Task Force and Baker

Topics: Task force, Product manager, Keene, Texas Pages: 11 (4335 words) Published: June 22, 2013
1. What were the main mistakes made by Keene & Ryan in the way they dealt with the different situations described in the case: from the discovery of significant losses in the first quarter of 1975 to their handling of the meeting during which the members of the task-force made their presentations? 30% It was clear that Baker had little to no control over the task force. Baker had not created the team and had no real authority (aside from being designated as the head) over the task force. The task force was a formality in the Keene & Baker’s eyes, thus they concluded the area that needed to be studied was marketing division (market managers made final forecasts based on info from prod mgrs, VP of sales, VP of manufacturing, & econ forecasts from VP of econ). At this point Keene & Baker never gave much thought or importance to the task force therefore they were just content to “formally” state that the situation was being analyzed. In reality neither of the VP’s actually gave much importance to the two losing quarters situation. This in turn showed when the task force report meeting had gotten out of control and they were headed to a break, Keene told Baker “…you better figure out what you’re going to do at 3:00 (when they returned from the break)”. This statement from Keene showed that he had little authority or control over the situation, he was placing the blame on Baker instead of backing him up. The following is a broken down analysis of the mistakes that Keene & Ryan committed: Greenhorn choice (assigning David Baker to be in charge of the task force - taking it likely to not deal with it themselves - initial analysis and diagnosis of the problem): The first mistake the Vice President’s made was to take the issue of sales dropping two straight quarters so lightly as to just appoint a task force. For a market leading company like Acton-Burnett to have the first two losing quarters in 39 years was a big issue, an issue large enough that there should be personal involvement of Ryan, Keene and other VP’s. Even though an executive committee meeting had been held, Ryan and Keene were too short-sighted to see themselves responsible for the company’s poor results, failing to address the issue amongst themselves (executive committee) before delegating the dirty work to an inexperienced taskforce. While both Keene and Ryan regarded Baker as an especially promising and capable individual, Baker was a young and relatively inexperienced special assistant (Keene’s); in putting Baker in charge of a politically charged and important for the company task force, they took a risk that turned out to be a mistake. It is fair to assume that Keene and Ryan wanted to test Baker’s potential as a leader (alternatively, given the fact that both Keene & Ryan were MBA’s graduate and maybe biased against putting a non-MBA in charge of the task force) however Cassis, a respected company veteran, might have been a better choice to lead the task force. When observing the composition of the task force more closely one can identify a clear gap in background, experience, career path, and education levels. There was no real seniority (at the corporate level) leading or backing up the task force. Ryan and Keene simply did not seem to put much thought in the cohesion of the task force itself, and they did not seem to properly consult with Robert Herd, thus showing an insufficient use of resources. Stakeholders (Ryan did not involve market managers); Keene and Ryan, given past resistance to changes in the forecasting process by the market managers, decided not to involve them in the current task force, nominating the product managers instead. This decision created a twofold problem; on one hand the decision removed key stakeholders from an important process study (a key process for the company nonetheless); on the other hand it put the product managers in an uncomfortable situation as they found themselves in a position to study and possibly criticize a...
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