Shoe Corporation Case Study
Number of words: 1528
Brief Summary of the Case
Shoe Corporation Illinois (SCI) is an enterprise that specializes in the production of low price footwear for women. The company has two-production centres, one at Centreville and the other one at Meadowvale. It is headquartered in a building adjacent to the production plant at Centreville. SCI’s profits per pair of shoe have dwindled when compared to ten years ago. Every year, SCI offers its customers between 100 and 120 different shoe styles. SCI’s president, Allison, recently implemented an e-commerce platform to enhance SCI’s competitive advantage against other firms in the industry.
SCI employs a hierarchical organization structure with the president at the helm. Below the president, there are six departmental heads namely styling manager, controller, director of commerce, sales manager, plant superintendent Centerville and plant superintendent Meadowvale (Daft, 2015). There is little engagement between these departmental heads since all their communication has to pass through the president. Therefore, collaboration and information flow in SCI are not effective.
Recommendations for Improving Information Flow
SCI can improve information flow by encouraging the sharing of information. One way through which SCI can enhance information sharing is by availing a platform for information sharing. In the case of SCI, the management has recently implemented an intranet; however, still different departments do not share much information using the medium. The president can encourage the workers to use the intranet to share information between one another by informing them that the medium can still be used for sharing industry trends and news as opposed to only communicating with one another (Miner, 2015). Sharing industry trends and news will elicit discussions between different workers and thus promote increased interactions and enhanced information flow.
The president can also improve information flow in SCI by creating an open dialogue. He should continually keep the workers up to date with the company’s progress, changes, and plans. Alisson can do this either through posts on the intranet or monthly company reports. He should encourage the employees to be also involved in the discussions on these issues. In particular, Alisson should encourage comments and questions (Miner, 2015). Information flow is more likely to be improved in cases where the workers feel a part of where their organisation is headed.
Besides, Allison can improve information flow by buttressing the connections between the different departments and employees. The connections between different departments can be bolstered through regular team building exercises. They can also be revamped by allowing all the workers to share in the company’s processes.
Current Interdependence between departments and how it can be enhanced
There is little interdependence between the different departments of Shoe Corporation, Illinois, as observed by Katherine Olsen. Notably, when Olsen came in as director of Internet and Sales, she was surprised to find that most of the workers declined to use the intranet for internal communication and coordination (Daft, 2015). When SCI’s president, Allison, was introducing the intranet, he hoped that the intranet would eliminate the internal friction and conflict and allow workers to communicate easily with one another (Daft, 2015). However, from Olsen’s observation that such problems persisted.
Further, the existence of little or no interdependence between the various departments of Shoe Corporation, Illinois, can be demonstrated by the fact that although all the departments were supposed to be simultaneously working from the same data, this was not happening. Immediately, Lawson and Flynn developed a new design they should have posted it on the intranet for everyone to see it. However, they did not (Daft, 2015). Besides, although every one needed to access the shipping deadlines, production schedules, and sales and order information, this was not happening. No departmental leader wanted to share the details of his /her departmental operations with others. Consequently, this resulted in increased confusion and bickering over the entire production process (Daft, 2015).
Interdependence between the various departments can be enhanced by SCI setting up a functional department such as the design department where the statistician, designer pattern maker, and the styling manager all jointly work together instead of passing all their decisions through the SCI president. Such a functional department will minimise the decision making time and enhance collaboration and communication between different individuals and departments (Judge & Robbins, 2017). Specifically, having all the decisions and communication pass through the president wasted much time and impeded with the interaction between different department heads. Besides, the functional department will reduce the time of the information flow since it does not have to pass through the president; for instance, with the current organizational structure, the decisions for making pilot runs have to pass through the president three times before a final decision can be made. Arguably, this wastes time and increases the time of the information flow.
Moreover, the interdependence between the various departments can be bolstered through a participative decision-making process. Such a process will undoubtedly reduce the burden put on the president for all the decision-making of the company (Judge & Robbins, 2017). With a participative, decision making process, some of the employees, such as John Flynn, who have considerable experience and creativity, will feel empowered. Similarly, a participative decision-making process will result in exemplary results for the organization because of better thought-process.
The interdependence between the different departments can also be enhanced by the clear allocation and designation of assignments and tasks. Conceivably, this will ensure that there are no role conflicts such as the one witnessed between Freeman and the order clerk (Judge & Robbins, 2017). IT infrastructure can also improve interdependence between various departments in the long run by allowing the firm to both integrate and automate its processes. When the company’s processes are integrated and automated, this minimises friction between different departments and enhances coordination between them resulting in faster and informed decision-making processes.
Additionally, the interdependence between the different departments can get enhanced through SCI employing BI tools and predictive analysis. The BI tools and predictive analysis will offer an excellent forecast of orders and planning. This will, in turn, result in effective planning and coordination because of an excellent understanding of the customers (Judge & Robbins, 2017). In the end, this will result in increased profits for the company.
Fostering Innovation at SCI
Alisson can foster innovation at SCI by adopting a flat-management structure. A flat management structure allows for increased dialogue between the upper management and employees. The hierarchical organisational structure currently being employed by the organisation does not allow for this. A flat management structure will make the employees at SCI feel empowered, motivated, and engaged. Because of this, they will be inclined to presenting their ideas and views before key decisions are made in the organisations. A flat management structure will also enable senior management to quickly and gently provide feedback to the employees (Miner, 2015).
Moreover, Allison can foster innovation at SCI by rewarding failure. Most workers usually want to get recognized for their different initiatives and ideas since it gives them a sense of fulfilment. However, most employees are usually reluctant to express their new ideas and initiatives since they feel if their ideas and initiatives are bad, they may get either punished or criticized (Miner, 2015). In this regard, by rewarding failure employees will be encouraged to innovate and come up with new ideas since they know that even if the ideas do not come to fruition, they will not get punished. Rewarding failure also promotes a culture of expecting failure and tolerating mistakes, which is often associated with highly innovative firms (Miner, 2015).
Further, Allison can foster innovation at SCI by benchmarking the company’s operations against the best in the industry. Allison should first determine the leader in the shoe industry. Subsequently, he should encourage the employees to come up with strategies and tactics that will allow SCI to compete effectively with the industry leaders (Miner, 2015). Benchmarking against the industry leaders will eliminate complacency and encourage innovation in SCI because all the workers will know that they are competing against the industry leaders who have higher economics of scale and superior competitive advantages.
Allison can also foster innovation at SCI by allocating some time for innovation. In most of the highly innovative firms, employees are usually allowed to spend some time off their work duties in coming up with new ideas and inventions. Besides, allocating some time for innovation promotes an innovation-driven organisation culture.
To sum it up, the essay has presented a robust discussion of the SCI case. Specifically, the paper has looked at SCI’s organizational structure. The essay has also looked at how information flow and innovation can be enhanced at SCI. Besides, the paper has evaluated the current level of interdependence at SCI and how it can be enhanced.
Daft, R. L. (2015). Organization theory and design. Cengage learning.
Judge, T. A., & Robbins, S. P. (2017). Essentials of organizational behavior. Pearson Education (us).
Miner, J. B. (2015). Organizational behavior 4: From theory to practice. Routledge.