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"Its publication should be a major event for cognitive linguistics and should pose a major challenge for cognitive science. In addition, it should have repercussions in a variety of disciplines, ranging from anthropology and psychology to epistemology and the philosophy of science. . . . Lakoff asks: What do categories of language and thought reveal about the human mind? Offering both general theory and minute details, Lakoff shows that categories reveal a great deal."--David E. Leary, American Scientist
In this fictional case study, Vision Software was an interesting and exciting company--on the cutting edge of computer technology and a leader in its field. CEO John Clark was proud of its enlightened human resource policies, including efforts to hire and promote women. Yet something was wrong. In just two years, four top women had resigned after working at Vision for many years. Liz Ames, Director of Consumer Marketing, blamed sexism at Vision, and she had drafted a memo to Clark about it. She described a workplace where women felt undervalued. In the midst of this discouraging atmosphere, Vision's best women were just giving up. Liz turned to a trusted male friend at Vision for advice, and step by step as he read the memo, he had to agree with what she had said. But how should he counsel her? Would Clark be open to the criticism, or would he use it against her? Would she harm her relationships with other men in the company? If he advised against sending it, would he be condoning sexist behavior? A broad range of experts comment on Liz's memo and discuss issues women face in the workplace.
"Think global, act local" goes the saying. But Gurcharan Das, who helped build Vicks Vaporub into what is now one of Procter & Gamble's most successful Indian brands, believes that "think local" is at least equally good advice. The key to all business success, he argues, is local passion. The most successful global brands, Das argues, are those that make best use of the rich experience their geographical diversity gives them. Business truths are invariably local in origin, but they are often expressions of fundamental human needs that are the same worldwide. Flexible, open-minded managers can take local insights with a universal character and make them global.
To today's customers, value can mean any number of things, from convenience of purchase to after-sale service and dependability. But that doesn't mean companies have to excel at everything. A study of over 40 companies found that market leaders like Dell Computer, Home Depot, and NIKE succeed by narrowing their business focus, not by broadening it. They concentrate on one of three value disciplines--operational excellence, customer intimacy, or product leadership--and align their entire operating model to serve that discipline. Companies should choose a value discipline that fits with their existing capabilities and culture and then push themselves relentlessly to sustain it. And they should willingly change their operations to support that value discipline.
The new vice president of international contracts for Timothy & Thomas North America, Jonathan Stein, faces tough decisions regarding the company's Pakistani contractors. In a plant in Lahore, Stein sees girls who look no older than ten, sweeping the floor. T&T shorts are currently the hottest item in Timothy & Thomas's line of casual clothes. Like the rest of the company's products, the shorts have a wholesome American image. But that image doesn't fit the image of those girls at work - or Timothy & Thomas's reputation for social responsibility. In fact, the company's new Global Guidelines for Business Partners prohibit the use of child labor. The complicated situation puts Jonathan Stein on the cutting-edge of company policy. Six experts on global sourcing and labor in developing nations discuss the agonizing decisions that confront Stein and his company.
Western manufacturers have long believed that standardized work in a hierarchical environment alienates employees, poisons labor relations, stifles initiative, and lowers quality. This belief sets up Frederick W. Taylor's time-and-motion studies as the enemy of manufacturing innovation and excellence. NUMMI, the joint-venture auto assembly plant set up by General Motors and Toyota in 1984, shows that hierarchy and standardization motivate workers and increase job satisfaction. NUMMI has a no-layoff policy and its production system is strongly committed to the social context in which work is performed. Workers rather than engineers analyze jobs, design more efficient procedures, and create a consensus for new standards. Reduced variability in task performance increases safety, quality, productivity, and flexibility, and gives continuous improvement a base. Workers interact with the system by refining it.
Out of a sense of corporate responsibility, many of today's manufacturers are making commodity-like components to preserve jobs. This single-minded focus on preserving jobs can become a self-defeating objective. It often results in insourcing parts that are easy to manufacture, largely to make work, while outsourcing those that are hard to make. Over time, fixed costs rise, product differentiation declines, and manufacturing performance remains stagnant as employees become complacent. The very survival of the company is threatened. Companies must learn how to not make things: how to not make the parts that divert a company from cultivating its repertoire of skills--parts its suppliers could make more efficiently. Managers must gain the confidence to make strategic discriminations among the thousands of parts they know mostly in terms of cost, not function or importance to the product.
Tidewater Corp. CEO Bob Salinger faces a dilemma: his most valuable employee, boat designer Ken Vaughn, is also his most destructive. Because of his great talent, Vaughn is critical to the company's future growth and profitability. But his antagonism toward Tidewater's recent reorganization is causing disruptions all over the company, and Vaughn has become increasingly violent. If Salinger fires Vaughn, he risks losing him to a competitor, who would than be in position to grab Tidewater's market share. But if he keeps Vaughn, the company's necessary reorganization may be seriously damaged. Salinger is waffling in the decision and has made a tough situation even worse.
Entrepreneurship is more popular than ever: courses are full, policymakers emphasize new ventures, managers yearn to go off on their own. Would-be founders often misplace their energies, however. Believing in a "big money" model of entrepreneurship, they spend a lot of time trying to attract investors instead of using wits and hustle to get their ideas off the ground. A study of 100 of the 1989 Inc. "500" list of fastest growing U.S. start-ups attests to the value of bootstrapping. In fact, what it takes to start a business often conflicts with what venture capitalists require. Seven principles are basic for successful start-ups: get operational fast; look for quick break-even, cash-generating projects; offer high-value products or services that can sustain direct personal selling; don't try to hire the crack team; keep growth in check; focus on cash; and cultivate banks early.
Managers miss out on significant profits because they shy away from pricing decisions for fear that they will alienate their customers. But if management isn't controlling its pricing policies, the customers probably are. Two basic principles, the pocket price waterfall and the pocket price band, show managers how to control the pricing puzzle. The pocket price waterfall reveals how price erodes between a company's invoice figure and the actual amount paid by the customer--the transaction price. It tracks volume purchase discounts, early payment bonuses, and frequent customer incentives that squeeze a company's profits. The pocket price band plots the range of pocket prices over which any given unit volume of a single product sells. Wide price bands are common, with many manufacturer's transaction prices ranging over 60%. Using the pocket price bank enables a manager to control the price range to greater profits.
While it is easy to recognize leadership in action, defining the essence of leadership is hard because it cannot be reduced to a set of personal attributes or particular activities. Intent on capturing the essence of leadership, Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne turned to lessons that Kim had learned as a youth in the temples of Korea's Kyung Nam province. These lessons dealt with the qualities that define true leaders. Their points were made through stories, not through statistics or research. Thus they provided the inspiration for five parables of leadership.
The long-term competitiveness of most manufacturers depends on their product development capabilities. Yet most companies' development process is unruly and unfocused, with a collection of projects that do not match business objectives and consume far more development resources than are available. An "aggregate project plan" can help managers to focus on a set of projects, rather than individual ones. A central element of the plan is the project map, which categorizes projects into five types: breakthrough, platform, derivative, R&D, and partnerships. With the plan, managers can improve resource allocation, project sequencing, and critical development capabilities.
In today's dynamic business environment, strategy too must become dynamic. The essence of strategy is not the structure of a company's products but the dynamics of its behavior. To succeed, a company must weave its key business processes into hard-to-imitate strategic capabilities that distinguish it from its competitors. A capability is a set of business processes understood strategically. While such capabilities are collective and cross-functional, they must be built and managed by the CEO. Uses examples from Wal-Mart.
Most corporate improvement efforts have negligible results because they focus on activities, not results, and there is no explicit connection between action and outcome. "Results-driven" approaches offer greater potential for improvement because they focus on achieving specific, measurable goals. By committing to incremental change, managers not only can see results faster but also determine more quickly what is working and what isn't.
After launching a new quality program, the CEO of Top Chemical Co. was searching for a team-based compensation program that would reflect his company's new philosophy. A committee was formed to discuss the options. The compensation vice president explained his idea for paying teams based on their performance, making pay an incentive for continued improvement and overall excellence of the team. The plan met with resistance from employees at all levels of the company. What seemed like a simple idea for a pay plan turned into a very complicated matter. Four experts on compensation reveal where Top Chemical went wrong in its plan and how the CEO might bring about change successfully.
Ed Claiborne is a newly hired corporate vice president of procurement for DRW Technologies, a company that produces advanced military systems with 21 plants in the United States. Claiborne was hired from another company from within the industry, and the news of his arrival was announced in an email to corporate executives and plant managers and in the company newsletter. Before he has even met the procurement team, Claiborne is assigned his first task of cutting procurement costs and messaging the news to the company. Claiborne decides to send the message via email, and the message is met with unexpected results. This case is appropriate in courses in leadership, human resource management, organizational behavior, general management, and management communication. The short length and plain language make this case suitable for students who are new to the case method.
This case follows Sara Norton, a soccer player-turned-serial entrepreneur, as she transforms Seaside Organics from a fledgling startup into an $89 million company. Informed by the successes and failures of her first organics venture, WellBar, Norton tries to balance her naturally energetic, hands-on approach with the changing needs of a large company. Students discuss the differences between running a growing startup versus a mature organization, and the tensions that can result between entrepreneurs and the managers tasked with running their organizations.
NII Holdings, Inc. is a U.S. firm with headquarters in Reston, Virginia, and has wireless telephony operations under the Nextel brand in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and Peru. During 2012, as the firm struggled with a weak competitive position and a transition to a new 3G platform, its operating results suffered, and a number of analysts were concerned about the firm's liquidity. Against this backdrop, NII decides to refocus its operations on Mexico and Brazil. In April 2013, the company enters into an agreement to sell Nextel Peru to Empresa Nacional de Telecomunicaciones S.A. (Entel) for between $397 million and $415 million. Through the use of Andean Capital Advisors, and its first-year associate Rafael d'Anconia, the case is meant to demonstrate concepts surrounding the derivation of the cost of capital in international settings. The case was designed for use in first-year MBA courses, but it can also be adopted for courses focusing on international finance.
Marcus Crosby, President of Cilkray Graphics, convened an emergency meeting with Cilkray's senior managers in order to respond to an unexpected development. Cilkray sold three lines of specialized graphics processing units (GPUs). Each line targeted a segment of the professional market for Hosted Virtual Desktops (HVDs). Grovex, Cilkray's key competitor, had just announced the impending launch of the GSpeed, a new GPU. It said that the GSpeed would exceed the performance of competitive products, including Cilkray's most advanced product line, the CP3000. Industry rumors suggested that the GSpeed's price would be 20% to 30% below that of the CP3000. Crosby and his team saw two options. Cilkray could drop the CP3000's price immediately. It could also delay its planned release of its new CK300, scheduled for December 2013, in order to make its products more competitive. Crosby and his team had to decide what Cilkray should do next.
Aaron Jonnerson, vice president of marketing at the automotive division of Avellin, must make marketing mix decisions for the launch of Eco7, a new environmentally-friendly motor oil. The company's performance has been mediocre, shareholder pressure is increasing, and expectations are high for Eco7. However, Jonnerson faces significant challenges in ensuring a successful launch. The market for passenger car motor oil (PCMO) is mature and consumers are price-sensitive. Furthermore, the independent oil change outlets that are Avellin's core customers have declined relative to other channels. Jonnerson must design the best pricing strategy to ensure a successful launch. The Eco7 case asks students to examine consumer behavior and channel conflict and factor them into a product launch. The launch comes at a time when the company may need to adapt to changes in a market that is increasingly commoditized and in which the relative importance of different distribution channels is changing. Students are asked to make recommendations on pricing and distribution and to consider which trade-offs the company should make.
Dr. Julia Connors has a busy, successful cataract clinic and wants to expand to meet demand. She is considering two alternatives: keeping her physical facility as it is and extending office hours, or renting additional space within her current building. The first appears to be less disruptive to operations but risks alienating her workforce. The second is more disruptive to current operations during construction and will require more capital investment. This case is designed to be taught in a single class session with students who have practiced process analysis.
This case is about Katherine Schuler, soon to become senior vice president of marketing at a fast-growing retail organization, Boxes & Bins (B&B). Part of Schuler's success has been due to her "fit" into a company with clear values and principles. In particular, B&B always put its employees first, and eschewed debt in order to grow only as the company could afford it. Several years ago, the founders sold most of their stock to a private-equity firm, the Weichel Group, which leveraged B&B heavily in order to accelerate the opening of more stores and to pay off the founders. Even after a recent IPO, the Weichel Group remained a major shareholder, and it urged B&B to hire two senior managers from large discount retailers to run operations and merchandising. Schuler's move into her new role could lead to her becoming B&B's president if she is successful. Schuler understands that B&B needs to grow, and wants to help it do so, but is uncertain about the plans for how that growth will occur. She wants B&B to acknowledge its key success factors to date because she believes that doing so will help it move to a new future. Yet she knows that changing B&B may be impossible-therefore, leaving might be her best option.
Supplement to case 916404. No corporation and its board of directors is immune to a disruptive shareholder activist attack. The Novell (A) and (B) cases take students through a shareholder activist attack and its aftermath-a saga that spanned 5 years. The cases outline the activist playbook in conducting an attack, the board's response, and key decisions that must be made.
No corporation and its board of directors is immune to a disruptive shareholder activist attack. The Novell (A) and (B) cases take students through a shareholder activist attack and its aftermath -- a saga that spanned 5 years. The cases outline the activist playbook in conducting an attack, the board's response, and key decisions that must be made.
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