Bob Knowlton Case Analysis
Page 1 Bob Knowlton at Simmons Laboratories Introduction Simmons Laboratories are in a difficult situation following Bob Knowlton’s sudden, unanticipated resignation. This paper outlines what Bob Knowlton could have done differently and identifies specific ideas about teams, organizational culture artefacts and underlying assumptions and organizational and personal values that could have resulted in a positive outcome. Question 1 Appreciation for honest dialogue amongst his team would have aided Bob Knowlton in ensuring supportive team norms.
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Knowlton had concerns from the first night he met Fester, yet he remained silent. He neglected to be open and honest with his team and with Jerrold, his boss. Knowlton could have demonstrated honest dialogue without personal affront when Fester commented on team ideas, satirically describing how they led to a “high level of mediocrity. ” By not addressing Fester’s comment, Knowlton placed Simmons Laboratories theory of “small research teams being the basic organization for effective research” at risk. Knowlton could have stated Simmons Laboratories theory of small research to Fester in confidence after the meeting.
By doing so, Knowlton would have increased common understanding and in a non offensive way informed him of Simmons Laboratories underlying theory, as lead by Dr. Jerrold. Knowlton could have actively managed the conflict that was occurring within his team rather than exercising avoidance or withdrawal from the situation. By avoiding the conflict team members were experiencing he may have increased frustration for all team members. Avoidance ultimately led to the leadership of the group being taken over from Knowlton by Fester.
Fester could have used a collaborative approach to deal with team conflict which would have shown respect for existing team members and given them the opportunity to openly discuss the issues arising since Fester joined the team. Although Knowlton did privately discuss the matter with two of his team members, he did not give them the opportunity to openly, as a team, discuss the issues. By using the collaborative approach to conflict Knowlton may have prevented the breakdown in the cooperative spirit seen in the group prior to Fester’s arrival.
Page 2 Question 2 Morning group meetings were custom for members of Knowlton’s lab and can be described as an organizational culture artefact. Knowlton felt far less secure if he had to direct the work out of his own mind; he counted on these meetings to both challenge and reinforce his ideas. Knowlton was proud that his lab’s work was guided and evaluated by the whole group. As team meetings were increasingly skipped, this important custom was in jeopardy. Knowlton considered the morning group meeting a principle of his leadership.
The demise of the strength of morning meetings greatly diminished Knowlton’s confidence and authority as a leader, impacting Knowlton’s approach to the situation. With the principle of his leadership challenged, Knowlton decided to seek employment elsewhere. Through presenting Fester with a problem that his team had previously concluded that no solution was possible, Knowlton was openly challenging an organizational underlying assumption. He was likely testing both Fester’s competency along with that of his team, including his as a leader.
Fester’s insistence that the problem could be approached and that a solution was possible destabilized the group and led to anxiety amongst team members. For Knowlton personally, his apprehension grew regarding his personal knowledge, leadership abilities and ability to produce, ultimately leading to his resignation. Knowlton might have discussed some of these shelved, unsolvable problems in confidence with Fester, thereby decreasing the team’s anxiety and loss in confidence. Question3 Knowlton demonstrates valuing humaneness.
He is concerned by the fact that Fester’s “making like a genius” will be rough on his group. He also emphasizes with the effect that Fester’s rudeness, impatience and insinuation of individual ignorance has on team members, Knowlton included. Knowlton demonstrated his values for humaneness when he approached Davenport and Oliver in private. They were the two individuals who seemed to be taking the brunt of Fester’s inhumane actions. Knowlton ultimately had to leave his position as he could no longer stand to see team members whom he respected treaded in an inhumane way.
Page 3 Organizational loyalty is demonstrated through Dr. Jerrold’s promotion of Knowlton. Knowlton had been promised by Jerrold that “the sky is the limit for a man who can produce. ” Knowlton had been producing and Simmons Laboratories likely would have continued to be loyal to their word and reward him for his accomplishments. Jerrold further demonstrated the organizational loyalty in his concern for his decision to place Fester is charge of another project and the impact that may have on Knowlton and his team. Honesty valued by the organization is demonstrated through Dr.
Jerrold’s utter shock upon receiving Knowlton’s resignation. He trusted in the fact that Knowlton was happy and satisfied and that they had a warm, open and honest relationship. Conclusion Through his avoidance of conflict and lack of honest communication with Fester, his team and Dr. Jerrold, Knowlton left Simmons Laboratories in a difficult situation. If Knowlton had dealt with the conflict in a collaborative way and had been honest with Dr. Jerrold the situation could have been quickly and effectively addressed, ending in a positive outcome for all parties involved.