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Creating a Better Leadership and Communication Process for Project Implementation at TCN

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University of La Verne Communications in Organizations ECBU 354 Summer 2002 Creating a Better Leadership and Communication Process for Project Implementation at TCN Team Members: Debbie Feyerabend Nubia Lopez Bruce D. Hill Table of Contents PREMISE 3 CULTURAL OVERVIEW 4 CURRENT STATE 7 PROBLEM IDENTIFICATION AND ANALYSIS 10 SOLUTIONS/IDEAL STATE 13 IMPLEMENTATION PLAN 16 REFERENCES 20 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 21 PREMISE Create a better leadership and communication process to facilitate future project implementation at Times Community News. This paper will focus on creating a better way of selecting project leaders within Times Community News and its parent company, the Los Angeles Times. The premise of this paper arose from being a team member on several different projects, each led by a different project manager. A special project team includes work groups, cross-functional teams, task forces, problem-solving teams and committees. Many companies have working groups that call themselves teams, but their work is produced by a combination of individual contributors. Teams produce work that is based on collective effort. Katzenbach and Smith (1986) defined a team as, "A small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals and common approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable." By observing the various project managers and their styles, it became obvious that successful projects were lead by trained, focused project managers who held regular meetings and communicated with all team members. Projects that did not have a trained project manager had many problems implementing the project, leading to frustration, low morale and disillusionment by team members. CULTURAL OVERVIEW Times Community News is the community news division of the Los Angeles Times. It is a group of five community newspapers covering many widely different geographic and market areas. Offices are located in Glendale, Ontario and Costa Mesa. The General Manager of Times Community News is based in the Costa Mesa office, which is the office that is financially profitable. ...read more.


These project managers are chosen only based on whether or not they are in the department-not if they have any experience, or training, in project management. The new project manager then picks the members of the team for work on the project and sets the schedule and agenda. As alluded to in the premise, this process of choosing project managers causes problems on many projects. The selection process is like playing roulette; you may pick a winner and you may pick a looser. With the intense competition that all corporations have to deal with to survive in the current environment, a better process for choosing project managers seems a necessity. Lets take a look at the current process and see if we can isolate the problem, and its root causes. PROBLEM IDENTIFICATION AND ANALYSIS If communication between the Los Angeles Times and the Times Community News flows in all directions, why are some projects a failure? A number of possibilities come to mind. Perhaps the correct types of communication are not being addressed in order to augment successful projects, or communication has the appearance of being a dialog but in actuality it is only flowing in one direction. Maybe the selection process for project managers is flawed. There could be several reasons or combination of reasons. According to Ishikawa (1982), a good tool to isolate the root causes of problems can be accomplished using a fishbone diagram. By viewing the diagram above we can see that there are several causes that lead to inadequate project implementation. > Procedures o No formal procedure for choosing project managers o No project management department o No procedure for project implementation > Policies o Lack of information for scope of work o No formal policy for project management control > Physical/Cultural Environment o Individual achievement is more valued > Leadership/Skill Level o Lack of formal team recognition o Focus on interest of own dept o Procedure for PM choice o No formal training in PM By looking at ...read more.


In addition to that, participants get a feeling of ownership and therefore are more supportive. This is very important and allows for a smoother implementation process, which leads to a more desirable outcome. Implementation. Once the team has created the design, it will create the implementation timelines. The team will create this schedule with input not only from team members but also from individuals from any area (department or unit) that might be affected or involved with the implementation of the new project. Time lines will be as realistic as possible but making every effort to deliver the project when promised without compromising the quality. Evaluation. As part of the evaluation process, the team will measure the success of the project at different phases. We will use the Organizational Communication Model or OCM (Perlman, 1996.) as described and charted on the solutions/ideal state portion of this paper. Follow-up. After receiving the first evaluations, the team will have two options: 1) continue to meet on as needed basis to assess progress from different areas or, 2) form a subgroup comprised of some of the team members that will continue to meet to assess progress or address any unfinished business. As with all project implementations, time is of the essence. The following table is provided for a better idea visually of how the process would work for a project starting on August 2, 2002. Task Length of time Start Finish Initiation 2 months 9/2/02 11/1/02 Planning 2 weeks 11/4/02 11/15/02 Analysis 2 months 11/15/02 1/15/03 Design 2 weeks 1/15/03 1/30/03 Implementation 2 weeks per site (Total of 4 sites) 2/1/03 4/1/03 Evaluation 1 month after implementation 4/1/03 4/7/03 Follow up On as needed basis for the following 2-4 months after implementation In summary, in order for an implementation plan to be successful it needs to be thought out thoroughly, be well informed, organized, simple, and clear. Good communication-and the above outline and described steps-are the blue prints for a smooth implementation process. ...read more.

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