04 Jan Case Questions
Game EnoughGame Enough recently reported a very substantial trading loss for the past twelvemonth's operations. The loss amounted to some £185 million and, as a result, the companyreckons it will have to make some 10 per cent of its workforce redundant. The top managementin the company places the blame firmly at the feet of deteriorating worldwide economicconditions and a very uncertain outlook for the future.The company has enjoyed rapid growth over the last decade and found it easy tomake money in a market where variations on a theme have been very much the name of thegame. It has been a 'me too' attitude where anyone who can find some new narrative for an 'oldtheme' can make a quick profit. Characters and plots abounded and the same basic mechanicsin constructing games and controlling game play have been employed in a seeminglyendless fashion to tempt would-be gamesters into parting with their cash. Sales of the firm'sgames have multiplied from small beginnings in a rapidly developing home market to multimillionpound global sales.The latest loss has come about as something of a surprise to a company that hastraditionally been earning big profits, and the Chairman of the Board of Directors and ChiefExecutive are having discussions about what action they should instigate. The Chief Executiveblames a worldwide economic recession and argues that it is simply a case of 'weathering thestorm'. A leaner organization, he argues, will be better able to come out of the recession fitterand able to take advantage of the recovery that will ultimately come about. The Chairman, on theother hand, is less convinced with this argument and feels that there are problems in the industryas a whole. He is influenced in his view by the opinions of several of the non-executive directorsof the Board who have wider experience of what happens in other industries.
Question: What do you think are the main reasons behind the firm’s demise? Can it do anythingabout the situation? Explain.
Case II –
Paranoia produces progressProducing the right kind of culture to allow innovation to take place is essential. Thisis something that Andy Grove excelled at during his time with Intel. He saw experimentation andreadiness for change as needing to be at the forefront of his managers' minds at all times. Indeed,he saw paranoia about these matters as drivers of innovative activity and became known for hisguiding motto: 'Only the paranoid survive.' He even wrote a management book with the sametitle (Only the Paranoid Survive (1996), Doubleday, p. 65). In his view, 'Business successcontains the seeds of its own destruction,' inferring that 'Success breedscomplacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survive.' (Jeremy Byman (1999).His message to senior executives is to allow people to test new techniques, new products, newsales channels, and new customers, to be ready for unexpected shifts in business or technology (Industry Week, 15 December 1997, Technology Leader of the Year Andy Grove:Building An Information Age Legacy, IndustryWeek.com).
Question: How does Andy Grove's approach fit in with Mary Henle's five conditions of creativity?
Case III –
The Think-TankBolden Pharmaceutical, employing over 2,000 workers of all grades, welcomed its newChief Executive, Tim Hodges. Hodges had spent years working for petroleum companiesanxiously exploring new avenues to extend their product-market scope. Hodges felt that Boldenneeded the same kind of treatment and that in addition to looking for new product-marketopportunities it needed to review its current operations and look for increased efficiency andsavings that would help to cover the cost of new ventures.As a first step Tim decided to set up a think-tank. The works was located close toopen moorland on the Yorkshire–Lancashire border close to one of the many small towns thatnestle in the valley bottoms. As part of the complex, but at a distance of roughly 400 yards fromthe main works, the firm owned an old house – at one time a rectory – which possessed fairsizedgardens and an open aspect over the nearby moors. Tim thought that the buildingwould provide an admirable place to locate the think-tank. The building was quickly refurbishedto provide ample accommodation for a think-tank team.The building allowed for the creation of a well-fitted out conference room withoverhead projector facilities, flip charts and an on-line desktop computer. In an open-plan office,created by knocking down the wall between two adjacent first-floor rooms, there was desk spacefor four people. A telephone, which could take both internal and external calls, was placed oneach desk, along with an up-to-date PC and the basic office-type software which goes with suchequipment. Tim Hodges also agreed to finance any additional special-purpose software that theteam might require – up to a cost not exceeding £10,000 per annum. Secretarial support wasprovided by two part-time secretaries who between them covered the week 9–5 each dayMonday to Friday.Four members of the middle-management staff were seconded to the think-tank for atwelve-month period initially. It was agreed that at the end of this period the situation would bereviewed and anyone wishing to return to their previous job would be able to do so. Temporaryappointments were made to cover the work of the seconded executives during the year-long trialperiod. It was made clear that the seconded executives would not be available for their usualduties during this period but that they could be consulted from time to time by the temporarystaff covering their work.The team of four who made up the think-tank comprised one person with a background inthe marketing operations of the company, one person from the finance and accounting area, oneperson from the R&D/operations area and a member of the personnel team. The job ofcoordinating the team was to be rotated on a three-monthly basis, with each person taking his orher turn at the helm.The team were given no specific instructions as to how they should proceed with the taskthey had been given. Tim Hodges made it clear, however, through an internal memorandum toall members of staff – workers and managers – that the team would expect to receive fullcooperation from staff at all levels in the organization and that requests for help or informationshould be treated in the same way as if he himself had requested it.
1. What kind of hindrances do you think the team would be likely to encounter?
2. Given that think-tanks were at one time discarded as an outmoded way of thinking up new ideas,do you think that the team has any real chance of success? Explain.
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