Evan, Conner, Alexis, Derek, and Judy had been team members for only one week, but they felt that they were already working well together. Upper rnan-‘ agement at their company, Advert. ja medium-sized marketing firm, picked the five employees for a special project: the development of a commercial promotfig the launch of a client’s 60-inch plasma flat-screen television. The project was especially critical because the television company was one of Advert’s most important clients, and the firm’s revenues had been slipping lately due to a few poor ad campaigns.Needless to say,upper management at Advert wanted the ,’, team to hit a home run with the project. Upper management didn’t have any trouble picking the five employees.

All were bright, talented individuals who came up with creative ideas. More important, reasoned the top managers, the employees were similar on a number of characteristics. Evan, Conner, Alexis, Derek, and Judy were around the same age, had worked for the company for about the same amount of time, and because they all tended to be sociable, friendly, and valued getting along with others, their personalities seemed to mesh as well.To give the team’ creative room, management allowed them as much autonomy as possible.

It gave the team the freedom to see the project through from start to finish-corning up with their own ideas, hiring someone to film the commercial once the idea was in place, creating and maintaining a budget, and presenting the final commercial to the client. Advert’s top managers had already met with and . assured the client that it was in good hands with this team. Excited to begin working, the’ team decided to meet in person to discuss ideas for the commercial.Conner, who was used to leading others in his previous work groups, took the head seat at the group’s table.

Immediately, he told the group his idea for the commercial. “I’ve been thinking about this a lot since I wasfirst told about the project,” he said. “I know our client well, and I think they want us to do something out of . the box-something thatwill grab people’s attention.

” . Conner proceeded to explain his idea for the commercial, which centered on a college student “loser” trying to get a date.After one particular attractivefemale turns him down, and she and her friends ridicule him, the student returns sullenly to his dorm, plunks down on an old sofa, and turns on his small, black-and- . white “loser” television. But in the next shot, the student is setting up a 60-inch plasma teievisionin his dorm room, door ajar. ‘Whilehe’s doing this, the group of attractive females walks by. In the final shot, the student is in his dorm room watching his new television,with the group of attractive females around him.Following hs;explanation, Conner leaned back in his seat and folded hi~’ arms across his chest.

Grinning proudly, he asked, “Well,what do you think? ” Alexiswas the first to speak up. “Urn, I don’t know. “She paused. “I think it’s a pretty good start.

” Hesitantly, she added, “The only thing that I worry about is that our client won’t like it. They pride themselves on being more sophisticated than their competitors. To them, this television is both an electronics device • and a work of art.

” But then Alexis quickly added, “But I don’t know, maybe you’re right that we need to do something different. • Conner, with a slight frown on his face, asked the other group members, “What do the rest of you think? ” Evan responded, “Yeah,I think it’s a pretty good idea. ” “Judy? “asked Conner. ” •• , .”I agree. It has potential. ” .

.. 770 CASE 3 Are Five Heads Better Than One? “Well, everyone else seems to agree with me. What do you think ·D~ Conner asked, with the other three members staring at Derek. Derek paused for a moment. He had his own ideas as well, and beca 4 had worked with the client, perhaps more than any of the other team me _W he wasn’t sure about Conner’s idea.Derek had pictured a commercial that p~ the televisionin a stylish,contemporary.

Manhattan apartment, with a COUll ~ 1″1 their 30s enjoying a classicmovie, a bottle of red wine on the coffee table.. Feeling the heat from his teammates’ gazes, reluctantly Derek said, that sounds good.

” “Great, it’s settled then,” beamed Conner. “We’ll have this commerci L L5 them in no time if we stay at this pace. ” So the team fleshed out the commercial over the next month. Everyon ~ along, and the feeling of camaraderie strengthened. Once on board ‘k,,(tt.

Conner’s idea, the team members became more confident that they woul be-successful,so much so that they made the commercial even racier than the o ~~inal idea. The attractive girls would be dressed provocatively, and instea ~watching the television, the student and the girls would be laughing and d ~ng, with the television on in the background. There were a fewhesitations ~ and there as members expressed other ideas, but each team member, enjo _ -:1 the group’s solidarity, decided that it would be better to keep the team in ~o::Lspirits rather than risk losing the team’s morale. The team quickly decided on a company to shoot the commercial approved the actors.

In a short time, they had completed their commer ‘. { The next step was to present the commercial to their client. Conner to k ‘ti;; upon himself to alert management that the team was ready to present ~ commercial. “Impressive. Your team is a month ahead of the deadline,” said one of ~ top managers. “Wehave a lot riding on this, so I hope that it’s good. I presu- – m.

2. – everything went well then? ” Conner nodded. “Yes,verywell.No problems or disagreements at all. I ifl. ::Ml. ~ weworked really well together. ” On the day of the presentation, the team waited anxiously in a meet- -~.

room for their client to arrive. Advert’s top managers took their seats in . t;e meeting room. Soon after, three of the client’s managers, dressed in pro- – fusional attire, walked into the meeting room and sat down quietly. After welce- – orning the clients to the presentation, Conner and his teammates began the I p'”(‘€. sentationw, ith Conner leading the way.

He explained that the idea had come li5 the team almost instantly, and that given that everyone thought it was a g< ~& idea, he wassure that their company would feel the same. Then he dimmed . I:? -e. lights, pressed play,and let the commercial run. It did not take long for the team to realize that the commercial was not 1 ~ng the effect they had wanted on their clients or their managers.

The clie- -~ exchanged several sidewaysglances with one another, and the managers shif- _~ nervously in their seats.After what seemed like an eterriity, the commer•.. , -c.

. &! ended and the lights came back on. An awkward silence filled the room. 1 1’k.

e.. clients began murmuring among themselves. “That was,urn, interesting,” said one of the clients, finally. Conner replied that he’ thought the idea was “out of the box,” and tllat therefore, audiences would easilyremember it.

“Oh, they’ll remember it all right,” smirked one of the clients. She the. t turned to Advert’s top managers and stated, “This is not at all what we wfJ,? looking for.The commercial doesn’t fit our needs and doesn’t portray 1 ~ image that we are trying to obtain. Given that you told us that we would be ; t) good hands with this-team, my colleagues and I fear that your company willJ N>t be able to meet our goals. We appreciate the time that this took, but we,” . ~Q ·.

CASE 3 Are Five Heads Better Than One? 771 likely employ another advertising firm to film our commercial. ” With that, she and her colleagues left the “room. After a thorough lecturing from Advert’s top managers, the team was dis- _banded.One month later, Derek was at home watching television when a commercial came on. Classicalmusic played in the background as the camera swept through a modern home. The camera slowlyr~se up behind a tan leather sofa seating a couple enjoying a bottle of wine and watching a new 60-inch plasma television.

In the bottom comer of the screen, in smallwriting, was the name of one of Advert’s competitors. Apparently, Advert’s former clie~ts got what they were looking for in the end, but from a competitor. Derek sho’okhis head and vowed to speak up next time he had an idea.


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