Give a few paragraphs on how you would interpret each of the case theories(attached case theories) through the lens of the article associated with that
Case Theory 1
A new manager has been assigned to lead the group discussed in this case story. How would you coach the new manager to build and exercise influence in
this new assignment.
The group in question currently consists of roughly twenty engineers, the majority of which have been with the company for fifteen or more years. The
group, specializing in complex system configuration, definition, integration, and interfacing issues, requires a special knowledge set that takes a long time
to acquire; the products released by the group are simple to comprehend and learn, but the information captured and involved is quite complex. An
analogy would be as follows: all students know how to send emails, take tests, and could quickly pick up a system such as Blackboard in order to turn in
online homework, but not all students could comprehend graduate level thermodynamics without extensive study. The group, due to previous years of
weak management, has become accustomed to
• “fly by the seat of your pants” engineering practices
• procrastination and subsequent rushing of jobs
• soft deadlines
• minimal immediate internal (non-customer related) repercussions
• stubbornness and unwillingness to change processes and procedures
The team, previously consisting of thirty engineers, has recently been affected by lay-offs at a large corporation, losing ten of its engineers. Just months
before the company wide lay-offs, of the group’s two managers, one was fired for violating company policy, and the other had retired, perhaps with the
knowledge that the lay-off would hit the group quite heavily. Aside from the leadership void during the lay-offs, in the years leading up to the lay-offs, the
group in question had been victim to weak and complacent management. The group had been cast aside by customers and partnerships as a result of the
lack of vision and lack of drive from group leadership—by and large, this left individuals to fend for themselves. With a weakened position, the group was
an easy target once lay-offs came around. Seeing these concerns, as well as the associated stigma of working for a weak group, the younger members of
the group voluntarily took their talents to places where they were more valuable and sought out work in other groups within the company. For the months
leading up to, and the next several months following the lay-off, the group had been directly reporting to their senior manager, who was actively seeking a
single replacement manager for the group. Seeing no one fit to lead from within the group, the senior manager had chosen to draw from outside the
Due to the fact that the members internal to the group were unfit to manage and bring respect back to the team name, the senior manager was forced to
draw from outside the group. The problem with this lies in the complex nature of the information at hand. Ideally, someone with a decent footing in the
information at hand would be one of the major criteria when searching for the new manager, such as a past group member looking to take on a
management role; however, in this scenario, that is not the case. The manager hired to take over the group is familiar with the information in general, but
does not have the required technical background needed in order to comprehend all of the tasks that the engineers are working on. The manager,
however, does have extensive background in process improvement from past management positions. The manager’s history with process improvement and
tools implementation are certainly great assets to possess, considering the poor engineering habits the group has developed over the years. Going against
the manager are his lack of technical background and the change resistant environment and bad engineering culture into which he is heading.
Case Theory 2
The representatives of management of METAL COMPANY and LOCAL UNION began the process of negotiating a new labor contract. It did not end well.
Background & Brief of the Problem:
METAL COMPANY is a specialty metals corporation that produces materials used in the electronics industry. Their product is used to fabricate high-
reliability but high-cost components for various common electronic devices. There are lower cost alternatives to their product but the reliability is inferior.
METAL COMPANY employs about 500 people that include about 350 unionized plant workers. The unionized workers operated under a labor contract that
was usually re-negotiated every 3 to 4 years.
During the late 1990’s the electronics market began to “sky rocket” and METAL COMPANY’s products were in great demand. Because METAL COMPANY was
one of two companies in the world that manufactured their product, they found they could leverage market demand to secure “take-or-pay” contracts with
their customers. The contract terms were for top dollar and extended several years (through 2005).
Business and revenue were at an all-time high from 2001 through 2003 but in 2003 the electronics market began to slow significantly. Customers who
signed the take-or-pay contracts began to balk at the terms of the contracts they signed just 2 years prior but METAL COMPANY was unwilling to allow for
any exceptions. At that point, customers filed suit and stopped receipt of product. The courts ultimately upheld the contracts and the customers had to pay.
Coincidentally the labor contract with LOCAL UNION was set to expire at the end of 2003 so METAL COMPANY had a tremendous amount of leverage over
LOCAL UNION during the negotiations. In essence, METAL COMPANY could build inventory in anticipation of a labor strike and the inventory build was
subsidized by the take-or-pay contracts signed by the customers. The unionized labor force could not really do much to affect this inventory build and were
in very real terms creating the noose that would eventually be used to hang them.
During the negotiations it was made clear by the company that they wanted the union to contribute to their health care coverage costs and that the
retirement benefits would change significantly. To this point, all health care coverage and retirement benefits were 100% funded by METAL COMPANY. This
was largely unheard of in 2003 and senior leadership of METAL COMPANY was committed to modernizing the terms of the labor contract to ensure the
future viability of the business unit.
However, LOCAL UNION had recently gone through a leadership change and the new president and his staff did not want to give an inch on either the health
care co-pay or the retirement contributions. The union membership was bitterly committed to any compromise and had elected the new local president on
At the end of the day, an agreement could not be reached, the union went on strike and the union was ultimately broken because the company was living off
the inventories built during the past year. Eventually, 95% of the union workers lost their jobs.