MOUNT CEDAR TECHNOLOGIES, INC.: A CASE STUDY IN DESIGNING A HIGH PERFORMANCE ORGANIZATION
Issam A. Ghazzawi, University of La Verne
CASE DESCRIPTION In today’s global economy, organizations are faced with many challenges including motivating and rewarding employees; communicating and making effective decisions; evaluating group and team behavior; assessing their organizational structureand determining its effectiveness, assessing its leadership and determining its effectiveness; and evaluating alternative methods to managing change in the newly designed organization. Successful managers must learn the importance of creating functional and effective structures, processes, and understanding and managing the human side of the organization as this will enable people to effectivelywork together to achieve agreed upon goals. Therefore this term-long group case study, designed to cover multiple aspects of Organizational Behavior and Theory and Organization Design, will give you an opportunity to design an effective organization. The author developed the case for class discussion rather than to illustrate either effective or ineffective handling of the situation. The namesincluding the organization have been disguised. The case, instructor’s manual, and synopsis were anonymously peer reviewed and accepted by the Western Casewriters’ Association for its annual meeting, March 27, 2008, Oakland, CA. CASE SYNOPSIS Mount Cedar Technologies, Inc. was founded in Los Angeles, California in 1995. It began as an importer and distributor of computer accessories, but by 2000 hadevolved into an IT infrastructure integrator specializing in hardware and software products, storage and security solutions, and technical services to Enterprise, Small and Medium Businesses, and to Government, Educational, and Medical institutions. Its employees grew rapidly from 6 in 1995 to more than 170 employees in 2006. The company lacked an organizational structure to improve its operations’effectiveness. Additionally, there were complaints from employees who did not feel equitably treated, resulting in the loss of talented employees. Department managers acknowledged that they were very busy reacting to problems and customer issues, allowing them little time to coordinate and listen to their employees.
Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies, Volume 15, Number 5,2009
82 Decision making was highly decentralized. This resulted in the loss of possible gains to be obtained from cooperation among other managers. The silo effect that resulted from this structure meant that departments were making decisions based on what was best for them. While John Curtis (CEO) had been instrumental in growing the organization, his present leadership style had becomeincreasingly problematic to many including upper management. He liked to surprise people by showing up un-invited to meetings and all employees and managers were expected to provide off the cuff answers to questions he would throw at them during these visits. Managers were asked to focus mostly on financial measures. The culture was described by many people as a task oriented one that did not encouragerisk taking or empowerment. Additionally, the organization was lagging in the areas of training and the advancement of women and minorities. Finally, upper management wanted to grow its business by adding new product offerings. INTRODUCTION Sam Farris was hired as the new Vice President of Mount Cedar Technologies, Inc. in December 1998 to work closely with the company’s top executives to overseedaily operations, support sales and technical logistics, to be part of the top management team, and to determine, along with other executives, the future strategic direction of the company. During a coffee break, he shared the following advice with his senior management team (John Curtis, President and CEO; Bob Holt, Vice President of Finance and Human Resources; and Frank Mathew, Vice President...