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Allentown Case, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 534

Essay

Tom Noles, Director of Organization Effectiveness (OE) for Allentown Materials Corporation, and two of his subordinates undertook a three-month study of Allentown’s Electronics Products Division (EPD) at the request of division’s Vice President Don Rogers. The investigation team’s goal was to discover the factors behind the declining profitability as well as lower employees’ morale in the division and the team reached eleven major conclusions. The firstconclusion was that EDP markets had changed and new markets required a shift from focusing on technological advantage to competitive prices and good customer service. EDP’s management and organization was similar to other departments but unlike other divisions, there was lack of cooperation and coordination among different groups in the EDP. EDP was also undertaking projects similar to some other departments, resulting in duplicated activities at Allentown. There were no mechanisms to encourage dialogue and cooperation which is why different groups had little understanding of each other’s responsibilities and challenges. Moreover, people in the EPD had different concepts of division’s objectives, organization’s mission, targeted markets, and even growth and profit goals. In addition, leadership retained the decision making authority.

OE offered several recommendations to EPD’s leadership to improve the division’s performance. One of the recommendations was to change EPD’s structure to a project team organization in which teams responsible for new product development would be comprised of employees from all groups. OEalso suggested training and education for project team coordinators and advised leadership to delegate decision making authority down the hierarchy, limiting themselves to project reviews and resource allocation. The project teams would report their progress to the leadership on quarterly basis and additional resources may be provided if necessary. OE advised EPD’s leadership to ensure that all division members have similar understanding of the division’s goals, strategies, and business philosophy. OE also suggested Rogers should improve his communication with his subordinates and become a better listener. Similarly, special meetings were recommended to sort out inter-group conflicts.

OE also made the presentation to EPD staff which embraced OE’s recommendations. Rogers and EPD’s management team also met to define EPD’s objectives and goals as well as decide projects and project teams. Rogers and his team also made presentations to the company’s president and other divisions and it was apparent that the new plans required cooperation from a significant number of people.

The project organization was in effect by June 1993. OE staff provided support to project coordinators. Marketing people knew that their new roles may advance their career prospects but several factors including distrust from other departments and lack of experience dampened their spirits. Similarly, some project members became frustrated with lengthy discussion sessions. Certain members of EPD’s management team also resented loss of authority and sought to intervene though their attempts were rejected by project coordinators. Project team members such as production superintendents and manufacturing engineers felt they didn’t have enough time and delegated tasks to their subordinates. Team members also started complaining that some of their team mates avoided taking responsibility for hard decisions. Marketing people in EPD also felt they should be compensated for their additional responsibilities.But the implementation didn’t only produce disappointments. Project team coordinators started getting better at presentations to the management over time and their self-confidence increased.

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