Analysis of Johnsonville Sausage Co. (a) Case Study

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ANALYSIS OF JOHNSONVILLE SAUSAGE CO. (A) CASE STUDY
IN THE ASPECT OF STRATEGIC DESIGN
Prepared by USANUS SIRITARARATN, 2012

The Johnsonville Sausage Co. (A) case study from Harvard Business School is about Johnsonville Sausage Co, a sausage manufacturer and wholesaler in Johnsonville, Wisconsin. As the company grew over time, the president of Johnsonville Sausage Co., Ralph Stayer, faced many big problems in his organization. After Stayer listened to a lecture about how managers could change their philosophy and style of management from Dr. Lee Thayer, a professor at the University of Wisconsin, Stayer thought about his organization and found out that the problems in his organization were the result of the way he managed his employees. As a result, Stayer decided to change his management style which led to a big organizational transition. (Roberts, 1986: 4) According to the Three Lenses on Organizational Analysis and Action, there are three main concepts about the Strategic design lens which are Strategic grouping, Strategic linking, and Alignment (Ancona, Kochan, Scully, Van Maanen, and Westney, 2005: M-2, 14). This analysis of the Johnsonville Sausage Co. case study will be illustrated in 3 major concepts of Strategic design lens. The Johnsonville Sausage Co. (A) case study can be separated into 2 phases, pre and post organizational transition, which Stayer had brought his organization through.

STRATEGIC DESIGN ANALYSIS
Strategic Grouping
The strategic groupings for Johnsonville in both the pre and post transition eras were grouped by “Function” though the structures of pre and post transition eras were different. The pre-transition structure was very centralized, flat, and unorganized (Figure 1). Ralph Stayer had hired management people to help him on certain tasks, but these people were hired to do only what Stayer told them to. They did not receive authority to make their own decisions. This can be seen from Stayer’s quote, “I’d hired someone early on, who was very competent. Then one day it struck me that he was just a soldier carrying out my orders” (Roberts, 1986: 4). Then after Stayer decided to make big changes to his organization, he reorganized Johnsonville’s organization structure. The new Strategic Grouping for Johnsonville after the transition was more organized, and decentralized (Figure 2). The changes in Strategic grouping did not affect only the management structure, but also the blue-collar manufacturing workers. Prior to the organizational transition, each blue-collar worker worked individually only on their own responsibility within the organization. For example, the meat grinder had to grind meat every day as his or her only responsibility. After the transition, the manufacturing workers worked as a team in a given function. They also alternated their responsibility which helped eliminate the routine from their jobs and broaden their knowledge and skills (Roberts, 1986:8). This team approach resulted in improved performance and new ideas for organizing the work process.

Figure 1: Johnsonville’s
Pre-Transition Organization chart
Figure 1: Johnsonville’s
Pre-Transition Organization chart

Figure 2: Johnsonville’s
Post-Transition Organization chart

Strategic Linking
In the Strategic Linking aspect, Stayer’s role before the organizational transition was neither the Integrator nor the Liaison. Even though his role would have been more likely to fall in the Integrator role, due to the fact that a person in the Integrator role has power or is described as “Carrots and Sticks”, the Integrator is not supposed to do the work but to coordinate the activities and the decision process (Ancona, et al., 2005: M-2, 20). The way Stayer is different from the person in the Integrator role is that Stayer took control of all the power in the organization and micromanaged everything. In other words, he did not coordinate anyone; he just gave them orders. After the organizational transition, Stayer...
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