Celestial’s Global Customer Team – Discussion Questions:
a. Various cultures view roles differently and also think and act differently upon given business models regardless of where business models originate. Culture had a significant influence on how team members and staff were placed and functioned within each branch, regardless of how counterparts communicated. Identical cultural positions with given titles entailed diverse responsibilities of each cultural representative. Each culture has its own agenda within their working structure and ethics. A cultural business model that operates effectively in its own country may not necessarily function effectively in another country, and may have sets of protocols that could either benefit or hinder business functionality within each respective culture. The preferred language spoken between cultural representatives also have an impact on the end results of the firm agreements between Celestial and Voila.
b. Team members had limited communication with their counterparts only and not with their counterpart’s associated members and managers because some cultures have a different hierarchal system of whom their own members may interact with their counterparts. When it came to appointments, difficulty in contacting the correct member created strain on the virtual teams. Again the issue was the language barrier between cultures because not all members were able or were unwilling to speak a foreign language native to a given country, especially if they did not interact with members from the said country.
2. The problems of the virtual team ranged from adapting the cultural model to lack of proper working relationships. Teams were not aware of how their counterparts operated and what business model they followed. The difference in which tools were used, such as the team Website, were not always encouraged to exercise activities of various teams assigned with the similar agendas. One team focused on the work and aiming towards completion of the work. Other teams focused on the working relationships among team members.
The lack of relationship functioning was not only limited to team members but also to counterpart executives. This can be analogous even to diverse departments under the umbrella of the same firm. For example, the purchasing and sales departments belonging to the same firm each have their own operating ethics and protocols that are unique to their respective departments. Passively borrowing each other’s protocols may be lengthy in keeping each department’s internal structure and personnel intact.
a. James Morris played a pivotal role in resolving company dissolution with the use of Product Family Management, a method of creating a strategic business plan around specific families of products and formed by detailed research about shoppers’ purchasing and preferable behaviours (Reference Page 686). Morris studied and observed the methods of other retailers to surmise how they resulted before executing his suggested changes to Celestial.
b. Morris took the approach to reorganizing his internal customer team before reorganizing customer service, implemented the PFM approach globally. Morris’ style focused on strengthening the internal retail framework before reaching out to retailers externally. Morris carefully selected his team members Cathleen Drummond and Geraldine Hanover, whom each already had excellent track records in existing and changing strategies within PFM. Assigning the new recruits proved beneficial as each have been tasked to further implement their own experiences and associate their experiences with innovations on the global scale.
4. James Morris, Cathleen Drummond, Geraldine Hanover, David Hyde, Jacques Clement, and Henri Couture each had important powerful and influential roles (some more or less than others) regarding the furthering or hindering the acceptance of PFM:
a. James Morris:
Having the solution to implement PFM to other retailers and propelled closer customer relations by using the American model globally
b. Cathleen Drummond:
Having extensive knowledge of implementing PFM internationally and altering the ratio percentage between relationships and work
c. Geraldine Hanover:
d. David Hyde:
Implementing testing of PFM methods to see the results
e. Jacques Clement:
Creating alternatives to PFM by testing, combining and reengineering methods to retailers
a. Organizational structures were expected to follow the American model and collaborating teams would prove difficult because each team was organized differently. Each team viewed itself as uniquely organized, and a sudden merge of members without prior knowledge of each team and relationships only created intricacies instead of coherent teams as expected. The formation of the European Union could influence the result in overcrowding of team members with too many shared and overlapped responsibilities that could end up in downsizing of members. A rerouting of projects among team members could unravel the fabric of the companies by assigning jobs not exactly suitable to particular members.
The videoconference in Hong Kong added to the slow progress of collaboration. Voila middle managers wanted to end PFM and launch its alternative, Nourriture Excellente and test the market with this alternative. The globalization of the brought together new members with overlapping roles, making results of mergers unclear and unresolved, proving that members of different teams lacked knowledge of fellow teams planning to merge.
b. An audio conference between the French and Americans, and eventually face-to-face meetings, created more concrete goals and activities, by providing a new name Produits Exemplaires to eliminate conflict of interest between both groups. The new name created three new projects each with more streamlined and specific tasks to each department and category to reduce responsibility overlap and help members be clear of their goals.
6. Since the issue stemmed from inviting members of different teams who have not interacted frequently with one another, Morris, Drummond, Couture, and Hanover should have stressed the importance of membership familiarity and communications between teams on a global scale. Emphasis on the importance of knowledge sharing to team members and providing specific tools and steps to properly capture information from individuals should have been practiced.
Proper record of each meeting (attendees and ideas put forward for sharing) can be effective for collaborating team members and be used to identify the suitability between members. The article has not really mentioned the importance of record keeping explaining the overlapping of information already known and previously implemented. The meeting between Celestial and Voila could have also been held in a more neutral location where there is less cultural influence and impact.