W3 Discussion


Discussion: 3-1A) Initial Post Prompt ( in 6 hours needed)1. Go to YouTube or a search engine of your choice. Search on a term like ‘rational decisions,’ ‘rational decision making,’ ‘decision making in teams,’ or ‘decision making in organizations.’ Find an interesting and insightful video or article. Post the link and tell us why you chose it.2. Using the information you found in your search, explain how you could help Nutrorimin the All the Wrong moves case make better decisions. (the case is attached)—————————————B) Response Post Prompt:  ( 2 posts will provided in 24 hours – you have respond to each of them) Watch/read the information in the links of the people in your group. In your responses, complete the following:Discuss the similarities and differences you see between your recommendations to Nutrorim (the case) and the recommendations of your teammates.—————————————————————————————————————————————————————–Discussion: 3-2A) Initial Post Prompt: ( in 6 hours needed)Read the BPTrends column by Paul Harmon (http://www.bptrends.com/bpm-cognitive-computing-and-ibm/).Watch the IBM Watson commercial with Serena Williams (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sR7kyIxQ000 ).Speculate on the impact Watson could have on your professional decision making in the future.—————————————B) Response Post Prompt: ( 2 posts will provided in 24 hours – you have respond to each of them) Discuss the similarities and differences between the impact Watson could have on you and the impact it could have on your teammates.

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What’s the
right decisionmaking process
Four commentators offer
expert advice.
All the Wrong Moves
by David A. Garvin
Nutrorim’s best-selling sports supplement has been recalled because of
a “new and improved” ingredient. The company’s CEO wonders: Why
do the decisions we make keep coming back to haunt us?
All the Wrong Moves
by David A. Garvin
The cold January sky was just dawning gray
over Minneapolis as Don Rifkin awoke. With
every cell in his body, he longed to put a pillow
over his head and sleep, but the alarm added
insult to injury. Slapping the off button and
pulling on his oversized Turkish bathrobe, he
stole from the bedroom and quietly shut the
door behind him, leaving his wife to sleep. He
padded toward the kitchen and turned on the
Sitting down at the kitchen table, Don sleepily clicked a few keys on his laptop and began
glancing through his favorite stock chat. Scanning the list of senders, he saw a red exclamation point next to the name Stan with the headline “Bad news!” When he read the message,
Don gasped:
Did anyone hear that Wally Cummings just
resigned from Dipensit? Turns out he lied on his
resume—never received that PhD from U.C.
Berkeley as he’d claimed! The stock’s gonna
drop fast once this hits the street.
Don felt slightly queasy. A year earlier, his own
company, Nutrorim, had purchased a small
stake in Dipensit.“Sheesh, I didn’t exactly trust
that guy,” he grumbled.
He recalled how smoothly the whole decision
process had seemed to go when Laurence Wiseman, the hard-driving CFO of Nutrorim, had
championed the purchase of the Dipensit stock,
insisting that the small company might make
an excellent acquisition candidate in the future.
A subcommittee had been formed to carefully
review the purchase decision. Don vaguely remembered that there had been a few murmurs
of concern—someone had even questioned the
credentials of Cummings, the start-up’s CEO.
But in the end, the subcommittee seemed to
have addressed the concerns, and the senior
team stood behind the decision.
Don cinched his bathrobe tighter. During the
past year, Nutrorim had suffered from a spate
HBR’s cases, which are fictional, present common managerial dilemmas
and offer concrete solutions from experts.
harvard business review • decision making • january 2006
page 1
of bad decisions. In fact, that’s what today’s
meeting was about. A consultant, hired to
review the company’s decision-making processes, was coming in that morning to present
the results of his individual interviews with senior managers.
To Everyone’s Taste?
David A. Garvin (dgarvin@hbs.edu) is
the C. Roland Christensen Professor of
Business Administration at Harvard
Business School in Boston.
harvard business review • january 2006
The previous spring, Nutrorim had been at the
top of its game. Founded in 1986 by an organic
farmer and his wife, the company had sold its
products through a network of individual distributors before Don had joined as CEO in 1989.
Thanks to a series of testimonials offered by
doctors and personal trainers, Nutrorim’s products had gained national attention. Then, following an endorsement by a famous Olympic
athlete, sales of ChargeUp, the company’s organic, performance-enhancing supplement
powder, had gone through the roof. As a result,
Nutrorim had hired hundreds of new employees, expanded its production facilities, and acquired two vitamin firms. After going public in
1997, the company had expanded distribution
of ChargeUp through exclusive deals with nutrition stores and athletic clubs, and by 2002,
ChargeUp was the best-selling performanceenhancing sports powder on the market.
The following year, when the new version of
ChargeUp had been in its final stages of development, Don and R&D head Steve Ford had
dressed in white coats and walked through the
company’s huge lab, agleam with chrome and
white tile. They wended their way past stainless
steel tables where technicians milled seeds and
blended the all-organic ingredients that comprised Nutrorim’s various lines of vitamins and
nutritional supplements.
“Hey, Darlene, how are you?” Don waved at
a lab technician who was wearing gloves, a hair
bonnet, and a face mask and pushing a trundle
cart down an aisle. Though she was recognizable only by the walnut-rimmed glasses she
wore, she smiled—he could tell by the wrinkles
around her eyes—and said a brief “Fine, boss,
Don loved being in the lab. Though he was a
manager and not a scientist, he was an increasingly enthusiastic student of microbiology;
every day, he learned something new about the
nutritional benefits of Nutrorim’s products. He
also believed strongly in management by walking around. From the start, he had tried hard to
foster a happy, participatory, democratic cul-
ture at Nutrorim. This had seemed relatively
easy, since most of the company’s employees
hailed from the Minneapolis area, where “Minnesota nice” was practically a state law. It was
also partly an act of defiance: When Don was
fresh out of business school, he’d had a terrible
run-in with his boss, the dictatorial CEO of a retail chain.
Of course, there were some exceptions to
Minnesota nice, especially among the more
competitive, highly analytical types in upper
management. Wiseman, Ford, and a group of
others tended to form strong opinions and
push them aggressively. And while Don had
his own opinions—and often voiced them—
he also worked hard to keep the company’s
decision-making processes open and democratic, and made a point of asking for input
from as many people as possible.
Steve stopped at a table where a technician
was mixing raspberry-colored powder from
two large canisters into two beakers of water.
“Hey, Jerri, mind if Don does the blind taste
test?” he asked.
“Not at all, it would be an honor,” Jerri replied, pouring some liquid from a beaker into
two cups.
“Shut your eyes,” said Steve. Don complied,
and Steve handed him one of the cups. “Down
the hatch.”
Sipping from the first cup, Don recognized
the familiar taste of ChargeUp. It smelled like a
combination of dried raspberries, newly
mowed grass, and burnt toast.
“Here, take a sip of water before you try the
next one,” Steve offered. Don drank some, then
tried the second cup.
“So?” Steve inquired.
“No difference.” Don opened his eyes and
looked at Steve.
“That’s what we like to hear,” said Steve.
“The only real difference is that the second cup
is the one with Lipitrene in it.”
“Ah,” said Don. Lipitrene, developed in Nutrorim’s labs, was a new combination of organic oils and seeds that appeared to enhance
fat burning. Steve wore his pride in the new ingredient like a new father.
“We’ve finished with all the tests, and now
we’re gathering final input on the taste,” Steve
said, his eyes glinting. “The handoff to marketing and sales is already in gear.” He paused. “In
fact, I was invited to the product marketing
meeting at 2:00. Any chance you’ll be there?”
page 2
“I’ll drop in,” Don replied, “at least for a
“For decisions with a
certain amount of builtin predictability…the
process seems to work
really well. But if a
decision involves clear
winners and losers, it
The meeting started out peaceably enough.
Cynthia Pollington, the product marketing
manager, presented three final designs for the
new ChargeUp canister, all of which had“Now
with Lipitrene” splayed across them in large,
embossed letters. She asked everyone in the
room for feedback. In the end, the majority—
including Steve and Don—liked the label with
the gold letters. But when asked for her opinion, Nora Stern, a former entrepreneur whose
company had been acquired by Nutrorim the
previous year, was recalcitrant.
“Do I have to vote?” she asked.
“Well, we’d like your opinion, yes,” said Cynthia.
“Okay, here it is,” Nora responded. “I know
this whole thing is already a done deal, but I
don’t understand why there was this huge need
to improve ChargeUp. It’s selling very well as it
is. Why fix something that isn’t broken?”
Steve shot back,“Nora, you don’t know what
you’re talking about.” Everyone stared at Steve;
the silence was palpable.
Don jumped in, feeling the need to restore
peace. “Tell you what, Nora and Steve. Let’s
take this off-line, OK?”
The Recall
By late September, at the end of the first quarter, sales of ChargeUp with Lipitrene had leapfrogged the standard product by 20% in the
test market of greater Minneapolis. Plans for a
statewide launch, followed by a national one,
were well under way. Don was pleased. In an
all-staff meeting, he asked Steve and the
ChargeUp team to stand and be recognized.
“You have all demonstrated the kind of gung
ho spirit that makes Nutrorim a leader,” he
noted, nodding to Steve while the audience
broke into applause.
The phone call came on October 5. “Mr.
Rifkin?” said a male voice. “My name is Matthew Norton, and I’m an investigator with the
Minnesota state department of health. I’m
calling because we’ve been investigating 11
cases of gastrointestinal distress among people
who took your ChargeUp supplement with
“What? Are you sure?”
“Unfortunately, yes,” the inspector re-
harvard business review • january 2006
sponded.“The affected parties are all members
of Syd’s Gyms, and they all recall using the
product there between September 25 and 29.
The victims range in age from 19 to 55.”
Don felt the blood drain from his face.
“Are you telling me that the product has to
be recalled?”
“I don’t have the authority—or the evidence—to make you do that. So for the time
being, I’d simply like your cooperation in conducting an investigation. I understand that distribution is limited to the Twin Cities area, is
that correct?”
“That’s fortunate. Meanwhile, you may
want to consider a voluntary recall,” he said
just before hanging up.
Don asked his assistant to call an emergency
meeting with the heads of PR, sales, R&D,
Sports Supplements, and legal.
As he described his discussion with the inspector to the team, PR director June Rotenberg looked increasingly grim. When Don finished, she spoke up. “I just checked my voice
mail,” she said. “It was Linda Dervis at KXAQ
radio. One of the people who got sick must
have contacted her.” She looked around the
room. “Guys, once this news hits, things are
going to go downhill quickly.”
Jerry Garber, the general counsel, chimed in.
“I think we have no choice but to pull
ChargeUp off the shelves,” he said. “If we don’t,
we could be facing a class action lawsuit. Talk
about PR problems…”
“Why are we even considering a recall?”
asked Ned Horst, who headed the Sports Supplements division. “There’s nothing wrong
with the product. I should know, because I’ve
been using it since it came out.”
“I suspect you’re right,” Jerry added. “And a
recall will cost us.”
“Well, thank God we haven’t expanded distribution yet,” said Don.
“Recalls are expensive,” said June. “But
under the circumstances, I’m with Jerry. Besides, think about the cost of not recalling a potentially bad product.”
“Damn it, people, there’s no way ChargeUp
is unsafe!” Steve exclaimed, slamming his hand
down on the conference table. “We put Lipitrene through two full years of testing. We ran
all kinds of toxicity studies in animals and on
human volunteers. Then we did another tier of
clinical trials in humans.” He looked hard at
page 3
“It seems like everything
is a matter of debate.”
Nora sighed. “Ever since I
came here, I’ve been in
too many meetings about
harvard business review • january 2006
June. “If you need me to defend ChargeUp to
the health department, the reporters, or anyone else, I have about 500,000 pages of documentation to show them.”
“Of course we all believe you, Steve,” June
replied tentatively, “but that kind of response
can look like defensiveness, and it can backfire.” She looked pleadingly at Don. “I’ve already drafted a press release saying we’ll fully
cooperate with any investigation, but that’s
not enough. The public always seems to remember how a crisis is handled more than the
crisis itself. People will remember only how
long it takes us to act.”
Suddenly everyone began talking at once.
Steve took an increasingly entrenched position
against June, who tried to get him to see things
from the public’s perspective. Ned worried
openly about Nutrorim’s relationships with
Syd’s Gyms and other channel partners. Jerry
tried to remind everyone of famous recall
cases—the Tylenol crisis faced by Johnson &
Johnson, Suzuki’s recall of its 2002 and 2003
auto models—and noted how the companies
dealt with them.
The din in the room grew louder and louder.
Don, frustrated, whistled everyone to attention.
“Look, we’re getting nowhere,” he said. “The
first question here is, What are the criteria for
making a recall decision? What lenses should
we use to reach such an important decision?
We need that kind of framework to come up
with an answer, and we need that answer fast.
You, you, and you,” he said, pointing to June,
Jerry, and Ned. “Go find out as much relevant
data as you can, and pull together an analysis
in the next 24 hours. I’ll meet with you, and
we’ll form a preliminary view. I’m calling all
the senior managers for an 8 AM meeting tomorrow. You can present our findings, and
we’ll take a vote.”
He looked hard at Steve, who was scowling.
“Steve, I want you out of the discussion for the
time being. You’re a little too passionate about
this, and I need some cool analysis here. You
can speak your mind at tomorrow’s meeting.”
The following morning, after hearing the
analyses and prognoses, the majority of senior managers quickly agreed with the subcommittee’s view that recalling the product
was the only choice. Following the meeting,
June issued a press release announcing the decision. The release included a quote from
Don, assuring the public that Nutrorim was
“doing everything possible to cooperate with
the investigation.”
Two weeks later, Don received another call
from Matthew Norton. “I have good news,” he
said. “It turns out that the people who got sick
picked up a bug from the gym’s smoothie bar.”
Don gasped. “So that means Nutrorim is exonerated?” he asked.
“Yes, and fully,” the inspector replied. “We’ll
send out a press release saying so today.”
Calling All Volunteers
The boardroom was abuzz as Nutrorim’s 15
top managers settled into their seats. The
consultant sat quietly on Don’s right, sipping
“Okay, let’s get started,” said Don. “As you all
know, we’re going to hear this morning from
Synergy Consulting Group’s Gibson Bryer,
who will present his preliminary findings. But
first, let me review quickly why I, with the full
support of the board, wanted this process
Don reported that the board had been
heartened by a recent analyst’s report calling
the series of unfortunate events with
ChargeUp a “fluke” for an “otherwise solid
firm that has a history of making sound decisions.” Despite the fact that the analyst had
recommended a “buy,” the board members
were concerned about the damage to the
ChargeUp brand and adamant about making
absolutely sure that this type of thing would
never happen again. To that end, the board
strongly recommended a top-to-toe process
review. Gibson, having worked with two CEOs
who sat on the board, was the “obvious
choice” for a consultant.
Someone turned down the lights as the first
PowerPoint slide appeared on the conference
room screen. “I want to thank each of you for
allowing me to speak with you during the past
month,” the consultant began. “My initial findings show areas of agreement and disagreement about the effectiveness of the decisionmaking process at Nutrorim.” He clicked to another slide. “You told me that for decisions
with a certain amount of built-in predictability—decisions like how to improve your distribution network, whether to alter your print
ads—the process seems to work really well.”
He clicked to the next slide. “But if a decision
involves clear winners and losers, it stalls.”
Click. “A preliminary survey about the inner
page 4
Nora tightened her lips.
“Maybe it’s time for you
to take a more dictatorial
approach to decision
workings of the process itself, however, reveals
mixed reviews.” Click.
“Some of you feel that this company is too
consensus driven and that things don’t get
done in a timely fashion.” Click. “Others say
that the decision-making process is fine the
way it is. Still others get a bit frustrated at
times, wishing that the CEO would make definitive calls more often.” Click. “Some say that
the company deals well with tough issues; others say that conflict is too often suppressed or
swept under the rug and that this causes resentment.” Click. “Some feel that the culture of
the company is democratic and inclusive; others worry that the louder voices and squeakier
wheels dominate. Lights up, please. I’m assuming many of you have questions.”
Some hands went up, and Bryer spent 45
minutes methodically addressing the concerns.
Don looked at the clock and then stood up to
thank him. “It’s almost time for us to end this
meeting, but before we do, I need three volunteers for a subcommittee,” he said. “The next
phase of our work with Gibson is to come up
with a better, more resilient decision-making
process that works well both in calm times and
in rough. Anyone?”
No one volunteered. Then Anne Hannah,
who headed the vitamin division, and Ned
Horst tentatively raised their hands. Don
looked around the room and gazed at Nora,
the former entrepreneur.“Nora, I’d like you on
the team,” he said. “Your perspective is always
pretended not to hear. A few minutes later, he
walked to Nora’s office and tapped on the
door. “Got a second?” he said, poking his head
in the door.
Nora nodded, and Don perched on the corner of her desk. “You don’t look very pleased
about this,” Don said soothingly.
“Well, no,” Nora said, clearly peeved. “I’m
completely buried in this marketing launch at
the moment, and I have other fish to fry. And
to be honest,” she went on, “I’m pretty tired of
all this navel-gazing nonsense.”
“Well, I picked you because you seem to
hold back in the senior management meetings,” Don replied, trying his best to be gentle.
“You know, the ChargeUp problem presented
us with a real opportunity to look at what’s
broken. You come from outside the company,
and you have clever, fresh ideas. I think you are
just the person to bring these issues to the
“Look, Don, I appreciate that, and I completely sympathize with what you’re trying to
do. But I come from a company where all decisions were made in the room. I didn’t allow
anyone to leave until a call was made. Here, it
seems like everything is a matter of debate.”
She sighed. “You know, this consultant-driven
committee is just more evidence of what’s
wrong. Ever since I came here, I’ve been in too
many meetings about meetings.”
She tightened her lips. “Maybe it’s time for
you to take a more dictatorial approach to decision making.”
Just Make a Decision!
“Hey, Nora,” Steve said sarcastically, waving to
her as the meeting disbanded, “congratulations for volunteering. Jolly good show.”
Don, who was talking to another manager,
harvard business review • january 2006
What’s the right decision-making process
for Nutrorim? • Four commentators …
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