Team Assignment 1:


This assignment simplifies the actual presentation situation involving how Spectra-Physics informed its headquarters management about its problems in Eugene. However, all the Spectra-Physics company information is factually correct except for the specific details of the team's presentation situation (names of those present, location, room, and so on). Therefore this assignment challenges a team with a situation based on but not identical to Missar's situation.

Chuck Missar was the facilities manager at the time of the case, and between 1994 and 1995 he helped a great deal in preparing this part of the communication challenge for you.

Getting Started

Begin by reading the brief history of the west Eugene wetlands and the introduction to the communication simulation if you have not already done so. Next, read more about the background of Spectra-Physics' situation and its problems in 1988 as Chuck Missar, Facilities Manager, tells it.

Spectra-Physics Background

The Problem in 1988

Taped explanation of company's reasoning

Instructions for the Team

Because the Emergency Wetlands Resources Act provided for new forms of mitigation, the Environmental Protection Agency eventually agreed to hold rather than reject Spectra-Physics' fill permit. Missar and his Oregon management team had to decide what to recommend to its president and executive committee in California. One option was to fight the EPA and hope that in two or three years the courts would support their position. A second possibility would be to abandon the Eugene site and move people back to California. A third option was to take a conciliatory position and try to get the permit to expand by restoring wetlands on another site and doing whatever else seemed necessary. That would take a year or maybe two. Of course, they could build another building right away on another site in Eugene that did not have wetlands, a location about a mile away. You'll have to do some estimating and reasoning to come up with recommendations.

Details about the setting for the presentation

In December, 1988 Missar and two other Spectra-Physics managers went from Eugene to the company's headquarters in California to review the situation. Your team will role-play the three managers from Eugene and the company president at this meeting. Your grade will depend on how well you present your solution and how well you can justify it, not on how close you come to what was actually done.

Note that the company president prefers oral presentations and group decision-making to formal written proposals. The president is a former football player, has a Ph.D. in Physics and an MBA (as does Missar), likes opera and art, is casual but not sloppy. Each manager should contribute to the discussion, but the team will give a seated presentation, around a table occupied on the far side by the president and two other executives (represented by the class). The president will usually allow ten minutes or so, even for a topic such as this, so the team has to present its analysis and recommendations fairly quickly, emphasizing what is important from their plant's point of view. The usual scenario is to define the problem, decide what is important to the company, evaluate all the options and their associated risks, and come to a decision. If your class has already prepared Individual Assignment 2, you may use the information from that assignment in this presentation. The team may use overheads, but informally. The major challenge in this assignment is to develop a communication strategy suited to the company's culture.

Choose resources from the list below; listen to the audio tape of Missar's comments (some of which are transcribed on the attached page) to pick up background on his personality (you can learn a lot from voice), various options that were considered, and the company culture. You will have to adapt to the company culture; however, use your own creativity and personality in solving this problem. You don't have to pretend you're the real Chuck Missar.

Team 1 (Spectra-Physics) Recommended Resources

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The West Eugene Wetlands Team, Rice University
Copyright Rice University, 1996
Last Updated: 1996.08.14