Chris Peterson’s Job in Creating a Team in DSS Consulting

Subject: Case Studies
Pages: 2
Words: 614
Reading time:
3 min
Study level: School

Chris Peterson is a former high school teacher who joined DSS Consulting after the successful implementation of technologies across schools. Formed in 1997, DSS aimed “to provide administrative support to small school districts” (Ancona & Caldwell, 2010, p. 1). However, due to management changes, new marketing strategies, and the diversity of issues, the company decided to provide new types of services and expand beyond its customer base. For this, the decision to reorganize DSS into a more customer-focused and cross-functional organization that would develop and provide new services to school districts was made.

As Peterson was a competent project manager in the company’s Information Technology group, she was asked to manage a new cross-functional team that would develop and integrate a new budget and planning system (Ancona & Caldwell, 2010). From a personal perspective, as a leader, Chris had done an outstanding job, and her professionalism, experience, and common sense helped to create and manage a highly efficient team of the Southwest Region.

First of all, the first step of team building – the recruiting of its members – was successfully completed. It goes without saying that a cross-functional team unites people with skills and knowledge in different areas who have shared goals. At the same time, in order to avoid conflicts and improve mutual understanding, these people should have an experience of working together or the same values and beliefs (Ancona & Caldwell, 2010).

That is why Peterson considered two major factors inviting people in her team – good skills along with experience in the company’s consulting process and ability to work together. She invited consultants from Information Technology, Facilities, Contract Negotiations, and Procurement and Systems groups who knew each other well and shared the same interests despite the fact that they had never worked on the same projects. In addition, all members had joined the company at approximately the same time and socialized a lot outside of work.

The second right decision made by Chris is the team’s co-location. Although members could not work together full-time due to the necessity to finish all existing projects before the cross-functional division, staying together was supposed to strengthen their cooperation for the future. Subsequently, as a competent leader, Chris has demonstrated her respect for her colleagues’ professionalism by allowing them to share their knowledge and experiences to identify new products to offer to their customers.

Thus, team members felt that their ideas are appreciated and discussed their collaboration with great enthusiasm peacefully dealing with disagreements. In addition, the first meeting helped specialists find out that they had similar experiences related to working with districts (Ancona & Caldwell, 2010). In general, all of them were excited to work in a friendly atmosphere.

Peterson’s efforts to build strong contacts with people outside her team in order to improve the quality of products it created were highly efficient as well. Chris focused on the group’s intensive cooperation as she wanted it to build cohesion and avoid any distractions (Ancona & Caldwell, 2010).

At the same time, she was developing friendships with districts’ superintendents to explain her team’s work and receive feedback. In this way, she could adapt the system to clients’ needs to meet their expectations. At the same time, even if she wanted her group to focus on people’s comments, she knew that a mix of previous strategies and new regulations would inevitably lead to stress and conflicts. That is why she organized a group meeting outside the office with a hike and a barbeque lunch to let people relax and return “on track” (Ancona & Caldwell, 2010, p. 6). Finally, when a project was almost finished, Chris encouraged all team members and appreciated their hard work.


Ancona, D., & Caldwell, D. (2010). Chris Peterson at DSS Consulting. MIT Sloan School of Management.