Team Face the Future Foundation / Potbelly

The assigned objective was to create, plan and execute a fund raising project for a designated charity.  Our team chose to support the Face The Future Foundation (FTFF).  FTFF is a non-profit organization supporting the University of Illinois Craniofacial Center.  The Craniofacial Center is one of the oldest and largest facilities in the world dedicated to the treatment of infants, children, adolescents and adults with cleft lip and palate and other congenital craniofacial conditions. 

Our team partnered with Potbelly Sandwich Works, specifically the store located at 1459 W. Taylor Street.  This location is steps away from the UIC campus and the Craniofacial Center. Potbelly pledged to donate 25% of sales during one evening’s dinner service (5-8pm).  The event was held on Thursday, August 2.  Our team recruited friends, FTFF board members and Craniofacial Center staff to attend the event.  Team members offered free shakes to entice people on the street to attend the event and learn more about FTFF. 

Our team chose to partner with these organizations because of existing relationships.  Kacie is a member of the FTFF junior board.  Kacie’s relationship facilitated faster and more effective communication with FTFF.  Dan works for Potbelly in the marketing department.  Dan leveraged Potbelly’s promotional resources and communicated with store leadership.

In addition to holding the Potbelly event, our team sought to leverage our personal and professional networks to raise funds.  Team members used word-of-mouth, email and social media to drive people to the FTFF website to donate.  Several team members sold Potbelly cookies to co-workers, family and friends.  One team member held a company-sponsored “Wear Your Jeans to Work Day” to raise funds.

Our team raised $2,588.75, more than any other group in the class.  Our team initially projected $200 as our fund-raising goal.  However, that amount was solely revenue from Potbelly.  After adding donations, we revised our goal to $1,000.  We were able to far exceed our goal.  We also were able to spread awareness of FTFF to hundreds of individual we touched in our campaign.

In our initial proposal, we estimated we would raise $212.50 through our partnership with Potbelly.  Our actual total was $251.75, an 18% increase over the estimated total.  It is clear that our event drove additional traffic to the Potbelly.  We were able to bring more than 15 friends and co-workers to the event.  Potbelly was very happy with our event, their first fund raiser.

Advice for future teams

Make sure you follow your plans and do not lose sight of your objectives.  Our team did not use our implementation plan well enough.  We each took our own assigned tasks and completed the tasks, but did not integrate our tasks into the larger project or interface with other team members enough.  We would also recommend appointing a true project manager to facilitate collaboration and communication.  Because of the size of our team, certain messages were not communicated uniformly or well enough.  Irini blogged about the value of a communication plan – your team may benefit from that exercise.

Lessons Learned

Test everything!  Be prepared for technology challenges!  One challenge we faced was the FTFF website.  The website was difficult to navigate for some users.  This led to frustrated people not able to donate and a lot of last minute headaches for the team.  This problem was not on our risk management plan and we did not anticipate this issue.  In retrospect, our team should have thought this through as technology issues are common.  We should have tested the website in advance.

Beware of scope creep.  Given that our team had 7 members, we needed to raise a substantial amount of money for this project to be successful.  Our team needed to raise funds beyond the $251.75 generated by Potbelly.  However, as we added new branches to our fund raising plan (cookie sales, online donations, day-of cash donations, work sponsored event) it was difficult to manage everything.  Our team lost sight of the initial objective to some degree and it was difficult to be on top of everything.

More is not always merrier.  It was clear that this project could have been managed with fewer people.  The extra people allowed our team to raise an impressive $2,588.75.  However, the project could have been managed more effectively.  Our team attempted to divide the project tasks evenly, but this was not possible and not efficient.  Rather than have one person handle a task well, in some cases, we divided the task further and allocated the work to two people.  The result was not cohesive.



NATO Summit: Planned Well?

We recently saw large-scale project management in action, during the NATO Summit in Chicago on May 20-21.  Staging that event certainly required a great deal of project management, risk assessment and contingency planning.  Many Chicagoans felt the event was not worth the hassle (although Deloitte’ economic study projected a $128.2 million impact).  While the event was a huge pain, I can’t say the project was implemented poorly.  The police invested over $1 million in riot-control equipment and spent months training.  The CPD performance was generally well-received.  I do think the police could have done a better done containing the protestors, during the event the media coverage made you feel like the protestors were everywhere.  As a safety precaution, the city installed new trashcans.  There were many street and highway closures.  That information was communicated through media outlets, a website set up by the city and the “Notify Chicago” system.  The street closures very inconvenient, but I don’t know a better alternative was available.  Business appeared to be well prepared as well.  I found it interesting that Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce President Jerry Roper was mocked for suggesting in January that businesses may need to board up windows and have employees work for home.  By May, many businesses were installing bullet-proof glass, closing offices or urging employees to dress down to avoid being targeted by protests.  Generally, the organization of the Summit itself was well-received.  As the Sun-Times said “By not failing, Emanuel and Chicago succeeded.”

Now that you’ve had time to digest the NATO Summit, what do you think?  Do you think Chicago would have been better without the event?  Was the event a success operationally?  Do you have any thoughts about specific aspects that could have been planned better?

A great deal of the proposed benefit was elevating Chicago on the world scene.  My general sense is Chicago is not viewed as world-city.  Organizers of the 2016 Olympic bid were disappointed Chicago did not resonate more with IOC members – they simply didn’t view Chicago as one of the world’s great cities.  And while many foreign journalists praised Chicago, I don’t think the awareness created by NATO will translate into tangible benefits. 

Also now that the images from protests are not fresh, I think the event was organized fairly well.—foreign-journalists-favorably-impressed–news-46.php

Common Mistakes in Project Management/Selection

Our previous class featured much discussion about project selection.  We studied the film prioritization case, choose 4 class projects and shared individual experiences.  So I was curious to learn what a few common mistakes are in selection a project.  Joni Seeber, a project management professional, authored a short article on project selection for the American Society for the Advancement of Project Management (  The article lists some key mistakes made. 

One common red flag listed is “lack of strategic fit with mission” and the article also discusses leveraging core competencies.  These points resonated with me after working with my group on our course project.  We came up with a great idea but became bogged down in trying to brainstorm additional ways to generate revenue.  Many of these ideas strayed from the stated mission.  Ultimately, one teammate suggested we focus on the core goal and not dilute our resources or become distracted with other ideas/projects.

Another stated mistake was “lack of stakeholder support.”  This is a big one.  In my career, I have worked on a couple process improvement projects aimed at improving ease-of-use and efficiency for users.  However, change can be very painful.  In one instance, the project was less successful because the users were not willing to spend additional time up front and reap the operational rewards later.  The next time we rolled out changes to this group of users, we spent a great deal of time of making the case to the users that the improvements were in their best interest.  Frankly, the case made to users was more thorough than the pitch to management who green lighted the project.

An interesting insight from this article is “studies show early termination of a troubled project can result in a 900% return on investment.”  This statement is fairly intuitive, but 900% is very surprising.  This highlights the important of checkpoints and status updates.  It can be difficult to kill a once-promising project, particularly with political implications.  Essentially, the most profitable decision you can make is not waste additional resources on a failing project.