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Anne is an experienced direct marketer. Just promoted to CEO, Anne proves to be naïve in managing The ABC Catalog Company, despite her twenty years of experience with the company. She prefers to set simple, straightforward rules for her direct reports to follow. Her management philosophy has been influenced by advice from her mentor and by her personal experiences working with her direct reports when they were her colleagues. According to Anne “The big picture is for her (and perhaps her newly-appointed and trusted CFO, Jeff) to worry about.” Anne feels that many of her direct reports are incapable or unwilling to deal with the inevitable trade-offs that senior management must make, especially as new trends emerge. Yet she is unwilling to undergo a major management shake-up. Anne’s management approach backfires as the industry faces limits to growth and the company’s long-standing business model is tested. As management bonuses plummet and the parent company starts to meddle by bringing in consultants, the Merchandising SVP, Brad, sees his best career opportunity. He is frustrated with the diminished role Anne has allotted him and the perception that his nemesis, Jeff, is the heir apparent. That is supposed to be Brad’s destiny. His ego cannot take the slight. Brad takes the ultimate gamble, bringing his self-serving scenario of what ails The ABC Catalog Company to the parent company’s attention.


Abstract of presentation at the EMBRYO session of the Case Association 2004 Meeting. The Case Association. 2004 Proceedings of Cases in Progress. Presented in cooperation with: Eastern Academy of Management May 12-15, 2004 – Providence, RI.



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