INVESTING IN YOU...with Arlette L.M. Jeet-Falone MBA
How to Achieve Success from studying Vasa's Failures by Arlette L-M Jeet
The purpose of this paper is to 1. identify each group of “customers” in the Vasa project, 2. what their competing needs were, 3. show how I identified those needs, 4. highlight the lessons regarding the management of technology innovation that might be gained from the Vasa, and how those lessons should be applied to modern-day corporations. This paper shall follow the above structure and shall be assessed in accordance with each segment.
CUSTOMERS IN THE VASA PROJECT
Definition of customer according to Merriam-Webster online dictionary is “one that purchases a commodity or service.”According to this definition of a customer, in the Vasa project the main customers identified are King Gustavus II Adolphus, the Swedish Navy, Stockholm Naval Shipyard lessee Antonius Monier, Shipbuilder Henrik Hybertson and the People of Sweden.
THE COMPETING NEEDS OF THESE CUSTOMERS
King Gustavus II Adolphus – the need to maintain and establish power by way of an effective navy, capable of defending as well as conquering on behalf of Sweden.
Swedish Navy – the need for the Stockholm Naval Shipyard to be leased as a source of income.
Antonius Monier – the need to accomplish the King’s plans, satisfy his desires, please him thereby winning his favor ensuring that he retains contracts and obtain even more contracts to build ships for the King.
Henrik Hybertson – as a shipwright/shipbuilder he had to ensure that his need for work was fulfilled. This included pleasing Antonius Monier as well as their King.
The Swedish People - the need for national “pride” which would be reflected in having a stronger and more powerful Sweden. This strength would be derived from the ability of Sweden’s navy to defend its borders as well as conquer borders of other nations.
From the preceding section on the competing needs of each customer, it is clear to see that there was a great deal of pleasing the king and finding favor with the king that was involved. In monarchies this was and still is a common way of receiving contracts, rewards and benefits. The subjects of the monarch would receive such favors if they pleased the head Monarch such as King Gustavus II Adolphus. This leads to other problematic situations such as with the Vasa. How could those building the ship take advice from the King who as literature on the subject has indicated, was not in possession of the requisite technical knowledge necessary for the building of the Vasa? Yet it appears that this is what they did.
It is advantageous to note that customers who lack technical know-how are under-qualified to instruct their supplier as to what, when or how to supply. The only “customer” who had the requisite knowledge in this project was really the shipwright or the shipbuilder. He was there from the beginning but his untimely death during the course of the project lead to much miscommunication. Furthermore upon the death of Henrik Hybertson there were no formal instructions, detailed plans or documentation that was left for another to follow. The disadvantage of this lack was even more pronounced since the Vasa had began its life as a small ship but escalated in size as the King’s demands for defense vessels increased.
HOW I IDENTIFIED THESE NEEDS
I identified the needs of each customer by looking at their positions, what they would consider to be of use, uplifting as well as an improvement in their daily life. I did not limit my analysis to products and services but as with the issue of ‘national pride’ I took into consideration the emotional well-being and needs of the nation of Sweden. Human beings are spirit, we have souls [which is a combination of our mind, will and emotions First Thessalonians 5:23] and we live in natural physical bodies. Therefore in identifying the needs of these customers, I have attempted to take each of these aspects into consideration.
LESSONS REGARDING THE MANAGEMENT OF TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION THAT MIGHT BE GAINED FROM THE VASA
1.“The King of Sweden frequently changed his orders for ships to be rebuilt” from a small ship in 1626 to a large ship in 1628. The lesson learned here is that indecision results in an increase of unecessary problems.
2.“Henrik Hybertson (the shipwright) became ill and died in 1627”. The lesson learned here is plan for possible loss of key team members.
3.“There were no known methods for calculating factors such as stability, stiffness, and sailing characteristics of ships.” The lesson learned is the need to develop such methods of measurement if such has not yet been created.
4.“A stability test conducted before the launching of the Vasa showed that the ship was seaworthy.” The lesson learned here is that tests must continuously be upgraded in an effort to eliminate any weaknesses within the system.
5.“Excessive schedule pressure.” Schedules and time management are essential. One must be aware of one’s capabilities and work within the said capabilities at any given time. Do not unrealistically overstretch one’s capabilities as well as resources.
6.“Changing needs: Many changes to operational characteristics were made during construction of the ship.” Measures for growth and development should be put into place.
7.“Lack of technical specifications: The (non–existent) specifications were not revised as the operational requirements changed.” Ensure there are such specifications to be followed as necessary.
8.“Lack of a documented project plan.” Ensure that there is a project plan to be referred to. This plan is able to be the vision and guide for all concerned thereby ensuring it is focused on and the task at hand is accomplished.
These eight points above were taken from R. Fairley, Why the Vasa Sank: 10 Lessons Learned as well as Dr.Thomas Stober Agile Software Development. I have commented after each statement to ensure that application to today’s world is noted. In the section below I have also placed my comments for ease of use.
APPLYING THESE LESSONS TO MODERN-DAY CORPORATIONS
In this section I am essentially applying the lessons from the preceding section to modern-day corporations.
- The first lesson I refer to is “Indecision results in an increase of unnecessary problems”. This effectively illustrates that one must be decisive as possible with the added measure of flexibility which allows for one to modify decisions in an orderly fashion. However one is advised against making continuous streams of haphazard decisions in modern-day corporations.
- The second lesson learned here is plan for possible loss of key team members. Applied to modern-day corporations would entail contingency plans put into place to ensure plans are not interrupted due to loss by death. It also ensures that key team members should receive remuneration packages that would entice them to remain with the team thus mitigating loss against key team players.
- The third lesson learned is to develop requisite methods of measurement if such has not yet been created. In modern-day corporations one must be willing to ensure there are measures implemented to ensure success of business plans. One must be further willing to create any requisite method of measurement if none is yet in existence.
- The fourth lesson learned here is that tests must continuously be upgraded in an effort to eliminate any weaknesses within the system. Within modern-day corporations, methods of measurement as well as tests to measure success and/or failure must be continuously observed so as to determine whether they need to be tweaked or reformulated.
- Schedules and time management are essential. One must be aware of one’s capabilities and work within the said capabilities at any given time. Do not unrealistically overstretch one’s capabilities as well as resources. In modern-day corporations one ought to implement SMART [specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, having a timeframe] plans.
- Measures for growth and development should be put into place. In modern-day corporations one ought to plan for possible growth such as with the Vasa, the plan grew but the support for the plan, the essential elements necessary to ensure its success, did not grow.
- Ensure there are specifications to be followed as necessary. In modern-day corporations one ought to ensure that any technical information required to execute the plan, is in place for said execution.
- Ensure that there is a project plan to be referred to. This plan is able to be the vision and guide for all concerned thereby ensuring it is focused on and the task at hand is accomplished. Modern-day corporations ought to ensure they have Vision Statements, Mission Statements, Individual Project Goals clearly outlined for all concerned to be able to refer to such and perform tasks with purpose and intention to fulfill these clear goals.
The foregoing information and analysis that constitute this document clearly meet the objectives of this paper by way of highlighting who the “customers” were, what their needs were, how I identified those needs, what the lessons derived from the Vasa project were as well as application of such lessons to our world today.
Arlette L-M Jeet-Falone
R. Fairley, Why the Vasa Sank: 10 Lessons Learned
Dr.Thomas Stober Agile Software Development
Oster, Gary. 2008. Divining the need: compensatory behavior of customers.Regent Global Business Review, 2(2)
Revised by Paul Miesing , The Vasa Capsizes
The Holy Bible
Revised by Paul Miesing The Vasa Capsizes
NOTE: ALL INFORMATION HEREIN IS THE SOLE PROPERTY OF ARLETTE L-M JEET. SHOULD YOU DESIRE TO REPRODUCE IT, YOU MUST OBTAIN WRITTEN AUTHORISATION FROM ARLETTE L-M JEET.
EMAIL HER ON: [email protected]
Arlette L-M Jeet with her Team
“WORKING TOGETHER TO BUILD SUCCESSFUL NATIONS”
Business Savvy blog: http://arlettejeetcheckthisoutbusinesssavvy.blogspot.com
“WORKING TOGETHER TO BUILD SUCCESSFUL NATIONS”