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published: 22 Aug 2018

  • Topic: Leadership & Organisations
  • Industry: Retail, Technology, eCommerce
  • Region: Global

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Abstract:
After 18 months of attempting to transition the company to holacracy, Tony Hsieh, Zappos’ celebrity CEO, decided it was time to make the change happen. In March 2015, he sent an email to all Zappos employees offering them 3 months’ severance pay if they felt that self-management was not for them. One month later, 14% of the workforce had quit, including 20% of the tech department, potentially putting at risk a complex transition to a new online platform mandated by parent company Amazon. The case recounts how Tony Hsieh financed, championed, and ultimately became CEO of online shoe retailer Zappos. A passionate entrepreneur who made millions at a young age, Hsieh was known for his penthouse parties, for what he referred to as his “tribe”. He brought the same sense of community to Zappos, which he moved from San Francisco to Las Vegas where employees could “be like family”. Despite the company’s unabashedly weird culture, it had the lowest employee turnover rate in the industry. Widely admired for its outstanding customer service, Zappos was repeatedly listed among Fortune’s “Best Places To Work.” When in 2009 Amazon acquired Zappos for $1.2 billion, it promised to preserve its management and culture. But Hsieh’s decision to implement holacracy – a form of organizational self-management that replaces job titles and hierarchy with “circles” that employees step in and out of according to their preferences and skills – was less popular than hoped. Hence his “rip the Band-Aid” approach, to ensure that only employees committed to the change remained at the company.

Pedagogical Objectives:
Analyzing the role of culture in developing an organization’s competitive advantage - Discussing the purpose and impact of structure on those within an organization - Understanding the emotional experience of organizational change - Evaluating leadership in the context of radical change

Keywords:
Organizational Culture, Structure, Organizational Change, Leadership, Leading Change, Management, Holacracy

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published: 22 Aug 2018

  • Topic: Strategy
  • Industry: Travel Industry
  • Region: Asia

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Abstract:
The case is a combination of strategy formulation exercise and case method. It consists of three parts: 1) Part A looks into the competitive landscape of the travel industry in Korea and ends with the challenging question to participants to create their own blue ocean strategy as a group work. 2) Blue Ocean Shift Exercise is conducted in the classroom using the worksheets. It provides detailed information in a pre-set format. Participants follow the process of blue ocean shift using the Buyer Utility Map, the Noncustomer Analysis, the Six-Path Framework, the E-R-R-C Grid, and the To-Be Strategy Canvas to create their own blue ocean strategy. 3) Part B provides an example of creating a new market space in the travel industry in 2012 in Korea—My Real Trip. This theory-based video case narrates how My Real Trip reconstructed the market boundaries and created new demand in the crowded and divided travel industry. The strategic move can be discussed in the classroom accompanied by lecture slides.

Pedagogical Objectives:
1. To show how fierce competition in Korea’s travel industry led to dissatisfied customers and a price war that put local travel operators in financial trouble. 2. Market creation is not entirely driven by entrepreneurship, based on a random, high-risk endeavor, and conducted through trial and error. With market-creating tools and guidance, anybody can make a market-creating move with confidence and creative competence. 3. While the human element is often sidelined in strategy formulation, a Blue Ocean shift emphasizes the importance of building confidence for creating new growth. Without the confidence to act, few will venture down a new path. 4. My Real Trip identified the market problems and solved them in a different way by looking across industry boundaries – and across time. By offering a different degree and kind of value, My Real Trip achieved a Blue Ocean shift, shaping unfavorable industry conditions in its favor. 5. My Real Trip did not replace the existing industry; it seized new growth and created a new market and jobs that did not exist before. This is nondisruptive creation.

Keywords:
Blue Ocean Strategy, Blue Ocean Shift, Sharing Economy, Travel Industry, Korea, Entrepreneurship, Start-Up, Strategy Formulation, Workshop, Market Creation, Exercise, Innovation

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