Leading Change at Simmons

Introduction About Simmons:
Simmons, founded by Zalmon Gilbert Simmons, is a family-run company. In 1875, Simmons decided to change their business from wood products to woven wire mattresses, which contributed great profits to the company. During 1920s, Simmons had been an international firm with factories in Mexico City, London, and Paris, unusual for the era. But in 1978, Simmons ceased to be a family-run business. Following this switch came a succession of many owners, leaving Simmons unstable and without a long-term vision. In late 1999, Fenway Partners, who bought Simmons from Investcorp in 1998, decided to pick Charlie Eitel as the CEO of Simmons. Now headquartered in Atlanta, Simmons has 18 bedding manufacturing facilities that made mattresses across the U.S.

The Simmons Situation
Charlie Eitel, the fairly new CEO of Simmons, has a lot on his plate. His company is struggling, and he needs to rebound. There are many contributing factors that could lead to the demise of Simmons. These factors mostly branch off of the country wide economic struggle following 9/11. In addition to 9/11 backlash, he is also faced with the recall of a product from a supplier. While these issues are quite harmful, they are external characteristics and he can do very little to affect them. What he can effect is his within his organization, specifically, the workers. When analyzing the company he has noticed that there is a large divide in production coming from certain plants, and the culture observed at certain plants. For a large company such as Simmons cultural cohesiveness and a unified vision are necessary to succeed. A unified vision can increase employee job satisfaction, public image, turnover, output and profit. Before Eitel, a long line of changing owners (since 1978) has caused Simmons to lack a vision. With this, Eitel took steps to insure clearly identify the problem and attempted to enact a solution. Moreover, there are many problems in the Simmons’s organizational structures, 18 plants do their businesses separately and compete with each other without positive connections. Besides, some plants of Simmons have a problem of group thinking which includes an excessive superior of own organization and prevents sharing outside information. Even after Eitel reorganize the structure of Simmons, it still not solve the problem of interactions among the different plants. To make it worse, because of the new structure, manager will not have the qualification to run a business, many of the old general managers left the company and Simmons has to launch a Great Game of Life plan to help the remaining employees communicate better, work better.

Evaluating Need
As stated in the case, Simmons has lacked a unified vision and culture since 1987 when the company went to being non-family owned. More recently, since the addition of Eitel, Simmons has taken on a very particular brand image and culture, one that has very strong and positive messages but is not very unified and not being universally held up. Simmons claims to honor values of Caring, History, Opportunity, Innovation, Customers, Empowerment, and Support, also known as CHOICES. They also have a very simple Code of ethics and a general Leadership vision. While these items are positive and present a good culture, they are not very unified and possess very little common language. It is clear the Eitel is confident in this vision but there is no sign that it is even being presented to the mass organization. The fact that there is a separate Vision for leadership which is likely only given to the leadership team shows that the values of the company are not universal for all employees. In an Ideal situation, the values, code of ethics, and leadership vision would be written in unison, using similar wording that would show the ubiquity of the core values. (Appendix example). This and the visibly different cultural settings among the plants, as explained by...
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