Topic: Devise Products Unlimited (DPU)
Reflect on the case you were presented within the module. Share your initial reactions. If you were a leader, what would you be most concerned about and why?
Devise Products Unlimited (DPU) is a large manufacturing firm employing about 150 people. Martin Thomas, CEO, started the organization 30 years ago out of the basement of his home. Over the years he built his organization by acquiring several competitors’ businesses. His firm manufactures electronic parts for a variety of electronic devices. Thomas operates DPU in one location, which includes manufacturing, parts, service, sales, engineering, quality control, and administrative operations. He contracts with dealers to sell products throughout the world. The facility is divided into several departments, providing the most efficient assembly process possible, including a parts manufacturing department.
Martin Thomas, CEO
Case Specifics and Issues
Thomas is described as an aggressive Type-A personality. He is involved in every aspect of his organization. He is known to be the first to arrive and the last to leave. Even when he is not in the office, he is known to use surveillance cameras that are set up throughout the organization to view what is going on.
Thomas has recently decided that he needed to change the culture of his organization, so he decided to do so by implementing a program called the FISH! Philosophy. He obtained copies of the book FISH! and shared it with his key leaders, giving them a goal to implement the program in their departments within one month. He did not offer any training or direction to his leadership; he simply told them to implement the program. One month later, he asked for a progress report. One of his leaders stated he read the book and shared it with his managers, but that the managers did not think it would work in their department. He reported little progress. Another leader stated she came up with a plan to implement the program and presented it to her managers but they appeared to be having a hard time getting the program going. None of the leaders reported successfully implementing the program.
DPU outsources some of the manufacturing of parts to a Third World country. Thomas recently discovered that the organization to which he outsources has been forcing laborers to work seven days a week and 10 hours a day. These laborers receive minimal wages, yet without the work their families could starve and they would be homeless. The organization is the only large employer in the area, and if Thomas terminated his contract with the organization, it would likely close, leaving hundreds of people without jobs.
Sales in Thomas’s parts division have been dwindling. He has worked with the quality control department to determine the cause. They identified a trend in customer complaints related to the attitude of the staff in the sales, engineering, and production departments. The staff was viewed as “unhelpful,” “mean,” and “angry.” Often customers commented that they felt like they were “bothering” the staff.
Thomas has never had a human resources manager for his manufacturing firm. Individual managers have handled the hiring, firing, orientation, and training of employees. While each division has a policy manual related to the managing of division employees, there is no manual that addresses the personnel policies and procedures for the entire organization and there are often different “rules” among the departments, which sometimes creates conflict across departments.
Thomas’s new human resources manager has been dealing with a number of complaints since assuming her position. She is currently attempting to resolve one filed by an employee. Abram is an engineering supervisor who recently disciplined an employee for excessive absenteeism. Jon, the employee, subsequently filed a complaint against Abram, stating he felt that he was being unfairly disciplined. Jon stated in his complaint that other employees in other divisions were absent more often than he was and they had not been subject to disciplinary action. Abram’s response to Jon indicated that he had violated the engineering division’s attendance policy that allows no more than two unexplained absences a month. In the last month, Jon had had five unexplained absences. Jon had previously exhausted all of his earned time off, so Abram had told Jon the days he took off would not be paid. Jon has requested that Abram remove the disciplinary action and pay him for the five days he was absent from work. Abram was unable to resolve this issue.
There have been many mistakes that have been identified by quality control in the manufacturing and production division of DPU. Thomas has recently decided to divide his production division into production teams. Each team would have four mechanics and two engineers, with a team leader responsible for leading the team. The team concept is new to this department, which was previously led by a floor supervisor. Thomas hopes that by organizing his production department into teams made up of both mechanics and engineers, fewer mistakes will be made in manufacturing the products. Thomas is unsure, however, of the team leadership approach he would like to take.
Thomas recently acquired a new government contract for DPU to produce twice the amount of products during a five-year span. He realizes that growth will be required for his organization if he is going to be able to successfully meet the demands of the contract. One of the first things Thomas did after obtaining this contract was to develop a new organizational chart. He created several new positions including a Chief Operating Officer and told his directors that they would report to this person when hired. His directors openly complained about not being involved in the decision-making process regarding this initiative, and several stated they felt adding another layer would be similar to being demoted. Thomas knows change needs to occur but is rethinking this decision.