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Tucker Knox Case Study Essay


A. Macro (overarching issues and threats to organization)- political turmoil, lack of trust, lack of qualified talent, misalignment of goals and values. 1. There is a massive amount of political turbulence within this organization. The company has faced so many changes in top management and there is a lot of confusion and uncertainty surrounding the organization and its environment. In Larry Henderson’s attempt to fill his shoes as CEO there has been a lot of jockeying for titles, posturing, and deceptive behavior by Larry’s candidates in the race to the top. This has created distrust and discord throughout the top management of TKO and the high performance teams once in place are being divided and given to other departments due to the self-serving agendas of new management. The success of the entire organization has been compromised.

2. One of the goals set by Larry Henderson was to begin an automation-engineering department and run it efficiently. It is expected that it will be able to operationalize the concept, design, manufacture, installation, and maintenance of custom automation in each of the five factories. There is also need for the company to set up global facilities that can compete efficiently with the manufacturing facilities of private and captive manufacturers; the US facilities must be able to face price competition. Outsourcing with a view to reducing costs should be an important goal for the company. During Ed Leonard’s first years at TKC this was something the organization (with the involvement of Larry Henderson) had been working towards As Larry considered retirement and began looking for his replacement, many unqualified individuals were brought in and now there is a lack of talent present to complete these goals.

3. There is also a misalignment in the goals and values that Larry Henderson has set and the goals and values by the possible candidates Larry is grooming to take over as CEO of TKC. It appears that they only care about getting themselves to the top and are not particularly concerned with sharing the vision and goals as stated above. Howard Watson, while seeming to be aligned with Larry’s visions in developing the automation engineering department, Howard was aware of “Larry’s fondness of the equipment and was eager to move to the top”. Howard also was not able to relinquish control of this project and trust other knowledgeable individuals to assist him. Jack Donaldson would go to any length to surround himself with loyal staff and has continually manipulated the situation. In his obsession with getting to the top he has sidelined Ed Leonard, someone who has worked very hard to see the goals Larry Henderson set come to fruition.

B. Micro (specific to this case)- Ed’s current situation is the micro issue, being placed in the middle and choosing sides1. Ed Leonard was both qualified for the position of automation engineering department manager (MBA) and possessed the experience in both management and manufacturing to make him an ideal candidate for the position Howard was looking to fill. Howard’s inability to delegate and relinquish authority was the root for why Ed was only brought in as a machine design engineer. Ed was to prove himself to Howard and be accepted by the rest of the automation engineering department team. In an effort to prove himself to Howard and Larry he agreed to this position and began working toward engineering department manager. Howard’s ability to deal with peers and supervisors in a way that bordered on manipulation was what caused Ed to become caught in the middle of an internal political conflict between Howard and Jack.

Howard used Ed to present data and plans to upper management to recombine the multiple copy manufacturing group with the manufacturing engineering group. This was something that Howard should have taken on alone as a member of top management. Ed having been caught in the middle was likely a catalyst for why he was later sidelined by Jack as he was trying to grow his own team. Ed was seen as having pledged his allegiance to Howard who was in direct competition with Jack for the top spot in leadership once Larry retired.

II. Causes (root causes of macro and micro issues)

1. The political turbulence has been caused by changes in management and uncertainty surrounding the organization. In an attempt to groom a successor Larry Henderson has pitted his current management team with new management in a race to the top. Each candidate is using other employees at TKC as pawns in this game. Howard Watson is using Ed Leonard as a scapegoat to fight his battle between both Jack Donaldson and Matt Jackson. Jack has been filling vacant management positions with people brought in from the outside who will be loyal to him. He used these individuals (Sam Martin and Art Hodges) to stack teams with people he has selected, though he made it appear to seem as though the team was selecting its own members. 2. The lack of trust has been caused and compounded by the political turbulence in addition to the uncertainty of where the organization will head once Larry Henderson has selected a new CEO and has retired.

Positions are being given to those who may not be qualified for them, individuals who have been with TKC and have proven themselves are being “reassigned” by new top management, and teams that have been deemed high performing are being divided and given to other, more favorable managers to lead. There is no cohesion between management and no delineation or roles and responsibilities have been assigned by Larry Henderson; the strong authentic leadership and high LMX rates created by Larry are gone. 3. The misalignment of goals has been caused by the top managers jockeying for the CEO position at TKC. Both Howard and Jack are busy manipulating those below them and using them as leverage and not at all focused on the vision and goals Larry has outlined. Howard and Jack should be working together to achieve the vision and goals set forth by Larry in an attempt to show him that they will take care of the organization he put his life into. The organization and management should be working toward: Becoming competitive in the world market with private and captive manufacturers Developing efficient manufacturing facilities in the US and overseas

Retaining corporate HQ in the US

4. The introduction of unqualified talent has been caused by the new management hired by Jack from outside the organization. They may bring in ideas and innovations; however, they do not know the inner workings of TKC and may not make the best choices. Jack’s reasoning for this was not done with the best intentions for TKC in mind, but done out of his own personal agenda.

III. Systems Affected

1. Structural: The structure of TKC has been affected largely in part to the shift in management over such a short period of time with managers who are unfamiliar with the organization overall. The company’s two key candidate (Ed and Howard) who had experience and expertise were marginalized and important positions were filled with new and inexperienced “yes men”. 2. Technical: The hard work and dedication from Howard and Ed allowed the automation department to become very successful. Even though Ed was brought in as an outsider, a person who had no internal experience was able to prove himself and provided the experience and technical expertise needed for the department’s growth. When Jack Donaldson split the department not on one occasion, but on two (and on both given to Matt Jackson) the primary functions, activities, and operations of the automation department were affected and this is important as the successful development of this department was one of Larry Henderson’s goals for this company.

3. Goals and Values: Several of the goals and values set for TKC by Larry Henderson will not be achieved with the issues of political turmoil and distrust currently facing the organization. The basic goals of revenue and profitability will not be achieved, in addition, the goals of marketing will not be achieved nor the technical goals of the automation engineering division. 4. Managerial: This system has been highly affected in that CEO and founder, Larry Henderson is looking for a successor. He has been grooming several candidates for this position. He brought in Jack Donaldson as the newest of candidates. If the key department of the company were handed over to a new manager from outside (Jack Donaldson), there will be little acceptance of leadership especially with all the political turmoil that has seemed to surround Jack since his arrival.

Larry has selected what appears to be the wrong person as his successor; someone with more loyalty to the company may be a better fit and would likely be met with more acceptance by the organization overall. 5. Psychosocial: This system has been highly affected especially the social relationships and the behavioral patterns of members, particularly those in the automated engineering department. As the two top human resources of the company, Ed and Howard were assigned unimportant positions by Jack Donaldson. Ed and Howard had been responsible for turning the company into a profitable enterprise. Nursing his psychological wounds, Ed is planning to move out of the company.

IV. Alternatives (relate to different paths of action)

1. In regard to Jack Donaldson:

Larry can remove him from Senior VP position. He can either be assigned back as VP of Technology or he can be removed from the organization overall. Larry can work with Jack to ensure that his vision and goals are aligned with those of TKC and until Larry is sure that his can be accomplished Jack should be on a tight leash and should not have the authority to add/remove or dismantle and departments. 2. In regard to the automation engineering department:

Howard Watson can be brought back in as Director of Manufacturing and Engineering, but he must fill the two vacant manager positions in testing development and new product production. Ed Leonard will come back as automated engineering manager. Sam Martin as he has experience in the creation of foreign production facilities he can be assigned to the Ireland plant if he so chooses. Howard Watson can remain in Ireland and Ed Leonard can be named the Director of Manufacturing and Engineering and he can develop his own team of managers for automated engineering, testing development, and new product production. 3. Implement some system wide interventions to overcome the recent problems facing TKC such as survey research and feedback, knowledge management, re-engineering, HPS, and the grid OD program.

V. Recommendations (personal recommendations)

1. I would recommend that Larry Henderson take more of an active role as a leader especially as he is preparing to retire. He needs to ensure that his organization will be in good hands. I would advise that he place Jack Donaldson on a six month probation in which time he must exemplify that his goals and visions align with those at TKC as Henderson has expressed. In order to do that Jack must work to regain the trust of management and the organization, putting to rest the political turbulence he has caused the majority of. Jack must also right the wrongs he has caused by his haphazard restructure of the organization, specifically that of the automated engineering department. If after this six month period he has not been able to achieve said goals he will either be moved back to his former position of VP of technology or he will be removed from TKC altogether. 2. I would recommend that Larry analyze whether Howard Watson should be brought back to the US from Ireland to resume his position of Director of Manufacturing and Engineering.

Howard also had his own agenda while working in his former position that did not always align with that of the vision and goals of TKC. If he is brought back to the US, he would be advised that he is to place Ed Leonard in the manager of automated engineering and he must hire two managers for the vacant positions within ninety days of his reassignment. If Howard is not brought back, I would recommend that Ed Leonard be placed in the Director of Manufacturing and Engineering position and allowed to create his own team of managers. I would also advise that Larry Henderson keep an eye on Ed as he may be a good candidate for Senior VP over all the others. He has worked hard to prove himself, has not caused any political issues with his own agenda, and meets the qualifications for the position. 3. I would recommend the implementation of an OD intervention such as survey research and feedback, knowledge management, re-engineering, HPS, and the grid OD program.

Each intervention has specific attributes that can be beneficial to TKC. Survey and Feedback: used to collect data from the members of the organization and use it as a basis for changing organizational relationships. This will be of benefit to TKC as they have had a lot of discord and discontent recently. A questionnaire is developed on a number of organizational dimensions such as leadership, communication, decision making, superior/subordinate relations, and job satisfaction. The information and data us then fed back to work groups at lower levels. The results of the survey are often used as the foundation for change programs. If TKC involves the entire organization in this, there will likely be a greater the change for the positive. This method could foster a more positive environment, rebuild trust and organizational commitment, and provide opportunities for the organization to recover and grow.

Knowledge Management: This is also known as the learning organization and is a system wide change program that emphasizes the reduction of organizational layers and the involvement of all employees. This method is pragmatic in nature and will lead to positive change through a continuous state of directive learning, acquiring knowledge, sharing it, and using it to achieve goals. This will be helpful to TKC as again, it will involve all layers of employees to be a part of improvement efforts. Integrating a constant learning state as a part of organizational change and development will allow TKC to continue to be the number one in automotive breaking systems design and manufacturing. Re-engineering: This is also known as business process engineering and is a system wide change approach focusing on the basic processes of an organization. It includes a fundamental rethinking and redesigning of business processes to achieve drastic improvements.

Re-engineering identifies key processes and performance measures, re-engineers the process, and provides ongoing reevaluation. HPS: The concept of HPS (High Performing Systems) is based on the idea that today’s organizations need to continue to excel and renew as a way to bring innovation into their systems. HPS, like knowledge management, calls for the removal of excessive layers of structure within an organization and the creation of a climate that encourages participation and communication across functional boundaries. The implementation of an OD system wide intervention such as this for TKC is that there may be layers of excessive layers or structure that can be removed to the benefit of the organization overall. Implementing an environment that encourages participation and communication will rebuild the morale and commitment lost during the recent upheavals at TKC. An important element is the leadership’s ability to display zest for the task at hand, the products being developed, and for fellow team members and creates an environment where every employee gets to collaborate, innovate, and excel.

This particular portion is of interest in that Larry Henderson can use HPS to also determine which candidate would be the best successor. The candidates who best portray the characteristics above would demonstrate that their goals and values align with that of Larry’s for TKC. The OD Grid Program: This widely used approach to system wide change is particularly interesting and applicable to TKC as it begins with a focus on individual behavior, specifically on the managerial styles of executives using a “managerial grid” and the objective of the OD grid is based on maximizing the concerns of management about their subordinates and the organization overall. In order to make managers more effective, changes must take place in the organizational culture. This is precisely what TKC needs.

There are six phases that make up the OD grid program: grid seminars, teamwork development, intergroup development, development of an ideal strategic model, implementing the ideal strategic model, and systematic critique which allows an observable degree of change and gained insight into the total process of change. 4. Once a system wide approach and OD intervention has been selected and implemented it is imperative that Larry and his successor continue to monitor the progress of the system implemented. I would also recommend that TKC participate in team building activities both departmentally and as an organization to promote open communication and continued collaboration.

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