Posted: August 6th, 2022
After reading the “Welcome Aboard” from your course pack, respond to the following
prompt using the table provided:
Table W1A4 x
Download Table W1A4 x
1. Who are the key stakeholders in this change and what are their responses to
change (effectively/normatively committed to change or actively/passively
resistant to change)?
2. Who are the key stakeholders resisting the change and why do they resist?
3. What are the effective ways to manage the resistance considering both the
situational factors and the key stakeholders’ resistance sources?
Is the CEO pushing too much change too quickly? Four commentators offer expert advice.
I. Kathleen Calcidise is a vice president and COO of Apple Retail Stores, headquartered in
Several years ago, I found myself in a turnaround situation with many parallels to Cheryl
Hailstrom’s. The company I signed on to lead had new external investors with high expectations about our
growth potential and a management team resistant to the significant changes needed to hit those
It’s easy to see why Cheryl is frustrated. All the key indicators support her midmarket growth
plan. She has a huge customer account in her sights and a legitimate sense of urgency; if Lakeland wants
to ship in time for the holiday season, it has only a few months to design products, secure offshore
production operations, and develop a marketing message that answers the branding issues. But she’s
saddled with a bunch of managers more interested in clinging to their familiar turf.
To get beyond this impasse, she’ll have to make some changes. There’s no reason she can’t bring
in experienced outsiders like Cecil and Pat, but she should pair them with members of the existing
organization. I’d suggest appointing a team to guide the midmarket private-label development strategy
and empowering the group with authority to do whatever is necessary to ensure on-time product delivery
for the holidays.
Cheryl may also need to change her leadership style. What she sees as leading “by example” and
relocating her office “to be right in the thick of the action” may be seen by others as coercion and
intimidation. An emphasis on persuasion, inspiration, and negotiation might work better. She must start
signaling her openness to hearing the concerns of people with divergent points of view.
Meanwhile, she needs to be communicating, consistently and enthusiastically, with her internal
and external constituencies about how her growth strategy serves all their interests. Resistance to change
will continue unless Cheryl can link her vision of expansion with their individual needs and expectations.
I found, in my attempts to get some of the foot-dragging employees and board members to buy in to a
vision, that it was best to frame it in bold contrasts. I compared the tangible future benefits of change for
our organization, its employees, and its stakeholders with the dangers of doing nothing–which in our case
would have involved bankruptcy and job losses. Whether Cheryl’s message is as dramatic as that or not, it
should aim to ensure that no one is blindsided by change. Surprises can only increase the fear and
resistance that cause delays.
Perhaps most important, Cheryl needs to articulate a clear operating direction for Lakeland, one
that specifies how structural and behavioral changes can be consistent with the company’s most treasured
values and norms and also improve performance. She can lead Lakeland’s employees over barriers to
change by affirming what they love about the place, even while she challenges comfortable ways of doing
To bring about cultural and performance transformation, I made it the explicit work of several
teams. I charged them with identifying any obstacles to change and with recommending new structures,
initiatives, and reward systems. By involving lots of employees, I was able to speed the process along.
I should stress that the company I worked for was in far more trouble than Lakeland. In two
years, it went through three other CEOs, each with a different vision. When I came on board, time and
money were running out, and internal expectations for my success were low indeed. Ultimately, several
years after I moved on, the company did fail.
Cheryl, however, has a few advantages. Thanks to her past role with Lakeland, people there
already believe in her. That’s a big leg up. Still, she may be mistaking how much license it gives her.
Obviously, she hasn’t felt she needed to spend much time building consensus for her potentially risky
product- expansion plan. She thinks she’s already earned the support of her colleagues and investors. I
would caution her: She needs to earn it anew each day.
II. Debra Benton is the president of Benton Management Resources, in Fort Collins, Colorado, and
the author of Secrets of a CEO Coach (McGraw-Hill,1999). She can be reached at
If Cheryl were my client, I’d point out that her relationship with the company has changed. She’s
no longer the customer, she’s the boss. But she hasn’t established the rules of engagement of working
To do so, she should privately explain to each individual on her team how she works. She might
say something like, “I operate with full disclosure and mutual respect. I will never make you guess what I
want, and I don’t want to guess what you want. We must communicate relentlessly about how we will
achieve our goals. And after we’ve discussed an issue, we will come up with one voice, which will be
spoken up, down, and sideways in this organization.” As Cheryl speaks, she’ll smile, maintain a pass-the-
salt tone of voice, and touch the person’s arm.
Once the ground rules for effectively working together have been laid, Cheryl needs to address
the goal of taking the company to the next level. The growth targets were set by the board and aren’t up
for debate, so the sole issue is how to achieve them.
Cheryl should ask each team member, “What do you see as a priority? What stands in the way of
accomplishing that goal? How can we change that?” The priorities named in these individual
conversations should then be put to the group for discussion. Once the team determines one voice on each
issue, it can assign responsibility, create a strategy, and set a time frame.
If Mark Dawson continues to oppose the plan in management meetings, Cheryl must ask him to
step outside to talk. The conversation could begin like this: “You may or may not be right in your
assessment. We don’t know yet. But we have all agreed to this plan. Supporting the plan to my face and
then shooting it down later does not show respect. I know your opinion on the obstacles ahead. And I
know you have a lot of experience here, but even the minimum-wage people can tell me why it won’t
work. You are the cream of the Lakeland crop, and your job is to make things happen that others thought
couldn’t be done.
“When I ran Kids&Company, you worked miracles–you found ways to get things made quickly
without sacrificing quality. You need to perform that same magic now.
“When you have problems with what I say, please talk with me first; I will do the same with you.
I don’t want to be told about roadblocks for the first time in front of others. I work with a full-disclosure
approach, and I expect the same of you. If you won’t or can’t, I’ll hire someone who will.” While she’s
talking, she should again be speaking calmly, have a relaxed smile, and stand where she can put her hand
on his shoulder and grip just a little too tightly.
If Cheryl isn’t clear with this team, she’ll be no better with the next. She should not make
personnel changes until she has given the current team a chance. Once she sees people’s reactions, she can
decide who stays, who goes, or who gets added.
In addition, Cheryl must have the rules-of-engagement discussion with Wally Swensen, members
of the board, and the venture capitalists. No one must have any doubts about how she will lead. When
Wally mentioned his discussion with Mark, Cheryl should have said (with, of course, a relaxed smile, a
pass-the-salt tone, and a firm touch ), “You have always made prudent decisions in your business; that’s
why you hired me. We can take this company to the next level without sacrificing quality. I will provide
you and the board, as I have the management team, with full disclosure about what we need to do and
how we plan to do it. If someone or something is a sacred cow and cannot be touched, tell me now. And if
that restriction compromises our objectives, I will readjust our profit estimates. But if you want me to
effect change, some blood will be spilled.”
If the chairman, the board, or the venture capitalists do not let Cheryl do the job she was hired to
do, she must decide whether to stay or go. No job is permanent anyway.
III. Dan S. Cohen is a partner at Deloitte Consulting (soon to be Braxton) in Irving, Texas, and the
coauthor, with John P. Kotter, of The Heart of Change (Harvard Business School Press, 2000).
Cheryl has walked into Lakeland Wonders like a bull in a china shop. She wants to change the
culture–she complains that they’re all dragging their feet–but she’s the one who’s out of step. She has
shown little respect for the operating style of this 94-year-old company. She hasn’t been listening to senior
managers, and she hasn’t been talking to the board of directors to line up votes for the upcoming board
meeting. She 1ust expects everyone to follow her lead.
This is a very common mistake. Executives come in and say, “Here’s my vision, let’s go forward.”
But they fail to create any sense of urgency about why a change is required. In other words, they don’t lay
the groundwork to allow the change to take root. Unless Cheryl can figure out a way to get people excited
about this new direction for the company, her vision will die a quick death. Mark is already throwing up
roadblocks; he’s concerned about the union’s reaction to offshore manufacturing, and he’s gone so far as to
speak with the previous CEO. The head of marketing raises branding issues and resists working with a
new design firm. And the sales director seems swayed by Mark’s argument against offshore
manufacturing. The only team member who supports Cheryl’s plan is the CFO, and he’s looking at it
strictly from a numbers perspective.
For the team to come together, Cheryl has to stop talking about “my” vision and start acting on
“our” vision. It appears that she and the senior management team never really developed a common vision
of the company’s future. If objectives aren’t obvious to members of the top management team, what are
the odds that the rest of the company will understand them, let alone get behind them?
My immediate advice for Cheryl is to take a minute to reflect on her performance over these past
few months. In her quest to grow the company, she has done several things right: She moved out of the
secluded corner office. She enhanced the bonus plan. She has tried to improve productivity. But the fact
is, Cheryl hasn’t thought through her strategy very well. For instance, union negotiations come up in nine
months, but she hasn’t yet brought a union rep into these discussions. She seems to think that the company
will deal with the negotiations when the time comes. The same is true for the branding issue. Elaine says
she can handle it, but she hasn’t proposed a solid plan.
The most troubling aspect of Cheryl’s performance is that her driving style isn’t aligned with
Lakeland’s culture. She hasn’t recognized that rather than increasing urgency, she is creating fear and
anger among her executive group. If she doesn’t adjust her operating style, she will continue to lose the
confidence of key stakeholders. It’s almost to the point that Wally, once her champion, fears that she
could tear the company apart. And without Wally, she has no chance of winning the board’s approval.
To regain Wally’s trust, Cheryl must mend her relationship with Mark and show him why he
should change his feelings and behavior to support her vision. If they put their heads together, Cheryl and
Mark may come up with a new plan that addresses the growth goals and better fits Lakeland’s culture. For
instance, Lakeland might consider opening a subsidiary that does offshore production and sells to lower-
end markets, thus eliminating some brand issues.
It’s true that the board set aggressive growth goals, and Cheryl is working hard to meet them. But
she can’t do it alone. Unfortunately, she has yet to reach the emotions of the senior team, and she must if
she’s to ignite their active support of her change plan. Without that support, it doesn’t matter if her vision
is objectively sound; it won’t get off the ground until she deals effectively with the current level of
complacency among her senior team.
IV. Nina Aversano has held executive positions at IBM, Xerox, AT&T, and Lucent Technologies,
among other companies. Currently, she runs her own consulting practice in Kinnelon, New
It seems that Cheryl believes that her plan is the only way to grow the business. I fell into that
trap when I was starting my career at IBM. I knew my proposals were right, so I was frustrated that I had
to spend time convincing others that my ideas needed to be implemented without delay. Then a wise and
seasoned manager said to me, “Nina, people support what they create. You need to engage others in the
creation process, or you are doomed to failure.” What a lesson! I had believed that involving more people
in the planning process would slow things down, but in fact, the opposite is true.
Cheryl also needs to learn a related lesson: “There’s more than one way to rope a calf.” A Xerox
veteran with a pronounced Texas drawl told me that. I’d been hired to launch a line of word processors,
and I can remember looking at my colleagues as though they were the “great unwashed.” They’d never
sold in this nontraditional (that is, non-copier related) market; they didn’t understand the technology; and,
in my mind, they had no understanding of how to build a launch plan to meet our aggressive objectives.
But this experienced manager wouldn’t let me discount the thinking of others. He patiently discussed the
alternative views and forced me to see that there are many ways to succeed. It wasn’t easy, but I learned to
try other people’s solutions–and I found that approach very liberating. Cheryl might, too. It seems crazy
that she hasn’t asked Mark, her key manufacturing manager, for his solution, especially since he’s
delivered for her in the past.
Like Cheryl, I’ve also had to deal with unions. I joined AT&T Network Systems (the offspring of
Western Electric–a 100-year-old manufacturing, R&D, and distribution arm of the former Bell System)–
in 1990. Bill Marx, the president, chose leaders who he thought could change the culture of this former
monopoly without wreaking havoc. I headed up an organization of roughly 1,500 installers and managers;
most were members of the powerful Communications Workers of America and the International
Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. They were predominantly white men, aged 48 or older, with high
school educations. They were well trained, dedicated, and highly respected by the customers. But the unit
was hemorrhaging money.
When I walked in the door, I felt as if I had been thrown into some alien culture; I wasn’t sure
how to begin to turn things around. I knew I needed the knowledge that these managers possessed, but it
was clear they didn’t want me there. So I began by reviewing the financials. Then I met with every local
union president to go over the state of the business in detail–the good, the bad, and the ugly. And you
know what? With the exception of one old, crusty union chief, I got a great reception (and even he came
around eventually). Then I held town meetings with all the employees, in groups of 50 or fewer. It was
usually just the rank and file and me–I didn’t want lots of supervisors there to constrain the questions.
It was one of the most valuable learning experiences of my career. Those people were the heart
and soul of the business. They wanted it to succeed, and they were open-minded enough to let me share
the realities of the business and seek their opinions and ideas. Together, we turned our losses around and
built a highly competitive machine. Cheryl would be well served to talk to the union members about her
plans and solicit their help in making Lakeland more competitive.
Finally, our young CEO needs to recalibrate the board’s expectations. Yes, growth is needed, but
the targets must be realistic. The “growth at any cost” mind-set will be disastrous for this company.
Cheryl has many of the right ingredients to make a great leader. She needs to move with speed and
intensity to build a new culture from the strong foundation she has been given.
Week 1 Assignment #4: Case Analysis – Lakeland Wonders #1
Your name: _______________________
Responses to change
Sources of resistance or support
Ways to address resistance
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