Case 7: What Does Everyone Do Around Here?

The Story

Dag Holmer and Grace Field were having one heck of a bun-fight. Grace was the Software Development Division Director of AccuNet Limited, a high-tech firm; Dag was the new Executive Director of Special Projects hired by Senior Management two months ago as an organizational trouble-shooter to bring improvements to productivity, and to the bottom line. Dag reports to the CEO.

Recently, Dag had pumped some information out of a junior analyst over a drink and pieced together a picture of what he called incompetence in Grace’s shop. There were programming errors all over the place. Some products, notably a word processing package, should never have been released. He checked with marketing and found that there had been some complaints by clients regarding the quality of the package.

Meanwhile, Grace was having a hard time. She was one of the original people brought into the company due to her uncanny ability to conceive a product and then bring it to market swiftly, albeit sometimes imperfectly. She had made the company a great deal of money with her “Quick and Dirty” approach and her reading of the market was that AccuNet’s highly specialized and skilled customers were more interested in getting the latest stuff than they were worrying over a few glitches. She was really discouraged by Dag’s attack on her people, her integrity and her contributions to the Company.

Other Divisional Directors were starting to become nervous as well. The Marketing people felt awful that they had “snitched” on Grace and were hastily covering their tracks. The Director of Hardware Development had ordered his people not to speak with Dag under any circumstances and the CEO was becoming concerned that he had let a monster loose in his organization.

The Intervention

Dag Holmer is harming the organization, rather than helping it. Senior Management needs to:

  • Refocus Dag’s role to that of process consultant, i.e. change his role to that of helper, by which he extends to Grace the support that she needs for ensuring that her product is consistently of high quality, rather than undermining her operation;
  • Understand the basis on which they decided to hire Dag in the first place, establish a more appropriate decision framework for improving productivity and profits and decide on what course of action to take in the Dag/Grace situation;
  • Develop a more long-term plan by which to roll out the decision and monitor its effects.

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