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Acton Burnett Case Essay

4336 words - 18 pages

Questions

1. What were the main mistakes made by Keene & Ryan in the way they dealt with the different situations described in the case: from the discovery of significant losses in the first quarter of 1975 to their handling of the meeting during which the members of the task-force made their presentations? 30%

It was clear that Baker had little to no control over the task force. Baker had not created the team and had no real authority (aside from being designated as the head) over the task force. The task force was a formality in the Keene & Baker’s eyes, thus they concluded the area that needed to be studied was marketing division (market managers made final forecasts based on info ...view middle of the document...

Even though an executive committee meeting had been held, Ryan and Keene were too short-sighted to see themselves responsible for the company’s poor results, failing to address the issue amongst themselves (executive committee) before delegating the dirty work to an inexperienced taskforce.

While both Keene and Ryan regarded Baker as an especially promising and capable individual, Baker was a young and relatively inexperienced special assistant (Keene’s); in putting Baker in charge of a politically charged and important for the company task force, they took a risk that turned out to be a mistake. It is fair to assume that Keene and Ryan wanted to test Baker’s potential as a leader (alternatively, given the fact that both Keene & Ryan were MBA’s graduate and maybe biased against putting a non-MBA in charge of the task force) however Cassis, a respected company veteran, might have been a better choice to lead the task force. When observing the composition of the task force more closely one can identify a clear gap in background, experience, career path, and education levels. There was no real seniority (at the corporate level) leading or backing up the task force. Ryan and Keene simply did not seem to put much thought in the cohesion of the task force itself, and they did not seem to properly consult with Robert Herd, thus showing an insufficient use of resources.

Stakeholders (Ryan did not involve market managers); Keene and Ryan, given past resistance to changes in the forecasting process by the market managers, decided not to involve them in the current task force, nominating the product managers instead.

This decision created a twofold problem; on one hand the decision removed key stakeholders from an important process study (a key process for the company nonetheless); on the other hand it put the product managers in an uncomfortable situation as they found themselves in a position to study and possibly criticize a process that the market managers, their direct supervisor, were responsible for.

Additionally, both Ryan and Keene were aware that the “MBA’s” were not well received by the “old-timers” and they had to have known that the taskforce might uncover some controversial issues and could very well end up in a politically charged situation. Ryan and Keene had also foreseen the difficulties Baker would face, from the Market Managers, whom had been resistant to procedural changes in the past and did nothing to address the problem.

Political Dynamics; As Vice President’s Ryan and Keene were naïve to believe that the Market Managers wouldn’t end up having a run in with the taskforce, and they should have addressed that situation prior to the creation of the task force instead of just looking the other way. Had Keene stepped in earlier and backed up the task force (especially Baker) during the report, the situation would not have gotten out of hand with the Market Managers.

Supervision; Keene and Ryan did not provide any...

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