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IMT 581: Case Study Analysis : Significance of Communication in Change Management during Acquisitions

When it comes to change management, effective communication is one of the most significant factors which determines the success of the change being originated .This gains even more significance if the change under consideration is change due to acquisition of a culturally different company where there is considerable scope for miscommunication and misinterpretation due to the differences in the work cultures and the verbal identity adopted by each organization.

The case study analysis examines two extreme cases which deal with acquisitions of companies which are culturally different from the acquiring company .In one case, the acquisition went through smoothly due to a well-defined communication plan while in the other case, the lack of a clearly defined communication plan hindered the cross cultural integration process resulting in distrust and lack of mutual respect and an eventual breakdown in intra-organizational coordination .Given below is a brief synopsis of the two cases:

The first case which deals with Federal express’s acquisition of Flying Tiger line shows how an effective communications strategy helped make the acquisition process go through smoothly despite the huge cultural and organizational differences between the organizations (Federal express was a young company which had a flat hierarchy while Flying Tiger line was a older company with a strict hierarchical structure where each organizational unit was unionized and the compensation structure was determined by the union negotiations).

The second case dealt with the famous DaimlerChrysler “merger” which was considered to a fairy tale wedding as it seemed like both companies had the potential and the background to take advantage of each other’s strong points to establish a successful and working relationship. However the lack of strong and comprehensive corporate communication plan to help handle the strong cultural differences and the unwillingness of the management in trying to bring the whole organization under one unified work environment with a common communication and interaction methodology led to considerable losses to the tune of almost $512 Million in the third quarter of 2000. Declining sales and future losses eventually led to Daimler pay Cerberus $650 million in 2007 to take Chrysler and its associated liabilities off its hands which was a total contrast to the $36 Billion initially paid to acquire Chrysler in 1998.

The comparative case study analysis gave some key insights into what companies can do to ensure that the required information is communicated to all the employees as soon as possible and how companies can use communication as a medium of melding culturally diverse companies together to create a homogeneous blend. The analysis also gave key insights into how communication can pay a key role in unifying the companies under one common compensation package as it was significant to establishing a cohesive work environment.

In closing,I would like you to look at what you think defines a strong communication strategy during an acquisition and provide your inputs on that .I would also be really interested in seeing your inputs on how you think cultural clashes and inter-organizational structural differences affect the way a communication strategy is defined and implemented.

By Mervin F Johnsingh

IMT 581: Case Study Analysis: Talkin’ ‘Bout my Generation

There are, at present, three distinct generations in the American workplace: the Boomers, moving steadily towards retirement but still commanding a great deal of senior and executive management; Generation X, the current backbone of the workplace; and Generation Y, the present rising star. The challenge, then, is for members of one generation to learn to work with — to manage up or down, as the case may be — older and younger generations.

Our first case study presents a brash young Generation Y employee, Josh, who bypasses the hierarchy to present his ideas straight to the CEO while skimping on the tedium of his main duties. Our second case study tells the story of a senior manager, Bob, who was once the most successful salesman in the company. But he has failed to adapt to the changing market, and has an abysmal sales performance now. Each case highlights the challenges faced by their managers who know they need to actively mentor them, but are unsure how to approach the generational chasm.

In comparing the cases, we saw that each employee had a great deal of energy and value to bring to the company, but they would need to be managed with the same amount of energy to really contribute to the company’s goals. For a twist on the cases, we imagined both employees working at the same company and considered the potential benefits of the older employee, Bob, mentoring the younger one, Josh. Bob’s enthusiasm for the job, interpersonal skills, and loyalty to the company are just what Josh needs to develop. Each employee is well-worth the investment – they both have years of potential work ahead of them and could accomplish great things for the company with them.
So, what do you think? What are the pros and cons of Bob mentoring Josh? If you’re part of Gen Y, would you appreciate having a mentor? Could you foresee any potentially negative outcome?

Ahsan Ali
Ross Donaldson
Sanjeevi Sturges

IMT 581: Case Study Analysis: Leading Superstars – Sir Ferguson’s Way

Change Management applies everywhere. Be it on a football ground or in a closed cubicle. And every company has outstanding minds driving the organization to the path of success. Leading such minds has never been an easy affair for a manager. These extremely gifted professionals can often navigate a once-ailing company into a lucrative venture. Often such professionals are notorious in their outside world and consider work protocols as a hindrance to getting their job done. Top talents in an organization feel that the leaders are beholden to them and not the other way round. Moreover, they always have an option outside the organization to choose lucrative offers giving them a strong sense of independence. Eventually, the performance curve of these stellar minds drops down for a period of time, leading to criticism and depression for them as well as the organization. These are several issues that a manager has to tackle while leading a team having superstars. As a manager, you have to maintain the organizational culture and success while making sure that you do not lose the key players of the game. There have been contradicting theories on tackling superstars: either by letting them use their way of work or by encouraging them but making sure that rules are the same for everyone within an organization. And at times, situation demands to get rid of those talented minds if they are not willing to work for the good of organization.

Case DescriptionDavid Beckham was kicked out of Manchester United club in 2003 by the manager, Sir Alex Ferguson. He was a star player of the team and had scored dozens of goals for Manchester United and English national team. His off-field involvements and focus on celebrity status led to his loss of concentration in the game. The second case explores the relationship of Wayne Rooney and Sir Alex Ferguson. Wayne Rooney, another stellar player of Manchester United club, recently created controversies about leaving Manchester United due to several reasons like strict rules by Sir Ferguson, unable to foresee the future of the club and financial offers from other competitive clubs. Even after his poor performance in 2010 World Cup  and numerous controversies, Sir Ferguson eventually got Rooney to sign the contract with Manchester United till 2015. Sir Bobby Robson, a famous footballer said – “How do you make a millionaire sweat? – ask Ferguson”.

Why did Sir Ferguson use two different strategies for Beckham and Rooney?

Both of them had made incredible contributions to the club in their pasts but showed poor performance later. Their poor performance triggered the need of change but the question that comes to our mind is – Why did Sir Ferguson plan to kick out Beckham but kept Rooney despite of his controversial media statements?

Based on the two cases, what are the key things that are important in handling superstars in your organization?

Do you evaluate the companies current situation against the stars’ performance? How do you motivate such employees to stay with the organization?

Our Thoughts:

Sir Ferguson changed his strategy based on his judgment of the star as well as the context. The changing nature of the football industry made him never stop moving forward. His approaches of leading the stars were always aligned with the team’s strategy.  When a star brings negative impact to the team and is no longer indispensable for the team’s future, he considers selling him whatsoever. When a star is valuable for the team’s future strategy, he would lead him with motivation, protection and more space. Managers in industries can learn from this approach about taking a proactive and sensible approach to handle stars. They should evaluate the contributions of that employee, reasons for his poor performance and the current state of the organization. Evaluation of these factors would help a manager to understand the context and take a right decision. Therefore, implementing right strategy in right situation is important to lead through a change where talented minds are involved.

By: Shirish Munshi and Ke Ding

IMT 581 – Consultant’s Role In Change -Workers as Crisis Consultants

As I was researching for some consulting success stories I came across this really useful case in change management and the role of consultants in change. The story takes place in the electronic-signature service company DocuSign only a few months ofter hiring the new chief executive officer  in Seattle. The company managed change in a very innovative way by empowering the employees and trusting the wisdom of their own people, which in my point of view a risky process that many companies wont consider.

The Issue / Analysis

IMT 583 – How to Stop the Currency War

With bitter trade and currency wars between nations, particularly rich industrial and emerging economies, other smaller countries would have to pay the price.

China is not ready to revalue its currency while US wants this to happen or US dollar will devalue further. But if China revalues its currency, it incurs a heavy loss due to its huge US dollars reserves. Also, then China may no longer be able to export goods at a cheaper dollar price.  On the other hand, if China revalues, US might start in-house production that would help them boost their economy.

Source : http://www.economist.com/node/17251850/comments#comments

Syllabus for IMT 584: Marketing Foundations for Information Professionals

Class Time and Location:             Tuesday 4:30-7:20 (Johnson 026)

Official Course Description: Introduction to the principles of marketing. Looks at how to assess an environment from a marketing perspective, consumer and business behavior, market segmentation, product/service strategies, new product development processes, pricing, channels, retail/wholesale, marketing communication, and direct selling.

Instructor Course Description: This course will take a practice perspective to the issues surrounding the marketing of technology products and services. This course not only introduces students to the principles of marketing, but also explores practical issues relating to marketing practice. Topics of interest include pricing for information services, devising promotions for technology innovations, understanding consumer behavior in the context of high-technology services, and even the commercialization of innovations.

Required Books

  • Mohr, J., Sengupta, S., and Slater, S. (2004) Marketing of High-Technology Products and Innovations (2nd edition) Prentice Hall
  • Silk, A.J. (2006) What Is Marketing? HBS Press.

Grading

  • Case Study I: 30%
  • Case Study II:  30%
  • Group Project: 30%
  • Class Participation: 10%

Please note, all due dates are final. Extensions, make-ups, or other arrangements will not be entertained, unless there are extraordinary circumstances. Students are expected to plan around the due dates.

Case Studies: Students will be expected to analyze case studies that present marketing dilemmas faced when managing high-technology organizations and/or complex situations in which the marketing of high-technology becomes a contentious issue in a traditional organization. Case studies will be drawn from sources such as the Harvard Business Review. The analysis should be presented in the form of a detailed executive viewpoint (please see examples of executive responses by reviewing prior case studies from the Harvard Business Review). Students will be expected to present their analysis in class.  Analysis will be graded on (1) clarity of insights, (2) application of material discussed in class, (3) uniqueness and novelty of the solution, (4) practicality and usefulness of the solution, and (5) in-class presentation of the analysis.

  • Case Study I: Reports Due: Jan 22; In-Class Discussion: Jan 25
  • Case Study II: Reports Due: Feb 18; In-Class Discussion: Feb 22

Class Participation: Class participation is a vital component of the learning process. In order to fully participate in the class, and also gain from the class, students will be expected to come prepared by doing all readings prior to class.

Group Project:  An important element of marketing is the ability to generate new ideas, advocate for them, get buy-in, and even prototype them. The group project will provide students will experience in this. Students will organize themselves in groups of no more than 4. The group will then have to device an innovative idea. The innovative idea can be for a new product, service, business model, or a combination of the three. An important element of devising an idea is to be able to decide on the context for the idea, in most cases this comes down to identifying the industry in which the idea will be commercialized, at least initially. Each team will be required to identify idea(s) and the industry by Jan 25. The idea(s) will then need to be analyzed using concepts discussed in class (e.g. identifying customer segments, understanding needs, pricing, etc). An interim report detailing the progress of the idea development will be due on Feb 15. Students are encouraged to submit as many interim reports as needed, and also consult with the Professor on a regular basis. A final report detailing the idea, its market, the marketing strategy, and the value proposition will be due on March 1. Each report will be reviewed by other class teams and also the instructor. Teams will be required to present their projects on March 8. 

Group projects will be graded based on: (1) idea development, (2) research and development of the marketing plan, (3) application of marketing concepts, and (4) presentation of the business case.

Class Timetable

Each class session will include a combination of lectures and in-class exercises (e.g. discussion of case studies, presentation of articles). Students are expected to read the required material before class and come prepared to engage in stimulating discussions. This is a tentative schedule and is subject to change. I reserve the right to add or delete topics coverage based on the pace of the class and developments in the business world.

Date Topic Reading
Jan 4 Course Introduction and Introduction to Marketing Strategy Silk Chapter 1
Jan 11 Introduction to High Technology and Marketing Mohr Chapter 1- 2
Jan 18 Relationship Marketing, Market Orientation Mohr Chapter 3-4
Jan 25 Marketing Research and Understanding Customers
Case Study I – In-Class Discussion
Mohr Chapter 5-6
Silk Chapter 2-3
Feb 1 Product Development, Distribution Channels and Supply Chains in High Tech Markets Mohr Chapter 7-8
Silk Chapter 4
Feb 8 Pricing Considerations, Advertising and Promotions Mohr Chapter 9-10
Silk Chapter 5-7
Feb 15 Customer Management and Innovation Silk Chapter 9
Feb 22 Marketing IT within the Enterprise
Case Study II – In-Class Discussion
Journal articles will be assigned for reading
Mar 1 Marketing Technology Services in the Non-For-Profit Sector Journal articles will be assigned for reading
Mar 8 Presentations and Discussions  

IMT581: Food for Thought – Understanding Incentives

Prof. Desouza covered a range of topics in class on Tues, but I want to focus this post on the main topic: incentives.

As mentioned in class, one of the duties of a manager is understanding how to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of processes and outputs. Sometimes it will require test runs in order to gain new information/knowledge in order to refine those measurements. It is critical to be able to understand what your goal is in order to identify what it is you need to measure. Without having clear and accurate methods for measurement, it will be difficult to incentivize the correct actions.

Furthermore, it is important to understand that different types of incentives are more effective at encouraging certain types of actions. I’m sure most of you have seen this, but if you haven’t, Dan Pink’s Ted talk on motivation is something you should watch. In summary, extrinsic incentives (i.e. financial incentives) are more effective with actions that do not require cognitive thinking (e.g. assembling a computer) and, in fact, can be detrimental to creative thinking, whereas intrinsic incentives (i.e. autonomy, mastery, and purpose) are more effective with actions that require cognitive thinking.

Another critical point is remembering that everyone is unique, thus each individual or group of people may desire different incentives. As a knowledge worker and manager, you will (hopefully) be doing work that requires cognitive thinking, and working with other knowledge workers, which will require you to understand the needs and desires of each individual (unless the culture is against this). Understanding measurements and incentives will not only help you in your work, but also those around you, and as we have learned, measuring outputs is difficult. Better understanding the people you work with will help you better refine your measurements and incentives, and better understand outputs.