Recent Question/Assignment

Acme Manufacturing Company’s products have been diminishing in sales for the
past year and the future does not look any better. Products have sold well in the
past without a lot of competition from either domestic manufacturers or foreign
manufacturers. The Marketing Department advises that the products are not
meeting current customer needs, customers are buying the competition’s products,
and Acme is losing market share. This loss of sales is attributed to better products
being developed by competitors and the competitors’ products being viewed as
new, innovative, and having a futuristic style.
The R&D Department has not designed a new product in 3 years, and only
minor changes have been made to Acme’s existing product line. The thinking in the
R&D Department is that the customers will return to Acme because the product line
is unequalled by others and the “quality” is high. The competitors’ products do not
compare in reliability, durability, and usability.
Acme Manufacturing Company’s products have been diminishing in sales for the
past year and the future does not look any better. Products have sold well in the
past without a lot of competition from either domestic manufacturers or foreign
manufacturers. The Marketing Department advises that the products are not
meeting current customer needs, customers are buying the competition’s products,
and Acme is losing market share. This loss of sales is attributed to better products
being developed by competitors and the competitors’ products being viewed as
new, innovative, and having a futuristic style.
The R&D Department has not designed a new product in 3 years, and only
minor changes have been made to Acme’s existing product line. The thinking in the
R&D Department is that the customers will return to Acme because the product line
is unequalled by others and the “quality” is high. The competitors’ products do not
compare in reliability, durability, and usability.
Acme’s senior management decides to build a team of people at the director’s level
to review the products and the competition to determine how Acme can improve its
position in the marketplace. The team is identified, and many of the directors claim
they have important work to do. Using this “reason”, many of the directors fail to
make the first meeting. This kickoff meeting is viewed as a failure without support
from the directors, and senior management is frustrated.
One of the long-time directors, who is within a month of retiring from Acme,
explains his view of what happened to the kickoff meeting. Most of the directors
view the charter of the team to be someone else’s responsibility and feel the team is
doomed to failure. Any director participating on the team will be considered part of
the team’s failure. Finding an excuse to not attend, and possibly be relieved from
the team, is seen as the best solution. Further, Acme’s directors have always had
autonomy in what they did and this team effort appears to erode that autonomy
action.
Senior management is puzzled. The directors are key players in the organization
and have the best chance to find the right solution to the products’ declining sales.
They have performed well in the past when given tasks. What is the difference
between what they have done in the past and working within a team? There has
been some competition among the directors previously, but no director has refused
to cooperate or work with another director. Senior managers were just recently
informed by a consultant that “teams” provide the best chance for success.
Using what you have learned from this lecture, analyze Acme’s
situation and develop the important points about what happened
and what could be done to get the directors interested and
involved. Motivating factors should focus on positive means of
changing attitudes and values.