Sean Struggles to Get Started

Sean is the customer-service supervisor at an office-supply business located in Indianapolis. His boss Peg, the director of sales and marketing, assigned him the task of preparing an in- depth report as to why the firm has been steadily   losing   customers.   When   he   first received the assignment, Sean replied, “Give me a break, Peg. We’re

Coach Fred Zweiger

Fred Zweiger is a vice president and investment consultant at a large branch of a leading financial services firm. Zweiger’s main responsibility is managing the portfolios of clients with over$300,000 in assets. Reporting to Zweiger are two office assistants, and his administrative assistant Maria Mehani. Maria’s main responsibilities are taking care of administrative tasks in

“It Takes Me a Long Time to Get Here”

Mark works as a cost estimator for a commercial construction company in Denver, Colorado. He reports to Tanya, the manager of cost estimating. Tanya regards Mark as a satisfactory performer, but she disapproves strongly of his frequent tardiness. During a snowfall, Mark is often over 90 minutes late for work. One Thursday morning, Tanya sent

Home Rehab Day at Tymco

Fifteen years ago, Maria Cortez was working as a freelance writer of technical manuals for a variety of companies. The manuals supported a number of products including household appliances, alarm systems, lawnmowers, and tractors. SoonCortez’s freelance activity became more than she could handle, so she subcontracted work to oneother freelancer, and then another, and then

Team Player Jessica

Jessica was happy to find a position as a scanning technician at a business process outsourcing company, Specialist Resource Inc. A major part of the Specialist’s business was con- verting paperwork related to human resourcemanagement into digital form. Clients would mail their forms, such as medical claims, to Specialist. Scanning technicians would then insert the

We Need More Engagement Around Here

Peggy Bates is the CEO of a regional HMO (health maintenance organization) with 25 local offices serving business and non-profit organizations. The competition for business has become more intense in recent years as organizations continue to look for ways to reduce costs for medical and dental insurance. A particular concern is that a given company

Is Julia Too Empowering?

Julia is the director of the municipal bond group of a financial services firm.  Julia has four managers reporting to her, each of whom supervises a unit of the group: retail sales, institutional sales, customer service, and internal administration. Laura, the branch director and company vice president, heard rumblings that the group was not receiving

Michelle Rhee Makes Waves in D.C.

Michelle Rhee took over responsibility for the 144 schools in Washington D.C. in June 2007, when Mayor Adrian Fenty appointed her Chancellor,DistrictofColumbia  Public Schools. Her appointment stunned people connected with the D.C. school system. Age 37 at the time, Rhee had no experience running a school. The challenge seemed overwhelming with 45,000 students who collectively

Performance Rankings at Portland Events Planners

Rob is the founder and owner of Portland Events Planners, a company that plans events for a wide variety of companies in and around the Portland area. The events include trade shows, product demonstrations, business conferences at hotels, and videoconferences.  A staff of five professionals performs the activitiesnecessary for selling the company’s services to businesses

The Corporate Culture Picnic

Matt Larson is the CEO of Exterior Light Inc. a company that manufactures and installs external lighting for municipalities, malls, and athletic stadiums. Working closely with Helen Ono, the vice president of administration and human resources, he organizes a company picnic every summer. The tradition has endured for 25 years. Four hundred of the company’s

The Telecommuting Challenge

Margot is the vice president of administration at Broadbent Beverages, a bottler and distributor for approximately 25 beverage companies. Much like the bottling companies for the best-known soft drink manufacturers, Broadbent does much of the behind-the- scenes work, such as bottling, packaging, and shipping beverages. As more beverage companies are doing their own bottling and

The Sub Shop Blues

Serge runs a profitable chain of five rapid- service restaurants that sell submarine sandwiches, non-alcoholic beverages, and related snacks such as potato chips and pretzels. Customers either take out the sandwiches or eat them on the restaurant premises.  “Serge’s Subs” also caters to local businesses for luncheon parties and to homes for sports gathering. Asked

Just-In-Time Worries at the University of Utah Hospital

Like many big hospitals, the University of Utah Hospital carries a 30-day supply of drugs, in part because it would be too costly or wasteful to stockpile more. Some of its hepatitis vaccine supply has been diverted to the hurricane- ravaged Gulf, leaving it vulnerable should an outbreak occur closer to home. About 77 other

Staples’ Invention Quest

Henry Ford. Thomas Alva Edison. Adrian Chernoff. Adrian Chernoff? Maybe Chernoff isn’t a household name like the first two inventors, but the 33-year-old Royal Oak, Michigan, man certainly shows potential. Chernoff’s claim to fame—a handy little office product calledRubber Bandits—started gracing the shelves of every Staples store in North America a few years ago. The

Is it Fair That Anyone Owns the Rights to

The Web site has no staff, spends no money on marketing its name, and offers no games. All it offers is a list of links to other game sites. Yet it earns revenue of more than $150,000 a year selling online ads. is just one of thousands of Web sites that are cashing

Should We Launch Lightning Bolt?

Nancy Reid is the marketing and new product director at Katona Beverages, a small niche player in the beverage industry. Among Katona’s products are iced tea in a can, vitamin water, fruit drinks made from natural ingredients, and bottled water pumped from underground springs. Despite some success, sales and profits at Katona are barely enough

Big Hopes at Olive Garden, Red Lobster, and Long Horn Steakhouse

Clarence Otis, chairman and chief executive of Darden Restaurants Inc., sees better days ahead for an industry that took a beating during the Great Recession of the recent past. Otis, whose company owns Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Long Horn Steakhouse, and other casual- dining chains, expected the job losses that cut consumer spending to abate