Within a short time frame, seven diverse team members assemble to write a business plan for a new company and struggle to define their roles, make decisions together, and resolve conflict. Henry Tam, a second-year Harvard MBA student, who joins an aspiring start-up company and a fellow classmate to enter the school's business plan contest. The founders of the company are two internationally accomplished musicians and a Harvard MBA, all Russian, who are trying to create, produce, and sell a unique computer-based music game. Conflict builds as the team generates a range of ideas about how to market their product, but has trouble agreeing on which ideas to pursue. Henry Tam wrestles with how to fix the problems that have hindered the team's progress.
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References:  U21 Online Teaching materials, Segment 4. Tichy, Eli B. The team had little success thus far working together having experienced conflicts and tensions. The root causes identified for the team's process problems were firstly, they did not divide the task into sub tasks.
Secondly, there seemed to be a main group and subgroups with no integration. Thirdly, no team leader was officially appointed or nobody was empowered to define the role structure, the decision-making process and assessing team performance. And lastly, they did not set the norms and values and did not spend time developing a good working culture from the start. On paper, the team demonstrated some key strengths. It was a multi talented team composition.
The founders' commonality in ethnic background, close friendship and shared passion on their product was great and there was complementary skill sets contributing from the various team members and their shared commitment to the business. However, one danger sign was the personality of the MGI team founders , they had a history of not getting along with outsiders very well as indicated in the case.
Hence when evaluating if the team's differences was an asset or liability, we concluded that this team was a liability as they had not met the objectives, forgone the socio-emotional needs of the team and lacked signs of an effective team.
Could this team be salvaged? We certainly think so and we recommend Henry to step up to be a good team leader for the MGI team.
In evaluating the team's process from the five stages of group development; Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing and Adjourning  ,we saw that the forming stage took place over a few meetings as not all members were inducted in the beginning. Roman was not present in the first meeting, Alex was introduced in the second meeting and Dav was only introduced in the third meeting subsequently.
In the next storming stage, we saw conflicting expectations, frustrations and a bit of confusion too. Dana and Henry saw themselves as strategic contributors to the business strategy of MGI but was perceived by Sasha as interns and business plan writers while Igor saw them similarly as helping with vision and strategy. Further confusion added when Dav was introduced by Sasha to the team. Henry had doubts on Sasha's intentions and wondered if both Dav and the HBS students were used as ploys to get into business contests.
We saw complete blunder in the norming stage because the team had not sat down to discuss the norms and values to follow in order to achieve their goal. There was no cohesion; Roman was disagreeing within the Russians and Henry and Dana were disagreeing with Sasha and vice versa.
Henry and Dana also felt that the brainstorming sessions were far too lengthy and not effective while the other members felt that these were necessary.
The norms were obviously not defined and embraced by all team members. The problem in the norming stage led to the problem in the performing stage. The team was wrought with high conflict, no decision-making and different task orientation hence the development of the business plan was way behind schedule.
Root Causes of the Teams Process Problems There are four factors to consider when setting up an effective team. The factors are task, people, formal and informal organisation . From the task perspective, the team's task was to write the business plan for MGI. The root cause is that they did not divide the task into sub tasks. As evidenced in the case study, they were brainstorming in an disorganised manner and specific outputs were not determined from each meeting or from individual.
Hence there were missing pieces in putting the business plan together. From the people perspective, there seemed to be a main group and subgroups. The main group consists of the three founding members Sasha, Igor and Roman. Dana and Henry formed the sub group with the main purpose of taking part in the HBS business plan while the other sub group consisted of Dav, Igor and Sasha who worked on the technical aspects of product design and patent application.
This sounded logical with different skills orientation doing different things but they did not define each other's roles properly hence there was no integration between the main group and sub groups. At the same time, they did not utilise all the team members abilities as well. Henry did most of the job and Dav did not have much to do.
Henry and Dana took it all to themselves eventually and they were struggling under the enormous work they had to do. From the perspective of formal organisation, it was equally disastrous. The root cause was that no team leader was officially appointed or nobody was empowered to define the role structure, the decision-making process and assessing team performance.
And lastly from the perspective of informal organisation, they did not set the norms and values and did not spend time developing a good working culture from the start. The team members also had the tendency to blame others. Igor and Roman blamed Sasha at the beginning of the teamwork for being overwhelmed with lots of works and ignoring the sales while Sasha blamed Dana, Henry and others for not using his stuff much although he helped the others a lot.
The members were unable to listen actively and communicate properly. Effective communication is a vital part of any team. Question 2 What are the strengths of the MGI team?
We would evaluate the strengths of the MGI team based on each individuals skills, knowledge, expertise and personality to analyse whether they would be a good team and would this team work. On paper, we identified a multi talented team composition as one of the strengths. They were primarily the three founding members of MGI with each able to stand on its own reputation, talent and skill sets. Igor had an impressive CV  particularly. He had a strong reputation in the music industry, had market exposure in both US and Europe, had good connections having received commission works from various parties and had experience in business set ups.
Roman similarly had great reputation being an impressive composer having won awards. His music had been performed in both US and Europe as well. Sasha had strong working experiences in both MNCs as well as start-ups. His CV did not indicate his key achievements. Dana and Henry were both HBS students but on paper, they had no track record in helping start-up companies except coming from an Ivy League university. Three of them were immigrants to US from the former Soviet Union and they have been friends for a long time, particularly Sasha and Igor.
They shared a common bond that would not easily been broken and they were always able to deal with their conflicts without jeopardizing their friendship. They were equally passionate about their product and business, they worked very hard on getting their product out but lost money in the process as indicated in the case.
Although we noted that Igor and Roman preferred communicating in Russian while Sasha preferred to communicate in English, on paper we felt this would be a non-issue as their ethnic background and friendship would conquer this minor differences. The third strength identified was the complementary skill sets contributing from the various team members and their commitment to the business. The founding members had knowledge in the music industry as well as product knowledge.
Igor brought with him his reputation, his knowledge and networks in the music industry. Henry had been an investment analyst and strategy consultant with reputable firms while Dana had investment banking background having worked for Goldman Sachs hence both of them had good working experience behind them. On the softer side, both Dana and Igor shared similar likings for working with children. Most importantly, all team members were committed to working together and would like to have the business successfully implemented.
On paper, there were danger signs of personality clash between the MGI team founders and Henry and Dana. Although the founding members were close knit, they had problems with new team members in the past.
In the beginning we tried to make the company bigger by adding some people, but it didn't work out. There was another composer who worked with us, but he left because he didn't see a future in it. There was a guy with business management experience, but he couldn't get along with Sasha.
Would there be similar problems with Henry and Dana as they were younger? Sounded like it. Nonetheless on the whole, we felt the team presented enormous potential for success together based on their knowledge, skill sets and expertise but personality dynamics could be the critical stumbling block. Question 3 Were the differences among the team members a liability or an asset? We would evaluate if the differences amongst the team members were a liability or an asset from two perspectives.
The second perspective based on whether the team showed signs of an effective team . Although the team assembled was highly motivated and committed to working together, the progress of the business plan was very slow. The team started their first meeting in early February and by mid March after several meetings; they did not even have the first draft of the business plan which was due in 3 weeks for submission. Although the case did not specify if the business plan was eventually developed within the timeline, based on the progress thus far and with comments drawn from the team members in the case, we determined that the progress in completing the task was far from ideal.
Socio-emotional Needs of The Team Members Although the team was highly motivated and wanted to work together, their differences created a lot of negative emotions amongst them as evidenced in the case study. We began with Henry and Dana - they were frustrated during the first meeting when they were asked by Sasha to leverage on HBS alumni network to help market MGI products.
This was further fuelled by the lengthy and disorganized meetings and slow progress to deliver the business plan. Dana was particularly upset with her conflicts with Sasha. Both Henry and Dana were under a lot of stress juggling this project in tandem with their school work. Sasha similarly felt frustrated. Alex was also frustrated but more with the slow progress of the business plan development. Roman, Dav and Igor all felt the heat of tension between Sasha and Dana. The team members were divided in views and certainly these negative emotions generated did not satisfy the consideration of the socio-emotional well being of the team.
Signs of An Effective Team The signs of an effective team are; 1 meet their objectives, 2 stay on schedule and 3 produce quality work and within an effective team, team members work well together, think the workload is fairly distributed and know they are all working toward the same goal .
Even though the team had good debates about the direction of the company, they were disorganized, unstructured and did not lead to any fruition of plan and at the end of the day, the team was certainly behind schedule in development of the business plan. Even though Henry and Dana had researched the education market well and impressed Igor and Roman with their Power Point slides summarizing their work but they seemed to be the only one contributing thus far, no indication of quality work from other team members were evidenced in the case.
The team did not work well together as earlier indicated they had faced conflicts, frustrations and tensions. We felt that the team members did not have a common goal. Henry and Dana wanted to join the HBS business plan contest to test their abilities so for them the goal is to develop a business plan in time for the contest. The MGI founders wanted a business plan to develop their vision into a viable business and wanted somebody to help them to write one which led them to the HBS Business Plan Contest and we suspected that meeting the time line was not their first priority.
Hence, from the above analysis taking the two perspectives, we concluded that the differences among the team members were a liability. Question 4 What could Henry have done earlier to avoid the team problems?
Henry Tam & The MGI Team
Below are the available bulk discount rates for each individual item when you purchase a certain amount. Register as a Premium Educator at hbsp. Publication Date: October 20, Industry: Technology. Source: Harvard Business School. Within a short time frame, seven diverse team members assemble to write a business plan for a new company and struggle to define their roles, make decisions together, and resolve conflict.
Henry Tam and Mgi Team Case Study Analysis.
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Henry Tam and the MGI Team
The team had little success thus far working together having experienced conflicts. In addition, we have to recommend actions for Henry Tam, which would foster better team dynamics to accomplish the task at hand. The team, after much deliberation and little success, has just 3 weeks before entering the case at the HBS Business Plan. Guo, Ph. Vison, ideas and concepts are great in theory but are ineffective unless you execute them. This case study shows the struggles of the reality three young entrepreneurs faced when they were trying to build a product.
An Analysis of Henry Tam and the MGI Team
Within a short time frame, seven diverse team members assemble to write a business plan for a new company and struggle to define their roles, make decisions together, and resolve conflict. Henry Tam, a second-year Harvard MBA student, who joins an aspiring start-up company and a fellow classmate to enter the school's business plan contest. The founders of the company are two internationally accomplished musicians and a Harvard MBA, all Russian, who are trying to create, produce, and sell a unique computer-based music game. Conflict builds as the team generates a range of ideas about how to market their product, but has trouble agreeing on which ideas to pursue. Henry Tam wrestles with how to fix the problems that have hindered the team's progress. Polzer, Jeffrey T.