GEC Scenario #44: Uncertain Specifications

This sample scenario is from a collection of 70+ Global Engineering Competency (GEC) scenarios developed for instructional and assessment purposes. For more information, including links to usage tips and other supporting resources, visit our About page.

As a design engineer employed by a consulting firm based in San Francisco, you lead a team that performs contract work for a company in Berlin. This client recently asked your group to review and revise the specifications for a device you designed for them. In direct reply to the German client, one of your team members noted that updating the specifications would take considerable time because he was unsure of where they were located or how he should carry out the task. In a follow-up teleconference, the Germans express their dissatisfaction with how their request was handled, and they threaten to take their business elsewhere. What would you do? 

  1. Tell the client that, in light of their dissatisfaction, you will try to get them a reduced rate for the requested work.
  2. Apologize profusely to the client, and reassure them that your team member can and will carry out the request.
  3. Acknowledge that a mistake has been made, and tell the client you will take responsibility for carrying out the request to their standards.
  4. Tell the client that everything is fine and then try to move on to other agenda items.
  5. Give the client an explanation for the mix-up, and insist that your team is now on top of the request.
  6. State firmly that you are investigating the problem, and schedule a follow-up call to discuss further.
  7. State that the situation is unacceptable, and ask the client to work out a solution with the original team member.
  8. Tell the client that you will immediately refer the issue to one of your firm’s higher-level managers. 

Recommended Uses: INSTRUCTION/TRAINING (see our GEC Resource Guide for additional guidance)

Citation: Jesiek, B. K. and Woo, S. E. (Eds.). (2018). GEC Scenario #44: Uncertain Specifications. Retrieved from

License: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Nos. 1160455 and 1254323. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. We also acknowledge support for this work from Purdue's Center for Intercultural Learning, Mentorship, Assessment and Research (CILMAR).