C&S Wholesale Grocers: Self-Managed Teams

2552 Words Mar 24th, 2015 11 Pages
C&S Wholesale Grocers: Self-Managed Teams
HBS Case Study, 9-404-025

Introduction

The case of C&S Wholesale Grocers: Self-Managed Teams is about when and how to make a major organizational change. Rick Cohen, CEO of C&S Wholesale Grocers, has to make a decision in a few days about whether to keep the current organizational structure, which is already stretched to the limit, or to explore an alternate structure, self-managed teams, that could improve workflow and morale. This is a challenging decision since the new structure could help manage the increased workload better during the upcoming holidays but there is some risk that starting a new system could make things worse especially in the short term. If the decision is to go
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He assumes that he has exhausted all ways to make the current system work better or that teams will figure out how to reduce those errors on their own. He is also assuming that the teams will be highly motivated to get it right because their salary depends on it and they will remove team members who make too many errors. The costs of making this organizational change are several. The company could actually be less productive for a while. It will also take time and effort to organize and stage the transition. The benefits are improved efficiency and motivated workforce among many others.

Cohen’s explicit objectives are to accommodate the increased workload during the holiday season, improve quality and cost at the Brattleboro site, and protect the reputation of the company. His implicit objective is to take steps to reduce the risk of losing market share to competitors.

The situation to date is very challenging and has been building steadily over the past year. A year ago the company landed a huge contract with A&P that increased revenue by a third. To deal with the increased business, Cohen had been forced to hire more employees and more supervisors to oversee the process. (p. 192). This led to an overcrowded workspace which made it difficult for forklift operators to replenish stock. Sometimes items were left in the aisles making them even more congested and

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