Pick Two, but only Two

We kind of have a running joke in our corporate PMO and for project kick-off meetings that the business and department requesting the project can “Pick Two.” The idea comes from the fact that every owner or executive sponsor wants his or her project to be A) Great B) On Time and C) Under Budget. The dilemma occurs obviously that if everyone asked for those three criteria for every project there would simply be no way for the PMO to satisfy for every project.  One of the things I have witnessed in my corporate experience from the business user role, is that everyone, and I have been guilty of this numerous times as well, thinks his or her project should be given the utmost importance and priority in terms of timelines and resources from the PMO.

The idea that the rules and formal structure of the PMO are absolutely necessary for managing successful projects is clearly understood and agreed upon by the business users…they just simply do not apply to “this project, this time.” Everyone thinks their project, this time, warrants circumvention of the rules, maybe it should be moved to the head of the line or have additional resources pulled off other projects or the completion date being quoted needs to be moved up substantially. However, all aspects need to still stay on budget.

I have limited experience in terms of being in the PM role, but I have been on a number of projects from the requester side or as an executive sponsor for our department. The website below lists some good concepts for project managers and I have highlighted a few that I have found critical from my experience.

Learn How to Communicate at Every Level – One of the most important overall skills for a project manager in my opinion is overall communication. The article makes the clear distinction that each level needs to be exposed to a different level of detail and being able to understand those levels is critical to the project success.
Manage Your Stakeholders – “It is imperative to communicate with your stakeholders early…and often.” If I have a few days or even weeks to slowly break the news to my vice president that a project will be over budget or late, it is a much better situation than if we are getting towards the time of the projects where he is asking those questions on his own. If there is enough time to discuss and communicate the negative information, the news can be better managed at all levels.
Praise your Team Accomplishments, No Matter How Small – I have been on countless projects where I felt the PM acted more of a supervisor, simply asking for tasks to be completed, than that of a someone leading a project. It is amazing how far a “Thank you” email or a little comment in the meeting minutes will help the working conditions and motivate the team on the project.

I think the article points out some good fundamental concepts for being a successful project manager. I feel an underlying theme in a number of the topics is managing the expectations of the business and how communicating throughout the project is a critical component for being a success in the eyes of leadership. Being able to get the requesting group to understand they can Pick Two –Great, Cheap, or Fast – and only two for their project, will hopefully set the project into a successful path from the first meeting.

Do you think this concept of Pick Two is a viable one from the role of the PMO?
What about from the business standpoint, it is realistic to only expect two of the three criteria for projects?

Modern Marvel

Marvel Studios has successfully managed to create a universe on screen that millions of people have been craving to visually experience since 1940. With the utmost secrecy, Marvel Studios has planned out 2 phases of Super Hero flicks into the future and they hope to create an abundance of unified story telling for many years to come.

The after credits sequence, although now synonymous, with this particular movie genre was not really a thing until the world got to see the end of Iron Man. In Iron Man we were revealed Samuel Jackson in a black trench coat and an eye patch; whom the die hard fans understood was Nick Cage the leader of S.H.I.E.L.D. otherwise known as the man to unite The Avengers. This was the quintessential moment in defining what Marvel was planning to do and how they were deciding to manage their properties. This was a huge leap when it came to the movie business as we’ve never seen an intertwining of such hugely successful properties before.

All of these plans are based in secrecy as the blogs are a huge element to the hype and criticism of each Marvel film released to the public. With the giant enthusiasm by fans breeds very high expectations for film creators. The strategy for Marvel is to find the best talent in the business in order to appease the vision all fans have shared of visual spectacles with heart.

Marvel strategically reveals their plans for the future by way of Comic Con as extremely eager comic books fans await to see if their favorite super hero will be played by the caliber of actor they desire or if the film will be in the right hands of a suitable director. They often listen to fan opinion in the blogs when it comes to their hiring choices and are highly motivated by fan desires. This relationship between the studio and their audience is fairly unique as Marvel relies on anticipation for much of their success. Blogs, big reveals from comic conventions, events in the comic books, and after credit scenes add fuel to the immense burning fire Marvel Studios masterfully sustains.



Kevin Feige, the architect of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Marvel Studios have had immense success. Avengers alone gained $1.5 Billion worldwide (http://www.boxofficemojo.com/franchises/chart/?view=main&id=marvelcomics.htm&sort=studio&order=ASC&p=.htm) and Avengers II: Age of Ultron is expected to surpass that with the incredible amount of anticipation behind the upcoming film. The studio has crafted a sophisticated formula to build an audience even before the trailer for the movie is released and we can all see it’s paying off.

There are clearly a lot people invested in the planning of this cinematic universe; from the fans to those behind the scenes creating the film. Knowing this, do you believe the super hero genre is here to stay? Why/Why not?

Marvel Studios is creating programs for Netflix featuring heroes like Daredevil and Luke Cage; would you like to see the Marvel Cinematic Universe continue to expand or do you feel there is a ceiling to the genre?



Introducing iPhone 6’s new shape: Bent

Apple reveals iPhone 6 sales

With the recent introduction of the new iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus, there has been a lot of controversy over one of the characteristics that constitutes its quality.  Both the new iPhones are a lot larger than the iPhone 5, but also a lot thinner. The current trend is moving towards thinner everything, so you might think this is great idea to create a thin iPhone. That is, until you realize that this feature can also turn awry.  As it turns out, in just the first 6 days, 9 customers complained about the iPhone bending from being carried in the back pocket.

For a prominent company such as Apple, which is known for their quality products, these news are terrible. Some might say that 9 is a very low number of instances comparing to the 10 million they sold. But, the publicity this issue is getting can drastically decrease the sales of the new iPhone, and its future products.


A company such as apple puts its products through so many different quality control checks, before they reach the market. Employees and machines, at different points in the process have to check the quality before it can move onto the next task. Apparently though, as mentioned in the statement by Apple, “Testing of the phones did not show any problems with bending or warping. IPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus meet or exceed all of the high quality standards to endure everyday, real life use.” Nevertheless, it is difficult to believe this issue never came up. Sometimes people overlook quality issues hoping someone else will catch them. And sometimes, it is just too costly to point out quality issues. If a product is already in production with an announced deadline of introduction, a design issue will cause a delay and an additional budget to fix the issue. This will create a bad reputation for the company. However, so will a bad quality product.


Releasing a statement that confirms the product has successfully gone through three-point-bending test, a sit test etc., does not fix the issue. Unfortunately the person, who has had their iPhone bent, might not be as happy with the company as he previously had been. And we all know, that the best form of advertising is from friends and family. If your friend has it and it is performing well, you want it. But, the same goes for when your friend has it and its not that great. Then, your opinion of it changes as well. Unfortunately, this may cause Apple to lose lots of loyal clients, and tons of sales.


What do you think about the bent iPhone?

Did you purchase the new iPhone? If so, any issues with bending?

Does this change your perspective on apple?

Will you continue purchasing apple products?



Arthur, Charles. “‘Bending’ IPhone 6.” The Guardian. N.p., 25 Sept. 2014. Web. 19 Oct. 2014.


There’s No Flop In These Fish-Flops

Madi-18-700x466The understanding of operations management is a vast one, being constantly revisited by companies for ways of improvement and how it can be applied more efficiently to the whole team; but how can a 15-year old encompass this at such a novice level?  I’m speechless!  Through the data inflow of the customer requirements like community reinvestment and proactive volunteer support, she has maintained that consumer engagement so crucial to ensuring longevity of a product line.  She has donated more than 10,000 pairs of her Fish Flops to countless organizations that convinces her customer base that there is more to this startup than profits.  With the aid of her senior leadership team (who consists of strong people like her father and family) she was able to drive this business to the success that it has achieved now.

Through the simplicity and perseverance of Madison showing through, customers are willing to commit to that tradeoff price (a whopping $20 per pair) for the quality of the product (no holes in the sole like traditional flip-flops).  Some things that it continues to do to distinguish itself apart from its competitors is as follows: ability to invest in good materials and design processes (with a lot of help from her ole’ man that has his own t-shirt company), a strong presence in local retailers (welcome to NORDSTOM!), highly satisfied customer base, and of course innovative shoe technology (who can resist light up shoes?).

With a philanthropist idea set for the future of the company, it’s no wonder why this young entrepreneur has engaged such consumer market and future prospects, all part of her incredible strategic plan.  She can still further improve in her business based on what the world of operations management has discovered with a few recommendations.

A closer look at her strategic plan shows that a key function is to ensure that the retail face is keeping up with the quality Fish Flops wants to convey.  This can be done through product and service performance measures and working on a lean/six sigma processing. This is done by choosing suppliers overseas that can handle the cost of manufacturing the sandal, while at the same time keeping quality ensured (like making lights last longer than a week in the shoe!).  Another recommendation would be to include a key metric dashboard if they haven’t already done so; include a type of information system that can incorporate the preferences of her client base and the designs that are in most popular demand so that she can develop a leaner JIT inventory system to cut her costs down.  Also shipping can be improved and updated on her new website to include real time tracking and reports that would provide essential information for customers seeking the latest product line offerings.  She should also work to develop measurement of customer satisfaction to increase that metric.keep-calm-and-wear-fish-flops

Do you think Madison will face rejection soon, or did she find the goldmine of the shoe industry?







Can Quality be Bought?


BaselWorld Video

BaselWorld is a prestigious watch show, where the world’s top watchmakers and designers present their newest models. Most of these watches, naturally, cost more than my DePaul tuition. This brings a question to my mind; does a higher price guarantee better quality? It depends how you view quality.

Most of these watches displayed in the video are designed by huge names such as Hermes, Hamilton, Bentley, and Omega. The dimension of quality that is most appropriate for these brands is the Transcendent definition. This definition means excellence. In class we discussed this in detail, stating that many people assume a certain product is of better quality just because of the name that is associated with it.

The man in this video says that the American watch brand, Hamilton, got their big break when Elvis Presley wore it. From then on they became a popular watch, which let them charge hefty prices. A standard Hamilton watch is over $1400! Now, the watch presented in the video, from the Jazzmaster collection, is special for one reason: it has a two-in-one feature, two watches that you can flip over in one overall watch. The point of this is to let the wearer match the watch to his or her mood. Does this make it a better quality watch? Not necessarily, but they are taking into consideration what some of their customers might want.

The next watch the video talked about was one made by Hermes. This was very brief because Hermes is mostly known for their scarves and handbags, but not their watches. There is nothing that distinguishes them from other cheaper watches, such as Fossil or Michael Kors, buts its name. It had a sleek finish so that it would not weigh down on the wearer’s wrist. Omega is another brand that was named which had a watch that was made of “senda” which is just another name for rose gold. The Swatch group, a company known for their quality watches, but with a more affordable price tag, developed this term.

The only watch that was really worth its expensive price tag was the Type 22. The prices weren’t listed, but this watch had chrome finishes, real Italian leather, and a special feature. In each watch there is a pendulum that swings about 28,000 times a minute, which makes its time 72 times more accurate.

I think many watches especially Hamilton, Omega and Rolex are able to have such steep price tags because their reputation, primarily, performance, service and performance, which are all important dimensions of product quality.

Based on all this information, are these watches better quality than something cheaper? If yes, is it because of the name of the maker or is it because of some features? If no, why not?



Photo source: http://gearpatrol.com/2013/05/02/best-of-baselworld-2013/

Video Source:http://live.wsj.com/video/what-makes-a-luxury-watch-worth-its-price-tag/2EBED16E-ED6F-491C-A174-5A5DAABE0F4E.html?mod=WSJ_article_outbrain&obref=obnetwork#!2EBED16E-ED6F-491C-A174-5A5DAABE0F4E

Mercedes’ Management pulling in Wealthy Chinese again

After Daimler’s CEO Dieter Zetsche sat in the Mercedes S-Class, he realized it would not recline as far as a seat in an airplane did, and therefore not give the same amount of comfort that the wealthy individuals that would buy this car are accustomed to. This was especially an issue in China where the car-owner sits in the back a lot of the time as they have chauffeurs. Zetsche had his designers recline to 43.5 degrees to make it more comfortable and luxurious and therefore more appealing to the wealthy Chinese. When the backseat reclines, the front seat automatically moves forward a bit to give more legroom, and the seats even have a massage feature for ultimate comfort.

Mercedes Revamps the S-Class to Lure China's Wealthy Buyers

To be able to realize that this is necessary is very impressive forecasting while also looking at the past sales and realizing that something is wrong. For the CEO to go out and try the features of the Mercedes S-Class and help come up with solutions shows the dedication he has to the company, and shows good management as well. It is rare that you hear that a chief executive officer figures out the issue a company has and makes it a point to fix it.

Chinese buyers account for more than half of all the sales of the S-Class, which makes improving the sales even more important. With Mercedes operating profit margin down in comparison to BMW and Audi, it is important that the sales of the S-Class are improving again because the profit margin is 25% for these cars. Zetsche was also smart

in realizing that innovating and improving this car is important to the bottom line of making more money, as it is the most profitable.

China is a huge market as the sales of luxury cars are projected to go up 12 percent annually up through the year 2020. Clearly the operations management of Mercedes is of highest quality, because being able to put together all of the factors I have talked about and realizing that perfecting the S-Class is essential is rather impressive.

A Mercedes S-Class can cost as much as 486,000 dollars in China due to very heavy import levies. Due to the halo effect, Mercedes is able to generally charge more for its other cars as well. Mercedes sold about 20,000 more of their luxury cars than BMW and a little over 40,000 more than Audi’s luxury car, so clearly Mercedes is the best at perceiving an image of luxury and highest of quality. With this fact in mind, Mercedes’ management needs to realize that they need to improve the sales of their other cars to become the most profitable company in overall again in comparison to their biggest rivals of BMW and Audi.

What do you think Mercedes can do to improve their sales and become the most profitable company again? Are you impressed by the improved S-Class moves?

Would you eat a glazed donut sandwich for breakfast?

The new trend in today’s culture is to encourage having a healthy eating habit. Studies show that when people are at home, they are more conscious of what they are eating because they are making the food them self. While when they are out, they are less likely to stick with the healthy eating habit because of the tempting new food choices. Thus fast food restaurants do not offer as much healthy options available.

Most fast foods are targeted and are geared towards male consumers by labeling them as “dude food”. The food industry reports that 34 percent of men eat fast food frequently each week and only 23 percent of women would occasionally eat it. Fast food restaurants are beginning to have unexpected food choices to their menus to attract customers. For example the Taco Bell’s Doritos Locos Tacos, which contains a Doritos flavored taco shell with the regular Taco Bell’s filling. Pizza hut has its cheesy crust pizza which contains five different blends of cheeses in the pizza’s crust. These foods might turn off some people. The majority of the consumers are the younger generation, who would want to try something exciting to have as a conversation starter. The targeted consumers for the fast food industry would most likely be the younger generation, but Dunkin’ Donuts wants to reach out to new consumers and expand their customer base.

Like other fast food restaurants, Dunkin’ Donuts also joined the trend of creating something odd for their menu. Dunkin’ Donuts also added an unexpected food choice to their menu to attract new consumers. This new menu item is a glazed donut breakfast sandwich. This sandwich contains a pepper fried egg and is filled with cherrywood-smoked bacons. What inspired Dunkin’ Donuts of this idea is that they have seen customers buy glazed donuts to use as burger buns at family outings. They want to expand their consumer market to families. They thought this was a great food item to target most consumers because it used in family events. This assumption that all customers would like it is wrong because everyone’s preference is different.

The sales are great in the beginning, but it is starting to go down because it is not exciting anymore. In order to meet the consumers’ needs and expectations, Dunkin’ Donuts should ask their consumers what they want. They failed to do this and the sales were up only temporarily. This was similar to the paper airplane activity that was done in class. The designer group had to design a paper airplane and present it to the customers group. The customers are the ones who decide what is considered to be the best quality. Some teams did not meet the requirements because they did not ask their customers what they want.

Consumers are the one to receive the product or service. They have a set of standards of the quality and service they expect to receive. Since most people are health conscious, Dunkin’ Donuts should add something healthy to the menu instead. This is what the consumers want and desire.



  • Do you think customers set the standards of quality of any product or service?
  • Was it right for Dunkin’ Donuts to make this assumption that most people would like it?
  • Should Dunkin’ Donuts have followed the health conscious trend?

Image: http://images.bwbx.io/cms/2013-04-18/comp_badfood17__01__630x420.jpg

You Get What You Pay For.

Is the long dreaded statement, “You get what you pay for” true? Or is it just a coined phrase that consumers overuse?

The recent numbers for the business quarter were released by Wall Street Journal and Costco’s numbers were nothing less than impressive while Walmart’s numbers were nothing spectacular. Costco experienced an 8% increase from last year’s benchmark and a 5% increase in same-store sales. These impressive numbers that Costco released may reveal that consumers are sick of receiving a shoddy service from corporations such as Walmart.

This grocery superstore (Costco) does charge a member fee; however with the 8% increase this quarter it doesn’t seem to be stopping anyone from coming and ditching Walmart. Walmart is known for its unbelievable cheap prices and record-breaking deals, but are these numbers revealing that consumers may be sick of it and switching to Costco?

The article suggests that the reason for this downfall at Walmart may be related to the minimal wage it pays its employees. On the other hand, Costco pays its employees a decent wage where they can afford even the extra remedies in life. Where a Walmart employee can barely afford to take their kids to the doctor. Even if the average employee at Walmart finds a loophole to squeeze a little more pay out of the company Walmart Corporation won’t hesitate to cut that stores employment roster by nearly one and a half percent.

As a result of these minimal wage efforts to their employees their quality of service has significantly decreased. Employee moral is down because there is an extreme lack of motivation between workers when they know pay is extremely low. Inventory remains pilled up in warehouses around the country and customer services line are metaphorically speaking “running out the door.” To add to another fall back Walmart is experiencing, is that when customers do want their products, they are nowhere to be found.

Walmart is experiencing these sales hit and we can see that they may be directly related to poor compensation received by their employees. Staff and salary cuts at Walmart have been occurring since the recession while customer service continue to drop. Yet Walmart still continues to open retailers around the world.

With the decrease in the quality service that Walmart is providing maybe it is time to revamp some of their strategies and move away from extremely low prices. They need to invest some of this money into paying their employees properly because with low wages we can see employee turnover and sales are at a low.

Personally, I have experienced Walmart’s poor quality service and am not a firm supportive of how they treat their employees; however I do enjoy their extremely low prices.

Will following Costco’s employee wages support team moral and inadvertently improve company sales at Walmart?

What quality tools can Walmart use to design a new business model to ensure this won’t continue to happen?

You get what you pay for; do you think Walmart provide shoddy quality service?



Wrong for Wrigley?


When you think of Chicago, some of the thoughts that come to mind are: great food, tourist sites, and sports. Whether you are visiting or living in the city, nearly everyone loves to go to the Chicago Cubs games, unless you are a Sox’s fan, but even then, the charm of Wrigley Field and the surrounding area is something undeniable. So when Tom Ricketts announced the possibility of moving the Cubs outside of Wrigleyville, you better believe he received backlash. The degree of disapproval of the move came from die-heart fans, rooftop owners, and other local businesses. When I first heard that Wrigley Field might be moving, I was heartbroken. All I could think about was the memories my family and I had from going to the games and making a day out of traveling to the city. Even more than contemplating the move, Ricketts is planning a $500 million renovation that will impact the city, fans, and surrounding businesses as a whole.

At first thought, some fans might say to leave Wrigley the way it is. The old nature and lack of high-technology is what makes the field so charming and historic. However, by looking at this situation through Theo Epstein’s mindset, President of Baseball Operations, I have come to see the more important managerial implications that come along with the $500 million renovation. Decisions of forecasting, location, and organizing are all factors in the Wrigley renovation. Theo has to think of the costs/revenues that will be generated by these renovations and compare that to how the location of each addition will impact the field and businesses that surround the ballpark.
For those of you who are not familiar with the renovation, the $500 million plan requires no city or country money. It will provide a video board in left field that will be 6,000 square feet, and a secondary sign in right field that will be 1,000 square feet. The plans also include a three-story addition that will contain new clubhouse, restrooms, restaurants, and potentially an upper-level deck. Furthermore, there have been talks of a proposed hotel on the McDonald’s lot, a two-story Captain Morgan Club, and open-air plaza on the west side of the park.

 There are many pros and cons of the renovation plan. Some thoughts that should be considered are the local businesses – will having more Wrigley restaurants and a hotel take away from local businesses? More importantly, how will the jumbotron affect the rooftops since they bring revenue to the owners and to the city as well?
My question to you is what do you think of the renovation and the managerial decisions that face the Wrigley organization? The location of the jumbotron, hotel, and restaurants are important decisions to consider in the overall effect of the renovation. How do you feel about the possibility of the hotel that will be built right by the ballpark – would you forecast that expenditure to be revenue raising or simply wrong for Wrigley?


1. http://ballparkdigest.com/201305066246/major-league-baseball/news/cubs-submit-wrigley-field-renovation-plans-to-city

2. http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20130501/wrigleyville/wrigley-field-renovation-renderings-released-jumbotron-hotel-unveiled

Changing Customs?

The Chicago Department of Aviation announced that O’Hare International Airport will be implementing a new procedure in order to reduce the time that customers stand in the customs line. The new procedure is for U.S. passport holders who are returning to the United States on international flights, to improve their customer service experience with customs officials and decrease wait time in line. It is intended that by July 1st, in the midst of the travel season, customers will no longer fill out the paper customs declaration forms on the plane. Instead, after departing the plane, U.S. passport holders will be directed to a self-service kiosk. Once they are at the kiosk, the U.S. passport holder will scan his/her passport to start the claiming process, all before any interaction with a customs official.  The customer is then issued a receipt from the machine, with the answers to questions they have answered at the kiosk, to give to the customs official for verification.

This new customs process is an adaption to keep customers satisfied by keeping lines short. The new procedure also includes a few of the five service dimensions that we have learned in class. O’Hare is demonstrating the second service dimension, responsiveness. Implementing the self-service kiosks is in response to the additional four international airlines that will be servicing out of O’Hare this summer.  The Chicago Department of Aviation, allowing O’Hare to use the new self-service kiosk devices, is also showing empathy towards the customers. O’Hare and The Chicago Department of Aviation are considering and empathizing with customers by recognizing the stressfulness of standing in line for hours and waiting to complete the customs process upon re-entry into the county. The tangible service dimension is also considered in the new and, what is expected to be improved, paperless customs process. The whole process of communicating with the customs officials is being altered with this new equipment.

The system has been tested with the Canada Border Services Agency and has proved to be useful at the Vancouver International Airport over the past year. The successful trial in Vancouver encouraged The Chicago Department of Aviation to put the new self-service kiosk into action at O’Hare International Airport. This new technology is a breakthrough improvement. There has been little to no change to improve and expedite the re-entry in to the U.S. customs process in the recent past.  This new change is much needed.

Personally, after first hand experiences of standing in the customs control line for hours, I am excited for the self-service kiosks to be put into action. For frequent fliers, once they learn the new technology, they will be flying through the line.

How do you feel about the self-service kiosks for the purpose of speeding up the process of re-entry into the United States? Do you think this will be helpful/beneficial to both travelers and customs officials? Do you foresee any problems that may arise from this change?