How Six Flags could learn from this class

Six Flags Entertainment Corporation filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009 after years of being in devastating amounts of debt, poor management and multiple changes in who owned the company. This initiates the first issue as there is no way there can be a good way to manage a large company like this with so many changes in leadership. By the time the people that work for Six Flags got used to the new style of leadership, the ownership changed again therefore messing up the whole system again. A long-term plan should have been established with somebody that would be there the whole time this be through the different stages of ownership.

The company started doing a little bit better again in mid-2010, and today in 2013 analysts say that the company can have a good season ahead of it as it has new attractions that can improve the attendance and therefore the revenue. Through finally having good management again the company has improved season pass sales, less discounting and more financial income through parts of the business such as dining. What the earlier owners and managers should have realized is that forecasting plays a huge role in how their business is doing. They should have realized that discounting is good but definitely can not be the end all be all as it may attract people, but there has to be a line draw to make sure it is still profitable for the company and therefore the employees.

The fact that there are a lot of new rides and attractions posts a lot of opportunity in terms of that a lot more people will start showing up. One of the reasons that Six Flags Corporation had been struggling is that old customers were getting saturated with the rides and attractions that were available to them because they had been to the parks so often. With the new rides a lot of the long-time goers will start going again and the season ticket sales will go up again.

Management also mentioned that this will not be the old Six Flags ever again as it will establish a new business plan and “has willingness to rethink its business model and track record of success.” It seems as if this new set of management knows how to promise the company future success, but the question is if it will actually be able to successfully implement all of these new strategies to guarantee they won’t slide into losses again. The keys to success for a company like Six Flags are good forecasting for what needs to be done in order to get a lot of tickets sold, good management of the employees and facilities, along with making sure the rides and attractions provide variety and do not get boring.

MBWA: Funny Acronym or Effective Personnel Management?

Management by Wandering Around (MBWA) refers to a style of management whereby the manager, or specifically the project manager as discussed in Chapter 10 of “Project Management: The Managerial Process”, initiates contact and builds relationships with key players whose participation is critical for the success of the project. Through these relationships and consistent face-to-face interaction, the project manager is able to foster cooperation between stakeholders and improve probability of project success.

This style was contrasted with an old management adage standby: “the open-door policy”. The open-door policy encourages employees to come to the manager at any point when a problem arises. It relies on the aggressiveness of the employee, the strength of the manager/employee relationship and the employee’s own initiative to bring an issue to the boss. On the other hand, if the employee is not aggressive, lacks initiative or doesn’t have a positive working relationship with their boss whom they can easily bring issues to, this policy can jeopardize success of the project.

That’s the author’s opinion, anyway.

Reading this passage got me thinking: what kind of manager am l? Which one of these policies works better for me? Is one of these policies really better than the other? The answer, like a lot of what I’ve encountered in B-school, depends. I think it depends on the members on your team, and what their preferences are. If you have people whom you know are hard workers but perhaps not extroverted enough to seek you out when necessary, then MBWA works very well. It lets them know you are involved, present, ready to engage when necessary and the consistent interaction will help foster a positive relationship. If, on the other hand, you have team members who have no problem escalating when necessary, and in fact would not appreciate you showing up at their desk unannounced a few times a week, open-door works better for them. Nothing is worse than having a micro-manager for a boss, and MBWA could start to feel like that to a more experienced/confident employee.

I’ve been in both situations–managed people who clearly prefer (and need) the frequent touchpoints that MBWA can provide; I myself employ open-door policy with my boss. I don’t think one one policy is really better than the other, and both have their appropriate uses in the workplace. Fellow managers and supervisors: which style works better for you?

“I moved a hospital today…”

“I moved a hospital today… What did you do?”

Maureen Mahoney, the hospital’s chief of transition planning, said the staff’s extensive preparation for the move has paid off.

“We’ve been planning for this for four years, and we have not had really any surprises today,” she said.

On the first day of our class, a remarkable project was going on. Moving 126 patients from the Children’s Memorial Hospital in Lincoln Park to their new facility in Streeterville.

Roads were closed. More than 24 ambulances were involved. 14 hours worth of work. And no real surprises.

Maureen Mahoney was tasked with leading the project. The project has been 6 years in the making. Mahoney visited 13 other hospitals that went through moves and learned that comprehensive planning with plenty of time was crucial for their success. She started with the hospital in 1984 as a staff nurse and kept a notepad by her bed at night to write down spontaneous thoughts about the move.

Unexpected things did come up, but Mahoney adjusted. For example the NATO conference forced the team to delay some moves and training. And a company was put on call in case the hospital needed to be boarded up if protests made their way north.

For such a high profile project, it appears the move went very smoothly for employees and patients alike. In fact, many parents were looking forward to the move since their children hadn’t been outside in some time and were used to being “poked and prodded.”

Mahoney’s team was assisted by Balfour Resource Group which has expertise in the movement of medical facility moves.

The planning to pull this off obviously had to be incredible – having ER’s open at both locations should a child’s condition worsen, and then attempting to plan for weather or political events which could disrupt the move.

The team celebrated their success by wearing purple t-shirts which read “I moved a hospital today… What did you do?”

The skills which everyone has written about were clearly evident in the leaders of this project.

What element of the move impresses you the most? I was working in the area the day before the move and spoke to several of the staff who were packing their final boxes. They seemed excited and none seemed overly stressed about the move which is a testament to the pre-planning and work of Mahoney and her team.

Project Management Improvements

We have discussed the importance of project management at great lengths in class. In order for a company to be successful, on all aspects, it is essential to have leadership come from a good project manager. The project manager will be the one dealing with all activities involving planning, scheduling, and controlling. As we have learned, their activities will include setting the company’s goals, handling work break-down schedules, and monitor resources, costs and quality, just to name a few. If their team needs pushing or encouragement, they project manager should be the person to step up. In other words, the project manager has to be at the top of their game; they have to be someone people can rely on.


I, as I’m sure many of you, have been in situations where I experienced poor project management. Tasks and workloads for each team member were unclear, which in the end lead to the job not getting done on time. Examples such as these, remind me how important the quality of good leadership is for project managers.


I read an article recently that discussed the necessity for business leaders within a company to attend a conference that will allow these individuals to pinpoint their weaknesses and strengths, and ultimately improve them. It was said that attendees will participate in activities and sessions that will examine the greatest challenges businesses face in today’s economy. Patrick Sweeney, president of Caliper Corporation, the company holding the event, stated, “The conference gives executives an ideal forum for discussing strategies that all companies need to align visionary leadership with corporate culture.” This event can ultimately provide business leaders with new ways to effectively guide and lead an organization.


As expected, some business leaders will find conferences, such as these, to be unnecessary. However, are all project managers performing at the level they should be? If required by businesses, these conferences could greatly reduce situations of poor project management.  So, do you think companies should require all business leaders to participate in events such as this one?


During the last two sessions we covered the topic of Project Management, and the importance of having the right skills and knowledge in order to manage project successfully, meeting its agreed time, cost, scope without compromising on quality. We’ve also briefly discussed the roles and responsibilities of the Project Manager, but would you like know more about the roles and responsibilities of the Project Manager? Well MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!!! If you are a Project Manager, do you start your work every day thinking about ways to move your company forward?? Well again, MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!!! Or do you think of how to get better deals for your procurement processes? One more time, MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!!! Yes, you read correctly, MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS.

In most of the projects the Project Manager is minding the business of the cost controller, the Human Resource Manager, the Risk Manager, the Quality Manager, the COO, the CFO and sometimes even the CEO.  Why is that? Because Project Managers always feel that they are in charge of the entire project and its end result, and tend to forget that they are not solely in charge of it, and that other team players are also in charge.

Think of it as channeling your energies toward successfully completing your own assignments – your domain of responsibility.  If everyone in your project focused on his/her own domain of responsibility, the project will do just fine.  In fact if your entire company started to think with this mentality, then not only your project will be more successful, but also your company will be more successful than it is today.

Let us agree on the definition of “Your domain of responsibility”, it includes all responsibilities and commitments that fall within the score of your assignment.  And this applies whether you are a one-person project, or a member of a 10-person project, of a 1000-person project, your project success is directly related to how well you perform within your domain of responsibilities.  It has been my experience that if you focus superbly within your domain of responsibility, your contributions will be the most effective and your career will shine brightly even without the extra credit.

I once worked in a company that did not have well-defined project management best practices that we could adopt as project managers for our projects, nor it had well-defined roles and responsibilities of the project manager, so we – the few project managers – worked together and developed clear “domain of responsibilities” as per the project management best practices and aligned with the PMI’s PMBoK Guide (Project Management Body of Knowledge Guide).  Examples of the items we included in our domain of responsibilities that project manager often pursued weakly include:
– Seeking out a project sponsor and establishing an effective relationship
– Adopting/defining project management best practices for your own project
– Ensuring client participation
– Obtaining commitment from others and then holding them accountable

Some might think that focusing on your domain of responsibility is selfish and that you do not care about your company, I don’t think so, so what are your thought on this? Will you MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS or Not?