Conflict Resolution (Sutton Electronics Case Study)
Eric Frank was still basking in the glory of his promotion
to marketing project manager for Sutton Electronics
Corporation, manufacturer of electronic fire alarm
systems for motels, offices, and other commercial installations.
Eric's first project involved the development
of a marketing plan for Sutton's revolutionary
new alarm system based on sophisticated circuitry that
would detect and identify a large number of dangerous
gases as well as smoke and very high temperatures.
The device was the brainchild of Ira Magee, vice-president
of research and the technical wizard responsible
for many of Sutton's most successful products.
It was unusual for so young and relatively inexperienced
an employee as Eric to be given control of such
a potentially important project, but he had shown skill
in handling several complex, though routine, marketing
assignments. In addition, he had the necessary scientific
background to allow him to understand the benefits
of Magee's proposed gas detection system.
Four weeks into the project, Eric was getting quite
worried. He had tried to set up an organizational and
planning meeting several times. No matter when he
scheduled the meeting, the manager of the manufacturing
department, Jaki Benken, was unable to attend. Finally,
Eric agreed that manufacturing could be
represented by young Bill Powell, a Benken protégé
who had just graduated from college and joined Sutton
Electronics. However, Eric was doubtful that Powell
could contribute much to the project.
Eric's worry increased when Powell missed the first
planning meeting completely and did not appear at the
second meeting until it was almost over. Powell
seemed apologetic and indicated that plant floor crises
had kept him away from both meetings. The project
was now five weeks old, and Eric was almost three
weeks late with the marketing master plan. He was
thinking about asking Ira Magee for help.
Questions: Do you think that Eric should involve Magee at this point? If so, what outcome would you
expect? If not, what should he do?