1) What should Gagne do? Specifically, which projects should she fund and why? How should she handle the executive meeting?
A fair assessment of the situation at Le Petit Chef is that there are far too many projects on the table. This overflow has led to missed deadlines and therefore missed profit. The gap between LPC and other microwave manufacturers is closing fast and action is required. Essentially, Le Petit Chef needs a cornerstone development.
There are five proposed projects: A new intelligent (fuzzy logic) line of microwaves, a low-cost version of an existing microwave line, an entirely new low-cost line, a quick heating model, and a larger cavity Liberté. When choosing which projects to fund, Gagne must evaluate them on three basic criteria: will this project differentiate one product from the next? Will this project spread the r&d team too thin?, and will this project provide a competitive advantage?
For the short term, LPC should not attempt to enter the low-cost microwave market. Le Petit Chef is correlated with high end, high performance appliances and trying to tackle a low cost market that is dominated by large companies such as Samsung and GE would not be appropriate. Because of this, both projects associated with a low end line should be crossed off Gagne’s list. However, perhaps in the future when the company is on more solid footing a low-end line can be attempted. Adding a larger cavity to the Liberté should also be cut because this just adds another component into the mix. Too many components that don’t overlap from one product to the next increases total cost and adaptability. Another reason to cut the larger cavity is because it really does nothing major to differentiate the product. Next, LPC should fund the implementation of a Fuzzy Logic microwave line. This would differentiate the product among high-end competitors, not put too much strain on r&d according to a senior design engineer, and promote...