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Henry Tam and the MGI Team Case Solution

Solution Id Length Case Author Case Publisher
2350 2120 Words (6 Pages) Jeffrey T. Polzer, Ingrid Vargas, Hillary Anger Elfenbein Harvard Business School : 404068
This solution includes: A Word File A Word File

A team of seven diverse members is short of time in assembling a business plan. The case focuses on the members, and their difficulty in assembling the business plan as well as also role definition, decision making as well as conflict resolution. Henry tam is a second-year student at HBS who joins this budding entrepreneurial company - MGI as part of the school's business plan contest. The case focuses on cultural diversity as well as professional diversity which leads to conflict and frustration amongst the team members – creating trust issues, and ineffective decision making. The impact of Lack of a shared vision, common goals, and shared motivation within teams are also explored through the team’s interaction and story. All of this results in the delay of the chalking of the business plan. Henry tam struggles to find solutions total the growing problems and challenges within his team to ensure success and progress for all. 

Following questions are answered in this case study solution:

  1. a) What is your evaluation of the MGI’s team processes?

    b) What are the root causes of the problem? 

  2. What are the strengths of MGI’s team? How would you have evaluated the MGI team ‘’on paper’’ that is before their first meeting? 

  3. Were the differences among team members a liability or an asset? 

  4. What could Henry have done earlier to avoid the team’s problems?

  5. At the end of case, what actions could Henry have taken to increase the team’s effectiveness?

  6. Was the MGI team effective? 

Case Study Questions Answers

1. a) What is your evaluation of the MGI’s team processes?

The team-building processes were also unorganized, lacked effective leadership, and were largely unguided because of a lack of goals and targets. Moreover, the lack of effective team formation also led to friction between the members – which further deterred effective performance. The team processes were also influenced by high friction between team members which resulted in contradiction. The team processes largely appear to be confused and unorganized, as well as appeared to be without a purpose. The members did not realize the restraints of time and focused more on brainstorming without the need or realization for progress. Moreover, the processes did not appear to collaborate – each team member was working in competition it another, and not as a team – which bat the purpose of formation. This meant that lack of interpersonal skills and distrust, along with limited communication and weak interpersonal skills gave way to conflict within the team – which was evident as well as underlying in meetings and communications – resulting in frustration and increased confusion.  

b) What are the root causes of the problem? 

The root cause of the issue, I believe, is a cultural clash between the Russians and the HBS – which resulted in a lack of coherent strategy and goals for the team, as well as a lack of specified roles for the team members. The approach that HBS students took versus the one Russians took resulted from this cultural clash, and led to indecisiveness in the group. The team did not have set goals during the formation period, and as a result, failed to transfer roles and responsibilities accordingly as well as establish the need for tasks. Every member had different expectations from the project and the team, and none were clearly communicated. As a result, there was confusion as well as a contradiction – which did not lead to effective team formation. This in turn resulted in lower levels of trust, and increased instances of miscommunication. This highlights that the team building and formation process was weak, and consequently, resulted in a lack of goal clarification, weak relations between the members as well as weak communication. 

2. What are the strengths of MGI’s team? How would you have evaluated the MGI team ‘’on paper’’ that is before their first meeting? 

The strength of the MGI team, as appeared on paper before the first meeting is rooted in diversity. The team was formed of different members with different skills, capabilities – and even nationalities! The diversity appeared to give the team benefit from multiple knowledge and experiences, as well as of different expertise. For example, Igor appeared to be experienced and knowledgeable in music, while Sasha appeared to be good for business development. Dana similarly had relative expertise in financial management, and henry in entrepreneurial management. This seemed like a good fit for the business plan contest – where the expertise of each member would be required. Another strength was creativity – which stemmed from Igor – who displayed increased interest and creativity in developing the product. This creativity was also reflected in other members in their discussions about the product, and its marketing ideas. Lastly, henry’s and Dana’s association with HBS, and access to HBS alumni was an additional strength which could help boost seed money for the company, as well as allow it to gain added guidance and exposure. Moreover, the difference in backgrounds – i.e. unity of business students with musicians was also a strength as it highlighted how both groups would benefit from each other.

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