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Johnsonville Sausage Co A Case Solution

Solution Id Length Case Author Case Publisher
2619 1496 Words (6 Pages) Michael J. Roberts Harvard Business School : 387103
This solution includes: A Word File A Word File

The company received a call from one of their major clients Palmer Sausage, the client wanted to increase their purchase from Johnsonville. Ralph the president of the company had no idea how to react. Initially, Ralph was the sole decision-maker of the company until he realized that due to this the company's performance is negatively impacted and the employees have become his soldiers. Ralph decided to bring transition into the company, he wanted people to take responsibility for their tasks and he let people take their own decision. Also, he hired three new industry experts for the three key departments: finance, manufacturing, sales, and marketing.

To enhance the worker's performance the company focused on many initiatives like switching jobs, investing in employees by giving them an $80 educational allowance, introducing compensation benefits, and encouraging employees for research and development. Also, the company divided information into two forms, to help each group and individual to control their own operations and also to use historical data to compare the trends.

Following questions are answered in this case study solution:

  1. What were some of the difficult personal lessons Ralph Stayer learned about how his own leadership style impacted operations management at Johnsonville?

  2. What were the operations management changes that had the most impact on the transformation of Johnsonville Sausage? List at least 3 key changes. Support your answer.

  3. What insights did you gain about operations management from this Case Study?

Case Study Questions Answers

1. What were some of the difficult personal lessons Ralph Stayer learned about how his own leadership style impacted operations management at Johnsonville?

Ralph made all decisions concerning production, scheduling, pricing, advertising, and purchasing, as well as all decisions concerning accounts. Ralph hired a sales manager and a finance person as the company grew, but he was still the sole decision-maker. When he realized that the quality of production was deteriorating in the 1980s, he began to feel uneasy about the business. One incident made Ralph realize that one of his previously competent employees had now become his soldier, carrying out Ralph's orders. Ralph vowed never to push an employee to this extent after this incident. Ralph realized he needed to change his management style after hearing a lecture by Dr. Lee Thayer. The lecturer discussed how managers could alter their management philosophy and style. Dr. Lee Thayer began working with Ralph to assist him in implementing the new philosophy. The philosophy had many facets, and it was a long, slow process. 

Ralph Stayer's first task was to create a new model of managerial performance in his mind. The procedure included several steps. First, Ralph attended several seminars in which he and Thayer discussed the new philosophy. Next, Ralph would call Thayer frequently with questions regarding particular decisions that had to be made. Thayer played an important role in the transition of an organization. To bring change, Ralph decided to spend time with employees by just talking to them. He stopped telling them what to do, instead, he left them to take their own decisions. If employees come to him to resolve a dispute, he would send them back so they can take decisions on their own. Ralph realized that his job is to act as a coach, a resource as a reporter, and to help the employees do their jobs better. He realized that as a leader there are a few key things that he needs to know and he doesn't need to bother with the rest he feels proud of the fact that there are a lot of details about the business that he doesn't need to know. Ralph realized that if the employees aren't performing at the agreed-upon level, it's partly his fault. He must create the appropriate environment and provide the necessary support for the employees so they will be able to meet their performance objectives. Instead of Ralph making all of the decisions, the company changed its philosophy and realized that responsibility for decisions should be distributed to the area best-suited to make them.

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