Practice Case Studies: Long

  • The Exotic Melons:
    You are the manager (Worldwide Sales Cock and Bull Melons) in a Dubai-based company that deals in selling exotic fruits. Cock and Bull Melons are a special variety of melons that can be cultivated only on the sandy dunes surrounding the Cock and Bull oasis in the Sahara desert. Worldwide demand and supply have been quite stable so far at 100 melons a year, with the supply being just sufficient to cover the demand.
    Cock and Bull Melons have traditionally been sold to the sheikhs in the Middle East, and Hollywood and Bollywood actors and actresses. Their exorbitant prices take them out of reach of common people. 
    In January 2002, the research centre at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), India discovers that Cock and Bull melons can cure the fatal MarGaya syndrome in pregnant women, which kills both he mother and the child. Also, it can cure the fatal MaraGaya syndrome in diabetic patients. Both these symptoms are very rare. Unfortunately for you, in May 2002, the MaraGaya syndrome strikes 2000 people in America and the MarGaya syndrome strikes 1000 pregnant women in Sweden. 100 Cock and Bull melons are required to cure the 1000 cases in America while 100 are required to cure the Swedish problem. You know that the patients in both the countries cannot afford the high cost of Cock and Bull melon treatment. You also know that the revenues from treating patients would be much lower than selling them to sheikhs and film stars. 
    You are in a real dilemma. What would you do?
  • Confidential Information?
    Mr. SecretKeeper is a Corporate Head (HR) in a company. He is very nice and gets along well with all people. People often consult him for help and advice. One person (named “Mr. A”) approaches him for a job because he is right now jobless. Mr. SecretKeeper takes the guy's qualifications and asks him to come after a week however, since no job available. He keeps frequently postponing the job offer. Mr. A keeps visiting the HR head, Mr. Secret Keeper, often and becomes his close friend.
    Then, one day, Mr. A confides with the HR Head “I was in prison for 18 years for a crime that I had not committed. With two years remaining of the sentence, I ran away from jail. Even now, police is in look out for me.” Mr. SecretKeeper tells the person to go home and that he would give him a job. However as soon as he leaves, Mr. SecretKeeper calls up the police and gives the details of Mr. A and asks them to arrest Mr. A.
    Because of this betrayal of trust by the HR head, people in the organisation have started losing faith in him. A senior person in the office complains to the VP that the Mr. Secret Keeper has “broken faith”, so others could not come to him.
    Assume that you are the VP of the company. What would you do about the situation?
  • In a fix!
    You are the young dynamic, blue-eyed boy (girl) in a firm, which is a known leader in the industrial oils business. Under your leadership, the company has done extremely well in a slow, sluggish, mature market and has also effectively warded off competition from the superior industrial oil segment.
    However, as a young blooded individual, you decide that the company should branch into something more glamorous and contemporary. You manage to convince the top management to get into the film-making business.
    The film-making business is started as another division, where the systems and processes are kept the same to have uniformity across businesses. You manage to hire top talent in this field Mr. A, Mr. B and Mr. C from different competitors. You have big hopes from the trio as these people have come together as a team for the first time. You grant every freedom to these people to recruit their own subordinates.
    Barely a month after the film-making business has started, you are in a fix! Mr. B throws his cap, sheds a zillion tears and tells you in a choked voice that he would rather die than continue with your business. A couple of months later Mr. C blames your policies and quits.
    Your six monthly profit and loss statement shows that film-making business had been a horrific disaster. The only remaining member of the star trio, Mr. A says that the business is slightly out of form and that he might deliver if you grant him complete freedom. 
    You can now see your own future as dark as the industrial oils your company specializes in. You are wondering what went wrong and what should you do now?
  • Tension on the job:
    Sujit Bhattacharyya (Bhola) had been an exceptionally bright student throughout his studies at IIT-Kharagpur. He devoted four years in pursuit of academic excellence. He had very few friends. Few peers liked him, but he was the darling of all his professors. Bhola joined TELCO from the campus as production supervisor in charge of vehicle assembly. Bhola used to manage shop floor operations consisting of truck assembly and in a shift 30-33 operator used to report to him. The IQ level of a typical operator could be compared to that of a class VIII student, but years of experience had made them confident about their job.
    The operators, by virtue of doing the same job for so many years, had developed a highly robotic style of functioning and were highly resistant to change. The trade union was powerful and exercised a lot of leverage with the management, to secure incentives and overtime payment, which were fixed at a uniform rate across the departments.
    Nilesh was an operator in charge of front axle assembly. The number of trucks that rolled out of the factory was equal to the number of axles assembled. Thus, Nilesh was looking after a highly sensitive assembly operation. Nilesh, lately, had lost a lot of money in the stock market, had frequent quarrels with his wife and many times used to come drunk to the shop floor. His abrasive behavior had caused a lot of worry to Bhola. Nilesh also started absenting himself from duty and became casual in his approach. Subsequently, Nilesh was transferred to the quality control department to reduce his physical workload. Bhola found it very difficult to find a suitable replacement for Nilesh in the assembly area. He had to frequently interchange workers who were unable to cope with the high pressure work at the axle assembly. They deliberately started going slow, and thereby, affected productivity. Bhola did his best to pinpoint the problem. He was under tremendous pressure from the top to increase productivity to previous levels.
    The workers started demanding additional incentives and overtime payments. The management, on the other hand, was opposed to any change in the incentive structure. Bhola was helpless. He tried his best and at times did the work himself. The workers, sensing that Bhola had little control over them, became more aggressive and further slowed their work. Bhola suffered an emotional breakdown and had to stay away from work for two months. 
    Discuss what the main issues in the case are and what would be your approach in this situation.
  • Tuna-Tuna Lactuna!:
    The Minicoy Canning Factory (henceforth MCF) was set up by the Lakshadweep administration in 1969 with an aim to step up fishery production, provide employment and enable fishermen to sell their excess fish for better returns. MCF could produce only up to 150,000 cans per year because of labour constraint. However, due to excess production, by September 2001, MCF had accumulated an unsold inventory of 150,000 cans amounting to Rs. 12,807,700. In 2001, 64,322 cans were sold resulting in a turnover of Rs. 6,302,500 and a profit of Rs. 810,380.
    Competition for MCF came from Integrated Fisheries Project (henceforth IFP), a government undertaking set up with an aim to introduce and popularize diversified fishery products in rural and urban markets. MCF canned a type of tuna called Skipjack tuna, whose meat was harder and different in taste as compared to Yellow fin tuna canned by IFP. The distributors felt that higher price of Skipjack tuna was the culprit for lower sales vis-à-vis IFP. The higher price was on account of higher overheads for MCF attributed to lower volumes. IFP also had a stronger dealer network and a much larger promotion budget. 
    The demand for canned tuna is concentrated in upcountry areas. However, the sale of MCF's tuna to these regions has been low. Sales enquiries had also been received from the Middle East, but no action had been taken on them. Markets other than the retail market were also being explored.
    The management of MCF was pondering over what the problem was and what could be done to resolve it amicably, both in the short term as well as in the longer term.
  • Et tu Brutus!:
    Yahan Gadbad Inc. is a reputed multinational that specialized in organizing beauty pageants. The protagonists of this piece, besides you (of course), are Mr. Bhartus, the HR Manager and Mr. BigMouth, the flamboyant hospitality manager. Mr. BigMouth has been in Yahan Gadbad Inc. for over a decade now, during which he has successfully organized half a dozen pageants at exotic locales around the world. People in Yahan Gadbad swear by his integrity and professionalism and he has been the role model in the company for the last decade.
    Mr. Bhartus and Mr. BigMouth were good friends. One day after they had had a drink too many, Mr. BigMouth said to Mr. Bhartus, “Bhartu, I have something to confess to you. Bhartu dear, please listen to me as a friend and not as an HR manager”. “Of course Biggie!” said Mr. Bhartus, “I have big stomach. I can digest any secret”. Mr. BigMouth then said, “Do you remember the pageant we had in Polynesian Islands? You know, Bhartu the human heart is frail. I kind of got bowled over by a contestant. We had a week of debauchery. I rigged the contest to help her get the second runners up title”.
    In spite of the promise made to Mr. BigMouth, Mr. Bhartus comes to you (President, Yahan Gadbad Inc.) with the information. You think aloud, “Damn! What do I do now? The HR department handles confidential information and this fool could not keep a secret. On the other hand… God! Please guide me!”
  • Student's BIG problem:
    In an institute AIM, the students' council is selected by a voting wherein each student is allocated a vote for each position in the council. The council is supposed to undertake activities of students' interests. Each student pays Rs. 50 per year towards council dues. Extending the brief of the council, it decides to add responsibilities and projects. As a first, it introduces a scheme for students wherein it provides them stationary and hosiery at a subsidized price. This is to be done on a no-profit no-loss basis. Initially, it is done only for a select group of students as a pilot exercise. 
    Extending in the first month, the council has a sale of Rs.3500. They make a profit of Rs. 300. Seeing this, the council decides to expand its store for the complete instituted. They buy goods worth Rs.15000 for the first time and Rs 10000 the second time. In order to buy these goods, it takes loan of Rs.8000 at an interest of 18% per annum. Rumors of bungling of money start floating around the campus. Some council members are alleged to have taken money from the store and the council funds. As a result of these rumors, some students begin to boycott the council and start to doubts its intentions. In addition, they allege that the store was supposed to be on a no profit no-loss basis, but still it aimed at earning profits. 
    On complaints to the institute authorities, the store is closed for business till further notice, pending an internal investigation into the matter. As a result of the store closure, the council is left with stocks of Rs.13500. In addition, the council also has to repay Rs. 8000 plus interest to the financial institution. In the present scenario, what could be the possible solutions?
  • The Video Games Case
    You are the CEO of a large, diversified entertainment company. A division of your firm manufactures video games. The division is the third largest manufacturer of hardware in the industry and has a 10% market share, with the top two having 40% and 35% respectively. The industry growth has been strong, though over the last few months, the overall industry sales growth has slowed a bit.
    The division's sales have increased rapidly over the last year from a relatively small base. Current estimate is annual sales of 500,000 units for your division. The selling price of the basic Video Game unit (hardware) is Rs. 1000. The current cost of manufacturing a unit is Rs. 700, excluding the marketing costs. The top two competitors are estimated to have a 10 to 15% cost advantage currently. The division currently exceeds corporate return requirements; however, margins have recently been falling.
    The product features are constantly developed (e.g., new type of remote joy stick), to appeal to the segments of the market. However, the division estimates much of the initial target market (young families) has now purchased the video game hardware. No large new user segments have been identified . 
    Recently, a request has come to you, the CEO, for approval of Rs. 20 Cr. for tripling the division's capacity. The requested expansion will also reduce the cost of manufacture by 5 to 7 % from the present value. Should you approve the expansion?
  • Bow Bow!
    You are the General Manager (Procurement) in a large, international trading firm, Idhar Udhar Inc. Your current responsibilities involve procurement of rats, dogs and cats from the dark interiors of Africa and selling them at a profit in developed countries as pets. Of these products, dogs are extremely seasonal, being available only from the middle of May to the end of August. You are expecting a bumper season this time around. Also, the price of dogs in the developed countries being at an all time high, you are expecting record profits which would, in a swift move, also put your career on the fast track. 
    Bang in the middle of the procurement season, an internal audit reveals that Mr. Ghotala Doggy, your star manager (Procurement Dogs) has siphoned off Rs. 20,000 from company funds. Mr. Doggy has excellent relations with the suppliers and you know that it would be impossible to meet targets without him. On your questioning, Mr. Doggy reveals that he had taken the money for paying the medical bills of his daughter, Ms. Bitchy Doggy, who was seriously ill. 
    Following this incident, audits were conducted in other divisions and irregularities were found there also. However, since your division was the first where such an incident took place, people are looking at you to set a precedent. Your company lays extreme emphasis on personal integrity and this is the first time in the company's century old history that such an incident has occurred. What would you do?
  • The Dilemma!
    You are the GM (HR) of a small firm involved in manufacturing and selling AM/FM radios. Of late, sales of radios have declined due to emergence of TV, Cable etc. The main departments are the production, marketing and accounting. 
    Bharat is a clerk in the accounting department. He has been with the company for 15 years now. He knows the job well, but of late, is increasingly coming late for work. He is married with two children and he cites family problems as the cause of late arrival on job. Every time he promises to mend his ways, but has not done so till date. 
    Om is the production supervisor. He has been with the company since its inception 30 years ago and commands a lot of respect from his workers. But, age is catching up on him fast. Also, the much younger workers are increasingly questioning and resisting his authority. If chucked out of the job, it might be difficult for him to find another job at his age. He is due to retire in another two years. Jai is a young MBA in marketing from a major B-School. He joined the company a year ago and started new advertising and marketing campaigns, at a tremendous cost to the company. His plans met with initial success, but then the sales were back to its initial levels. He handles the company's dealers in the northern region. But, his initial success seems to have gone to his head. He increasingly feels discontented when some of his new ideas are turned down by the higher management. 
    Jagdish is a marketing executive with the company for the last 6 years. Though not an MBA, he was still hired for the job due to his sharp acumen. In the years to follow, with an increasing mumber of MBA's joining the company, he was denied promotion last year. This caused bouts of deep depression, from which he recovered after two months. After that, he has been complacent in his work and sometimes even rude to the customers. 
    In a desperate cost-cutting measure, your company decides that it must reduce the workforce as a first measure. These four are the possible candidates for job termination. You, as a group, have to decide how many you will sack, which ones, and why?

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