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The Lumen and Absorb Teams at

Crutchfield Chemical Engineering

Section 6
AE 1
Mayukh Bhattacharya- 15S526
Ridhima Modi- 15S635
Srinath Srinivasan- 15S647
Tejas B- 15S649
Parinita Vijay Kumar- 15805

Paul Burke, the director of the Polymers division of CTD was facing a major problem as after
severe downsizing the productivity had fallen. Even after the downsizing, the retention was
good and balanced. The most perplexing aspect was that there were huge differences in the
performance and motivation of the team Absorb and team Lumen. The work at CTD had to
be very creative and hence the employees motivation was very important.
After analyzing the case, we realize that the main problem with Absorb was that it was not
intrinsically motivated. The solution that we came up with is there should be goal setting in
Absorb and Chip needs to increase his communication with the team members to motivate

Crutchfield Chemical Engineering, a U.S. subsidiary of PPQ Worldwide Industries, $29
billion multinational company, headquartered at Geneva. Paul Burke was the Director at
Polymers Deparment in the elite Corporate Technology Division (CTD) at its Elizabeth, New
Jersey Headquarters for the past 6 years.
Mission of CTD: explore new technologies and product categories that would then determine
the future of the company. Owing to this work profile, CTD required a set of highly
motivated and creative workers and an atmosphere that encourages innovations and team
Burke lead 5 teams in CTD, two of which were Lumen and Absorb. The Lumen team project
was to develop multilayer sheets of crystals for electronic monitoring equipment to be used in
extremely low illumination conditions. Their most important customer was Cyrenea, who
hoped to use the crystal sheets in a new line of monitors for military and security purposes.
On the other hand, the Absorb team project was to develop a hybrid organic-inorganic
fireboard with superior heat absorption properties for a wide range of products such as
electricity generation and high voltage precision instruments. It was April 2003, and CCE
was in the last stages of a companywide downsizing which resulted in an 18% reduction in
force in just 6 months. It had been observed that such downsizing does lower the morale of
the employees and causes a hit at the numbers, but it would bounce back as time passed. The

HR study conducted showed that even after downsizing there was still a good mix of
technical skills, young researchers and experienced veterans. However there were certain bad
news that needed current attention.
The VP of HR Alice Kohler suggested Bruke to work with an organizational behaviour
consultant to study the problem. Burke then met with Joanna Mckinty, who was a credible
organizational psychologist. After Bruke approached her for help, she first suggested more
informal interaction with the teams to observe any problem. Then Joanna McKinty came up
with an unconventional way to get a deeper insight into the problems of the five teams,
focussing majorly on Lumen and Absorb teams. She asked each of the employees to e-mail
her a note reporting the days events and their views on them at the end of each day for a twoweek period. The resulting data of the individual employees, thus provided, was compiled
into a meaningful story of those two weeks in the teams life. This helped McKinty to
identify patterns of behaviour and team dynamics which were not evident in the individual
responses in isolation. Simultaneously, she sent out a questionnaire and the responses were
collected. They were evaluated for the level of intrinsic motivation on a series of rating
questions. It would also have qualitative question to describe the activities in the workplace
In addition to this daily data, McKinty would use the results of the HR study conducted last
year to see the organizations environment. She would examine each persons score on Work
Preference Inventory (WPI). This would help her to understand if the teams were intrinsically
not motivated or if it was a recent phenomenon.
Based on the results of the studies by McKinty, these are the following things we observed.

The effect of the rampant downsizing was worrisome this time as all the employees had not
bounced back together. HR studies revealed that there was a stark difference in motivation
level and performance between his 5 research teams who had gone through the same
process. Steep downfall in overall invention disclosures, patent applications and new product
launches. We also observe Lack of communication between some teams and their leaders,
especially Chip and the team Absorb as seen very explicitly from the exhibits. There was also
a general distrust and no cooperation in the Absorb team. Chip had a problem of micromanaging and not able to priorotize work. He was very politically inclined to be correct.

These were the few basic issues as seen in the case. As the further analysis goes, further
issues and their reasons would come up.


There is seen a big difference in the leadership style of the leaders of both the teams, that is
Max and Chip. From the comparison in allocation of time in the job pie chart given below,
we see that for effective managers, communication with the team is the most important aspect
followed by Human Resource management in terms of Motivating, disciplining, managing
conflict, staffing and training. The Traditional management which includes decision making
and controlling is only a mere 19% and networking with the outside world in terms of
politicizing and socializing is only 11%. From the case, we see that Max spent a lot of time
on communication with his employees at every step and made sure he promoted cross
communication within the team also. He motivated the team and made it a comfortable place
to work in. on the other hand, Chip would not communicate a lot with his team and would not
include a lot in the decision making process either. He spent time ion doping things what is
politically correct that would be accepted in the outside thus also resulting in distrust.














To further understand the difference in personalities of Max and Chip so we can determine
their attitude in workplace, we look at the The Big Five Personality Model.

Emotional Stability

Max had high Emotional Chip had low Emotional
Stability, as we would be Stability as it can be inferred



stress from his insecurity making

effectively as seen in the case him

of the customer complaint.





politically correct which may

be wrong for the team





the Chip on the other hand

whole team at all the steps lacked communication and


good preferred

communication and inclusion





communication, rather than

whole team communication

Max was very open as he Chip was more concentrated
would encourage creativity on getting the job done. He



in would not be very accepting

thoughts and flow of ideas


of all creative ideas which

differed from the plan

Max was very agreeable as Chip would not listen to what
he would accept every ones the team suggests and would
suggestion and include it in impose




his work also. He was also methodologies on the team.





people had to say.

Conscientiousness is high for Organization for Chip was




be also high as he was very

responsible and organized in particular on ways to present.


But this would often lead to





We also witness a case of Selective Perception from Chips side. We see that Chip would
believe what he wanted to after interactions with others. For example, on describing his
interaction with Dave on Day 1 of the diary writing, Chuck thought that the meeting went
well and Dave appreciated the meeting. On the other hand, Dave criticized the meeting
saying Chip was very net picky. Chip was also unable to convey that he valued Dave in the
team. We also see a Halo Effect, when the employees have judged Chip and are not willing
to see the positive side of anything in what Chip does.
There is an overall problem in motivation for the team Absorb while the team Lumen scores
pretty well in motivation. The reasons for lack of motivation is not just one, but a
combination of a variety of things. Firstly, we see that the employees have low Job
Engagement because of reasons like inhibiting creativity, low communication not proper

leadership etc. according to the Self-determination theory, proposes that people prefer to
feel they have control over their actions. At Lumen, their inputs and ideas were taken
seriously and they felt they were an intrinsic part, on the other hand at Absorb they did not
feel in control of their work as they were expected to what they were asked to do.
Organizations can use Extrinsic motivation to generate the lost motivation in team members
and give them Goals to work on.
Using McLellands theory of needs, we will analyse the motivational behaviour of the two
team leads. The need for achievement for Max was high. This was exhibited by him
proposing an addition of two members to the team, despite downsizing. While the need for
Achievement for Chip was relatively lower. He was constrained by political sensitivities.
For instance he did not present an overall conclusion and just let the management process the
information on their own. Maxs need for Power was moderate as he gave his team
members space to complete their task. He believed in team decisions as opposed to imposing
his own wills. Chip had high need for power as he believed in doing things his way. He
micro managed and focused on details like presentation format until it suited his style. The
Need for Affiliation for Max was high. He offered to help Pierre with his work giving him
personal space to focus on his young daughter. On the other hand, Need for Affiliation for
Chip was low. He did not focus on communicating his appreciation for his team members.
Even when he knew there will be downsizing, he informed Hector that he has to take on
additional load without any help.
Effective leaders rely on emotional appeals to convey their message. The use of emotions in
negotiation and understanding in the team is very important. Happy employees are motivated
to work better. A positive feed back which shows appreciation and constructive criticism
helps employees work better ands stay connected with the work.

Based on the understanding of the problems and reasons, we recommend the following

There should be Clarity in work allotment in the absorb team. On the possibility of
leave an employee, Chip did not distribute the work evenly and expected one person to
take the over load and assumed that he would be happy to do so.

Optimum supervision from Bruke to Chip, there are some gaps in effective leadership
and team building from Chip. Burke can monitor and guide Chip on the lines of what can

be done and what help would he require.

Chip should be assertive while communicating team members ideas to the
management and not worry about being politically correct. For example, Max would

keep persisting the management for more manpower for the benefit of his team.
Leader should be appreciative of team members efforts, Chip should make an effort to

appreciate all the ideas as it increases creativity and keeps the employees motivated.
There should be team building and team motivation activites like more frequent
meetings, weekend getaways, lunches which makes the team more connected. There can
also be these activities across the teams, so Absorb can look at the level of motivation of

Lumen and get inspired

The work load should be lessened by hiring employees
Chip should work on improving his communication skills and try to include the team

A goal setting approach with external rewards of recognition and bonuses would also

motivate the employees.

Chip should try to build Emotional confidence among the employees and can start this
by sharing funny videos, engaging in few personal conversations which would show he
cares and ask the team members how the feel.

Of the list of solutions above, it is not practical to implement them all at once due to
constraints in time, money (external motivators), no increase in work force, lack of skills in
terms of communication and all as these skills cannot be built in one day. Having a lot of
weekend getaways take away the time of employees from their families and can often act as a
negative motivator. Owing to constraints and the possibility of the counter- intuitive
possibilities, there is a need to narrow down the set of alternatives and develop an action plan
that can be initiated at once.


It is not possible for the situation to improve with only one solution. Therefore, it is a series
of implementable ideas that can act as the proposed solution. First thing that needs to be done
is Bruke communicating with Chip making him aware of what the shortcomings are and
guide him to improve the situation in the following ways. Chip should first off improve him

communication with the team members and make more inclusive decisions, he should
increase motivation levels and improve the connection with the employees. Simultaneously,
with this, a GOAL SETTING APPROACH can be used. The goal setting theory states that
specific and difficult goals, with feedback, leads to higher performance. With goals that can
specified and would be challenging, development of new products and creativity can be
found. The feedback of work should be regular and in a positive way. Even the criticism
should be constructive. Chip should stop micro managing and show trust on the team
members. An approach to unify the team with the goals of the organization and continuous
improvement would help Absorb increase its productivity and keep the employees motivated.