Assignment 4: Building of Memory: Managing Creativity Through Action, management homework help


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Assignment 4: Building of Memory: Managing Creativity Through Action
Read the case study titled “Building of Memory: Managing Creativity Through
Action” before starting this assignment.
Write a four to five (4-5) page paper in which you:
1. Suggest three (3) specific change management techniques that Shimon Kornfield should
have used in order to manage the morale of the team assigned to the Yad Vashem
memorial site project.
2. Outline the essential steps that Shimon Kornfeld could have taken in order to ensure that all
team members learned of any proposed changes. Provide the rationale and justification for
each step outlined.
3. Assess the criticality of the timing of communication in the success of the Yad Vashem
memorial site project. Support the response with three (3) specific examples.
4. Assume that two (2) key members of the team were replaced during the executing phase of
the Yad Vashem memorial site project due to family crises. Discern actions Shimon Kornfield
could take in order to establish trust and gain credibility with the remaining project
Your assignment must follow these formatting requirements:

Be typed, double spaced, using Times New Roman font (size 12), with one-inch margins on
all sides; citations and references must follow APA or school-specific format. Check with
your professor for any additional instructions.
Include a cover page containing the title of the assignment, the student’s name, the
professor’s name, the course title, and the date. The cover page and the reference page are
not included in the required assignment page length.
The specific course learning outcomes associated with this assignment are:

Apply the concepts of project leadership to implement sound leadership practices and
effectively lead high-performance teams in a project environment.
Develop productive relationships with project participants to gain the trust of project team
members and build the personal credibility required for effective leadership.
Use technology and information resources to research issues in project management
Write clearly and concisely about project management leadership using proper writing
2 Building of Memory: Managing
Creativity Through Action
by Alexander Laufer, Zvi Ziklik, and Jeffrey Russell
Initial Stages: Making Progress by
Yad Vashem is a memorial site to the six million Jews killed by the Nazis. The 45-acre site
located near Jerusalem contains several museums and various research and educational centers.
The largest museum on site is the new Holocaust History Museum, which opened in March
2005. The architect of this museum, Moshe Safdie, who is a leading international designer,
concludes his book Yad Vashem—The Architecture of Memory as follows:
• “No design I have ever undertaken was so charged with symbolic associations. It seemed that
every move, form, shape, and sequence elicited multiple interpretations and endless debate.
Now that the public has possessed the complex, I am amazed at the diversity of
interpretations and reactions. When I am there, I often become a voyeur and watch visitors’
reactions and listen to their conversations. I have always wondered if architecture is capable
of evoking the same emotions that we experience listening to music. At Yad Vashem, I am
constantly aware of how intensely personal the feelings provoked are and how individual and
particular. It is at these moments that I feel architecture can, however rarely, move us as
deeply as music can.”
Shimon Kornfeld, the project manager of the Holocaust History Museum, recalls another kind of
music that prevailed when he was appointed to lead the project from the early stages of the
design. Loud voices and even shouting were known to accompany the passionate and intense
debates about the fundamental concepts of the design that constantly took place between the
chief curator of the museum, Avner Shalev, and the architect Moshe Safdie.
Shimon was already an experienced project manager at the time and was used to internal
conflicts in his project teams. Over the years, he had learned to appreciate such conflicts because
of their eventual positive impact on the quality of the team’s decisions. But this time was
different. These conflicts often sounded more like a competition between two fierce opponents
rather than a healthy debate between two members of the same team. Shimon was worried that
such rivalry would hurt collaboration between the other members of the project team and that it
would eventually hamper project progress. It was also difficult to reconcile diverging opinions in
an analytical way because at this creative stage of the project, most decisions were based more
on ideas and less on facts. Shimon realized that navigating between these two strong
personalities and their respective teams would require a great deal of creativity on his own part
as well.
It should be noted that both the chief curator and the architect enjoyed a unique and powerful
status in the project. Avner, the chief curator, also served as chairman of the Yad Vashem
Directorate of the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority. That is, he was a
member of the project team and head of the client organization at the same time. Safdie, who is
regarded as a world renowned architect, had been awarded this project through an international
competition, and his proposal had been selected by an independent committee composed of
highly esteemed experts and public figures.
Thus, Shimon, the project manager, could not have dealt with these two designers like he would
have any other member of the project team. They were simply too powerful. Because of the
nature of this project—remembering the Holocaust—both designers were totally committed to
the success of the mission, but each one felt that the other side was somehow attempting to
“own” the entire project. The concern on the curators’ side was that the spectacular design of the
building would be so dominant that it would stand by itself as a memorial and would overshadow
the central role of the exhibitions. Ironically, therefore, the unique shape of Safdie’s structure
worrying the curators was the very reason that his design had been chosen.
The truth is that Shimon himself was also very concerned about the design of the structure:

“The museum’s central bloc was designed as a prism that penetrates into the ground and
‘erupts’ from it, at varying angles, as an unsupported protrusion. The walls of the prism
envelope had a unique architectural design based on ‘exposed concrete’ elements with no
external cladding or coating. We were worried that certain components of this unique and
extraordinary monument might be impossible to execute.”
The architect explained his radical demands:

“I was determined to cast the entire museum monolithically, jointless, unadorned—without
any exterior waterproofing or cladding or any interior insulation or finishes. I wanted just the
basic structure—concrete walls and floors and glass to let the light in from above.”
Thus, it is no surprise that Shimon came to the following conclusion: “The contractor will be
required to ‘sculpt’ the concrete elements in order to realize the architect’s wild dream.” Shimon
approached an expert in executing complex elements made of “architectural concrete” and asked
him to examine the feasibility of executing the proposed design. The expert provided a list of
recommendations to render the execution more feasible, but only a few of his recommendations
were accepted by Safdie.
Safdie reiterated his opinion that the project must be imparted with a unique character and that he
himself, as well as other leading architects around the world, had designed buildings of similar
character that had been successfully executed and that served as a source of inspiration and a
place of pilgrimage. In an attempt to convince Shimon, Safdie suggested that they visit a few of
these sites abroad. Undertaking this tour, however, did not alleviate Shimon’s concerns: “On the
tour, we saw structures that were amazing in their complexity, but the structure designed for Yad
Vashem seemed to me to be more problematic than they were. I really did not know how one can
build the external envelope of this unique building.”
Even the director general of Yad Vashem, Ishai Amrami, was not fully satisfied with the design
of the building: “During the project, I had some harsh arguments with Shimon and with
Shimon’s predecessor about the management of the design and particularly about our
proceedings vis-á-vis Safdie. I felt that they avoided confrontations with the famous architect and
in several cases, chose to ‘sacrifice’ the functionality of a certain area for the ‘benefit’ of an
‘architectural whim.’” Still, despite some discomfort on the part of the client, the curators, and
the project manager with some aspects of the design, the architect seemed to have the power and
the determination to stick to his design.
Although the new Holocaust History museum was the heart of the new development at Yad
Vashem, it was only one component of it. The project that Shimon was managing was much
larger and covered additional buildings and infrastructure work throughout the Yad Vashem site.
The cost of the entire project was estimated at 100 million dollars, but at that time only 45
million dollars had already been procured. Given that the estimated cost of the museum building
was about 40 million dollars, Ishai requested that Shimon split the construction of the museum
building from the rest of the project and issue the tender for it as early as possible:

“I was aware that the design of the electrical, mechanical, and other systems in the building
had not been completed. However, Yad Vashem finances all its projects from donations, and
accelerating the beginning of construction was crucial for obtaining financing for the project.
Potential donors tend to respond more favorably to our appeals when they can see real action
on site and when the actual structure starts rising on the site.”
Surprisingly, Shimon responded favorably to Ishai’s request. Even with the difficulties of
starting construction on the building before design of all the systems was complete, Shimon felt
that creating a fait accompli would put a quicker end to the bitter conflict between the curators
and the architect. Moreover, Shimon explained that decoupling the building of the museum from
the rest of the project would allow him and his team to focus all their attention on execution of
the most difficult component of the entire project, the one with the radical design and stringent
requirements. Thus, the gap in needed resources and the splitting process unexpectedly turned
out to be a huge help for Shimon, enabling him to cope better with the many unique challenges
posed by execution of the design.
Middle Stages: Making Progress by
Shimon surprised Ishai again when he insisted on an unconventional process for selecting the
contractor who would build the new museum. Yad Vashem, like most public organizations,
generally chooses its contractors via the traditional process, in which any and all contractors are
invited to submit their proposals, and the one with the least expensive proposal is the one
selected for the job. That was exactly what bothered Shimon. He was worried that for such an
extremely complicated project, selecting the least expensive contractor rather than the most
suitable one would not only severely compromise the quality of the product, but would lead to
disastrous financial results:

“It was very clear to me that not every contractor would be able to cope with the ambitious
and intricate design of the building and its stringent and ‘quality-based’ requirements. As a
matter of fact, I was sure that only a few contractors could meet these extremely radical
demands. Moreover, I envisioned that the contractor would have to cope with endless
changes during construction—changes because more than a few components in the
architectural design were simply not feasible, and the architect refused to change them and
changes because the design of the building systems was far from ready and would inevitably
call for changes in the current design of the building. Also, the curators were still debating
fundamental conceptual ideas regarding the design of the exhibitions, and it was clear that
the late submission of their detail requirements would lead to additional changes in the
design of the building. The chances that a contractor selected on the basis of cost alone
would be able and willing to stay responsive to such a stream of changes and still maintain
high-quality requirements would certainly be extremely low.”
Shimon recommended that the client embrace an unconventional approach for selecting the
contractor. According to this approach, various criteria for prequalifying the bidders would have
to be met, and the winning contractor would be selected on the basis of multiple factors, not only
the total cost of construction. He presented his ideas to the client, explained his rationale, and
shared his successful past experience with unconventional approaches to selecting a contractor.
Yet, the client preferred to stick to the traditional approach, primarily to avoid taking any risks.
Shimon was fully aware that this unconventional approach was not free of risk and that he would
be blamed in the case of failure.
Nevertheless, he was determined to reverse the decision:

“After several fruitless meetings, I realized that more arguments would probably not help me
change their minds. I decided to try a new approach by providing them with concrete
evidence through observation. This required my finding a site where selecting the contractor
based on cost alone was clearly detrimental. The search turned out to be very quick.”
Shimon organized a visit to a nearby large construction site, the Ben-Gurion International
Airport, and invited the client to join him. They met with site management and learned that all
the contractors had been selected strictly on the basis of cost, which enabled many unqualified
contractors to join the project. Many contractors had declared bankruptcy, with extremely
negative outcomes for both project quality and schedule. Shimon had the satisfaction of getting
approval for his unconventional approach from Yad Vashem’s management, who were
convinced of its virtues after observing firsthand the poor results of a project that had considered
cost alone in selecting a contractor: “Where endless solid arguments in the office failed, one brief
site visit did the trick. Apparently, seeing is believing.”
The first tender to get underway was also the largest and most important one in the entire
project—the tender for execution of the skeleton and structure envelope. The selected contractor
was supposed to function as the “general contractor” for the project and coordinate the activities
of the various electrical, mechanical, and other specialty contractors, who would be appointed
later to work in parallel with the general contractor.
Shimon understood the pivotal role of selecting the general contractor: “I was of the opinion that
selecting the right general contractor was by far the most important factor for the success of the
project. I was therefore determined not to err in this selection process, and I was prepared to
invest every effort necessary to make it work.”
Thus, Shimon carefully designated a three-stage selection process:
Preliminary screening: Criteria included the bidders’ financial robustness, experience with
similar projects, recommendations from former clients, and a presentation by their proposed
management team. Only those bidders who met the criteria continued on to the next stage.
• Implementation test: The bidders were required to present their proposed methodology for
construction and to execute a sample mockup of the special concrete elements of the
structure (a small model that included an exposed concrete wall, door, and window details).
• Monetary bid: Only those contractors who successfully passed the first two stages were
granted the right to continue to the final stage and to submit their monetary bids.
Both the client and many of the competing contractors did not fully understand the purpose of
the second stage, which is exactly why Shimon included it:

“It was important to me to see whether the contractor was treating the project and the
mockup as an important engineering challenge or just as a folly of the client’s which could be
changed later on. I knew that for this challenging project to be successful, the contractor
would have to demonstrate an extremely high degree of competence, commitment, and
flexibility. I also knew that the best way to learn about these attitudes and capabilities would
be by observing the contractor in action.”
Based on these criteria and after reviewing all of the proposals received, Shimon selected the
company most likely to be awarded the job as contractor. However, beyond the selection of the
contractor, it was important to him to participate in the determination of the contractor’s
management team as well. He selected Israel Chaskelevitch, the project manager proposed by
one of the earlier bidders (whose offer had been rejected for financial reasons) as the person most
suited to be project manager:

“Israel was the same concrete specialist who we had approached in the initial stages of the
project for a professional opinion as to the feasibility of the architectural design. At this early
stage, he gave us feedback on the design as well as ideas for changes in the design to render
it more implementable. I recalled that I was very impressed with his competency as well as
with his creativity. I felt that I could rely on his professionalism, resourcefulness, and
integrity. Based on my early and current impressions of Israel, I indicated to him that he
should try to join the company that seemed to be the winner. At the same time, I applied
pressure on the director of the company and informed him that his chances would increase if
Israel were to be included in their team as project manager. To my delight, I got a positive
response from the company. Apparently, at this stage, he was willing to agree to any request
of ours as long as he was awarded the project.”
Ishai, the Director General, was also concerned about the issue of staffing the contractor’s
management team and supported Shimon’s intervention:

“I had already failed in the past with large and promising contracting companies that chose to
assign unsuitable project managers at the head of the pyramid. The project manager on behalf
of the contractor must be a person with a ‘head that doesn’t stop working.’ I fully trusted
Shimon. I did not rush him, and I gave him a free hand in his efforts to shape the staffing of
the contractor’s management team.”
The contractor’s on-site preparations for the onset of the work brought into sharp focus another
key problem: how to enable visitors to continue touring the Yad VaShem site without affecting
or being affected during the intensive construction activity. The original solution called for a
step-wise execution of the museum complex, with relocation of the visitor access roads
accordingly. Yet, realizing how taxing this solution would be on site management time and
focus, a second solution was adopted. Two temporary overhead pedestrian entrance bridges were
built, enabling visitors to come in ‘above the construction.’ Ishai explained that “this solution not
only prevented safety hazards; it eventually saved the project a great deal of money and endless
Yet, Shimon’s headaches were only just begi …
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