Richard J. Bocchinfuso

"Be yourself; everyone else is already taken." – Oscar Wilde

FIT – MGT5154 – Week 6

The submissions for this assignment are posts in the assignment’s discussion. Below are the discussion posts for Richard Bocchinfuso, or you can view the full discussion.

Sorry for the late post this week. I am attending AWS re:Invent (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. (if you are interested, follow me on twitter @rbocchinfuso (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site., if you are here DM me). Yesterday afternoon and last night I was a bit distracted by my first touch of an Amazon DeepRacer. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

I’ve had a love affair with the Donkey Car (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. for a few years, but Amazon’s DeepRacer is the Tesla of 1/18th scale autonomous vehicles. Very cool stuff for geeks like myself.

On Monday and Tuesday I couldn’t stop playing with connecting chatbots I had already developed with Amazon Sumerian hosts (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. The ability to take bot, have it leverage Amazon Poly (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. and Sumerian (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. to echo a response via a 3D avatar is just pretty damn cool.

Anyway, today is day four of AWS re:Invent and I’ll be sad when it’s over, but back next year for more fun, more learning, more game-changing announcements and another round of where’s Larry, this is where Andy Jassy makes fun of Larry Ellison. ( (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

Now for my responses to this weeks discussion questions.

When a crisis project occurs, who should be the leader of the crisis team?

The obvious solicited answer here is the “Project Manager” and while I agree that the “Project Manager” may sometimes be the appropriate person to lead the crisis team, but this is not a default standard. Much like a crisis management plan is a tool, not a blueprint, there is no blueprint for who should lead a crisis team. (Coombs, 2007, p. 4) The person who should lead the crisis team should possess a deep understanding of the project, the business, the crisis and should possess credibility with both the project team and key stakeholders, depending on the project this could be an engineer, it could be a senior manager, it could be a key stakeholder, it could be the CEO. Leadership in a crisis requires fortitude, accountability, professionalism and a positive mental attitude. (Newlands, 2014) James Burke, the CEO of Johnson & Johnson managed J&J through the Tylenol poisoning crisis. Burke was the person most equipped to manage this crisis, having to manage communication with a list of stakeholders which included stockholders, lending institutions, employees, managers, suppliers, government agencies, and consumers. (Kerzner, 2017, p. 447)

Will there be a crisis committee or a crisis project sponsor?

Coombs (2007) states that a crisis management team might be comprised of representatives from public relations, legal, security, operations, finance, and human resources. While I agree that input and engagement from each of these respective areas are important, my personal opinion is don’t believe a crisis can be effectively managed via committee, the crisis manager has to be careful here. While just about everything you read will say to create, identify or engage a crisis committee or crisis team I find this to be something that sounds good but practically crises are managed by individuals and risk is shared via committee. Should the crisis leader build support among stakeholders? Absolutely. Should the crisis leader solicit the opinions and engagement from department heads, management staff and other key stakeholders? Absolutely. Does support and engagement from team members make the crisis leader any less accountable? Absolutely NOT. All too often committees are used as an excuse for failure, the person leading the crisis team should be capable of soliciting and evaluating feedback, making decisions and owning the outcome. The wrong choice for a crisis leader is the individual who responds to failure with “I asked everyone’s opinion and we all agreed.” (Kerzner, 2017, p. 447)

How important is effective communication during a crisis?

Communication is one of the most important aspects of crisis management. (Maurer, 2014) Communication during the turmoil that accompanies a crisis is not easy, this is where a well-crafted crisis management plan which had pre-drafted communications, a communications timeline and communications mediums which may include web-based communications and mass communication systems which deliver concise crisis communication via phone, text messaging, voice messages, and e-mail. Media relations and the use of new outlets can also be an effective method of crisis communication. (Coombs, 2007, p. 7) For obvious reasons the individual dealing with the media needs to be skilled at doing so, “It is advised to designate a spokesperson, training them in dealing with the media, making sure all employees know who they are and how to direct the media to them.” (Bararia, 2018)

How important is stakeholder relations management during a crisis?

Communication and stakeholder relations management go hand and hand. It’s not likely that the individual designated to be the leader of the crisis team is not a good communicator. The crisis leader is going to be someone who has the credibility and likely established relationships to effectively managed stakeholder relations. A good crisis leader is typically going to be an excellent orator, able to communicate skillfully with stakeholders. While much of the communication during a crisis is directed by leadership, because crisis situations are stressful it is advisable to have a communication management plan that outlines how communications will occur, this includes but is not limited to internal communications, client communications, vendor communications, and media communications. (Maurer, 2014) We can see the clear value of how Johnson & Johnson, and CEO, James Burke managed stakeholder relations during the Tylenol poisoning crisis vs. how Vladamir Putin handled the Russian Submarine Kursk crisis. (Kerzner, 2017, p. 445 – 453)

Should a company immediately assume responsibility for a crisis?

YES! All you need to do is look at the Public Opinion View of Crisis Managment table in this in this weeks case study to know that not immediately assuming responsibility is a bad idea. (Kerzner, 2017, p. 454) We can see clear differences in how Johnson & Johnson and James Burke, CEO reacted to responsibility for the Tylenol poisonings vs all others. Burkes swift action, ownership and accountability, communication (internal and external) made J&J a victim in the court of public opinion. Personally, I think the CEO’s involvement and accountability in the Tylenol crisis made a huge difference. We see differences in how the companies who were viewed as villains communicated, the level of accountability and how swift their reaction was. It’s clear that the assumption of responsibility by an organization is critical, The Volkswagen clean diesel scandal is a great example of what happens when the crisis manager, the CEO, Matthias Müller in the case of Volkswagen attempts every trick in the book to avoid taking responsibility, to be fair he would have been admitting he was a criminal. (Atiyeh, 2018)

How important is response time when a crisis occurs?

Very important, with response time and accountability being linked to perception and reality. When a crisis occurs engagement has to be swift, well orchestrated but swift. The longer the crisis marinates without clear and transparent communication the more likely opinions will form. “It takes years to build a solid corporate reputation, but only hours to dismantle it.” (Holsberg, 2013) The faster the response to a crisis the more likely it is that the escalation can be controlled. “A well thought-out plan can help hotel management respond and control damage to the organization’s reputation, financial condition, market share, and brand value.” (Barton, 1994) To facilitate an expeditious crisis response an organization should have a crisis management plan, during a crisis a quick response can be difficult for obvious reasons, but a crisis management plan which clearly outlines a response and the necessary actions can help maintain control during a time of turmoil.


Aramyan, P. (2016, August 12). 5 Crisis Management steps for PMs to take during hardships. Retrieved November 28, 2018, from

Atiyeh, C. (2018, October 9). Everything You Need to Know about the VW Diesel-Emissions Scandal. Retrieved November 28, 2018, from

Bararia, R. (2018, March 19). Significance of Crisis Communications – Internal and External. Retrieved November 28, 2018, from

Barton, L. (1994). Crisis management: Preparing for and managing disasters. Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, 35(2), 59-65. doi:10.1016/0010-8804(94)90020-5

Coombs, T. W. (2007). Crisis management and communications. Retrieved November 28, 2018, from

Holsberg, M. (2013, July 1). Your Solution for SMART Response Plans. Retrieved November 28, 2018, from

Kerzner, H. (2017). Project Management Case Studies (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.

Mallak, L. A., Kurstedt, H. A., & Patzak, G. A. (1997). Planning for crises in project management. Project Management Journal, 28(2), 14–20.

Maurer, R. (2014, October 7). Communicate Effectively in a Crisis. Retrieved November 28, 2018, from

Newlands, M. (2014, August 23). 5 Things Successful Leaders Do in a Crisis. Retrieved November 28, 2018, from


Andrew, always enjoy reading your perspective. You discuss the value of intuition in the decision making process and mention that research by Shen & Wang (2018, p.15) that shows that engagement of a crisis management team can improve decision making. Shen & Wang (2018, p.15) state that this improves the scientific decision-making process. I agree that in order to make good decisions a leader needs to make informed decisions, at the same time, IMO I think we need to be careful to not manage via committee. Scientific decision making is a systematic approach to collecting facts, aggregating the facts, and using the information to make a logical decision, these decisions may be based on empirical data and information provided by the committee, but IMO the leader is responsible for a decision. What are your thoughts on the decision-making process during a crisis and accountability for decisions?


Shen, K., & Wang, S. (2018). Research on strategic pre-plan of enterprise crisis management in dynamic environment. Management & Engineering, (31), 11-17. doi:


Gregory, I enjoyed reading your thoughts. I am curious why “the project manager needs to be the leader of the crisis team”? If we assume that the project team is comprised of more than just a project manager (e.g. – product managers, engineers, executive sponsors, etc…) isn’t is conceivable that there is someone on the project team who may be better suited to address the crisis? Because we do not know what the “crisis project” is, can we say with any certainty who should be the leader of the crisis team? You mention that Jame Burke the CEO of J&J was designated as the crisis leader for the Tylenol crisis, and this was the right choice given the impact of the crisis. If a software development project or a drug discovery project is in crisis and the company has bet the future of the organization on these R&D projects should the PM be the crisis leader or is it time to escalate and appoint a crisis leader who can recalibrate the project. Is it fair to say that the project manager was the project leader as the project entered the crisis state? Should this same person be the crisis leader?

So many places to go with the PM comment, many of which would not be appropriate in a public forum. 😁

I feel like this could easily get political if we’re not careful. 🙂


Dana, do you think in a crisis situation a statement that the situation is being investigated to determine a cause is enough? Is it possible that a statement such as this could be perceived as the organization not wanting to take responsibility? I am sure there is a considerable aspect of this thas has to do with EI, how the message is communicated, how clear the “truth” is, etc… but just throwing it out that in a time of crisis not taking clear and full responsibility often can lead to a public opinion crucifixion. Thoughts?

Dr. Knight, I completely agree that leaders who emerge rather than those ascribed power are typically loudest or the strongest. Leadership is not about ascribed power, but rather like Simon Sinek says leadership is a choice, the choice to look after the person to your left and the person to your right. (Sinek, 2014) “When we feel safe inside the organization, we will naturally combine our talents and our strengths and work tirelessly to face the dangers outside and seize the opportunities.” (Sinek, 2014)

Interestingly I also took leadership training course a few years ago at CCL (Center for Creative Leadership) and they had us do a similar exercise where 20 people had to take an ~ 40-foot piece of thin PVC tubing and lower it to the ground from shoulder height, all fingers had to remain on the tube and the tube had to remain level, this is known as the “Helium Stick Test”. (Pietropoli, 2009) It was an interesting exercise to see people try to assert their leadership style, to see a leader get frustrated, someone else step into the leadership role and the cycle continue until it finally clicked and we accomplished the objective, which took a while.


Leadership Development Results That Matter | CCL. (n.d.). Retrieved December 2, 2018, from

Pietropoli, M. (2009, September 21). Helium Stick Test. Retrieved December 2, 2018, from

Sinek, S. (2014). Transcript of “Why good leaders make you feel safe”. Retrieved December 2, 2018, from – Nieuwsbrief&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-88Cxcw0ZCIQDB3SakdzomwQleXThXKLyUkUi1sYG17QdUU-yKIT38ePPZZaQzm-MuxlW53E6xQlKIrTYccYEg_H8-KnA

Andrew, interesting comments about Zappos. I think we live in a time where we like ideas like “we have no managers, just leaders”, we like having Googlers (Xooglers, Nooglers, etc…) (Karch, 2018) or Rioters (Riot Games, n.d.) instead of employees articulates about our organization. The search for talent is tough, in a world where everyone wants to be special as individuals and as an organization requires designations that transcend mere employee. Read through the description of these roles and you feel special. You are special, not a mere employee, you are a blah, blah, blah, part of something bigger, changing the world, a purpose you can only accomplish as part of blah. Large organizations like Amazon and Netflix create cultures which drive everything about the business including the individual, from tenets like customer obsession to frugality to radical transparency. I find it interesting that a few years ago all anyone could talk about was how great the Netflix freedom and responsibility culture was and today there are more and more people talking about is how toxic the culture is. (Spangler, 2018)

I like the idea that “to be a good leader you first have to be a good follower.” (Vetter, 2018) Today we are developing so many leaders, emphasizing individuality, all great traits but we also need to cultivate the ability to follow because to truly be a great leader we have to learn to follow.


Kantor, J., & Streitfeld, D. (2015, August 15). Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace. Retrieved December 2, 2018, from

Karch, M. (2018, October 31). What Do Xooglers and Nooglers Have to Do With Google? Retrieved December 2, 2018, from

Riot Games. (n.d.). Welcome. Retrieved December 2, 2018, from

Spangler, T. (2018, October 29). How Big a Problem Is Netflix’s ‘Culture of Fear’? Retrieved December 2, 2018, from

Vetter, A. (2018, March 08). Want to Be a Great Leader? You Need to Learn How to Follow First. Retrieved December 2, 2018, from

FIT – MGT5154 – Week 5

The submissions for this assignment are posts in the assignment’s discussion. Below are the discussion posts for Richard Bocchinfuso, or you can view the full discussion.

Can the impact of one specific risk event, such as a technical risk event, create additional risks (which may or may not be technical risks)? Can risk events be interrelated?

Absolutely. A vision and mission are critical to the success of any organization an arguably even more critical when the organization is experiencing increased pressure from market competition and/or new market entrants. Luxor had been a market leader and now is threatened with becoming a follower amidst increased competition and lagging innovation. IMO a clear vision and mission with alignment from all department will be critical to Luxors survival. Looking at the marketing and engineering lists it seems clear that marketing is outlining potential impacts and engineering is outlining possible ways to retain technical market leadership, but there is no correlation between engineerings actions and marketings predictions.

It is clear that technical risk leads to market, sales, revenue and reputation risk. All of these are interrelated, poor reputation and you can’t attract the best engineering talent, without the best engineering talent you can’t recapture the technical leadership position.

Does the list provided by marketing demonstrate the likelihood of a risk event or the impact of a risk event?

No, the list provided by marketing provides potential outcomes or consequences resulting from a risk event. The risk IMO is “Luxor loses its position as a technical leader in wireless communication”, the list marketing provided is the outcomes resulting from this known risk. The risk management expert had identified that the competition has caught up to Luxor’s application engineering and was surpassing the Luxor in terms of innovation and patents. The risk expert identifies the likelihood that Luxor will need to make specific R&D investments, but marketing makes no assessment on the probability of risk.

How does one assign probabilities to the marketing list?

First, marketing needs to tie their potential outcomes to a risk. (e.g. – “Luxor loses its position as a technical leader in wireless communication”). Marketing should then develop a risk mitigation plan. ranking the risks in order or priority. Once the risk is ranked each risk would color coded as either red (risk currently occurring risk), yellow (the risk might occur), or green (the risk not a problem at the moment). Once the risks are identified they should be assigned a probability as either 1% (very low, unlikely) or 99% (very likely), also identify risk impact on a scale of 1 – 5 (very low – very high).

The seven items in the list provided by engineering are all ways of mitigating certain risk events. If the company follows these suggestions, is it adopting a risk response mode of avoidance, assumption, reduction, or deflection?

Based on the risk experts assessment it was clear that the technical risks identified could not be avoided or deflected. Engineering listed seven items that I would classify as risk response mode of reduction. Engineering makes suggestions that would help Luxor maintain it’s technical leadership position thus reducing or mitigating the risk of Luxor losing its technical leadership position.

Would you side with marketing or engineering? What should Luxor do at this point?

Tough question. My view is marketing’s list is a list of poor outcomes, not solutions, just possible outcomes. Not sure what I would be siding with is I sided with marketing, the end is near? I tend to really dislike lists that have the doomsday scenarios outlined without potential solutions. I would side with Engineering because based on the case study, IMO it’s the only option.  Then again I don’t play the Don’t Come line at the craps table either.

I think a world of first movers and fast followers (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. Luxor needs to realize that there is a patent cliff (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site., and the strategy of maintaining a technical market leadership position through patent protection is a poor one. Luxor needs R&D, they need to innovate to retain a market leading position and if they can license their technology or patent portfolio to fuel innovation they should. Luxor needs talent, they need it fast IMO and in this market, the ability to capture talent is highly dependent on the purpose of the company, the culture, and its market reputation. From the case study, we know the situation is urgent, but there are many variables unaccounted for. Could Luxor acquire a smaller innovator, is a merger or sell-off the right options, how much time does Luxor have (i.e, what is Luxor cash position and burn rate), etc.

I am a huge Simon Wardley fan, I think that Luxor needs Wardley (Value Chain) Map (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.. A few years ago at oscon (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. I took a Wardley Map seminar and the purpose of the seminary was very similar to Luxor’s situation, it had to do with software where legacy a software platform was being threatened by new innovations.  The software company had various options ranging from patching the software to add new features, acquisition of a new innovator and sunsetting, sustaining and funding a parallel project to marketing the install base and selling the company. In the end, selling the company was the right decision.

I think Jeff Bezos comments last week regarding Amazon are apropos “One day, Amazon will fail, but our job is to delay it as long as possible.” (Kim, 2018) Fifty years ago who would have thought Sears would be gone, that in bankruptcy the most valuable asset would be Kenmore valued an a mere 400 million dollars. (Maynard, 2018) Worse yet, who would have thought GE would have a stock price of < $8 a share and market value which has dropped 500 billion dollars in the last eighteen years? (Wang, 2018)

Remember the Owen commercials? Luxor could go down this path, but it didn’t help GE. So while I would back the engineering plan in the context of the case study. I would dress up the company and sell it, now!



Carstens, D. S., PhD, PMP. (n.d.). Project Risks. Retrieved November 21, 2018, from

Kerzner, H. (2017). Project Management Case Studies (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.

Kim, E. (2018, November 15). Jeff Bezos to employees: ‘One day, Amazon will fail’ but our job is to delay it as long as possible. Retrieved November 21, 2018, from

Maynard, M. (2018, October 22). Sears’ Bankruptcy Highlights The Big Role It Has Played In America’s Kitchens. Retrieved November 21, 2018, from

Morphy. (n.d.). Risk Responses – options for managing risk. Retrieved November 21, 2018, from

O’Reilly Open Source Convention in Portland 2019. (n.d.). Retrieved November 21, 2018, from

Seave, A. (2014, October 14). Fast Followers Not First Movers Are The Real Winners. Retrieved November 21, 2018, from

Staff, I. (2018, April 25). Patent Cliff. Retrieved November 21, 2018, from

Wang, B. (2018, November 21). The Fall of GE – The Fall of GE. Retrieved November 21, 2018, from

Wardley, S. (2015, February 2). An introduction to Wardley (Value Chain) Mapping. Retrieved November 21, 2018, from


Denise, thanks for the reply and the kind words.  Nothing worse than moving the deck chairs on the Titanic.  🙂  It’s interesting, everyone asked the same question so I am going to reply to you and then to Chris and Scott.  My comment that “I would dress up the company and sell it, now!” makes the assumption that this is even possible, which it may not be.  My subjective opinion based on what I felt after reading the case study was: If Luxor has customers, if these customers have value now is the time to leverage the install base and the value it provides and sell the company.  The reality is that there are far too many unknowns to say what they would need to do to ready the company for a sale, if a sale is possible and if it is the right decision.

Step 1:  Develop a strategy (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.

I am kidding, but I do love the Madlib strategy generator. 🙂

I mention Simon Wardley in my post so I thought I would share a few links, Wardley is the master.

A great @swardley Twitter thread from yesterday on value chain mapping.

Simon Wardley OSCON Keynote:  Playing Chess with Companies

Chris, thanks for the feedback.  Really tough question, as I explained to Denise there are just too many missing variables to build a strategy on the best way to approach selling Luxor.  What we do know or at least can infer from the case study is that they have customers, they were once in a market leading position and it’s likely that the most valuable aspect of their business is their customers.  They also have patents and a patent portfolio will have value, the more patents you have the easier it is to protect intellectual property.  So I don’t give the exact same response I gave to Denise, I would probably focus on the customer (user/install) base and the patent portfolio, we know they are losing ground from an innovation perspective so these seem like the right value propositions to market.  I would also engage a banker to begin quietly shopping the company.

I would suggest taking a look at some of the links I posted in my response to Denise.  You might enjoy them.

Scott, always a pleasure.  Responding from 35K feet on my way to Las Vegas for AWS re:Invent.  > 40K geeks hitting Starbucks at 7 AM, always a joy.

I read Greg’s response.  My investments would be in marketing the company, the customer base, the patent portfolio, etc… Some conjecture to think about:

  • Luxor was once the innovator and market leader.  They no longer are.
  • The implication here is that their tech is lagging.
  • Will the creation of an NPD with people who already work at Luxor really make a difference?
  • Given Luxor’s market position, can they recruit the best and the brightest?
  • Luxor is restrained by legacy.
    • They have customers they need to sustain.  They can’t abandon their install base.
    • New entrants win all the time because they are unencumbered by legacy.  This is the Netflix v. Blockbuster story.
  • Can Luxor innovate fast enough?

If possible, I would package this puppy up while there is still something to package.

I shared a bunch of links in my response to Denise that you might enjoy.

Denise, after reading the thread and the comments regarding engineering’s ability to execute without considering marketings objectives, it got me thinking about something.

I couldn’t remember how much detail the case study provide about marketing, so I opened up the book and sure enough, it just says marketing.  I started doing some research because I assume that the individuals who would be providing product requirements would be product managers, although the case study doesn’t say this.  Personally, the product manager has always been a role that has intrigued me, I have seen product managers report into engineering organizations and I have seen product managers report into marketing organizations.  Personally, I have always had better luck, better alignment and better results when the product manager has reported into the engineering organization.

In my research, I came across an article entitled “Where Does Product Management Belong in the Organization?”, the article states B2C (business-to-consumer) organizations often have product managers reporting into marketing, while technology companies specifically those focused on B2B (business-to-business) or enterprise produce often have product managers reporting into development or engineering.  The article does a good job dissecting the product manager role.  I think that it’s important to differentiation a product manager who is focused on developing and documenting requirements vs. a marcom individual.


Pragmatic Marketing. (n.d.). Where Does Product Management Belong in the Organization? Retrieved November 25, 2018, from



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FIT – MGT5154 – Week 4

The submissions for this assignment are posts in the assignment’s discussion. Below are the discussion posts for Richard Bocchinfuso, or you can view the full discussion.

Is it possible for a company to have such a strong technical community that technical integrity is more important than the project itself?

Yes, with greater than 200 of QCI’s 340 employees being engineers, and executive management being comprised of engineers this is likely.
Throughout its 30 year existence, QCI has been an engineering-led organization. The composition of QCI’s executive leadership team indicates that QCI values technical integrity. (Kerzner, 2017, p. 105 – 107)

While doing research, I was interested to find that “in the tech industry, just 8 percent of CEOs at the largest 100 U.S. firms have primary backgrounds in sales, and less than 30 percent have any sales experience at all.” (Hutson, 2018) I feel like in my 25 years in tech I know a lot of CEOs who hail from the sales ranks, I wonder if these statistics have been skewed in recent years as a result of the FAANG (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. phenomenon. With that said I also agree that many top-performing salespeople want to sell not manage.

QCI made an effort to implement a formal PMO (Project Management Office), but LOB (line-of-business) management reluctance had QCI adopt a fragmented project management structure. The value of a PMO is macro-level visibility across the organization. The fragmented structure that QCI adopted may have created some semblance of structure, but it did not address a macro level approach to project management.

Like most businesses, QCI’s business seems to adhere to the Pareto Principle (Understanding the Pareto Principle (The 80/20 Rule), n.d.), with 12 large customers in an estimated customer base of 52 total customers, ~ 23% of the customer base were large customers with ~ 77% of the customer base being small customers. (Kerzner, 2017, p. 107) While we don’t know the opportunity and revenue breakdown across QCI’s customer base if we apply the Pareto Principle, we can assume that 77% of the revenue and opportunity comes from 23% of the customer base. So many businesses struggle with focusing on the meaningful business.

It seems that the PMO was organized to focus on LOB (line-of-business) with focus on large and likely programmatic accounts, small and likely transactional accounts, internal R&D and capital equipment projects (which I assume are internal projects required to support the business).

What specific problems are present in the management of research and development projects?

Cross-functional project management with different organizational groups such as engineering, marketing product management, manufacturing, QA, finance and accounting all who lack strategic alignment and a vision of the desired outcome. (Kerzner, 2017, p. 108)
The lack of strategic and outcome alignment has caused a lack of organizational vision. The lack of strategy and defined outcomes has created organizational misalignment and opposing objectives, where marketing wants to move faster and push products to market more quickly, manufacturing intends to be more conservative and slow the process to provide proper time for quality assurance, while finance and accounting wish to move faster to accelerate the return on investment. Project management is spending time mediating opposing divisional goals rather than managing the project in alignment with the broader organizational goals. (Kerzner, 2017, p. 108)

Project management feels it does not have control over R&D projects, with marketing canceling project on a whim it makes it difficult for project managers to focus.

While not directly impactful to R&D there is an indirect impact on R&D created by small projects which are extremely difficult to manage, lack of project alignment and economies of scale across transactional opportunities, improperly set expectations, and a constant prioritization of lager customers over smaller customers make creating a positive customer experience very difficult.

I love this line from and a16z podcast entitled “From Research to Startup, There and Back Again”: “The more you charge, the more successful the implementation will be.” –
I suggest listening to the entire podcast, but if you want the most valuable lesson, listen to 11:00 – 13:00.

The same is true of large projects, there is a lack of respect for project management, with marketing and account teams feeling that project management adds no value and underdelivers of commitments. Because of the organizational engineering culture, engineers have a louder voice than project managers. There is a focus on trying to make every project successful which leads to mediocrity across the board rather than jettisoning projects and customers where excellence is unachievable to focus on delivering excellence and phenomenal customer experience. QCI is not making good decisions when managing through the Triple Constraint Model or the Value Triple Constraint Model. (Baratta, 2006)

Even though QCI has segmented, there are finite organizational resources, a lack of focus and clear well aligned corporate objectives results in waste which in this case has an impact on a critical aspect of the business, R&D which represents QCI’s innovation engine.

What recommendations would you make?

Marketing should develop detailed requirements documentation, and there should be a formal process for R&D and market testing. With the proper requirement and specification documentation created and approved, projects can be placed into the R&D pipeline, canceling a project at this point should anomalous. Right not it seems to be a common event which leads me to believe that marketing and the product managers are not following a formal BRD (Business Requirement Document), MRD (Marketing Requirement Document), PRD (Product Requirement Document), FSD (Functional Specification Document) process. (Logtenberg, 2017) QCI needs to add operational rigor to their R&D pipeline; marketing is highly accountable for requirement documentation, marketing does not need to own project management, what they need to do is focus on proper requirements gathering and documentation.

Change the approach to small-customer projects. All program delivery should operate within a program delivery framework. For large customers, this framework should adhere to best practices, but remain adaptable based on customer specific project needs. Large customers can support from a revenue and opportunity perspective a program team that can deliver a nuanced project. Small customers need to be part of a well defined and rigid QCI program, where QCI applies rigor to the project management process, transparency is critical for smaller customers. If the smaller customer follows the QCI process, the quality and customer experience will be better. The Pareto Principle says that QCI is wasting valuable resources and creating risks by engaging in projects with customers that don’t move the needle. Engaging with the wrong customers impacts the macro business while trying to be everything to everyone QCI is executing the vision of mediocrity. If 50% of the smaller customers decide they cannot accept QCI’s new operating model, it’s not impactful, and it frees up resources to begin to delight customers and chase opportunities where QCI can deliver exceptional customer experiences.


Baratta, A. (2006). The triple constraint: a triple illusion. Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2006—North America, Seattle, WA. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.

Hennessy, J., Andreessen, M., Casado, M., Chokshi, S., Clark, S., Spisak, J., . . . Pande, V. (2018, October 12). A16z Podcast: From Research to Startup, There and Back Again. Retrieved November 14, 2018, from

Hutson, D. (2018, April 06). So, You’re in Sales But (Secretly) Yearn to be a CEO. Here’s How to Make That Happen. Retrieved November 14, 2018, from

Kerzner, H. (2017). Project Management Case Studies (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.

Logtenberg, T. (2017, July 16). BRD, PRD, TRD… The case of the confusing requirements. Retrieved November 14, 2018, from

Understanding the Pareto Principle (The 80/20 Rule). (n.d.). Retrieved November 14, 2018, from


Sharing this link because I thought it did a really good job of comparing and contrasting Kanban vs. Scrum. (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.


Thanks, Scott.  Weeks getting longer and longer, was in London last week, SFO this weel breathing in the campfire smoke and now spending the weekend in a medicine haze trying to recover from whatever bug I picked up.  While these are are the macro-level changes I’d try to influence something tells me there might be a more systemic issue at QCI, as they say, leadership starts at the top.  If we focus the business and start thinking through strategic initiatives and committing, but the outcome is nothing more then the status quo hopefully there is a board of directors who begins to make executive team changes.

I am not a fan of just another meeting, to JAM up my day.

I actually use the Amazonian 6-pager (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site. approach to meetings (4-pagers are OK) and the two-pizza rule (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site..  I can’t stand powerpoint because thinking in bullets causes people to gloss over the details, aka the things that matter in the execution phase, so many meetings feel like the presenter is presenting a powerpoint mindmap which lacks a well-thought-out and detailed narrative.  The ability to write a four to six-page narrative demonstrates a commitment to the idea, the need for a meeting, etc. and prompts participation from others attending the meeting.


Andrew, I am seeing an increasing trend by many engineering (software, hardware, cloud, etc.) firms to create a distinction between TPMs (Technical Project Managers) and PMs (Project Managers). Personally, I support the trend because I see it becoming increasingly difficult for a non-technical PMs to demonstrate value; wrangling the developers is getting harder and harder when you lack a well-calibrated bullshit meter.

A quick Indeed search for “Technical Project Manager” yields 1,355 jobs (, a search for “non-technical project manager” yields 7 jobs (, and a search for “project manager” yields > 300K results. I think many engineering companies are listing PM roles, but interviewing for TPMs. What do you think?

With regards to QCI do you think the issues at QCI are fixable via the PMO without major organizational and cultural changes? QCI’s business seems unfocused and uncommitted to a particular market segment. What do you think?


Job Search | Indeed. (n.d.). Retrieved November 18, 2018, from

IMO the worst kind of meddling is at work here; empowerment with a lack of executive direction and commitment. QCI suffers from executive expectations with the facade of empowered employees, but the expectation that it will just happen without executive leadership is painful to read. Executive leadership needs to focus the organization and ensure that all QCI employees are working towards the vision and mission of the company; culture starts at the top. If the target market, vision and mission of the organization are not crisp, everyone’s job becomes significantly more difficult.


Hubbard, L. (2018, June 26). Why Is Identifying the Target Market so Important to a Company? Retrieved November 18, 2018, from

Dr. Knight, IMO time is the enemy here.  QCI is not in a situation where things will get better with time, they are also not in a situation where they can make incremental changes and wait and see. QCI has a fractured culture that needs to be quickly addressed. Executive leadership needs to marshall change here, identify departmental leadership who is onboard with radically changing the culture and remove any bad actors from the business. The changes need to be swift and effective.

Scott, what are the PMs pushing? It’s hard to push everything. IMO if there was organizational alignment the PMs would be viewed as contributors, but because there is a lack of organizational alignment each division is trying to create and protect their individual agenda, this puts the PMO and PMs in a horrible situation. I would first drive to achieve broader organizational alignment and focus, this will require engagement from executive management. In parallel, I would look at reorganizing the PMO by making the PMO a standards body and aligning individual project managers with different areas of the business (R&D, engineering, marketing, etc.). The mission and vision should govern the direction of the organization, project prioritization, etc., not the loudest LOB or PM.

Scott, I can appreciate your perspective here and I clearly don’t have the details on the situation you wrote about. The broader questions I would ask are as follow:

  1. Is the PM willing to accept the responsibility of failure for the project? If so this has to be incredibly clear and the VP has to ensure that others entrust he/she as much as they do
  2. While being a hard charger who takes charge of a project is a great quality, a PM also has to be able to build constituency and garner buy-in from stakeholders. It’s nearly impossible for every decision to be the right decision, acting unilaterally can create some real challenges.

IMO PMs need to be organized hard chargers, it’s their job to marshall the project and the resources.

With this said PMs also need to be good politicians and leaders.    There is no magic bullet, I have worked on projects with great PMs who garner support from all stakeholders and manage expectations well with little technical acumen.  I have also worked with hard-charging PMs who don’t politic well and what I will say is no one is that on their game, so you end up with resources and stakeholders waiting for a miss so they can exploit it.  My advice is to be good at what you do, but do underestimate being likable.



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4.5 Final Exam Results

Score for this quiz: 116 out of 120

FIT – MGT5154 – Week 3

The submissions for this assignment are posts in the assignment’s discussion. Below are the discussion posts for Richard Bocchinfuso, or you can view the full discussion.

Why was it so difficult for Rose Industries to implement project management prior to John Green coming on board?

“Rose Industries believed in inbreeding.” (Kerzner, 2017, p. 59). This is another way of saying they had an organization with a deep belief in organic growth; hire at the lower levels of the organization and grow leadership through the ranks. The challenge with this is how to infuse fresh ideas into the organization. Rose Industries also demonstrates an unhealthy approach to organic growth. This is evident in that the policy for professional development is “Take a vacation and pay your own way.” (Kerzner, 2017, p. 59) While Rose Industries valued organic growth they made no investments in educating their employees, this all but ensures that the approach of the organization and growth would stagnate.

Rose Industries didn’t believe in project management, their information systems were outdated or did not fit the business need (Kerzner, 2017, p. 60), but because of the commitment to legacy thinking, these problems only came to light as the result of the business beginning to fail.

As per the case study there is no indication that Rose Industries ever implemented project management, they didn’t believe in it before John Green was hired and Rose International’s dysfunction led to John Green’s resignation.

Was Green correct in his four components of a good project management culture?

Yes, I believe that Green was correct in his identification of communications, cooperation, teamwork, and trust as four key components of a good project management culture. (Suda, 2007)
Project management was nonexistent at Rose Industries. The lack of modern and applicable information systems made communication difficult. There was a misguided WIIFM (What’s in it for me?) factor that had broken down cooperation and teamwork within the organization. Lastly, there was a general lack of trust within the organization.
I think John Green needs to focus on pivoting the motivation from WIIFM to WIIFU (What’s In It For Us?) (Chien, 2011)

Was Green too optimistic with his four-step approach?

This is an interesting question. On the surface, John Green’s five-year plan does not seem unrealistic, overly aggressive or optimistic but with forty-five years of history inbreeding, a dysfunctional culture steeped in organic growth and a static mindset there are huge obstacles to overcome.
Hiring PMP qualified external resources to build and empower a PMO within an organization that has not traditionally hired top-level external talent and empowered them and discouraged internal employees from obtaining the PMP designation will be a challenge. I question the ability to execute the four-step plan, without a more basic plan to pivot the organizational culture.
According to Heerkens, a supportive organizational culture has the greatest influence on the successful implementation of a project management culture and yet it is the hardest fulfill. (Heerkens, 2000) The organization culture is killing Rose International, yet there is little desire to change.

What is your prognosis on Rose’s chances to remain in business?

While I think the plan presented at the executive staff meeting should have been far more basic in terms of establishing communication and trust the reaction of Rose International executives and the lack of any desire to change the course of the organization given the clear trajectory of the company points towards a grim prognosis. John Green’s resignation and the executive staff commitment to a strategy that is clearly not working leads me to believe that Rose Industries will eventually cease to exist.


Chien, C. (2011, February 15). From WIIFM To WIIFU: Effective Communication to Your End-Users and Stakeholders. Retrieved November 11, 2018, from

Heerkens, G. (2000). How to: implement project management in any organization. Paper presented at Project Management Institute Annual Seminars & Symposium, Houston, TX. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.

Kerzner, H. (2017). Project Management Case Studies (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.

Suda, L. V. (2007). The meaning and importance of culture for project success. Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2007—EMEA, Budapest, Hungary. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.


Scott, remember that while Blockbuster was resistant to change they also had a financial driver that they could not overcome. In 2000, 16% of Blockbusters revenues were generated from late fees (Anderson, 2010), a revenue stream that would have disappeared in a move towards a subscription service. Rose Industries will like mee the same fate as Blockbuster but they may actually have more hubris than Blockbuster because I am not sure their organizational culture is being driven by the fact that they don’t know how to explain to wall street that they are giving up 800 million in revenue to pivot the business model.

Most people have heard some version of the Mark Twain quote “There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”

Rose International seemed to just not believe in ideas, hire those who can be fully assimilated, provide them with no outside education, etc. Not sure how much more messed up an organizational culture could be.


Anderson, M. (2010, September 23). Hubris – and late fees – doomed Blockbuster. Retrieved November 10, 2018, from

Brandolyn, you point out knowledge as a missing component for a good project management culture, but doesn’t John Green address this by planning to hire PMP certified individuals from outside the company?

I also found it interesting that Ralph Williams understood how serious the issue was and that Rose Industries needed a CIO to drive innovation, develop methodologies and build a PMO for project governance yet there was no real executive team commitment demonstrated beyond the decision to hire a CIO. I was equally surprised that John Green a 20-year veteran with one of the largest IT consulting companies int he world would take a position where he would have to sell stakeholders on his vision after he took the role, sure it happens but senior level executive will typically identify objectives garner executive team stakeholder buy-in on their strategy and understand execution runway before accepting a position.

Dana, I would call the culture at Rose Industries oppressive rather than conservative. Rose Industries believed in one way, their way. I believe the reason people paid for their own training is the probability that someone would leave this hellhole was pretty high. Rose Industries preferred assimilation over education.

I suppose if you were willing to accept the Rose Industries way, and agree to never have an original thought you could rise through the ranks, sounds scary, but I can assume that some benefited from it. I can only hope that Rose Industries will go out of business.

“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” – Warren Buffett

Build and protect trust, heed the warnings to address and correct things that might impact your reputation or trust long before you have to worry about regaining it because once you need to reestablish your reputation and trust it’s too late.