Case Study - All Star Sports Catalogue Division

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Case Study: All Star Sports Catalog Division


Case Study: Decision Making at the Top – The All Star Sports Catalog Division August 16, 2010

Case Study: All Star Sports Catalog Division


All-Star Sports Catalog Division (ASC) participated in a consultant-led study that reviewed the company‟s strategic decision-making process. As Hellings writes in his book of case studies for use by business schools, ASC sought improvement ideas to maximize utilization of successful elements from divisions of its various businesses (Hellings, 2007, p.57). Through application of Organizational Behavior (OB) theories it is possible to understand and explain behavior of ASC employees involved in making key decisions that steer ASC business practices and strategic initiatives. The consultants assessed the format utilized by ASC to identify, articulate, and solve business challenges, as well as the communication practices exhibited by leadership and decision makers. As Hellings writes, the results quantified three focus areas – conflict, closure, and commitment – that require attention for ASC to improve its decisionmaking processes and employee integration (Hellings, 2007, p. 68). The consultants determined that initiatives at ASC typically involve the division‟s president, Don Barrett, and 12 other senior management team members, who are functional area vice presidents appointed by Barrett accountable for ASC delivery businesses. As Hellings writes, many staff credit Barrett with leading All-Star Express to become ASC‟s most profitable business before his move to a division president at ASC, as he makes decisions on strategies and investments by building consensus among his management team and seeking their input on objectives (Hellings, 2007, p. 58-59). Barrett is the clear leader of ASC, and he builds trust among his team members by typically utilizing the Rational Model of Decision Making, which Stephen P. Robbins writes in his book on OB as “consistent, valuemaximizing decision-making within specified constraints (Robbins, 2005, p. 85)”. He conducts weekly two-hour management team meetings when the group reviews and discusses concerns, shares updates on key projects, and outlines decisions on particular issues (Hellings, 2007, p. 62). While these exchanges include all members of ASC‟s management team, staff asserts that decisions are not made by the group in this forum. Instead, “the group engage[s] in a decision-making process that combine[s] team interaction, subgroup discussions, and one-on-one meetings with Barrett (Hellings, 2007, p. 62).” Staff considered Barrett to be “non-confrontational,” as he discourages disagreement among team members during team meetings which produces many “offline” discussions when differing strategies exist (Hellings, 2007, p. 60).

Case Study: All Star Sports Catalog Division


There are various stages of the decision process at ASC during these meetings. The group first frames problems by discussing areas that require attention, either within individual business units or the division as a whole, and exchanging points of concern and inconsistent opinions about possible resolution. Then, the group identifies alternatives by forming subgroups of two-to-four self-appointed members from the senior team to discuss more challenging issues and analyze strategies (Hellings, 2007, pp. 62-63). As Robbins further writes about OB, the three-component model of creativity is helpful in complex problem-solving as it relies upon “expertise, creative-thinking skills, and intrinsic task motivation (Robbins, 2005, p. 87).” ASC‟s Director of Strategy, Kate Walton, often chairs subgroups which work off-line to formulate action plans that consider suggestions received from middle-managers who gather input from their respective organizational units impacted by the problem at-hand (Hellings, 2007, p. 63). The subgroup conducts a detailed analysis of various solutions in order to present Barrett with...
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