Why Should the NFL Change?

Fan or no fan, most people are aware of the recent PR nightmare for the National Football League which began when a video surfaced showing Baltimore Raven Ray Rice knocking his then fiancée, now wife, unconscious. Following the Rice video, Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings was arrested on child abuse charges, and multiple other NFL players were linked to domestic-violence incidents. With all these serious allegations you might think that the NFL would face some backlash, however TV ratings for the 2014 season have surpassed those of last year. Why?

Football is the undisputed number one sport in America. In July of 2013 Sports Media Watch released a list of the 50 most-watched sporting events between January 1 and July 16 and of the top 10 most-watched events, the NFL had 10. That’s right, the most-watched sporting events of the first half of 2013 were NFL playoff games and number 11 on the list was the NCAA BCS Championship game between Alabama and Notre Dame. The 2013 Pro-Bowl Game, which is widely regarded as a joke, had higher ratings than any Major League Baseball game or National Hockey League game. Football, especially the NFL, has a strong hold on America’s televisions. In fact, it was the television that grew football. As televisions became common in households, networks looked for programming to fill the Sunday void. The scheduling of games fit the timeslots and the flow of the game was conducive to black and white televisions. In addition, the stoppage of play created the perfect, natural point to break for commercials. Now broadcasting deals generate around $5 billion for the NFL.

The NFL has taken advantage of technologies with Madden, a $4 billion franchise that set the bar for sports video games. Madden is key for the NFL, which is trying to grow an international fan base. Although it may take time, the virtual world is connecting people more than ever before and the NFL is in position to capitalize on it.

However, despite its broadcasting and gaming success, football could be facing new problems in the upcoming years. The recent flurry of domestic-violence incidents, criticisms of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, and a lawsuit filed by NFL cheerleaders have put the spotlight on female football fans. Women make up about 45% of the NFL’s American fan base and are the NFL’s fastest growing demographic, but the recent problems could be hindering growth.  There is also a decline in youth football participation, which could be linked to another lawsuit filed against the NFL, this time by thousands of former NFL players for concussion-related claims.



  • Do you think the NFL’s actions regarding the Ray Rice incident will harm them in the future?
  • Does the NFL have any incentive to change its policies?
  • Do you think the NFL will continue to have positive growth into the future?
  • Is there a viable global market for the NFL?

I think the NFL’s actions/reactions to Ray Rice will be a blemish on their record, but I don’t believe any long-term damage will come of it. As a female sports fan I would love to see more inclusive advertising or even acknowledgment that female football fans exist, but I don’t have any realistic expectations for the NFL to change its outlook. The only way I can see them changing is if over half of the 45% leave the game all together, but as a sports fan I can’t see myself dropping everything and cutting it out. I am sure that the NFL will continue to grow as it discovers new avenues to expand the game and I will be interested to see if the National Football League catches on worldwide.


Link to the original New York Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/12/magazine/whats-the-nfls-incentive-to-change.html?ref=business&_r=1





Big Box Retail Stores going the way of the dodo?

I remember when I was a few years younger about 18 at the time and needed money for whatever an 18 year old needs money for. I had a sales associate job with a company whose name I will not divulge for the privacy of the company. Although I can tell you that the name rhymes with ‘Best Buy’. The job was one of the less enjoyable ones that I have held, I always thought this was a problem because of bad management but now I realize that the problem was bigger than the store management. The problem with the company was how the operations were structured; the operations encouraged a high rate of turn over and a low level of employee morale. I was of course, an employee.


As a sales associate my job was to sell product for the store. Sales were tracked by the amount of units an associate sold, but this was not the most important statistic that was viewed. You see, computers are not very profitable for a store to sell. The store either breaks even or looses a few dollars when selling a unit. “Mario, then how does a store stay in business with such an unprofitable model?” Well I’m glad you asked! You see, the managers instill in the employees that every single computer should be sold with an extended warranty, geek squad recovery discs, or a home instillation by a geek squad member. Best Buy all of these services are basically pure profit for the store and are the statistics that the managers are interested in. This is all fine. A company needs to make a profit, which is the essence of capitalism.


However, where the company falters is how these goals are incentivized. Managers view the ‘attachment’ numbers of employees like gospel. Employees that can sell are given more hours and ones who do not are phased out. There is a very high rate of employee turn over. The employees make an hourly rate no matter how much they sell or don’t sell. The managers earn a bonus depending on how many attachments are sold with the computers and how profitable these attachments are.  As one can infer this would create a rather hostile working environment between employees who can care less if a customer does not want recovery discs with their laptop because it does not affect them directly. While at the same time managers can be seen swooning whenever a customer declines additional services. Ultimately harsh words are said to the employee and the day goes on. As expected morale and company loyalty are either deplorable or nonexistent.


So, what do my fellow students think about the operations structure of this company? Do you agree with the structure to work employees with no incentive, a bad environment and bad morale? Or do you have any suggestions on how a company can go about to remedy this issue.  Can this be fixed or do you foresee more companies going the way of the dodo and Circuit City?

Who should lead my project?

The company I work for has been going through a new ERP implementation for the last several months.  In the past, for new ERP implementations or for upgrades of existing ERP systems, we have typically cascaded implementations at our regional facilities, beginning with the regional facility with the most demand.  By doing this, we were able to focus our resources in one area and ensure the system functioned properly, including all reports, prior to rolling it out to others.  For this implementation, we elected to go with a “Big Bang” approach, upgrading all facilities simultaneously.  We initially identified several advantages to taking this approach, many of which never came to fruition for various reasons.

Now that we are 6 months into our implementation, it is evident that the “Big Bang” approach was not the appropriate method to take.  For the first 3 months of the implementation, we had IS and IT resources travelling the world to support our various locations to ensure the systems were functioning, not necessarily functioning properly, but just getting basic transactions through. This period of travelling and troubleshooting exhausted our IS and IT resources.  Still, after 6 months, only about 95% of the transactions are flowing correctly and we seem to run into show-stoppers at least once per month.  After that initial 3 month period, when things had settled down on the transactional side, we began the arduous process of getting basic reports to function.  These include financial reporting, financial analysis, production analysis, order management, purchasing, and human resources reports.  These have seemingly been stalled since the implementation began and there is little confidence of it being completed anytime soon.

So, the question becomes: when is the right time to redefine the project manager?  It seems through each phase of the implementation, the project manager has shifted.  It has gone from CIO to Network Director to Systems Director to Applications Director.  This is not to say that each of these individuals isn’t doing everything in their power to ensure these issues get addressed, but there is no consistent list of issues or person to direct concerns to.  There is no project manager interacting with each function defining priorities.  We’re really seeking one point of contact to interact with one single point of contact within each of our functions to take control.  However, there could be political implications to even suggesting a change of project manager.  And, frankly, there may not be anybody willing to take that position as it could have implications on their career going forward.

For this particular project, we defaulted to a project manager in the IS and IT group, but perhaps, we should have considered a more skilled project manager outside of that group that could developed a more reliable risk management plan and mitigated some of those risks prior to the implementation.  The users would have likely been more satisfied with a project manager that is responsive and organized, rather than a project manager that has the technical knowledge of the implementation without the project management skillset. Can functional leaders be expected to efficiently manage projects within their organizations if they span across several functions?

Too scared to tell the truth

I am sure most of you have witnessed at your organization or during your tenure as PM on a large, visible project, the reluctance to pass bad news to you or your PM until things hit the ceiling. As a PM , nothing is more scarier than not knowing the real status of the project until when the deadline appears. I was interested to know, what should the PM do to encourage team members to report back honest status to the PM and above. I found this interesting article in LinkedIn that talks about just this topic.


According to author following are some of the ways that PM’s can deal with this issue

1. Don’t shoot the messenger- Encourage team members to be forthright about issues and risks that they see to timelines. The attitude of PM should be that of a shared responsibility (we are a team), rather than threaten team members.

2. Meaningful status meetings- Status meetings should be more of a question answer session rather than the usual “what is the status and blockers” line. Advanced (specific) questioning on individual deliverable will yield more than the “it’s all OK boss” response.

3. Understanding the technology – Knowing a little about the underlying technology implemented in the project will help PM’s do some advanced questioning or additional probing of individual deliverable. In my opinion, this will also help the PM’s to be more tightly integrated with the team. I know some PM’s that prefer to stick to scheduling and plan management and they end up siloed.

4. Each milestone is a project – The author in the LinkedIn article recommends to treat every duration between milestones as if it were a project in itself, with the upcoming milestone as the terminal date. This minimizes the tendency for people to think they have plenty of time to make up for schedule slippage and budget overrun.

As one of the comments on the author’s article sums it up – This takes a kind, humble, yet confident and assertive leader. Employees won’t be scared of the PM’s wrath, but will rather not want to disappoint the PM.

How do you engage peers and team members to be honest and proactive in communicating risks about the project?
How do you coordinate and communicate bad news about the project to your superiors?


Project Management and Politics

Project management courses prepare us with the tools and techniques necessary to manage a project successfully. However, one aspect that is overlooked is the politics of project management. There are few organizations where managers don’t indulge in some sort of politics to further their cause within the organization. A successful project manager should be willing and be able to employ political tactics in a positive manner to successfully complete projects.

Most organizations employ the matrix implementation of projects. This means we could have resources from multiple functional departments or verticals coming together for the short duration of the project and work as a team. It is not uncommon to see competition and rivalries across these verticals within the organization, leading to power jostling and vying to be the “top dog” in the room. In such circumstances individuals very often forget the common goals of the project over their own personal agendas. This article by Michelle Symonds (http://www.business2community.com/leadership/dealing-with-the-politics-in-project-management-0412127#!9ACWj) suggest three techniques-

1. Be a good arbiter and understand the reasons for the conflict between the parties.

2. Simplify issues by laying down a common set of guidelines for the project that all should comply by , else threaten to halt the project until guidelines are met.

3. Laying down the common guidelines will also remind everyone of what the common benefits are to all within the project.

In many situations, project managers use politics as a way of making contacts, cutting deals, and gaining power and resources for their departments or projects to further corporate, rather than entirely personal. In a project matrix environment, project managers are competing for resources for their respective project. Project mangers often don’t have formal power so must rely on political behavior and various influence tactics. The better a project manager is at negotiation, the greater their influence skills are likely to be. Dale Myers in his blog(http://dalemyers.wordpress.com/2012/07/09/corporate-politics-for-project-mangers-101/)  states good politics as working the system to achieve positive results and helping to meet or exceed business objectives (i.e. profit, growth) and finding win-win solutions. On the other hand bad politics is about abusing power to win at all costs (win-lose solutions) leading to a highly demotivating and destructive environment. Some of the traits of bad politics are self promoting, aligning always with power brokers, spreading gossip, distancing from failure, exacerbating the situation without taking any ownership and  extracting information without sharing their own.

Some of the ways to practice good politics are as follows

1. Identify the politics around you by identifying the power blocks and alliances in the organization.

2. Promote successes of the team and yourself. Confront negative talk about you and the team with facts.

3. Avoid taking sides by falling into a power block.

4. Don’t bad mouth others.

5. Earn trust and respect through positive deeds and actions. This way you can build your own network that share your perspective and agree with your values.

6. Don’t shut out those who practice bad politics rather, engage them, try to understand their perspectives, and learn their patterns.

7. Always look for win-win solutions. That way you will have less enemies within the organization.

8. Stick to core values, but also expect betrayal.

Project management is much more than just scheduling tasks and managing risks and budgets. Projects are rarely easy and office politics can make things worse,  so they need to be dealt with swiftly and firmly.

Perceptions of Time in Project Management

I recently read an article on the PMI website titled “Adjusting to Team Time Warps“. The article addresses the issue of how people view time differently when managing their projects. This would be a particularly interesting issue to look at during the planning portion of project management process, when analyzing and formulating strategies to reach a given objective. Understanding each individual’s perspective on time could help prevent future conflict. It may also help anticipate the different needs of each party involved in the project management process.

So how do people “see time”? We are able to see from a cultural prospective, how each culture interprets time differently. For example, Western Europeans are focused on the future, and believe the present is just a means of ensuring a good future. Americans are very focused on the present, seeking immediate gains or results. However, Southern Europe, Asia, and Africa focus on the past, and as a result, feel the future is uncertain. These different perspectives of time can be important to acknowledge when managing a global project. In order to ensure everyone is on the same page, the project manager may need to emphasize important time related goals or deadlines to certain people in a different way. It is also important to be cognizant and respectful of the way other cultures think and feel about time. Someone from Asia may not feel the same sense of urgency of finishing the project on time, as someone from America might

However, I believe this idea of having different perceptions of time can be applied to all projects, even if it doesn’t appear you are dealing with a variety of cultures. Someone with a present focus may be more likely to take actions leading to immediate gratification, versus making decisions toward the betterment of the long term project. A good project manager should be able to identify individuals with this mentality, and coach them toward the desired outcome. This may also help to alleviate any personality conflicts that might have occurred among the team, because of they are stuck in this “time warp”.

I currently work for an industrial supply chain. We have multiple departments who handle the same customer order on any given day. I see issues occurring in different departments as a result of conflicting perceptions of time. For example, the Returns department handles customer orders that were sent out with incorrect material or had quantity discrepancies. This department has a focus on the past. They believe we should be taking our time to ensure we are completing orders correctly, and packing the material in a way that is appealing to the customer and prevents damage to the material. Doing so would eliminate many of the problems they face on a day to day basis. This conflicts with the shipping department who have a future focus on time. Shipping believes in finishing orders and loading the trucks for delivery as fast as possible to ensure each customer gets their shipment on time. Both of these views conflict with the department in charge of picking the orders, because they are focused on getting the material off the shelves and into shipping. They are not concerned with the process before the material arrive on the shelf, or what happens after it has been picked. The order pickers have a present focus.

Has anyone ever been a part of a team where perceptions of time have impacted a project’s processes or outcomes? How did you deal with any problems that may have come up?

Winning in Project Management

In my course and readings about successful project managers I have found that successful projects and project managers share some commonalities that lead to their accomplishments.

First of all, I would like to start about what leaders in project management thought defined project management, I will start with a very influential project management school of thinking “IBM”.  IBM defines project management as managing the interrelationship between 3 vital factors in each project and the importance to achieve the ideal balance between all 3 critical factors which are Project Scope, Budget and Time which is commonly referred to by project management professionals PMP’s as the project triangle.


 Now, considering the above factors it’s not easy to be able to manage those 3 angels in projects hence, they involve numerous subdivisions to keep track. I will mention those below with the top points that I found best project managers stress on:

  • Planning: common mistakes that caused a lot of projects to fail is that they rushed to start working on the project and went to fast through the planning process. Always give planning the bigger chunk of your time.
  • Time estimation: most valuable take home lesson for me from this project management course and readings about the subject is that time is unforgiving. You can go overboard with the cost and still have a project but when the deadline is due and you have no complete project the cost overboard will be a breeze compare to not having delivered a project at all.
  • Communication: a very vital skill to have as project managers hence, ideas and dreams “final project” in your mind are defiantly not similar across your team members. Try to be very clear!
  • Coordination:  define requirements to each individual and be very clear on delegating responsibilities. Successful project managers have an eye for identifying talents and skills in their team members
  • Tracking: this point I found that there was a lot of stress on by my studies in class and readings. The importance to keep check points alongside the project “success points” is crucial for success of the project!! Assessing each stage and the timeline within a project is one of the most important duties of the project manager.
  • Risk assessment & mitigations: even with the an excellent plan things can go wrong, predicting problems and obstacles is indispensable skill for PM’s while identifying risks is on one side, on the other side providing solutions to those problems forecasted is of the same weight of importance. An important lesson here is to assign a devil’s advocate in your team J
  • Reporting:  understand who your customer is! All projects have an owner or a requester, as a project manager you will have to establish a reporting line between the project developments and your customer. An important lesson here is to establish a good relationship with your customer, after all they are the ones paying your bills 😉

Questions that inspire the thought:

  • Is there an optimal mix in the project triangle? How could we measure it?
  • Which is most important from the three project angles?

References and sources:






FORD is really “Shifting into Gear!”

Recently, Ford Motor Company has a announced they are putting a greater focus on their SUV and crossover cars to prepare for the future. You might ask, why? Well according to forecasts by IHS Automotive, one in five cars sold around the world annually in 2018 will be either a SUV or crossover. There is about 14 million vehicles sold world wide annually and a specific model taking up 20% of an entire market is a very large number.

Now after reading this article, I almost felt like I was ready the weekly courier, and analyzing the market conditions report from our simulation. Its really remarkable how this article pertains to the methods and leanings of the game we played in class.


Ford’s SUV and crossover sales were up 37%, which also outpaced the industry increase of 17%. This is exactly what we tracked in the statistics segment of the segment analysis. Ford is clearly putting a focus on a specific segment of the market, or in our game “product type.” The amount of models of SUVs and crossovers has risen from 180 to 370 from 2000 to the current day. This market is becoming very competitive and in the simulation we would have to go into R&D and tweak our product to become better and have an edge. We would also encounter situations where we would have to buy more capacity in our plant to account for higher demand. Ford is doing exactly this. The article states, “…Where it is spending $700 million to expand.” Ford has announced it will continue producing their crossover product, The “Edge”, and expand its production capacity by spending $700 million dollars in Oakville, Ontario where the car is produced. Ford ships this model to over 60 countries, which obviously can be concluded the demand is very high. This scenario right here is exactly like the decisions we had to make within the simulation, adjusting capacity to meet demand and forecasts, along with the segment demand fluctuations.

Just to show exactly how intense this increase in market demand for these SUV’s and midsized crossover is, utility cars sales grew 10% and crossover sales grew 16% last year totaling about 2.2 million units…but that’s just in North America! In 2000 1.8 million units of utility vehicles were sold outside North America, today that number is now 10 million!

Obviously the future of the automotive industry is leaning in a specific direction. I think it is very interesting to see how Ford Motor Company is planning all of this now, and how closely this scenario relates to our simulation. How do you think this market preference for SUV’s and crossovers will affect the industry as a whole? Do you think this will create entry points for new automotive companies? What do you think will happen to all the inventory of the less preferred sedan and cope model type of cars?

Article Source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2014/02/16/ford-world-suv-shift-from-cars/5497343/

-Evan Meador

Reflection: A Look at Strategy

            Before starting this class, I was already aware that forecasting was important. However, I didn’t realize the extent to which it was important. Forecasts drive so many decisions that are made within a company. It is hard to know if you are being too conservative or too ambitious because you never can predict the market. Once you get the forecast, all of the other departments work together to make sure that the numbers are realistic and can make a profit in the end.

           I also saw that you can start with one strategy in mind and then you can just end up going in a different direction later on. I was assuming that companies had to stick to the strategy that they intended to start with but that isn’t true. Change is inevitable and you just have to learn to grow with the changing markets.

          Amazon is a company that has maintained its strategy for many years. They aim to make their customers as happy as possible and they have done a good job with that. They didn’t follow the Silicon Valley theory where you focus less on revenue and try to establish a product or service. Amazon doesn’t focus on profits, their profit margins aren’t that great but they still have people willing to invest in them. Amazon isn’t worrying about revenues, they are trying to gain more memberships without changing the price to match inflation. Money just doesn’t seem to be a problem for Amazon. They created Amazon Fresh and it just needs to make enough to finance its self. There strategy is proving to work very well for them because they keep adding more services to their business that they really don’t need to finance very heavy. They are able to charge fairly cheap prices for their Kindles because customers will purchase games and applications from the Amazon Kindle store. Their goal is to have their products widely spread across a large number of the population. So far, they have done an amazing job with that.


       My team’s strategy was to be a differentiator and lead in the high end and low end. As the simulation progressed, we saw that some of our products in those segments just did not do well. They were positioned in the worst spots in some rounds, some stocked out multiple times, and our awareness of the products fluctuated constantly. It was a true learning experience nonetheless. One thing I learned from this course is that you really have to analyze your competitors very closely and constantly do SWOT analysis to keep your company up to date. I also learned that ethics isn’t always a issue of what is good and bad, it can be about what’s in the best interest of the company. Doing nothing is also an option that can be chosen but it will also have implications in some way.





Cloud-Based Project Management

BBN has taken project management and collaboration to a new level: into the cloud. With all of the disparate locations around the globe, they had incredible inefficiencies in simply managing projects due to files being saved locally, getting lost, not being shared, etc. Additionally, they had to respond to FCC re-licensing initiatives manually and in paper form, which was “burying” them in paper.

In response, they shifted to online management of projects, including their IT department. Now, when a change is made to a project timeline, all necessary parties are automatically notified, which is incredibly powerful. However, there is a potential downside to this – if you want to manage the messaging to more senior members of the organization, this would need to be done before the change is made in the system so that they do not feel like they are getting any “nasty surprises” in their inbox.

Another piece that is interesting, is that they are not only managing the project, but the project documents in the cloud. This can be one of the hardest pieces to change within an organization. Individuals are used to their own naming convention on their own hard drives, and it is incredibly challenging to get everyone to “speak the same language” when truly collaborating on files in the cloud.

Collaboration, while not a specific “line” in classic project management, is critical. Since so many documents are created and shared with the proliferation of technology, the need to manage versions and share information quickly is becoming essential. With the processes and software that BBN has put in-place, they seem to have done this successfully.

Another aspect of this is that the sizes of inboxes are not getting any smaller, but files are getting bigger. This is making collaboration even more essential as people more frequently end up in “email jail”. If collaboration software is used successfully, this happens much less frequently since the sizes of emails shrink exponentially when links to files are used versus attachments.

Project managers and teams are facing: wider range of locations for team members, larger file sizes, greater regulations, increasing cost and efficiency pressures, and tighter timelines. Its the trifecta of “do more with less”, and to do more with less, we need to do things differently – which is what BBN has done.

What did not come through explicitly in the article (but is likely a key success factor for them): tools do not do our jobs for us, but they help us do them better. BBN is a smaller company, so were likely able to deal with the change management issues easier – but they were able to overcome them.

Source: http://www.baselinemag.com/project-management/taking-project-management-to-a-collaborative-level/