The majority of my finals will be over tomorrow night, so you’ll start seeing some fresh content soon. For tonight, I’ll be publishing one more discussion post from the Principles of Management class I took at Umass-Amherst in the Winter 20007 semester. To anyone who has the textbook, Management by Stephen Robbins and Mary Coulter, the case background is on page 175-177; the case revolves around the project management strategy of the Lend Lease Corporation.
For this post, I read the Lend Lease case BEFORE I read the chapter in hopes that I would pick up the types of plans and approaches Lend Lease utilized. As I’m looking at the notes I took while reading the chapter, I see that I observed portions of a lot of the different types of approaches to plans and the plans themselves. As I’m re-reading the case I can see an emphasis on a certain approach but still believe that Lend Lease is using a hybrid of the approaches discussed in the textbook.
In developing Bluewater Factors, Lend Lease utilized an operational plan to come up with how to build the complex, for instance architect schematics, budgeting, scheduling of resources, and coordinating with local government and community organizations; however the idea of purchasing the land and developing the Bluewater complex there was inspired by Lend Lease’s strategic long-term plan of real estate investment and development. The plan for buying the land was a short-term plan, the plan for developing the Bluewater complex was a long-term plan. Specific plan would be in the design and construction details of the complex, the directional plan would be the plan that covered the complex from start to finish (from the vision of the complex as seen by the executives all the way to the opening of the complex), in other words it was the plan that enabled the Bluewater vision to be accomplished. The plan for the complex was a one-time plan, but they most likely incorporated ideas and experience from building the complex into their standing plans for how to approach similar projects in the future.
I can see elements of the formal planning approach, as the project-control groups (PCG) do not work on the day to day task of the project but are held accountable for the success of the project, however Lend Lease does not rely on the top-down flow of formal planning as the PCG group is compromised of various groups not limited to but including the CEO and other top managers, in addition to the "manufacturers, community advocates, local planning authorities [etc.]…" (176). In this way, Lend Lease also uses the second approach discussed on page 169 as they incorporate many organizational members AND outsiders" in the planning & review process.
Lend Lease also utilizes the Management by Objectives (MBO) approach to establishing goals, their objective of a "dramatic and unique civil space that would be a community gathering place in addition to being a popular retail shopping center." had a specific goal (the center) and explicit time period (the deadline). As the PCG constantly re-evaluated the plan and progress, Lend Lease also displayed the participative decision making and performance feedback aspects of MBO. Lend Lease also made use of means-ends chain because as one goal was accomplished, for instance buying the land, another goal was started, the design phase. This hybrid approach is odd because it makes some of the noted limitations of the MBO approach a positive for Lend Lease, for instance dropping old goals and establishing new ones is stated by Robbins & Coulter as a negative but Lend Lease tended to use it in a positive way and it contributed to their success.
As Lend Lease pretty much used all the planning elements discussed in the textbook it could be claimed that their approach might work for all organizations. I, however, don’t believe this is true as this hybrid approach may not work for many formal, strict, highly government regulated organizations. Then again I myself am part of such an organization (the global custodian I work for) and now that I think about it can see hybrid aspects in its’ planning. For instance, I work on integrating new clients into our bank and there is a very top-down approach to planning with a focus on deadlines which would make the company fall into the traditional goal setting approach but at the same time I can see aspects of the MBO approach because sometimes we do let our clients in on the planning aspects of new goals. For instance, our whole company is going through a shift to re-focus our work efforts on appeasing both internal and external clients. Part of this shift has caused us to give more attention to certain high-profile clients and we’ve definitely accepted input from these clients on how they would like to be treated and how to implement that treatment. Maybe planning is not as dependent on the organization but more so on the specific goals the plan is trying to accomplish?
As Lend Lease has a strong focus on environmentally sustainable development, their goals are more specific and thus their plans become more constrained. It would seem that constraint might not be a positive as it limits an organizations options, but it works for Lend Lease because they know they cannot use environmentally damaging methods to accomplish a goal. This constraint actually frees up Lend Lease’s resources to allow for managers and employees to focus more on the methods that are available and thus allows them to better choose which plan and which method is better suited to the particular goal they are seeking to accomplish.