Case Study 301: Richard Murphy and the Biscuit Company by Kyle Ingram and Michel Jarrett
Q1) What are the main problems facing the organisation described in the case? There used to be a time when companies were supposed to produce goods only, a time when there was no such a word as marketing, and a time when organisations had the certitude that their products would definitively sell out. One company that had these defaults was Biscuit & Co. Ltd., which turned from a well-known, traditional company, with strong family values and a paternalistic culture to a genuine fiasco of the 21st century (App.2). Generally speaking the Biscuit & Co. concentrated on internal issues within the organisation, such as the operations division and only on manufacturing their products but left out all the environmental factors, new trends and drastic changes the new millennium brought with itself. This was due to the fact that the company was considered to have a traditional background, where staff became eventually the family. This unprofessional and more sentimental value based organisational structure led to the replacement of the managing director by no other than the son of the former director, who lacked knowledge and experience in the field. When Richard Murphy was allocated as the fresh and hip marketing director tension rose between employees. Murphy’s allocation took place in 2002, which meant that precious time, competitive and market intelligence (i.e. new trends, segments, challenges) were already missed out on. With no market awareness nor promotion the company was determined to fail. Richard Murphy faced many challenges because the employees of Biscuit & Co never welcomed change. It was almost impossible for Murphy to bring innovation to the company, which was due to communication issues within the company and its internal politics. This induced a polarisation of all employees (New school vs. old school), which was not very surprising for such a traditional firm. This put Murphy into a very adverse position and created an internally combative environment. Externally, Murphy decided to make a stronger relationship with the retailers; however, he found the firm did not have strong liaison with its retailers, which described them as “prehistoric, unimaginative, unprofitably, arrogant and behind the times” (see App.3). This meant that the company was not valuing customer feedback and was not paying any attention towards the needs of its suppliers. The inability to change internal factors to meet external challenges resulted in a fragmented structure of the company and nearly led to the extinction of Biscuit and Co. Ltd.
Q2) What are the possible solutions for the organisation:
Biscuit company and Co. need to be bold and dare to induce an organisational change. Obviously this does not happen from one day to another. It is the best to work the way from interior changes towards exterior impacts. Strategic allocation of new staff with experience in the field is an important step, in order to change organisational politics. This would mean that the CEO would have to get rid of the managing director Andrew Eastern, in order to break free from the paternalistic structure of the firm. This would give many employees more control and let them regain confidence, and would ensure a more self-reliant and autonomous structure. This change would not mean that the company would have to give up its heritage around traditional lines, based on family values. However, a more professional and objective approach towards change would have a much more effective impact. The process of improvement involves first finding out what consumers want and where the already existing products are positioned to get a realistic overview of the product portfolio. It is also necessary to understand what groups of other firms respond to this particular segment of snacks, in order to create similar or more superior market conditions. The paternalistic...
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