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Bertlesman

B

Interviewee

149 Engineer, Project Leader

Team Advantages

Team Disadvantages

3, 4

Project Outcome

Unsuccessful

Industry

Media

Location

Shanghai

Team Risk Tolerance

High

Team Dynamics

TeamDynamics_Indecisive

Company

Bertlesman


There was a client team of six or seven. And so it was ... they tried to get questions slightly by consensus. So it was ... [inaudible 00:00:33] was meant to be one [inaudible 00:00:35]. It was kind of again a very tiered organization so we had to get the buy-in from the core team of seven people what ideas we would take forward to show to the CEOs. And so we were showing things to two CEOs, two different divisions, and then that ... and let the executive board and that executive board was going to decide which one they took forward. [7003],[7004],[7002]
Bertelsmann. B-E-R-T-L-E-M-A-N, sorry, S-M-A-N. And I was brought in, mainly to try and rescue because the team had kind of lost faith, it being one of these long nightmare projects, I can't even remember what the brief was, oh to come up with two forty-million-pound-generating TV concepts. We had a project manager we brought in from outside, and we had- [6959]
And so because of that it was ... we weren't allowed to show anything to the board. Some of the people that knew were close to the board. So we weren't allowed to talk to the board but our core team, once we got them to agree, then had to ... they had people they wanted to convince things to and then they passed those messages on to the people around the board. And the board only ever saw the final [inaudible 00:01:49]. So even though we were trying to design for these kind of ... to get the buy-in, we had to get the people around these people that almost protected to try and make the decision, which was slightly strong. [7005],[7007],[7006]
No, it was mainly because we didn't have anyone internally that had any experience of generating TV concepts. [6960]
But, yeah, they were really keen for innovation. They were still quite on their ... what is possible. [7026],[7025]
A lot of the reasons were that, she as a Project Manager wasn't supported, in terms of knowing exactly how things work in terms of, resourcing how hard you have to put your foot down to get the team that you want and the resources that you need, and she was also very, she was struggling to learn the IDEO process and talk to the client in IDEO language, whilst also learning how to navigate IDEO as an organization, as well as navigating the client as an organization. It didn't really come together, and I don't even know how we actually finished it, I think we shared them with the internal team, which in the end we didn't actually share them with the CEOs like we were supposed to. [6963],[6961],[6962],[6964]
It was an experiment that didn't work. A lot of the reasons were that, she as a Project Manager wasn't supported, in terms of knowing exactly how things work in terms of, resourcing how hard you have to put your foot down to get the team that you want and the resources that you need, and she was also very, she was struggling to learn the IDO process and talk to the client in IDO language, whilst also learning how to navigate IDO as an organization, as well as navigating the client as an organization. It didn't really come together, and I don't even know how we actually finished it, I think we shared them with the internal team, which in the end we didn't actually share them with the CEOs like we were supposed to. The interesting thing there was someone internally had his own hidden agenda, that wasn't revealed until a lot later on. [6984],[6985],[6983]
Well there was the project manager. Well it kind of changed. There was the project manager, and there was a team of one or two ... in the project team there was the project manager and a business factors person. And then outside the ... there was people meant to be doing the sense making but that wasn't to feed into the actual project being delivered. It was always like a third piece of work that was actually completely separate. So once they were learning things, none of the learnings were really being considered what was the right way it was more of us helping them write a pipeline of innovation and then set up for the global company rather than the two separate companies that we were working with. [7021],[7020],[7010],[7008],[7022],[7009]
So, rather than coming up with what they thought was a good idea and then working out ways it could be done, they had to see the business case before they could believe in the idea. I think that made things really hard for the team, because it's really hard to come up with a really cool creative idea when you kind of ... How can we make money, it's kinda being thrown ... Like, we don't know how it's gonna work; if it's desirable, and you're trying to ... [7075],[7027],[7074]
Client, yeah. So basically he patented some technology. [6965]
So once these guys were getting to know the board where the final ideals were going to, their ideas, and they were helping bridge that link between our core team we were working with and the core with an extra pair of eyes into this pen of executive board and CEOs that were actually going to make the final decisions. So there were, on the IDEO side there was, I think, two people, three people that were having regular reviews, critiquing what the project team was doing. [7013],[7011],[7012]
So, I think it was really hard to balance with this budget because the client only wanted to consider the amount of money, and I think having that kind of ... Each of these ideas has got to make forty million pounds profit. And the forty million pounds is because they own the Pop Idol franchise model. And that's what each series of Pop Idol makes. So, they wanted the next Pop Idol, basically, is what we've been asked to deliver. [7028],[7029]
It became really unhidden towards the end. The interesting thing was, we had another project for Bertelsmann running simultaneously looking at CRM systems, managing customer relationships, and that team had the stronger team ... the other team was slightly, I kept ended up coming to help, was slightly behind. The other team was almost setting the bar higher than the, for the client differently, and not all talking to the other team, so there were two, generally we had three teams, but we were very cautious, I think we learned from Bertelsmann that you've got to make sure you're delivering at the same level to the same client at the same time, because if one of you is delivering at this level and one of you is delivering at this level, it's really hard to justify that to the client, whereas if you just delivered the same kind of format, it makes a lot more sense. [6986],[6966]
There was also a business factors person who was very much had a strong opinion of what was right. So I suppose you could almost call him a decision maker. And he was really flying the 'look we can't suggest that to them because it's never going to make them any money.' He was slightly closed to coming up with creative new ways of making money but it was more of a 'that's not going to make money.' [7024],[7023],[7018],[7015],[7014],[7016],[7017]
They wanted something groundbreaking, but they weren't particularly good at articulating why they felt ideas didn't work. They'd go, "Oh, it didn't work." And they would never consider that actually something can be done the right way. It was always, "Eh, we tried to think around that." And it could be completely different concepts, or someone else tried doing it and it didn't work. And they were never kind of very good at saying, "Let's look at why this didn't work and learn from that." It was very much, "That didn't work." [7077],[7030],[7031],[7078],[7076],[7079],[7033],[7032]
So I was brought in to help with the formative research, which, once we've got some ideas, taking them out and showing them to people, trying to get the teams to build the ideas, so to get consumers to help us build the ideas, refine them, and kind of try and make them as human [inaudible 00:05:00] desirable as possible. We had these concepts for something six propositions, so I kind of came in and was like, 'Right guys, we've got to finish the prototyping,' and they were like, 'The client doesn't like any of the ideas.' So there's kind of this whole tension where we needed to move forward, and the client, you know, 'I don't like any of the ideas because I don't understand them, and I don't have the time to try and understand them." [6967],[6987],[6988]
And then we also brought in a third decision maker towards the end to help push it forward. So one, two ... four, five key decisions makers in a team of eight. [7019]
I think when they said 'next', they expected a whole new idea; a whole new kind of Pop Idol type concept to just appear from nowhere. And I think also for the team, not having ever worked in this industry as well, they found it really hard to keep coming up with these new ideas when they continually being told, "Oh, it's been done already." [7036],[7083],[7082],[7081],[7035],[7080],[7034]
But the interesting similarities with this project here is having that change of team internal, kind of IDEO team members in the middle, also a lot of information was lost, so that made it even harder to then try pull things together, because I came in and I was like, "What's this project about?" And they pulled the other person off, so that had kind of created really nasty friction ... I don't know what to say now. [6968],[6969],[6989]
And not having that kind of ... Not getting support back from the client on why they weren't willing to consider it. [7037]
and also the lead client who was meant to be our point of contact wasn't particularly good at corralling the internal team or media creators, they all thought they were amazing, round to make one decision. [6972]
I don't think we did the best to give him the tools to actually manage that, because I think he came across as very capable, so we just assumed that he could get the right kind of feedback from his guys. And I think with the flashlight it's the same, we didn't think about how showing them the ideas and getting them to grab some feedback, how difficult that could be, hadn't thought kind of far enough- [6970],[6991]
I think because of that, the change of team members, the fact that we did have this external contractor, and the client's hidden agenda, and also the lead client who was meant to be our point of contact wasn't particularly good at corralling the internal team [6990]
the client's hidden agenda [6971]
So, when I joined towards the end, the team was just exhausted from trying to fight for what they thought was the right solution. But also just being told 'no', and never being told why. So ... [7038],[7084]
I think, for me it's made me realize that, that's one of the hardest things we often come up with is when the client comes to us with a problem, and a very specific design challenge, but actually the reason they've come to us is because they can't work out how to come up with the right answer themselves, because they don't know what they want. And when they've come with such an explicit design challenge, sometimes it can slip by that they don't know what they want, and they might have asked for something that actually isn't right for them, and isn't actually what they want. [6992],[6993],[6973]
And because of the time it was taking to get these concepts ready, the client couldn't' agree on which ones they wanted to take forward, that made it really hard to then help the clients understand. [7085]
And because of the time it was taking to get these concepts ready, the client couldn't' agree on which ones they wanted to take forward, that made it really hard to then help the clients understand. So, when I came on to do that kind of testing ... Though I hate the word testing because it sounds so quantitative ... Just kind of try to build the desirability case around the concepts. The client was still struggling with the decision of how they got the right ideas going forward. So, it was very hard. I didn't feel ... I came on ... Well, and what I was doing wasn't being articulated the right way, because there was so many other problems at that stage going on. [7039]
I think it's a lot harder with newer clients, if we can get through that stage with clients than it tends to kind of develop into more efficient relationships, that's the one thing that can be a problem. [6974]
And so I don't think ... Because the client didn't understand the process we were using to test them and how well they work, because we use them regularly, they then weren't such believers. But I think, also, they really struggled with actually leading the desirability. [7086],[7040]
A lot of it comes down to how the project is scoped. It's like we've been doing in London is almost having a team of people, that as you've got the team doing the project you have a second team of people making sense of what it means to the client, and helping facilitate the internal, having conversations, someone with IDEO having conversations with all the internal stakeholders about what they think is the answer, and then helping create almost a way in, making sure that when the ideas come up, we've almost got a process for crafting that feedback, and [inaudible 00:09:58] that feedback. [6975],[6976]
Even though that's why they came to us. They were still again only focused on the numbers on the bottom of the business case than what they were. [7041]
It can, but it's a lot of resources. The interesting thing in China it seems, it's a lot harder to justify the size of the budgets for those kinds of projects, especially when you are working with what the flashlight was, a kind of local Chinese, more manufacturer, they're making flashlights, they're not a multi-million pound media company with money to invest. The projects where we've done that looking in, making sense, you can do that really easy with a big company, because you justify that they're really hard to understand. [6977]
No, I think that was another one of the problems. It was kind of like come up with a consumer ... I think it was a consumer benefiting ... So, the whole thing was rather than coming up with how can this make money, it was meant to be based on consumer need, or consumer insight. With the idea that that would make things more- [7042],[7043]
Also, anyone in a team can actually do it with the smaller projects, but unless someone kind of takes it as a role, 'I am going to take responsibility for this,' I have seen it kind of get forgotten and then cause things to hiccup. It's not the only thing that cause [inaudible 00:11:28]. [6994]
It was a big ... The team really struggled early on in trying to find opportunity areas in something quite so vague; trying to understand the whole European entertainment industry. [7087],[7044]
In other countries, just from what I've seen with the projects that have been going on here, in the UK it seems a lot easier for people regardless of actually who they are to actually get in to the people they need to speak to. Whereas in China it seems, you've got to really justify who this person is before they're allowed to speak to that person, not just being from IDO is enough, they've got to be the right person from within IDO. I think Shanghai is still trying to work out how that can happen, with the limited resources we have. [6996],[6978],[6995]
Because it's so based on kind of the trend or tipping points. So, I think it was just a really difficult process. Meg London, and I think everyone that touched the project ... A lot more cautious of how projects are [inaudible 00:06:48]. And everyone is now a lot more actively looking at the proposals before they go out the door, so that it doesn't happen again. [7045]
And then it happens across offices, because our guys think in Chinese, when they're put onto an American, they do have English skills, but they're not able to articulate themselves quite so concisely, so people just assume that they're not as intelligent or not as capable of doing the job, which actually it's not the case. You put them in front of a Chinese client and they talk in Chinese, you know that they're talking a lot better than any of us could, even with an interpreter. [7001],[7000],[6999],[6980]
The interesting thing, when I was interviewing people and trying to work out what was the right curriculum for the project leadership program, virtually everyone that was Chinese that I spoke to all said the most important thing was knowing how to introduce yourself to people, and build rapport and build credibility with the client, so that they see you at the right level. That's one thing that we've got wrong on some of the projects we've done out here with Chinese clients is, certain team members were introduced, and they're not seen as [inaudible 00:14:19], they actually are, or their role is not as explained, and then they're perceived as less credibility than actually they deserve. [6998],[6997]
The interesting thing, when I was interviewing people and trying to work out what was the right curriculum for the project leadership program, virtually everyone that was Chinese that I spoke to all said the most important thing was knowing how to introduce yourself to people, and build rapport and build credibility with the client, so that they see you at the right level. That's one thing that we've got wrong on some of the projects we've done out here with Chinese clients is, certain team members were introduced, and they're not seen as [inaudible 00:14:19], they actually are, or their role is not as explained, and then they're perceived as less credibility than actually they deserve. And then it happens across offices, because our guys think in Chinese, when they're put onto an American, they do have English skills, but they're not able to articulate themselves quite so concisely, so people just assume that they're not as intelligent or not as capable of doing the job, which actually it's not the case. You put them in front of a Chinese client and they talk in Chinese, you know that they're talking a lot better than any of us could, even with an interpreter. [6979]
Yeah, I think ... Yeah, it did seem normal, but I think because of the clients, and the difficulties with the clients, they made it a lot harder to actually manage. Because the project manager ended up having to lead their project manager by the hand to get him to do what he should have been doing normally. [7046],[7047],[7088]
But it then turned out actually that's why he's in the position he's in, because his hand has been held. He was the son of someone up in the [inaudible 00:08:26] there. [7048],[7089],[7049],[7090]
I think that's what the team really struggled with because they ... I don't think the team felt that what they delivered was inspired by anything. They just felt it was just delivered. And I think the team went ... I think the team set themselves ... I felt I was kinda like a [inaudible 00:08:54] member that kind of touched the team but never was really part of the team. Although I probably was for the last four or five weeks of a sixteen week project. [7050],[7092],[7091]
But I think the thing was is that no one felt like ... It was really hard to relate the ideas back to the insight. And once there were threads that'd been snapped and broken and [inaudible 00:09:19] so it was ... I think that was the hardest thing is no one set their standards really high on what they wanted to deliver. And no one really felt that ... that had the time to actually deliver to the right level. And I think the client also was sightly expecting after to deliver to a level that was higher than was possible in the time. And I think we hadn't managed that expectation as well as we coulda done. [7051],[7093],[7094]
Because of how we were delivering, we weren't delivering just a business case. We were spending more time on more what the interaction would be like for a consumer than they would ever consider. [7053],[7052]
So, there were elements that needed a lot more thinking, and I think the client was expecting to be a lot more polished and concrete, which just wasn't possible during the time. So, it was both time constraints that way actually with kind of ... the client wanted ... I think the client needed it to be delivered to a higher level. [7055],[7095],[7054]
Kinda more what they needed. I think it's actually not what they wanted, sorry, it's not what they needed. It's what they thought they needed. [7056],[7057]
It was awhile ago so I don't actually remember how much money it was, but it was a big hefty budget, I think they were like a million pound, million euro programs each. I think they were like 16 weeks, the kind of, from opportunity-area scoping and trying to find potential opportunity areas, through to actually prototyping some rough solutions. [6981]
The interesting thing was, considering the scale, the client didn't react as badly as they could have done, but I think a lot of that was because they knew that they had thrown so many spanners in the works, and luckily the other project was hugely successful and they've decided to implement double, we offered I think two or three solutions, and they were going to choose one to take forward, and I think they're taking two forward. That kind of helped balance all the not-so-nice- stuff in the other project. [6982]
I felt the client confirmed all my preconceptions about people that work in the media industry. In that they act as if everything is fine when you're in the meeting, and they were really happy with you and they loved you, and that "Yeah, we're really great friends." And they'd get home and you'd get an email and they'd bitch. Or you'd get an email from someone else- [7099],[7098],[7096],[7100],[7058],[7059],[7097]
-that they'd bitched to. So we never got ... It was actually never really directly from them; we'd always hear stories from other directions and the people we knew within the client about ... And we'd kinda have to try and patchwork all this together. There was ... Never came across very nice, we never really got ... Nothing was concise or anything. [7102],[7060],[7103],[7101]
When I say forced, it was more people really kind of ... You could never trust what someone was saying. You really had to think what's behind this and why they said it. [7104],[7061]
I think well ... One person had been pulled off because people didn't think she was capable, and I got pulled in with a team of two other people to kinda help pull it all together. It was one of these kind of slightly- [7062]
It's like "Yeah, we brought this many people in." And it was done in a really bad way. It was like, "Oh, we're taking this person off. We're not gonna tell any one why we've taken this person off, or why this person is now sitting in the office not working on his project." No one in the rest of the company was told; like the rest of the London office, was told why she was off, and now me and another HF were now working on the project, and then why someone else was brought in to work on the budget. And it was like everything in [inaudible 00:13:11] in the office to the rest of the world that this project was going tits-up. But no one really wanted to talk about it. [7105],[7065],[7063],[7064]
So, it was really hard to kind of get the negativeness out of the team and get the team believing in the project again. [7066],[7107],[7106]
But with super amounts of hours and also trying to get the team to do some social stuff. So, just like taking the team out to really expensive restaurants for lunch. Just to try and ... And she did a great job of getting the team to bond, but the bond was bitching about how shit the project was; which kind of didn't really help. So, what she did ... It was very much like, "We're the crusaders, and we're driving through this pain, and we're gonna get to the end, and we can do it" kind of comradery. [7067]
But the core team of three people that had been on since the beginning really really struggled to kinda stay motivated; including the project manager, and they were just looking for the end. And they completely detached themselves from everything else that was going on, I think, just to protect themselves. [7069],[7068]
The business factors guy was, again, another consultant who's a not a 'how can we'. It was very much a 'you can't' rather than 'you could', which made it really hard to build on ideas. And that really kind of drove devising lines between the team. So yeah, the team ... that bit was the hardest. [7070],[7110],[7109],[7108]
But also because everyone was good friends, and the consultants who brought in also people that were personal friends of senior people within the London office. It was a really bizarre kind of ... It felt you kinda just had to be careful what you're saying and who you're saying to, you couldn't just kind of let off steam and then get back in. You felt like you had to be careful. I think also because it felt like the rest of the office been kept out in the dark, and trying to make out to the rest of the office that everything was going smoothly. The other team that was working for the same client was getting all this praise about how great their project was at the same time, which kind of was like rubbing salt into an open wound. [7071]
But I think the one thing that did happen was as this project finished, we kind of ... A few of us kind of had a conversation with some of the senior leadership, and we made it very open that this project had been shit. [7111],[7072]
So, we then had a big ... everyone that had touched it in any shape or form had meetings with leadership, and we had kind of a big internal looking in on why it had gone wrong. And so, that's kinda had a huge influence on trying to change how we run projects. It's changed how we scope and who's involved in scoping. And it's had some changes on just kind of how people are brought in and how projects [inaudible 00:16:45] about, which I think is good. [7073]
Reference Tags
[7003] Communication issues,[7004] Indecisive leadership,[7002] Vague roles,[6959] Vague goals,[7005] Communication issues,[7007] Indecisive leadership,[7006] Vague roles,[6960] Inexperience,[7026] Lack of real innovation mandate,[7025] Pro-innovation bias,[6963] Indecisive leadership,[6961] Woman blaming woman,[6962] Inexperience,[6964] Selfish motivation for the project,[6984] Inexperience,[6985] Internal changes/challenges,[6983] Woman blaming woman,[7021] Alignment,[7020] Communication issues,[7010] Communication issues,[7008] Indecisive leadership,[7022] Vague goals,[7009] Vague roles,[7075] Alignment,[7027] Lack of real innovation mandate,[7074] Negativity bias,[6965] Selfish motivation for the project,[7013] Communication issues,[7011] Indecisive leadership,[7012] Vague roles,[7028] Lack of real innovation mandate,[7029] Vague goals,[6986] Communicating ideas across domains,[6966] Organizing effectively,[7024] Forceful conflict about relationships,[7023] Pessimism bias,[7018] Communication issues,[7015] Dismissive,[7014] Forceful conflict about ideas,[7016] Indecisive leadership,[7017] Vague roles,[7077] Anecdotal fallacy,[7030] Lack of real innovation mandate,[7031] Insufficient Feedback,[7078] Overconfidence bias,[7076] Pessimism bias,[7079] Premature idea evaluation,[7033] Premature idea evaluation,[7032] Pro-innovation bias,[6967] Insufficient Feedback,[6987] Alignment,[6988] Irreconcilable differences,[7019] Indecisive leadership,[7036] Finding Existing Ideas,[7083] Forceful conflict about ideas,[7082] Forceful conflict about relationships,[7081] Inexperience,[7035] Lack of real innovation mandate,[7080] Premature idea evaluation,[7034] Pro-innovation bias,[6968] Indecisive leadership,[6969] Unresolved relationship conflict,[6989] Internal changes/challenges,[7037] Dismissive,[6972] Indecisive leadership,[6970] Empathetic disposition,[6991] Hindsight bias,[6990] Alignment,[6971] Selfish motivation for the project,[7038] Dismissive,[7084] Reactance,[6992] Communication issues,[6993] Vague goals,[6973] Vague goals,[7085] Indecisive leadership,[7039] Indecisive leadership,[6974] Inexperience,[7086] Alignment,[7040] Communication issues,[6975] Insufficient Feedback,[6976] Organizing effectively,[7041] Anchoring,[6977] Cultural differences,[7042] Lack of real innovation mandate,[7043] Vague goals,[6994] Vague roles,[7087] Vague goals,[7044] Vague goals,[6996] Communication issues,[6978] Cultural differences,[6995] Internal changes/challenges,[7045] Great example - Individual & Team outcomes for future efforts,[7001] Alignment,[7000] Cultural differences,[6999] Language barrier,[6980] Language barrier,[6998] Cultural differences,[6997] Communication issues,[6979] Cultural differences,[7046] Indecisive leadership,[7047] Inexperience,[7088] Internal changes/challenges,[7048] Indecisive leadership,[7089] Inexperience,[7049] Inexperience,[7090] Lack of resources,[7050] Lack of challenging work,[7092] Lack of organizational encouragement,[7091] Reactance,[7051] Lack of challenging work,[7093] Planning fallacy,[7094] Vague goals,[7053] Insufficient Feedback,[7052] Planning fallacy,[7055] Insufficient Feedback,[7095] Planning fallacy,[7054] Planning fallacy,[7056] Insufficient Feedback,[7057] Overconfidence bias,[6981] Appropriate resources,[6982] Great example - Individual & Team outcomes for future efforts,[7099] Alignment,[7098] Anecdotal fallacy,[7096] Communication issues,[7100] Confirmation bias,[7058] Group attribution error,[7059] Insufficient Feedback,[7097] Reactance,[7102] Alignment,[7060] Insufficient Feedback,[7103] Internal changes/challenges,[7101] Lack of trust,[7104] Lack of trust,[7061] Trust,[7062] Lack of trust,[7105] Communication issues,[7065] Indecisive leadership,[7063] Lack of trust,[7064] Micromanaging,[7066] Lack of trust,[7107] Negativity bias,[7106] Reactance,[7067] Resilience,[7069] Lack of trust,[7068] Unresolved relationship conflict,[7070] Dismissive,[7110] Forceful conflict about relationships,[7109] Pessimism bias,[7108] Reactance,[7071] Lack of trust,[7111] Communicating ideas across domains,[7072] Communicating ideas across domains,[7073] Great example - Individual & Team outcomes for future efforts

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