Analysis Prepare a 750–1000 word case study analysis, answering the following questions: What is Ms. Howard’s brand identity? What is Ms. Howard’s brand image? How would you describe Ms. Howard’s authenticity gap?
Branded – The Leader Brand By Steven Leonard Case Study KU/B 17-04 2 | P a g e BACKGROUND You are the Chief Operating Officer for a large midwestern software company with nearly 10,000 employees, a position you’ve held for the past 18 months. After working for the company for ten years, you left briefly to consult before being coaxed back into the C-Suite in a new role that required some major changes to refocus the organization for the future. When you assumed your role, your staff and personnel were aligned quite hierarchically, with all but two of the 45 people in your office reporting to Richard Jones, the Operations Manager. Prior to your return, the vast majority of focus was on day-to-day operations with very little effort put on planning or preparation for the future of the company. As part of your reorganization of the Operations Directorate, you establish a structure that supports (a) the execution, monitoring, and assessment of day-to-day operations, (b) shortterm planning and preparation for day-to-day operations, (c) long-term strategic planning, and (d) special projects and initiatives that open new markets and opportunities. You believe this organizational model makes the best use of personnel while posturing the company for future opportunities and challenges in the marketplace. Mr. Jones continues in his role as the Operations Manager, and you elevate two others into parallel positions in the directorate. The final position – the role of Projects Manager – is critical since the individual filling that role will work closely with senior leaders across the CSuite. Also, since the company is competing for a major government contract with the National Security Agency (NSA), you feel strongly that individual must possess a background in the cyber arena. One of the senior vice presidents recommends that you consider Ms. Charlene Howard, who recently came to the company from one of the major telecommunications companies, where she was a mid-level manager working cyber-related efforts and has a great depth of experience working similar issues for another government agency. After reviewing her personnel file and qualifications, you interview Ms. Howard and find her to be well-spoken on cyber issues and a good potential fit for the position. After consulting with the other members of the C-Suite, you promote her into the new Projects Manager position. BROKEN AND UNREADABLE Shortly after hiring Ms. Howard as the Projects Manager, the company is identified as one of the three finalists competing for the NSA contract and will be required to submit an expanded proposal that provides additional detail beyond the scope of the initial proposal and bid. You schedule a meeting with Ms. Howard where you provide the details of the new requirements and set in place a plan to establish a working group that will be charged with assisting with various aspects of the expanded proposal, which will be due in roughly six Case Study KU/B 17-04 3 | P a g e months. In addition, she will be required to obtain a government security clearance that will allow her to work in close coordination with NSA personnel should the company receive the contract. The meeting takes approximately 90 minutes and she asks a number of detailed questions, but when she leaves you are confident that she understands what is required. During the first working group meeting the following week, you explain to the participants the details of the expanded proposal, the timeline for completion, and the importance to the company. Should the company win the contract, it will allow the organization to branch out into a new area with unlimited potential for the future. There is a lot of excitement in the C-Suite about the contract, you explain, and everyone needs to stay focused and “on task” with it. You turn the meeting over to Ms. Howard, who prepared a lengthy PowerPoint presentation for the meeting. Over the course of the next three hours, she explains the role of each member of the working group, their reporting requirements, and the group’s schedule for the coming months. It’s a long meeting, but one you feel is necessary to establish the goals and objectives for this effort. As progress on the expanded proposal continues, you occasionally hear comments from the other senior leaders in the C-Suite about “those painfully long working group meetings.” In addition, Ms. Howard routinely appears at your office at the end of the work day, needing “a few minutes” to discuss the effort. These unscheduled meetings typically run in excess of an hour, and often involve very detailed questions about how to develop specific aspects of the proposal. She is the only one of your senior managers who requires so much personal interaction and detailed supervision, but this is a very important effort and you are comfortable committing the extra time to ensure the final product is “right.” Three months into the preparation of the expanded NSA proposal, Ms. Howard arrives at your door unannounced, with a copy in hand. You ask her to leave it for you as you are on your way to a board meeting, but she insists that it will only require a few minutes of your time and, knowing how important it is, you will want to prioritize this. Somewhat frustrated, you ask your executive assistant to have your deputy attend the board meeting in your place. You refill your coffee cup, take a copy of the expanded proposal, and sit down with Ms. Howard. From the outset, you find problems with the expanded proposal. The writing is not particularly good, there are numerous spelling and grammatical errors, and the formatting varies from page to page. She insists that this version is only a draft and it will be edited before submission to the NSA. But it is the content that has you most concerned: the proposal rambles senselessly in many areas and is clearly too general for the needs of the NSA. After finishing reading, you explain your concerns to Ms. Howard, as well as your belief that it demonstrates questionable judgment for someone in her position to submit such a raw document to a member of the C-Suite. She reasserts that this version is only a draft, and that she honestly believed that she needed your input prior to having the proposal edited. After your discussion, you dismiss Ms. Howard with specific instructions to address the shortfalls in the document and provide it to the technical editor. Case Study KU/B 17-04 4 | P a g e TROUBLE IN PARADISE The following week, Ms. Howard asks for a few minutes of your time to discuss a personnel matter. She believes that her role has evolved significantly during the previous months, and that in addition to her position as the Projects Manager, she is bearing the responsibilities of the Planning Manager, Ms. Schwartzman. She suggests that her office absorb Ms. Schwartzman’s, and that her title be changed to “Senior Manager.” You explain that the scope of Ms. Schwartzman’s responsibilities is much different than what she believes, and that no changes will be made. The next day, Ms. Howard engages you on the subject again, asking why you chose the title “Projects Manager” for her position when, in fact, she does much more than manage projects. She shares with you her belief that she is the best of the managers in the directorate, and that she was a “top ten percent” performer at her previous company, even offering to show you her evaluations that reflect those very words. After nearly an hour of exasperating discourse, you remind her that her focus should be on completing the expanded proposal, not job titles, and dismiss her to continue the work you assigned her. With the deadline only five weeks away, the NSA informs the company that the finalists will be expected to brief their expanded proposals to the senior leadership of the agency prior to making a decision on the award of the contract. Rather than send an email with this kind of news, you decide it would be better to pass the information personally. As you depart your office, you find your executive assistant busy folding and stapling what appear to be religious pamphlets of some sort, and stop to ask him what he is doing. “These are for the weekly office bible study,” he replies. “What bible study?” You ask. “Charlene started a lunchtime bible study. She asked me to put the booklets together that she uses.” “Ms. Howard?” “Yes. She wanted to do more to help build camaraderie here. It’s just a handful of people; they get together in the conference room.” You leave your executive assistant and walk the short distance to Ms. Howard’s office, where you find the door closed. Hearing voices on the other side of the door, you knock lightly and open the door, where you see that she is having a discussion with Mr. James. She remarks that they are just finishing and invites you into her office. Once Mr. James leaves, she explains that he’s been experiencing “some problems at home” and that she is providing marriage counseling to him. Case Study KU/B 17-04 5 | P a g e “Marriage counseling?” you ask. “Wouldn’t it be better if he saw a professional?” “I’m an ordained minister. It’s a service we provide,” she replies. “Well, here you’re my Projects Manager, and you have other priorities to attend to. While I appreciate your desire to help him, it’s not something the company hired you to do.” Ms. Howard is clearly offended by your remark, and explains that it was something she started at her previous company, something she believed would be welcomed here. As you explain that it’s well outside the scope of her professional portfolio, she takes the opportunity to ask again about her job title and role. “I don’t understand why you won’t consider my suggestion,” she remarks. “I’ve proven myself over the past months. My performance is by far the best in this directorate. I’d be in the C-Suite in any other company.” “Ms. Howard, I told you already that we’d discuss this after we submit our expanded proposal to the NSA. That needs to be your priority right now, not your job title, promotions, or anything else.” “I don’t feel like you’re challenging me enough. I can do so much more than you’re asking.” “Again, we’ll discuss this after submitting the proposal,” you reply. “By the way, how are we coming with the technical editing?” “I don’t know. I thought you were sending it to the editors,” she answers. “Why would I send it to them? I specifically told you to do that.” “But I left it with you. I thought you would take care of it.” “Ms. Howard, you work for me, not the other way around. That document needed to be updated first and then edited. When you left my office, I told you exactly what needed to be done.” “Well, I guess it was just a misunderstanding. I’ll get to work on it today, but we will need to ask for overtime for the editorial staff.” “One more thing,” you add. “Did you have my executive assistant working on religious material today?” “It was for my office bible study,” she answers. “You should come if you have time. You’re always welcome.” Case Study KU/B 17-04 6 | P a g e “Thanks, but that’s not the point,” you respond. “The company has a very strict policy about using company resources for personal business. And my executive assistant has other priorities.” “I didn’t know that,” she replies. “I haven’t seen the policy. And I really thought your assistant was available to us all.” Ignoring her last statement, you respond: “You were provided with a folio of the company policies when you onboarded, and you signed a statement that you’d read and understood them all. That’s standard practice. Anyway, get to that proposal. We’re running out of time.” THE WALLS COME TUMBLING DOWN The last encounter with Ms. Howard convinces you that direct supervision is necessary to see the expanded proposal through to conclusion. Your executive assistant schedules biweekly updates on Mondays and Thursdays, an action that draws an immediate response from Ms. Howard, who complains that you are micromanaging her. You explain that, given the magnitude of the effort, you believe direct oversight of the expanded proposal effort is essential to ensuring its success. There are simply too many things that can go wrong with a project this large. The following Monday arrives and Ms. Howard and her team are waiting in the conference room to present the first status update. Progress on the expanded proposal is nearing completion and she expects to “hand it off” to the editorial staff before the end of the week. This is much later than intended and the company will bear the added cost of overtime for the editors, but you hold your thoughts since you’ve already had this discussion with her. Work on the proposal briefing to the NSA is ongoing, and she plans to present that to you the following week. The final component is her security clearance, which you mention you have not seen come through your office. Ms. Howard asks to speak to you “offline” and says that she has some questions for you concerning her clearance. As the projects team clears out of the conference room, you ask Ms. Howard for the status of her security clearance. “It’s a problem,” she says. “I meant to send in the packet, but completely forgot. I was so busy with everything else on the proposal that it just slipped my mind.” “Our presentation to the NSA is less than a month from now,” you reply. “You are supposed to lead that briefing. It’s a tremendous opportunity for you. A chance to really show the company leadership what you are capable of.” Case Study KU/B 17-04 7 | P a g e “I know, and I’m so sorry.” “I’m not sure ‘I’m sorry’ is going to cut it with the NSA. And you might not get another chance like this with the C-Suite.” “I called the security office at the NSA, and they asked if we had already sent it to them. Apparently, they’ve had some trouble in that area.” She leans in close and half-whispers: “I’m sure if you tell them that you sent it, they’ll think they lost it and expedite a new one.” For a moment, you aren’t exactly sure you heard what she said. “Wait. You want me to lie to the NSA because you forgot to submit a packet for your security clearance?” She leans back with a shocked look on her face. “Oh, no, nothing like that. Besides, it’s no big deal. They probably deal with this all the time.” “No, Ms. Howard, we’re not doing that. You’re going to get on the phone with them, explain the situation, and see what they can do for you. If that doesn’t work, then I’ll brief them myself, without you.” You get up and leave the conference room, seriously questioning your own judgment for not doing a more thorough job evaluating Ms. Howard prior to assigning her to her present position. This effort is not going well, and you have a sick feeling it is going to get worse. The following Monday, you invite the editorial staff to join the bi-weekly update and present a progress report of their work on the expanded proposal. As you thumb through the in-edit draft, you quickly realize that this is the same version you reviewed two months earlier, albeit a well-edited version. None of the detail you directed has been added. In addition, Ms. Howard is not prepared to present the in-process work on the brief and requests another week to complete the work on the PowerPoint slides. Frustrated, you ask to clear the room, keeping Ms. Howard behind. You take a moment to compose yourself, then say directly: “Ms. Howard, this is essentially the same document we reviewed months ago. None of the changes I directed have been made. Why?” Surprised, she takes the document from your hand and quickly scans it. “Oh, no… this is the wrong version. I must have sent them an outdated file.” “An outdated file?” You reply. “You’re not serious.” “I’ve been so busy. It was just an oversight. I’ll send them the updated version right away.” She gets up and starts to leave the conference room. “Wait,” you say firmly. “Sit back down. That’s bad enough, and will just push us further behind our timeline. But that’s not all. You should have been prepared to present the draft Case Study KU/B 17-04 8 | P a g e briefing today, but you weren’t. That’s unacceptable. These delays could cost us our chance at a very lucrative contract. I don’t know whether you’re distracted, disorganized, or what. But, as of today, I’m bringing in Mr. Schwartzman to help see this through to the end.” “I can do this,” she replies in an upset tone. “Just give me a chance. I just need time.” “That’s the problem, Ms. Howard. We don’t have the luxury of time. This is too important a project to the company.” You get up and walk out of the conference room, leaving a dazed and clearly unhappy employee behind to ponder your decision. Mr. Schwartzman quickly brings his efforts to bear on the expanded proposal. A quick learner, with a little study he grasps the concepts behind the effort and has the proposal rewritten within days. As the editorial staff resume work, he confesses to you that no draft briefing exists and that effort will have to be expedited if you expect to be prepared to present a satisfactory proposal to the NSA. With only days to go, he and Ms. Howard present the draft briefing to you, which requires only minor changes. During your exchange, her body language – slouched and with arms crossed in front of her – clearly signals her displeasure. But, the time for soothing feelings is past and now the focus needs to be on the final push to the finish line. A small team from the C-Suite, including Mr. Schwartzman, travel to Maryland to present the expanded proposal during a two-hour briefing at the NSA headquarters. Ms. Howard, still without a security clearance, is unable to participate and does not accompany the group. Shortly after the briefing, the CEO informs you that the NSA director himself has informed him that they are awarding the contract to the company. You are elated. Despite a number of “speedbumps” along the way, your team has helped secure a very important piece of the future for the company. But you still have one last “speedbump” to address. THE END OF THE ROAD Two weeks after securing the contract with the NSA, you schedule Ms. Howard to meet with you to discuss her semi-annual appraisal, in which you’ve rated her performance as below that of her peers. For her own self-appraisal, something required of every company employee, she submits a blank form, which she has signed and dated. As she sits down at the table in your office, you slide the form over to her. “Is there a reason why you didn’t complete this?” You ask. “I’m sorry. I filled it out, but I guess I didn’t save it,” she replies. “So, I just printed this and signed it. Is that okay?” Clearly, this is going to be another one of those conversations. You give her a copy of her appraisal and begin to review it with her, explaining your rationale behind her rating. Upset, Case Study KU/B 17-04 9 | P a g e she retrieves from a folder several evaluations from her former company, and begins to explain to you – holding her thumb and forefinger closely together – that she was a top ten percent performer before coming to the company. She even goes so far as to show you where her previous supervisor wrote those very words on each evaluation. She’s not just a top ten percent performer, she’s already performing at a level above her peers in the directorate and deserves a much better appraisal that reflects her unique contributions to the company. Finally, she challenges you, saying that you’ve never indicated any displeasure with her performance in the past, something that should have preceded any subpar appraisal. You pause, then reach for your notebook, where you’ve kept detailed notes on each of the conversations you’ve had with Ms. Howard over the past six months. “Where would you like to begin?” Analysis Prepare a 750-1000 word case study analysis, answering the following questions: • What is Ms. Howard’s brand identity? • What is Ms. Howard’s brand image? • How would you describe Ms. Howard’s authenticity gap? Analyses are to be double-spaced, 12-pitch font, with standard margins. Papers must remain within the designated length to earn the maximum allowable point total. Assignment Rubric Essays will be evaluated according to the following rubric: Clearly answers each of the three case questions 45 points Addresses facts/factors relevant to the case 20 points Essay length within specified range 5 points Follows style guidelines 5 points Letter Points Range A 70-75 93% + A- 67-69 90-92% B+ 65-66 87-89% B 62-64 83-86% B- 60-61 80-82% Case Study KU/B 17-04 10 | P a g e C 52-59 70-79% F 0-51 69% or less