The first task to be assigned to us in the Aerospace Engineering Management module, and the last task to be completed, was a bid tender in response to the European Commission’s multimodal future transport network pilot programme “Towards a Single and Innovative European Transport System: Implementation of Multimodal Innovative Solutions.”

Provided with brief initial guidance and the original EU commission draft contract with tender specifications, the team got off to a particularly shaky start. With nobody wishing to take a leadership role, I was naturally looked to due to my active approach in trying to make sense of the work required to get started. Unfortunately, to take on the position with other module activities, poor timetabling issues and an adjustment to personal living arrangements was a mistake not initially recognised. Knowing what I know now, I have learnt, as I also explained in my post, “The importance of knowing when to take stock, and also when to step down…” the importance of personally recognising when to say no and propose other options. On the flipside of this revelation, I am also now more acutely aware of the need to be observant and empathetic towards employees and colleagues you suspect or know are dealing with challenging circumstances.

After spending the entire semester relegating the project to ‘the backburner,’ it became apparent during the Easter study break that nobody had attempted to decipher the requirements of the bid, nor had we devoted the necessary time to it. Knowing at this point I was not a suitable leader for this task I identified the need for new leadership and contacted a team member to ask if she would accept the responsibility, with my support where necessary. Shortly after her agreement there was a scope was produced and tasks suitably allocated, albeit with a seemingly distinct lack of input from the remaining members, and therefore the task was finally in a position to be, and was, accomplished.

The key lesson learned from this experience was the reminder to be aware of your circumstances and to take action to limit any repercussions it may produce. Off the back of this inaction, I believe at least some lack of morale regarding the task can be attributed to not taking the required action early enough. In a real-world scenario, if after a change of leadership unsatisfactory change was being made, I believe the most appropriate solution would be to form a new team as clearly the required effectiveness is lacking, which is identified as a waste by lean manufacturing principles. The pneumonic TIM P WOOD can be used to identify the 8 forms of waste in lean manufacturing which are: Transportation, Inventory, Movement, People (incl. Skills), Waiting, Overproduction, Over-processing and Defects. In this case, the primary concern would be for people, particularly under-utilising them or placing the wrong people in the wrong positions. Having the task go the way it did clearly showed the great importance and impact failing to identify this particular waste can have. When real businesses rely on successful completion of tasks it makes good sense to ensure that the people undertaking it are right for the job as the impact can be far more widespread and damaging than simply ‘cutting it close to the wire.’

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