Henry tam and the mgi team
Henry tam and the mgi team
The Main Issue
The Case refers to evolution of a business plan for Music Games International (MGI) as a submission to the annual business plan contest of Harvard Business School (HBS) eventually benefiting the entrepreneurs. Henry Tam a final year student at HBS has teamed with a colleague, Dana Soiman to enter the contest by developing the plan for MGI. (Polzer, Vargas, Elfenbein, 2003). The primary product of the company is Nutcracker, an interactive music puzzle to be played on computers. MGI is attempting to reinvent itself by taking assistance of professionals after it lost business following the dotcom slump.
The key issue in the current case is the relationship between power, persuasion and leadership in a diverse group. There was no central locus of power within the group. Thus it was difficult to influence the group through the usual mix of reward, punishment, appealing to reason and finally through the power of altruism.
The group is extremely diverse comprising of the following:-
(a) Henry Tam and Dana Soiman. Final semester students at HBS working on the business plan not just for the competition but also as a professional challenge.
(b) Alexander (Sasha) Gimpelson Founder member of MGI, a HBS graduate, Sasha is known for his unconventional ideas. He did not get on well with Dana.
(c) Igor Tkachenko. Founder member, an accomplished musician is a friend of Sasha though had occasional differences with him.
(d) Roman Yakub. Founder member and composer, a friend of Igor as both belong to Ukraine. Had a personality conflict with Sasha.
(e) Alex Sartakov. Introduced to the group through a mutual friend of Igor and Sasha, he had music background and was to assist in marketing Nutcracker.
(f) Dav Clark. An MIT graduate had a software background and was also planning to enter the MGI case for the MIT business plan contest.
The varied background and diverse experience of the people in this team with alternate motivation affected personal behavior. Thus primal factors, such as natural liking between persons, previous background of friendship or hostility, geographical origins acted as a powerful tool for exercising power and persuasion. The group also lacked leadership.
Analysis of Main Issue
The currency of persuasion is acknowledged to be money, contacts and friendship, information, visibility and support. Persuasion has a number of connotations which can influence individual behavior in an organization. The most effective mode of sub conscious persuasion is the influence exercised by a person whom one likes. This in turn is also extended to the peers whom we tend to copy. Behavior is also linked to what people have done to each other and their commitment. There is an innate belief in experts. And finally people are persuaded to seek what they do not have.
The complexities of the MGI group prevented some of these influences stated above from being effective. The intrinsic cultural differences between the group such as the Russians and others, MGI founders and HBS and business and creative people acted as barriers to persuasion. There was mutual suspicion within the group. Thus Sasha felt Henry and Dana were in the group merely to enter the HBS contest rather then evolving a professional business plan. Lack of a common vision also militated against persuasion. The founders focused on entertainment part of the industry while Henry who was already in the education market looked towards developments in the same. The group thus could not progress beyond discussions.
Henry and Dana finally emerged as having influence on the group by their commitment and professional approach. The founders were highly committed to each other and to make MGI a success. This commitment acted as a glue to hold their interest in the company despite many points of differences.
Power and persuasion are not divergent issues. They are affected by individual behavior as well as group formation and leadership. The group should divide its tasks into two parts. The first task is that of evolution of a business plan for the annual contests in HBS and MIT. Henry should assume leadership of this facet given his commitment and relative expertise in preparation of a business plan. The next issue is of execution. For this Sasha appears to be a natural leader given his experience, stakes and motivation in the success of MGI. By clear division and nomination of leaders, a task based focus would be provided to individuals regulating their behaviour towards achieving the goal of MGI.
1. Polzer, Jeffrey T. Vargas, Ingrid. Elfenbein, Hillary. 2003. Henry Tam and the MGI Team. Harvard Business School.