BoldFlash Inc. was founded in 1982 in Waltham Massachusetts. Originally manufacturing computer storage medias like floppy disks for original equipment manufacturers and consumer markets, BoldFlash's product mix has evolved in due course of time. In 2012, the company began offering customers contemporary solutions in flash memory for products such as digital cameras, mp3s and most importantly smart phones, the latter accounting for 40% of the overall market. Presently the company is facing turbulent times because of the inability to keep up with highly dynamic market and customer demands. There have been various reasons for breakdown in communication and teamwork. Bad management and autocratic style of leadership led to a decline of the company in regards to product innovation. At present, there is an urgent need for introducing a new innovative product in the market to make a comeback and an organizational change for a longer term.
1) What are the main problems and symptoms that the Mobile Division is experiencing? What are the causes of the conflict?
The Mobile division is experiencing shrinking margins due to pricing pressure and having hard time to compete with its competitors in overseas. More importantly, the company missed the great opportunity in the tablet market. These issues were mainly caused by poor management especially by lack of collaboration and communication between departments. There were various inter-departmental conflicts due to different goals and performance metrics of various departments. Roles and responsibilities were not well defined; therefore, there was miss-communication among various functions like marketing and product development and confusion around the focus. Product Development frequently requested manufacturing plant to run trials of new products on the manufacturing lines. Sales did not consult Manufacturing department for their decisions. Product Development did not work in collaboration with other departments and never sought feedbacks from Sales, Marketing and Manufacturing.
2) How would you describe Cahill's leadership style?
Although Roger has led a research project in his previous work, he is only 24 years old and inexperienced to manage a company at VP level. Positions at those levels require years of strategic leadership and management skills. Currently he is struggling as he faces great difficulties adapting BoldFlash to a changing marketplace. Although Cahill has observed the dysfunctions, he has not implemented any processes or trainings to work as a cross functional team. He wasn’t competent enough in leadership to make the groups to work well together to achieve the company’s goal instead of individual goals.
3) What changes did Cahill make? Do you think they were all necessary? Did he do too much all at once? Did his changes create some of the difficulties?
When Jim Harrison, former Vice President of the company’s Mobile Division passed way, Jack Young, BoldFlash’s CEO immediately substituted Harrison with Cahill who was a very young highly respected research scientist but lacked experience in leadership. Since then the problems had arisen. There were four departments in the Mobile Division; Product Development, Marketing, Sales and Manufacturing. The four groups were constantly in conflict with each other and didn’t have the reinforcement to work as a team. As coordination between different departments was a serious issue, Cahill consolidated the division’s non-manufacturing employees by relocating all Austin based corporate staff and the Shanghai based Director of Manufacturing of Waltham headquarters. Having Directors of all four departments at one place would help in coordination and proactive and collective decision making as a team. Cahill also separated Marketing and Sales, which had previously operated together. The two departments were very critical for the company and they needed to be fully