This week our team was in a unique situation. We were part of a mega firm, and were at the bottom of the food chain. However remarkably we were in a strong position, our owners needed us to do well to boost their SHV and their owners needed both of us to do well to get their SHV back up after its massive dive the previous week. The problem we faced however was the issue of trust. We were now worth a lot more than when we were bought, selling us or draining us of our cash before dumping us would be a fast cash injection for any company. Secondly whilst our take-over was hostile, our owners knew they were being taken over before the previous roll-over, was their take-over a clue of collaboration between the two teams? The first week with our owners we felt had not been particularly collaborative and my team had a strong uneasiness with sharing our strategies. Contacting Peter and Smartsims did not help as they shared horror stories of teams turning on each other, either deliberately sabotaging their owners or stealing their subordinates’ cash. We did not want to be in that situation, and although I felt that we would be fine, it still sewed a seed of doubt in our minds.
I found myself nervous, I am not a fan of confrontation and I did not want to cause unnecessary conflict if we offended the other teams. I was reminded of a reading from a previous week about leadership. I could say I was a competent manager, I knew how to organise my firm, and I felt I had been an effective leader by stimulating my group to achieve higher standards. Could this be an opportunity to reach level 5 leadership? “A level 5 leader is one that encompasses a series of paradoxes”, although I felt shy and awkward about trying to confront our owners I knew that I needed to be fearless if I was to adequately protect my company (Collins, 2005). As CEO I had to step up I felt that the best situation was to be completely honest with our owners. I asked a lot of questions, why did you take us over? What were your plans for us? Do you plan to sell us? Do you plan to take our cash? What is your strategy? All to try and figure out if there was anything suspicious going on behind the scenes.
I had no past experience to compare with this situation to try and work through as solutions. As Peter had said to us, in the real world a hostile takeover would not be a comfortable situation. I generally am a trusting person and I found it hard to see that this company would try to ruin us, from my perspective there was no benefit for them. This was confirmed by the fact that we could not convince them to sell us. So we moved on to the second aspect of trust; how much, if any, of our strategy should be shared with them? We had learnt a lot about the internal clockwork of the simulation through our failures, and our grandparent firm had a number of recommendations which did not really make sense to us. In the end what it came down to was that we did not have to do what the other team recommended. We felt more confident and comfortable with our current strategies, we may trust the other two firms not to ruin us, but we were still in control of most of our decisions. In this regard we based our decision on our previous experience with the simulation rather than throwing out our strategy in favour of a team that has been doing really well the whole time. It sounds silly, surely you should trust an expert but I felt although we did not have the numbers we were still improving every week so there was no need for a drastic change.
As a result of the experience this week, I felt a strong connection to one of the readings that talked about evolution and revolution phases. I honestly have felt that this MikesBikes simulation has been a roller-coaster. From an above average result in the practice roll-overs we found ourselves floundering at $0.09 SHV in the real thing and then when we finally turned it around we were taken over. Although this scenario is not compatible with the 5 stage revolution and evolution phases that an organisation in the real world would go through I do feel like we have been through a couple of learning phases (Greiner, 1972). The first revolution was when we hit our lowest SHV, at this point we planned to start over and looked at the spreadsheets and data available to us again, realised where we were spending incorrectly and adjusted. However since we had improved it lead to a new problem that has caused the second revolution where we had to discuss strategies with two other firms in a previously isolated scenario (Greiner, 1972). I believe that my firm has grown stronger as a result and perhaps if we could have more time to run with the simulation we would be able to really push our shareholder value higher because we have learnt a lot more from our failures that we could have turned into success.
Collins, J. (2005). Level 5 Leadership: The Triumph of Humility and Fierce Resolve. (cover story). [Article]. Harvard Business Review, 83(7/8), 136-146.
Greiner, L. E. (1972). Evolution and revolution as organizations grow. [Article]. Harvard Business Review, 50(4), 37-46.