Posted: February 28th, 2023

Case study week 5

Class – Please review the attached “MIRED IN PROJECTS” Case Study and provide your response for the following questions


  1. Summarize how the organization identified the problems. What techniques did they use, and what steps were taken to address the problems identified?
  2. What was done to recognize the roles that management should play in projects? In what ways did management contribute to the problem?
  3. What other research methods or tools are available to organizational leaders that can tell them about how innovation can impact projects and the organization?

Please write a 500-to-1000 words in APA Style answering all questions.





The company in this case study offers services in hardware,
software and technical networks
for law firms. They implement standardized products as well as
customized solutions. The seven employees (2 sales, 5 technical
support) and two managing partners, based in Berlin (Germany) run
a stable company with mostly long term business relations.
However, the IT market is highly competitive and demands
constant innovation. Therefore, in that organization every member
takes part in innovation workshops, is involved in several projects
simultaneously and invests about 20% of working time to
implement ideas.


Most innovations were about new IT services, for example in-house
server-based automated data mirrors and automated remote control
devices. Few projects focused on internal processes, for example an
automated booking and reporting system. Most of the innovations
were initiated by one partner, who also monitors, accepts or revises
the outcomes. All projects were driven by a single employee and
had to be done parallel to the core business. In a handbook all
process steps and formalities are deeply fixed (by the way contrary
to scientific findings, see van de Veen, Angle & Poole, 2000).


An innovation survey (questionnaire and interviews throughout the
company) revealed that…

• far too many projects were initiated by management at the
same time (over 20) with very long time periods (on average 18
months instead of desired 9).
• projects were much more complex for employees (in
average 17 steps) than expected by management (7 steps).
• management monitored poorly, especially the outcomes.
The partners changed success- and outcome expectations
during the project or, even worse, at the end. That led to long
durations and much frustration.
• management offered too little assistance and
encouragement, e.g. the bonuses were only paid for customer
services and sales, not for innovation projects, hence all
colleagues tried to minimize their effort in others projects.


Public �
Private �

Non-profit �
Commercial �

Business: food safety

Start up (0-1yr) �
Growth (1-5 yrs) �
Mature (5yrs +) �

Micro (Staff <10) �
SME (10 – 250 Staff) �
Large (250+) �

Regional �
National �
Multinational �


Longitudinal �
Cross-sectional �

Access �
Exemplar �
Random �


Top Down �
Bottom-up �

Product �
Process �
Organizational �

Radical �
Incremental �


• projects were communicated as cost factors by management
in their annual financial reporting, earnings in the long run
were not connected to former initiatives.

In sum, this company had much more ideas than resources to
implement them. Project leaders felt mostly left alone. The overall
outcome was quite small compared to the investments: increasing
unfinished or escalated or failed projects, decreasing volume of
sales with new products and services.

Transformation started with moderated survey feedback
workshops, followed by a task force with quarterly meetings over 2
years. The partners committed themselves to start less projects, to
fix the desired outcomes in a specification sheet, to report gains
from former projects and to share financial gains with the project
leader. Furthermore, innovation management was installed which
acts as a process promoter (c.f. Chakrabarti & Hauschildt, 1989).
She mediates between management and staff, hosts supervision
meetings, initiates project mentoring, intervenes in crises, connects
to resource holders and gives practical advice. Doing that,
management tried to erase the stigma of blood, sweat and tears
from innovation projects and to bring back fun and glory for
successfully implemented ideas.


Leadership in this case was ambivalent. On the one hand, they
contributed most of the ideas, authorized resources, matched
projects with the company’s strategy, and emphasized the
relevance of innovations. On the other hand, they built formal
barriers to implement ideas and left the project leaders alone most
of the time. Most important for leadership was a slight role change:
less innovator, idea generator, and process chart producer, more
controller, adviser, and strategist. Besides that, the new innovation
manager acts as a backing for the management by giving them
information and feedback as well as supervising the project leaders.


Chakrabarti, A. K. & Hauschildt, J. (1989). The division of labour
in innovation management. R&D Management. 19 (2), pp. 161–
van de Veen, A. H., Angle, H. & Poole, M. D. (2000). Research on
the Management of Innovation: The Minnesota Studies. New York:
Oxford University Press.


Caused externally �
Caused internally �

Step1 Invent �
Step2 Select �
Step3 Implement �
Step4 Capture �


Internal to Organisation �
External to Organisation �
Delivered by Organisation �
Delivered by Others �


Strategic Recovery �
Employee-led Recovery �

New Leader Engaged to lead
transformation �
Existing Leader-led
transformation �

Recovery Strategy Published �
Recovery Led by Operational
Activity �

Strategy Announced �
Recovery Evolved �


 The way of talking about,

monitoring and reporting
innovation projects affects
the willingness of
employees to engage.

 Courage to select: Few
and successful projects
instead of many failed

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