Decision Making at the Top: The All Star Sports Catalog Division

Topics: Global Positioning System, Cost, Vice president Pages: 19 (4454 words) Published: November 9, 2014
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ HBS Professor Michael Beer and Sunru Yong 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. Copyright © 2008 President and Fellows of Harvard College. To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, call 1-800-545-7685, write Harvard Business Publishing, Boston, MA 02163, or go to This publication may not be digitized, photocopied, or otherwise reproduced, posted, or transmitted, without the permission of Harvard Business School.



TerraCog Global Positioning Systems: Conflict and Communication on Project Aerial

Emma Richardson squinted at the TerraCog GPS (Global Positioning System) prototype in her hand. She zoomed in until the display showed a clearer satellite photo of the lake 200 feet in front of her and into which her Labrador had already happily bounded. Most weekends, Richardson made the hike to the lake to clear her mind and, on occasion, to test new GPS models from her employer, TerraCog, Inc. Unfortunately, with the "Project Aerial" launch meeting scheduled for the next day, it was difficult to enjoy this particular hike. Emma wondered how to get all parties to reach an agreement on the price point for Aerial. TerraCog had started losing share to a competitor, Posthaste, and it was imperative to get the new product to market.

Arriving at the lake, Richardson gave in to the urge to check her phone and grimaced as she noticed two new voicemails. The first message was from Allen Roth, the director of design & development (see Exhibits 1 and 2 for an organizational chart and brief biographies of key managers):

"Emma, it's Allen. Listen, Tony and I have been over these cost numbers on Aerial. We cut all that we could and we ended up with only a 7% or 8% reduction to cost. Unfortunately, I don't think this will get us to the price point that Sales is looking for. But I don't need to remind you that we gave Sales the features and functionality they wanted in Aerial, so I'm not going back now to ask my team to do the impossible. We'll hash it out tomorrow, but I figured it best you hear it from me."

The second message was from her boss, Richard Fiero, the company president:

"Emma, I wanted to check on Aerial. I heard grumbling from Ed and the sales team on Friday. They seemed frustrated with Tony Barren's production team. Make sure Production has its act together. Tony should know he's on thin ice after the recent production fiasco on that sonar project-he's got to succeed on Aerial. We need to have Aerial on shelves at the start of Q3. Some board members are worried, so Aerial will be near the top of the agenda at the board meeting next month."

2184 A P R I L 1 1 , 2 0 0 8

For the exclusive use of B. Shi

This document is authorized for use only by Bixi Shi in Organizational Behavior- Fall 2014 taught by Elaine Wong University of California - Riverside from October 2014 to December 2014.

2184 | TerraCog Global Positioning Systems: Conflict and Communication on Project Aerial


Neither message was encouraging. The Aerial meeting the next day, involving the sales, design & development, and production departments, was now guaranteed to be contentious.

It was March 2008-only two months since Richardson had been promoted to executive vice president. Fiero had tasked her with moving TerraCog toward greater operational alignment and increasing cross-departmental cooperation. Richardson had already been tested by both inventory...
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