Rosalind Fox, the factory manager at John Deere’s Des Moines, Iowa plant, has improved the financial standing of the factory in the three years she’s been at its helm. But employee engagement scores—which measured employees’ satisfaction with working conditions and enthusiasm about their work— have remained lackluster. As the first Black female factory manager to lead the plant, Fox considers how to build stronger bonds with her staff, who are mostly white men. The case describes how Fox took charge and established her credibility while building and nurturing a diverse leadership team. In addition to discussing Fox’s current role, this leadership case chronicles Fox’s career trajectory from her college years in Missouri through her time at Ford Motor Company and later, rising up the ranks at Deere & Company. The case discusses the pressure Fox has felt to assimilate into the dominant white male cultures and figure out how much of her authentic self to bring to work.
In 2005, Vineet Nayar, the former CEO and Vice Chairman of HCL Technologies, and his wife, Anupama Nayar, committed $100 million of their personal wealth to found Sampark Foundation—a grant-making philanthropy with a mission to transform learning outcomes for 20 million children in rural government schools by 2025. By 2013, it was clear that Sampark was never going to reach 20 million children by writing grants. Vineet stepped out of the corporate world and over the next six years, applied the lessons he learned about leading change at HCL to transform Sampark into a “disruptive design shop” that leveraged frugal innovation and a “Teachers First” model of change to revolutionize India’s primary education system. By 2019, at $1 per child per annum, Sampark’s 130 employees had touched the lives of over 7 million students and 200,000 teachers across 90,000 public schools—unprecedented scale in the Indian education context and evidence that their “Teachers First” strategy was working. Demand for Sampark’s program was growing rapidly and Vineet now had the opportunity to reach 50 million children. Vineet had always believed in the transformative power of technology and had to determine whether Sampark could transition to a “Digital First” model.
In 2017, Bill Connors, the President of Comcast’s Central Division, launched a startup accelerator in Comcast’s new Atlanta Regional headquarters. Comcast was America’s largest cable and internet service provider, having built a profitable business bundling television content and delivering it via cable networks to more than 20 million households. The business was changing rapidly with the rise of streaming services, and Connors wanted to change the culture and orientation of Comcast’s central division. Connors was getting ready to meet Burunda Prince, a candidate for the position of Managing Director of the new accelerator. Is she the right person for the job? The case explores structural questions for corporate startup accelerators, such as whether Comcast should hire another company to manage the accelerator and where the accelerator should be located. It also provides a basis for discussions relating to the role that a startup accelerator can play in a large corporation.
Café Cupcake (CC) is a fast-casual restaurant chain that offers artisan cupcakes and light fare throughout the southeastern United States and Texas. This case chronicles the growth and evolution of Café Cupcake. It also considers the specific human resource challenges the company’s leaders face at the end of the case as they attempt to scale CC’s business concept. By 2018, Café Cupcake had achieved several significant milestones. It operated 35 cafés with almost 700 employees. Its unique restaurant concept and distinctive cupcakes fueled rapid growth, which led to a more complex, vertically integrated organization. The original founding team of Emma Bisset and Aneisha Davis recently added Dr. Jonathan Patel, an expert in organizational behavior and human-resource management, who turned down a partnership offer at a leading consulting firm to become Café Cupcake’s chief operating officer. The case looks at the organization from the partners’ point of view. Anticipating continued rapid growth, the partners question how Café Cupcake should respond to strategic, human resource, and organizational challenges that lie ahead. What will best position the company for future success? What organizational practices should the partners sustain, drop, or add to enable this success?
This case explores the role of Tom Kalil as Deputy Director for Technology & Innovation at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. With the end of President Obama’s Administration drawing near, Kalil and his team of “policy entrepreneurs” must work to build an ecosystem of individuals and organizations both inside and outside the Federal government, if they hope to see their science & technology initiatves continue into the next Administration. The case allows for discussion of: leading innovation ecosystems; building public-private and public-public collaborations; leading system innovation; talent management and development; and public sector innovation.
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.
After 16 years in management consulting, Barış Karakullukçu left to become the CEO of Mudo in 2012, one of the best-known names in Turkey’s retail industry. She was tasked with leading Mudo’s transition from a family business to a more institutionalized, corporate structure and ensuring a smooth handover of the company from the first- to the second-generation owner. As CEO, she makes a series of difficult decisions to transform the company. She develops a new performance management system, reengineers most of the operations, and replaces 80% of the management team including several C-level executives. Two years later, the impact on operations is positive; however, the company’s profitability continues to struggle. Karakullukçu must decide how best to move forward. While the founder seeks rapid and opportunistic growth, Karakullukçu believes that the company should stabilize its cost structure and limit expansion plans.
Marie Jackson becomes chief executive officer of Renfield Farms during a period of sluggish growth and an organizational crisis. Jackson develops a new vision statement and begins to experience some success but is met with some skepticism from internal employees because the company’s structures and systems do not seem to support the new vision. This case focuses on how Jackson engages and leads a senior team in formulating a vision during a period of change.
The case describes the effects of a proposed change in Excel’s manufacturing strategy as seen through the eyes of the company’s VP of Manufacturing, Caroline Regis. Following a merger with Gemini, Excel’s new CEO advocates a new manufacturing strategy: outsourcing. Regis is threatened by the diminution in the role of in-house manufacturing and by the VP for Supply Chain Management at Gemini. The case traces Regis’s reactions to the proposal. She seems ready to accede to the organizational politics and support the new strategy, only to change her mind and anger her superiors, who thought she would support the plan. She tries to seize control of the situation and threatens to resign if she is not allowed to determine the appropriate strategy. The case facilitates analysis and discussion of career and personal development issues regularly faced by high-potential employees by showing that particular career and behavior strategies that are successful at one point can become dysfunctional as professionals advance through an organization.