John Smithers at Sigtek

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CASE ANALYSIS: John Smithers at Sigtek

I. Introduction

Here is in the middle of the holiday season, a festive time when ideally everyone is celebrating, enjoying family and having fun. In anticipation of being fired from his job of three years, John Smithers is home working on his resume. John works at Sigtek, a small telecommunications company, Sigtek was in need of a change and several months earlier Sigtek set in motion a plan to launch a Total Quality Program and John had been appointed one of two site managers to run the program. Not only would this be the key to getting Sigtek set on the right path but, John felt this would be a challenging and rewarding opportunity for him and he would be able to utilize and apply some of his management skills that he believed in so fervently. However with the recent demotion of his boss John felt that it was just a matter of time before he would lose his job as well.

John Smither’s decision

John currently works on the engineering side of the business to encourage problem solving and open communication, and to enlist worker participation. John has been successful at identifying problems within the engineering group and developing effective strategies to resolve them. Recently John had been promoted to lead the engineering services, the group that handles product design work and documentation for manufacturing, and one of Sigtek’s more troubled units.

As the engineering services manager John had the responsibility to redefine the design process, correct inadequate documentation and cut the highest employee turn over rate in the company. John utilized his managerial skills along with information he found in articles and books that he read to assist him to make the changes that were needed to accomplish his goals. From personnel changes to changing the groups focus, within months John’s accomplishments were very impressive: the company’s design process catered to the needs of the customer; the time it took to complete a design had been cut in half; the high employee attrition rate had declined. John was considered a popular leader with an infectious enthusiasm.

John felt that he was selected to be one of the instructors so that there would be a strong representation from the engineering side of the business in the Total Quality program and because he was one of he best managers in his division. John had reservations and was skeptical about their ability to effect change but, accepted the teaching post. He hoped that the Total Quality program would be the pivotal change that Sigtek needed, John was convinced that unless Sigtek embraced some type of change program it’s days were numbered.

Company background and history:

Three Western Electric Veterans founded Sigtek about 25 years ago. Sigtek manufactured circuit boards for signal handling which it sold primarily to AT&T and other long-distance carriers. A large technology company purchased Sigtek 10 years prior, the company maintained a hands-off management style and let Sigtek run on its own. With many changes in the industry including the opening up of the long distance market to other competitors, the stock piling of products as well as the break up of AT&T, Sigtek’s growth skyrocketed. Sales had shot up to over $60 million and the workforce grew to 1,000. With stats like this Sigtek was predicted to be a $100 million company within five years.

The following year Sigtek’s sales crumbled to $400 million and the workforce was cut back to 800, due to the earlier stockpiling in the industry that had caused the sales to be artificially depressed, the companies attempt to incorporate software into a computer system for signal handling had fallen behind schedule and for the first time Sigtek was challenged by new competitors in the industry and not to mention that the printed circuit boards that Sigtek was known for had become a commodity product, the customer focus was more on the price and...
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