Statement of the Problem
In 1996, Arctic Timber Engineered Woods Division, a highly mature business unit, faced a market downturn and began losing millions of dollars each month. Before becoming the President of the Engineered Woods Division, Bjorn Gustavsson had already determined that the company could not sustain its commodity business and was not aligned with the new direction devised by Peter Hammarskjöld, the CEO of Arctic Timber. According to Gustavsson, in order to prosper in a more challenging market environment, developing a specialty business was the only viable approach. The goal was to shift 50% of its commodity business into undetermined specialty by 2000. However, the Division had shifted only 10% of its business to specialty products by 1997. The challenge was to overcome the overall resistance to change and find a way to get the organization behind ArcTech Flooring, the new specialty product. A culture of customer disengagement and communication problems among divisions along with past norms held by key senior managers made initiating radical innovation difficult. These norms made up the division's mechanistic organizational structure, incentives that are based on overall sector performance, operational competencies, and low risk culture, all of which hindered innovation. This paper explores the leadership challenges involved in managing strategic change in a highly mature Arctic Timber Engineered Woods Division. 2.
As John P. Kotter suggests in his article "Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail," not establishing a sense of urgency is a number one failure for leaders. Lacking a great enough sense of urgency, senior managers in Engineered Woods Division did not cooperate in moving the division from commodity to a specialty business and the efforts remained fruitless. This was a leadership issue that few members of senior team were motivated and passionate about the transition. In addition to urgency, Gustavsson...
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