Yellowtail Marine

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Case Overview
The Yellowtail Marine, Inc. case combines corporate and industry data with an "in-basket" exercise. It focuses attention on the difficulties of Robyn Gilcrist – the newly appointed President – to efficiently managing the company’s daily operations while at the same time developing a corporate strategy. Robyn Gilcrist has taken over as CEO a few days after the death of Olaf Gunerson, Yellowtail’s founder and former owner. Therefore, there was no proper hand-over for Gilcrist.

Appointed by the company’s new owner, Charles Boswell, the plan was for Robyn to have 12 months working with Gunerson before his retirement, but death intervened. Now Robyn must learn the business in a fast pace and keep it running without him.

The case concerns Gilcrist’s first day as president. Gunerson’s death caused her to joined Yellowtail some weeks ahead of the scheduled starting date. Boswell has asked her to deal with whatever needs doing, fly to San Fancisco to a board meeting this afternoon, and then attend Gunerson’s funeral the following day. By that time Boswell wants a preliminary strategic plan.

Boswell challenges Gilcrist with a difficult task, which is only made more so when she arrives at the boatyard. She has no secretary (Gunerson’s secretary is still in mourn) and it was apparent that there are severe production problem persists in the yard, and an assortment of other tasks. All of these challenges are on top of the list of Boswell’s assignment to come up with a strategic plan. It’s a tough time to start your new job.

For me, this particular case is very unique due to the time limitation that Gilcrist has. In a very short time, she must come up with a strategic plan to present to Boswell.

Case Analysis using framework from Management Communication Class. From the Management Communication Class, the framework that is applicable to the case is Structuring a communication program for major change. But, before she can even start strategizing or working the right internal communication, her first homework in my opinion, is to start developing a strategic vision for the company. In order to do that, she can go through the five-phase of managerial process :

(The strategy-making, strategy-executing process, taken from “Crafting, and Executing Strategy” by Thomson, Strickland and Gamble. McGraw-Hill, 2005).

The Managerial Communication framework in establishing leadership through Strategic Internal Communication in the above is located in PHASE 4. In my opinion and based on my experience, before she even planning or strategizing her internal communication, she needed to complete the first three phase. She will not have the ability to convince her team if she didn’t do the three initial phases in depth. She needs to be credible, and reliable as a leader. Therefore, let’s discuss the first three phases.

Phase 1 : Developing a strategic vision
Robyn needs to develop a strategic vision of where Yellowtail needs to head and what its future product-customer-market-technology focus should be. The sentence product-customer-market-technology for me is really strong as it almost explains her first responsible. Get to know your product! and get to know it well. My former director in the FMCG company (L’Oreal) loves to say, “Be the hands in gloves.” as a statement to each employee to understand the products well.

For me, I always love to use the word PASSION every time I address the importance of getting to know or better understanding our Products and our product’s USP (Unique Selling Points) compare to our competitor. You have to live and believe in your product. From the story, I strongly believe that Yellowtail has been very successful under Olaf Gunerson because Olaf is really passionate to the product and thus able to develop the best product in the market and using the best technology available. The product that Yellowtail Marine offered are inboard and outboard boat. The...
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