MAY 1, 2008
W. EARL SASSER
Power, Office Politics, and a Career in Crisis
Another long day at the office had drawn to a close. Thomas Green felt the pulsing in his temples that usually preceded a migraine. As he stepped outside Dynamic Displays’ corporate headquarters in Boston, the brisk air made him catch his breath. It was now February 5, 2008. Green could not believe that in five short months his dream promotion had turned into a disaster. When Green had been promoted to his new position in September, he was a rising star. Now, he would be lucky to celebrate his one-year anniversary with the company. His boss, Frank Davis, had sent the division vice president, Shannon McDonald, two scathing emails criticizing Green’s performance. Green and Davis had yet to see eye to eye on work styles or market trends. Tension had also risen when Green did not enthusiastically endorse the sales forecasts made by Davis. Green felt the forecasts were either overly optimistic or outright fabrications.
Before he left for the day, Green had reread the series of emails regarding his performance and was certain that Davis was setting him up to be dismissed. Davis’s most recent email had made it clear to Green that his position as a senior market specialist was in jeopardy. He did not have much time to rectify the situation. McDonald had emailed a formal request to him that afternoon, asking for his perspective on his performance and how he was going to improve the situation. With this in mind, Green started his commute home and began to analyze what went wrong and what he could do to save his job.
Company and Industry Background
Dynamic Displays was founded in 1990 as a provider of self-service options to banks via Automated Teller Machines (ATMs). In 1994, Dynamic Displays launched a new division aimed at the travel and hospitality industry, and deployed their first self-service check-in kiosk for Discover Airlines. In 2007, Dynamic Displays’ Travel and Hospitality Division had 60% market share with over 1,500 self-service kiosks in use at more than 75 airports. Customers included regional, national, and international airline carriers, as well as various hotels and car-rental agencies. Eighty percent of the Travel and Hospitality Division’s 2007 revenue came from airline carrier clients, 15% from hotels, ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ HBS Professor W. Earl Sasser and Heather Beckham prepared this case solely as a basis for class discussion and not as an endorsement, a source of primary data, or an illustration of effective or ineffective management.
This case, though based on real events, is fictionalized, and any resemblance to actual persons or entities is coincidental. There are occasional references to actual companies in the narration.
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and 5% from car-rental agencies. The company was a full service provider, offering hardware, software, engineering, and maintenance support.
Kiosks were an attractive option for airlines to quickly and easily check in passengers while reducing processing costs. Dynamic Displays’ kiosks not only reduced costs but also improved customer...