Sample Research Paper on Leadership, Management and Social Responsibility

Large-scale IT projects; Summary of the Case: National Air Traffic Services’ New
En-Route Center at Swanwick
NATS is a primary provider of air control services in the UK. According to Genus,
Rigakis & Dickson (2003), the new en route center at Swanwick near Southampton was an IT-
based investment project that the company invested in to ensure smoother operations and was
expected to kick off in 1996. However, the new en route center at Swanwick was only
operational in December 2001. The delay in the timing of launching the new center by the NATS
was attributed to the self-perpetuating software capabilities. The project was being implemented
at a time when the UK traffic air control systems were under strain and had a growing likelihood
of failure caused by the need to work full capacity for longer periods than before. More aircraft
were expected in the UK airspace and congestion was an imminent threat to air traffic controllers
(Genus, Rigakis & Dickson, 2003). Genus, Rigakis & Dickson (2003) observes that, whereas an
increase in aircraft in the UK airspace meant an increase in revenue for NATS, there existed the
risk of control systems not being able to cope with the increasing demand. The high demand and
presence of flights in the UK airspace led to the collapse of the main traffic control center in
West Drayton on 17 and 18 June 2000. Flights were canceled implying a loss of business by the
NATS. The overall cause of the breakdown was computer overload (Genus, Rigakis & Dickson,
The Swanwick center represented a technical state of the art air traffic control system.
The technology used in the project had both hardware and software components consisting of
over two million lines of software code grouped into twenty-three major subsystems. The


Advanced Automation System was a new computer development only present in the US. The
systems at the Swanwick center included over two hundred and forty computers divided into the
operational systems, engineering support segment, and a training development unit. Each of the
three segments has tens of sub-systems that assisted in the control of en-route traffic within the
UK airspace (Genus, Rigakis & Dickson, 2003).
NATS considered completing the system in 1996 but technical and other related factors
delayed the completion. Software instability was a primary factor and NATS was forced to
rethink the whole process of system installations. The coding systems had 8-12 defects and that
increased the levels of failure of the system. As at January 2002, NATS still experienced
problems with setting up the software system codes for the project. The previous failure of the
West Drayton and the instability of the new project at Swanwick was a potential threat to
national traffic safety and security. A decision to have two centers at Swanwick and Prestwick
instead of four still presented the same challenge of software bugs.
Genus, Rigakis & Dickson (2003) assert that poor management was the primary cause of
issues seen at the Swanwick center project cycle. For instance, setting up an unrealistic timetable
for the development and implementation of the project was purely a managerial problem. Very
tight dateline where associated with the project and a lot of pressure was exerted on the technical
staff to meet the required datelines. According to Genus, Rigakis & Dickson (2003) engineers
had to work for 16 hours a day for seven days to meet the requirements of the project’s timeline.
Also, tight schedule led to the loss of morale and confidence by the NATS staff. Poor
communication was also exhibited in the Swanwick center project whereby team managers and
staff expressed an inability to pass bad news in the designated chain of command (Genus,
Rigakis & Dickson, 2003). The training of air traffic controllers before the installation of the


system was also a mistake. The project was inconsistently financed with budget increments being
made frequently skewing the terms of the contract.
The Management Style of the Ideal IT Manager for The New En Route Center at
The management of large IT projects such as the Swanwick project requires a person
with a strong technical lead. Nauman et al. (2010) observes that, large IT projects are usually
complex and often require multiple technologies and components to integrate the various aspects
involved into a solution. Large IT projects are characterized by high levels of uncertainty and
high chances of not going according to the plan. New information emerges within the project
cycle and the datelines might change as the team lead rethinks new strategies. The successful
completion of a huge IT project requires a technical lead who can manage the complexities that
emerge. The ideal manager should have experience in the tackling and successfully managing
challenging technical solutions (Nauman et al., 2010).
In the case of the Swanwick center project, I would choose a manager who willing to use
the extreme project management style. The extreme project management style helps an
organization manage the unknown which the nature of most complex IT projects. Unlike the
many project management styles, the extreme project management style offers an open-ended,
flexible, and unpredictable procedures to handle complex business problems (Yang et al., 2011).
Complex projects that rely on scientific innovation and systems such as the Swanwick center
project are best suited to use the extreme project management given the method’s ability tolerate
uncertainty. The extreme project management style is best suited for projects that are complex
and uncertain. The Swanwick center project was a notorious venture in IT both in size and


complexity. Yang et al. (2011) the size and complexity of a project large determine the style of
management the will be used for the project. The use of the extreme project management style
helps the manager and the team to properly understand the requirements of the project and the
guidelines that the market may demand. The style is supported by the willingness of the team to
make several attempts to achieve the desired result. When the extreme project management style
is used, the team members and managers are aware of the uncertainties that encompass the whole
project and poor communication issues, as in the case of Swanwick center project, does not
manifest. The ability to finance and budget complex and uncertain IT projects are also made
possible through the extreme project management style (Yang et al., 2011). Thus, a manager who
utilizes the extreme project management style is best suited for the Swanwick project by NATS.
Suitable Project Management Methodology for Re-Skilling Employees
In a world where technology is taking over, employee retraining is vital. Employers have
the obligation to ensure that employees are up to date with modern technology as human capital
becomes the greatest advantage of companies in the tech era (Ramamurthy et la., 2015).
Automation and related technologies are the way forward and must be embraced by employees
irrespective of the roles they play in an organization. Thus, retraining for technology-related
skills is a project in itself and requires an implementation strategy by the employer. According to
Ramamurthy et la. (2015) the upskilling of employees has the advantage of ensuring employee
retention, customer satisfaction and an overall increase in organizational performance.
There are various methodologies used in employee retraining and upskilling as a project
within the organization. Job specific upskilling or credentialing programs is a primary method or
strategy applied when retraining employees to adapt to the ever-changing technology


requirements (Singh et al., 2017). The methodology involves offering the employees job-specific
training to enhance their current skills. For instance, the company may have a specialty software
used only by a small section of the organization. The management should consider offering an
upskilling training on the software to all the other employees. Singh et al., (2017) assert that
credentialing programs also work best in retaining and uplifting the skills of employees.
Credentialing programs result in the offering of professional certificates. For instance, Staff and
team members involved in IT project can greatly benefit from enrolling in an intensive e-learning
program that offers a certificate upon a successful completion. When the training is job specific
and on-the-job, the skills acquired stick and enable the employees to stick within the
organization (Singh et al., 2017).
Possible Sources of Reduction in Morale Amongst Employees and Recommended
Strategies to Solve Low Employee Morale in Project Implementation
Employee morale is considered one of the most vital and extremely difficult things to
manage (Kube et al., 2013). It is important that the management maintains a high employee
morale to ensure the proper implementation of projects. While compensation is considered an
important factor in managing employee morale, other factors apart from low compensation also
have negative impact on employee morale (Kube et al., 2013). One of the primary cause of low
employee is a poor management that ill-treats employees. Also, poor communication and
improper communication channels that lack freedom can be a leading cause of low morale
amongst employees. Poor communication creates a room for grapevine and wild rumors within
the organization as employees remain in darkness about what is happening within the
organization. The ability and willingness to communicate within the established chain of
command play an integral role in employee morale building (Kube et al., 2013).


The strategies for solving low employee morale are varied. The strategy used will depend
on how low the morale among employees has gone down. According to Elmuti et al. (2010), one
of the primary strategies used is to remove behavior-controlling policies within the organization.
Most employees consider behavior-controlling policies such as restriction to internet usage,
limits on bathroom usage and dress code as ill-treatment and not a factor in one’s performance.
Others may consider it as an intrusion into privacy. The management can remove such
restrictions to create an organizational culture that recognizes employees based on their
performance. Apart from the power of fringe benefits, employers should master the art of
communication in raising employee morale. Communication not only applies to having a free
chain of command but also the ability to communicate high expectations to the employees
(Elmuti et al., 2010). Positive assumptions and great expectations raise the morale of employees.
the manager can embrace the use of superlatives such as “exceptional” and “always” to create an
environment of high expectations among employees. Employees should be made to always
believe that it is possible and can be done. The expression of a strong belief in the expectations
gives the employees even further increase in morale (Elmuti et al., 2010)
The Role of Leadership and Management in The Technologically Disrupted
All industries in the market are facing competition emerging from technology
developments and the increased ability of customers to accept change. For instance, technology
has impacted on the telecom industry with the entrance of free WhatsApp calls and other Instant
Messaging applications. The transport industry has felt the heat of competition from Uber and
other ridesharing tech-based applications (Landiniet al., 2017). The modern-day leadership and
management require skills that will match the competition from technology-based industries. As


digital technologies continue to emerge and transform economies around the globe, the role of
leaders and managers in organizations is changing.
Kouzes (2014) observes that, organizational leadership is struggling to set a digital
strategy, shift organizational structures and remove the existing barriers that may hinder the use
and implementation of digital procedures in the light of digital disruption. Modern leaders and
managers have changed roles to adapt to the technological disruption. Leaders are now breaking
down the traditional barriers and seeking external opinions on the way forward in projects.
Traditional leadership values put leaders in compromising situations. Managers and leaders in
the present economy are obliged to leave the traditional top-down approach to leadership and
establish multidisciplinary teams that can quickly adapt to the present and future disruptions as
expected (Kouzes, 2014).
According to Eastman et al. (2014) the roles of the leader or the manager have changed to
the anticipation of the market environment by staying close to partners, customers, and
competitors. Leaders are also expected to challenge assumptions and re status quo by interacting
with people who think outside the box and who give diverse points of view. Also, technology
disruption has demanded that leaders interpret a wide range of data and viewpoints instead of
seeking evidence pieces that confirm previous beliefs. Moreover, modern leaders facing
technology disruption should align the interests and incentives of stakeholders. Experimentation
is the primary way of learning while failure and success are treated with the equal measure by
leaders in digital disruption (Eastman et al., 2014).




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