The Way

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McNulty, Eric, Harvard Business Review, October 2002, pp. 32-40

In this case study, Cheryl Hailstrom, fictional new CEO of toy manufacturer Lakeland Wonders, is having problems getting her staff to buy into her vision for the company. For example, her senior VP of operations, Mark Dawson, doesn't seem to understand her vision, nor does he show any interest in moving quickly to implement strategies to make Hailstrom's vision reality. Hailstrom feels most of her managers are agreeable to her face, but are deliberately moving slowly behind her back.

Hailstrom is aiming to launch Lakeland Wonders into the midmarket, and is depending on a contract with a large chain store to make this happen. Lakeland Wonders will have to expand its manufacturing from U.S.-only to overseas companies. This has the potential to cause a customer backlash as well as union problems. Hailstrom's managers are cautious; Hailstrom wonders if she shouldn't bring in some new blood.

Previous CEO Walter Swensen suggests Hailstrom move more slowly and think about the implications of her actions. Hailstrom, not wanting to face a showdown, asks for his support and confidence in her.

Is Cheryl Hailstrom pushing for change too quickly?

Kathleen Calcidise, VP and COO of Apple Retail Stores:

Any outsiders should be paired with existing team members
Hailstrom's leadership style should change to be more persuasive, inspirational, and negotiating Consistent and enthusiastic communication will benefit the team Articulating a clear operating direction and building consensus is essential

Debra Benton, president of Benton Management Resources:

Rules of engagement of working together must be established Individuals should be asked what they feel is a priority in achieving the company's growth targets Personnel changes shouldn't be made yet

Hailstrom may have to leave if she is prevented from doing her job

Dan S. Cohen, Deloitte Consulting:

Hailstrom is leading...
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