Engstrom Auto Mirror Plant Case Study: Motivating Through Ups and Downs

Categories: Case Study

In the case study “Engstrom Auto Mirror Plant: Motivating in Good Terms and Bad” by Michael Beer and Elizabeth Collins (2008), there are many detrimental organizational issues that are brought to light in the mist of industry downturn and organizational turmoil. There is no doubt that all companies ranging from small to large, face issues. It is how those issues are brought to light and how they are handled that will make or break a company. Close observations must be made in order to find the solutions to these issues.

Companies such has Ford Motor Company go through organizational issues and in the 1980’s developed a problem-solving eight step process(8D) to help reveal the direct cause of these issues. This effective system can be used to help solve the issues in the Engstrom Auto mirror Plant. (Mind tools Ltd, 2016).

Ford Motor Company’s system is called the 8 Disciplines (8D). It uses building blocks to reveal the root of the problem. This eight-part solving process is: Plan, Build the Team, Describe the Problem, implement a Temporary Fix, Identify and Eliminate the Root Cause, Verify the Solution, implement a Permanent Solution, Prevent the Problem from Recurring, and Celebrate Team Success (Mind Tools Ltd, 2016).

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Throughout the case study there is a clear tell that communication, productivity, employee performance, and employee satisfaction are the main organizational issues that Engstrom Auto Mirror Plat has absorbed over the years. Data collection needs to take place in order to accurately research and have a good analysis. Once there is an abundantly accurate amount of data it can be analyzed.

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Data should be obtained through the stakeholder, focus groups with employees and multiple surveys of those within the organization. The strategy of proactive responsiveness as well as reactive responsiveness will allow Engstrom to determine how to approach the issues at hand (Sharma, 1998; Newstrom, 2014).

Manager and plant operators at Engstrom, Ron Bent and Joe Haaley, will need to learn and plan how to problem solve effectively. There needs to be thought about availability and who would be willing to help in Engstrom. Once that’s established there needs to be a timeframe of when a solution would-be set-in order to address the issues throughout the plant. The management team at Engstrom will need to be willing to discuss and breakdown the issues and break down differences in order to get a good understanding of what it would take to rebuild a successful team. They will need to be given the time during their workday as well as the encouragement to fully commit to the problem-solving process (Mind Tools Ltd, 2016).

Based on the Engstrom case study, employees already explain the issues at hand, however when the management team gets together they will need to be able to explain who, what, when where, why, how, and how many (Mind Tools Ltd, 2016). There will also need to be a communication plan. Flow charts spread sheets and presentations will allow for a better understanding for employees during meetings to help the employment team understand the issues at hand. According to Pentland and Moghaddam, visual learning is more beneficial when retaining an abundance of information. (Moghadam, B. &Pentland, A, 1997).

Based in the multiple root causes researching and the development of conceivable solutions should be highlighted. A root cause is the most basis reason for an undesirable condition or problem (Wisom, Dell & Anderson, 1993). At Engstrom, ineffective communication and motivation are the root of the issues. The plant will need to emphasize communication, information resettlement and understanding from one person to the other (Newstrom, 2014). The plant will also need to warrant equal participation from all hierarchic parts of the plant. This will help create motivation throughout the plant. By devising a diverse team meet and discuss possible options from different points of views within the company, the best solution would end up being a combination of those ideas in terms of benefits and costs, which will achieve the intended purpose of the issue not recurring (Baker, 1999).

Since getting through the first through 5 steps in the 8D Problem Solving Process, steps 6,7 and 8 involve verifying the solution, implementing a permanent solution, and celebrating the team’s success, (Mind Tools Ltd., 20016). Engstrom will need to take a very smart approach to the 8D process for them to be able to return successfully from the down fall.

Thomas Reid's Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man, 1786, included this line:

'In every chain of reasoning, the evidence of the last conclusion can be no greater than that of the weakest link of the chain, whatever may be the strength of the rest.' In this situation Engstrom’s weakest link is the employees who are no longer happy or interested in the company. In order to turn this around, the goals of the employees and the goals of the organization need to be parallel. Employees that are thoroughly satisfied with their jobs are committed in their place of employments mission, and are generally in upbeat and positive mood (Newstrom, 2014).

Individual effort is a thriving factor of the success of an organization. Recognizing this needs to be an abundant focus at Engstrom. Management and employees should have an effort performance relationship to be able to follow through with the Scanlon Plan or decide to progress to a different management protocol.

The Management by Objective (MBO) process would consist of four steps: Objective setting, action planning, periodic reviews, and annual evaluations (Newstrom, 2014). Implementing this process employees would have a better understanding of their goals, the management team would get the opportunity for better understanding of their goals. Their goals would be communicated more clearly, and they would have the opportunity to be rewarded. And important aspect of the MBO process is the evaluation of performance in the reviews so there could be the understanding of who was not meeting expectations. There would be a clear understanding of why and what steps are needed to improve for the next review.

Another important action would be to change the focus of personal goals of the employees within the plant. This would benefit the plant by paving a positive way for the solution because of the culture. The plant members obligation would be to know the employee’s goals and it would allow Engstrom to know where and how to place employees. This is beneficial because employees would get placed where there would get the most personal satisfaction but also beneficial to the company. This would allow Engstrom to follow through with Set 8 in the 8D Problem Solving Process and celebrate team success. Allowing for managers to explain how successful each employer is doing, allowing Engstrom to understand how successful it is becoming, this would then help Engstrom improve. These strategic actions and implementations should be followed and revisited in each annual review if Engstrom wasn’t to pull out of the downturn and move in a positive and effective manner.


  1. Baker, W. E., & Sinkula, J. M. (1999). The synergistic effect of market orientation and learning orientation on organizational performance. Journal of the academy of marketing science, 27(4), 411-427.
  2. Beer, M., & Collins, E. (2008) Engstrom Auto Mirror Plant: Motivating in Good Times and Bad. Harvard Business School, 2175, 1-8.
  3. Kader Ali, N. N., Wilson, P., & Mohammad, I. Y. (2014) SYMPTOMS VERSUS PROBLEMS FRAMEWORK (SVP): AN INNOVATIVE ROOT CAUSE ANALYSIS TOOL. International Journal of Organizational Innovation, 766-76.
  4. Mind Tools Editorial Team. (2016). 8D Problem Solving Process: Solving Major Problems in a Disciplined Way. Mind Tools Ltd Retrieved from
  5. https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/8d-problem-solving.htm
  6. Moghaddam, B., & Pentland, A. (1997). Probabilistic visual learning for object representation. IEEE Transactions on pattern analysis and machine intelligence, 19(7), 696-710.
  7. Newstrom, John. (01/2014). Organizational Behavior: Human Behavior at Work, 14th Edition. [VitalSource Bookshelf Online]. Retrieved from https://mbsdirect.vitalsource.com/#/books/1259734374/
  8. Sharma, S., & Vredenburg, H. (1998). Proactive corporate environmental strategy and the development of competitively valuable organizational capabilities. Strategic management journal, 19(8), 729-753.
  9. Signg, R.s. (2016) The Impact of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivators on Employee Engagement in Information Organizations. Journal of Education for Library and Information Science, 57(2), 197-206.
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Engstrom Auto Mirror Plant Case Study: Motivating Through Ups and Downs. (2021, Mar 17). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/case-study-analysis-engstrom-auto-mirror-plant-motivating-in-good-times-and-bad-essay

Engstrom Auto Mirror Plant Case Study: Motivating Through Ups and Downs
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