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Sample Case Study Paper on Nut Island Effect and Digital Chip Design

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Sample Case Study Paper on Nut Island Effect and Digital Chip Design


The success of a project is pegged on teamwork and meticulous research and team building. This can be best achieved by aligning the objectives of the business venture and the project that is in question. In Ralph Katz article, How a Team at Digital Equipment designed and Alpha Chip, current management are faced with challenges to ensure synchrony and coherence in work related tasks, effectiveness in both upwards and downward communication and the inclusion of employees in decision making. The success of Dan Dobberpuhl (technical leader of Digital Equipment’s Alpha chip design) with his team of competent engineers has been a celebrated event since the launch of the Alpha Chip in 1992 International Solid – State’s conference which took place in San Francisco (Katz, 1997). The milestone behind the Alpha Chip design was marked by the remarkable values and aspects of teamwork that was exhibited by Dan Dobberpuhl and his team. These mark points include;

  • Convincing power of the team to allow a project initially rejected by the management to accept the project and channel resources towards its development.
  • Synchronization of team values along with relationships while working as a team – this required the cohesion of team members and working as a single unit.
  • The ability to identify business objectives that were in line with the overall objectives of the company to achieve acceptance of proposals that are projected before the management.
  • The team members had a higher sense of purpose in designing the RISC chip with a higher purpose.
  • The team leader was highly respected because of his previous successes in the field of technology and bearing focused efforts.

These values had to foster success in the efforts of the Alpha Chip design team.


      The Nut Island effect represents an epitome of system failure regardless of the effectiveness of the employees involved and their level of commitment to the tasks that they perform (Levy, 2001). The responsibility of the problems at Nut Island both lay at the shoulder of the employees and the management. This is in the sense that, the management is responsible for the coordination of efforts and ensuring the effectiveness in work ethics and inspection. The employees ought not to be allowed to work in isolation; rather, their efforts should be well coordinated with the management of the respective organization and other team players. 

      On the other hand, employees ought to be professional in their work. They ought to know that job misconduct has a huge bearing in terms of responsibility not only on the organization that they work for, but also, for the clients that they attend to their immediate needs. Negligence of work or job truancy is one of the leading reasons for problems in organizations.  The move to channel out sewage to Boston Harbour was both negligence and had judicial consequences. In a way, the teamwork was a sham.

      The reasons why management would ignore a team or individual workers is proof of their work ethic and professionalism. This is a case in which the workers become so efficient in what they do and hence require minimum or no supervision at all. Moreover, the management of autonomous workers in today’s era can be catastrophic. This can lead to a complete damage of the economy because different individuals have different vested interests. In cases which such interests are in conflict with the overall organizational objectives, the employees might serve for the purposes of self – aggrandizement thus becoming an economic saboteur.

            The entire team members are successful for the success at Alpha Chip. This is because each had a role to play in the success, the management availed the necessary resources while the team members conducted meticulous research and tests to ensure success in Alpha Chip Design. Dobberpuhl’s method of “selling” his design was effective in a way. This is because innovations exist in areas that have been identified by many, but none has had that “innate eye” of identifying the underlying facets and bringing such inventions to reality. Dobberpuhl’s methods, though not approved by all, allowed his team to effectively come up with the Alpha chip.

            The real issue with the Dobberpuhl case is not that of clout, should I be the victim in this case, I would be charged with insubordination and face sentencing. The real issue here was lobbying for the acceptance of Dobberpuhl’s bid by the management. There are ways of relaying communication in organizations that do not have to sound in a way to incite or command following from other employees. The right way of communicating in an organization is through the acceptance of one’s position and in due regard of organizational regulations and policies.

Further, the management ought to be considerate and understanding when it comes to employees views before taking actions against or for the individuals involved. The actions that the management should take with respect to the activities of the renegade teams ought to be in line with the company rules and regulations and such actions ought to be justified and in respect of the rights of employees and the constitution. The impact of insubordination is always judicial action. I would be arrested for incitement and most probably lose my job if I acted in the same way as Dan Dobberpuhl. These actions would be taken as a revolution against the management. There is no organization in which insubordination is acceptable. Moreover, this acts against the business code of ethics which all employees of any organization are expected to adhere to.















Katz, R. (1997). The Human side of managing technological innovation. New York: Oxford University Press.

Levy, P. F. (2001). The Nut Island effect. When good teams go wrong.Harvard Business Review79(3), 51-9.


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