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Management article
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Reference no. R0210Z
Published by: Harvard Business Publishing
Originally published in: "Harvard Business Review", 2005
Revision date: 15-Feb-2013

Abstract

For teaching purposes, this is the commentary-only version of the HBR case study. Cheryl Hailstrom, the CEO of Lakeland Wonders, a manufacturer of high-quality wooden toys, is the first person outside the Swensen family to hold the top job. But she's not a stranger to this 94-year-old company: She'd been the COO of one of its largest customers and had worked with Lakeland to develop many best-selling products. Wally Swensen IV, the previous CEO, chose Cheryl because she knew how to generate profits and because he believed her energy and enthusiasm could take the company to the next level. Yet here she is, nearing her six-month anniversary, wondering why her expansive vision for the company isn't taking hold. She's tried to lead by example: traveling a pounding schedule to visit customers, setting aggressive project deadlines, and proposing a bonus schedule. She has a plan to reach the board's growth goals. The problem is that while Cheryl's senior managers are giving her the nod on the surface, they're all really dragging their feet. Is Cheryl pushing too much change too quickly? Should she bring in outsiders to speedily adopt the changes she envisions and overhaul Lakeland's corporate culture? Or should she keep trying to work with the current team? Commentators Kathleen Calcidise of Apple Retail Stores; executive coach Debra Benton; Dan Cohen, co-author of The Heart of Change; and consultant Nina Aversano offer advice on this fictional case study.

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Abstract

For teaching purposes, this is the commentary-only version of the HBR case study. Cheryl Hailstrom, the CEO of Lakeland Wonders, a manufacturer of high-quality wooden toys, is the first person outside the Swensen family to hold the top job. But she's not a stranger to this 94-year-old company: She'd been the COO of one of its largest customers and had worked with Lakeland to develop many best-selling products. Wally Swensen IV, the previous CEO, chose Cheryl because she knew how to generate profits and because he believed her energy and enthusiasm could take the company to the next level. Yet here she is, nearing her six-month anniversary, wondering why her expansive vision for the company isn't taking hold. She's tried to lead by example: traveling a pounding schedule to visit customers, setting aggressive project deadlines, and proposing a bonus schedule. She has a plan to reach the board's growth goals. The problem is that while Cheryl's senior managers are giving her the nod on the surface, they're all really dragging their feet. Is Cheryl pushing too much change too quickly? Should she bring in outsiders to speedily adopt the changes she envisions and overhaul Lakeland's corporate culture? Or should she keep trying to work with the current team? Commentators Kathleen Calcidise of Apple Retail Stores; executive coach Debra Benton; Dan Cohen, co-author of The Heart of Change; and consultant Nina Aversano offer advice on this fictional case study.

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