilities of a start up, and lack planning and scheduling inventory. His attitude and strained relationship with the coworkers resulted in conflicts within the organization, and overall performance was affected. Headquarters in Los Angeles delayed many key decisions and made several changes, which hampered the flow of operations. The response and delayed decisions from headquarters also contributed to lag behind schedule, and resultantly caused loss of time and resources. Support from higher management and especially from Hardy was of no use. Hardy did lack technical know-how and Peterson had no one to consult pertinent to technical matters, which further escalate the severity of the problem.
Besides operational problems, there was some strategic confusion as well, like either, the new service should be marketed as a premium service or an affordable and convenient service for the subscribers. In policy, related matters headquarters didn’t communicate policies that need to be implemented in GMCT. Also, Peterson wasn’t given autonomy to work and make arrangements on his own and numbers of his decisions were questioned by the higher management (appointment of staff, remuneration packages offered to the candidates and promotion related matters).
In nutshell, Peterson is facing problems to get support from the headquarters, appointing appropriate candidates and providing them competitive remunerations, strategic direction in adopting pricing strategy, handling coworkers, planning and scheduling of inventory, unclear reporting relationship, support from the higher management, and meeting the deadline of 1st April.
2. What are the underlying causes of these problems? How effective has Peterson been in taking over the startup, in terms of managing the new operation and of providing leadership?
Peterson took considerable steps to negate the negative impact on the organization and tried his best to put-together a good organization, and for that reason he implemented weekly meetings, hired competent staff, and promoted few members, but despite his efforts the set organization objectives were in jeopardy. Few of his decisions can be seen as filling up the position but not appointing an appropriate incumbent. Erik assigned Stevana as a construction coordinator even though she had no prior experience for that kind of job. His evaluation was biased as he was giving great weight-age to the fact that Stevana had done well in the MIS department and thus make her competent to do the construction coordinator work. Peterson assumed things on his own and didn’t bother to clarify them, as in the case of unclear reporting line Peterson didn’t ask Jenkins or Hardy to whom he should report or never asked for a detailed chain of reporting from headquarters.
In case of promotions and pay packages, Peterson didn’t consult headquarters and appointed people on market based competitive salaries, which turned out to be questionable. Also, the decision he took to provide free services to the police, fire, and emergency service operations became a debate in headquarters. Limited technical know-how and the support provided by Hardy was a mere source to accomplish organizational goals. Majority of his team members had little know-how of startup and pre-operations, and some of them appointed to the leading positions were either fresh graduates or recently hired. Thus, their contribution towards organizational objectives was limited.
The contribution of experienced staff is concerned few of them at leading positions were reluctant to perform and contribute to the organizational success. Curtis is an appropriate example as he had a tense relationship with his coworkers and lacked the ability to plan in advance. His unacceptable behavior resulted in loss of precious time and resource.
Peterson’s lack of pre-operation knowledge, no previous experience in the telecom industry and his limited technical know-how amplified the deteriorating situation. As far as his effectiveness as a leader is concerned he didn’t prove to be a good leader, his decisions were not strategically driven, neither he consulted them beforehand. He started firefighting instead of taking some concrete measures to prepare for turn-on date.
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