The Power of a Case Study is one of Thomas Green’s two articles in the HBR Case Solutions series. It provides in-depth discussions on some of the best methods for managing client expectations. It discusses cases from the Value Stream Atlas, HBR Case Solutions, a Thomas Green case study, and business case studies on Amazon, Adidas, Raynaud’s, and Wikipedia.
The Case Study Analysis explores seven essential skills of a leader. It focuses on two ideas for developing leaders. The first two practices are: building a framework of value streams and thinking through how to demonstrate the company’s values.
Building value streams is an integral part of managing expectations for customers and employees. It involves several key strategies.
Define the mission. For Thomas Green, the mission of a company is not just about its products and services. He emphasizes that the mission must be defined before any company can thrive. His definition can help his clients as they work toward their mission. He suggests that creating the foundation of a mission as early as possible helps a company reach its full potential.
Create an agreement with your team. This refers to the distinction between leadership and manager-led teams. A team with a defined leader is characterized by a hierarchy of authority and responsibility. People with little authority in the organization may find it difficult to reach their full potential.
Encourage people to buy in. This is more of a creative strategy than a directive. Although it is often linked to the idea of creative leadership, it is not necessarily intentional leadership, so it does not have to be taught by a trained leader.
Keep it simple. Thomas Green recommends that new and ambitious business owners begin by structuring their organizations on an outline rather than trying to re-invent the wheel. Organizational structures can be organized by task areas and by departments. Companies should then design procedures for each task area to make it easy for everyone to do what they are supposed to be doing. In the case of product development, the company should create a process for getting products designed and developed by each department.
Creativity and innovation are the company’s own way of challenging expectations. When a new product or service gets introduced, companies should consider inviting customers to participate in testing and giving them feedback. The goal is to get feedback that will help the company in developing a new service or product. In the case of Adidas, the company will give customers a free pair of shoes if they complete a program to try out an upcoming model.
Consider implementing alternatives. By having a clear vision, companies can set a goal for each division. They can use a case study to show the benefits of an alternative instead of focusing on the negatives. This approach is referred to as case sharing. In the case of Adidas, the company created a simple website where customers could complete a survey, select a shoe from a variety of styles, and take advantage of instant delivery and other offers.
Make a plan of action. When Thomas Green writes the four-stage process, he argues that it should have four stages so that each step can be used to influence the company’s future actions. The first stage, or the heart of the plan, is to develop plans to drive future change.
The second stage includes identifying the risks and opportunities that are within the company’s control. Finally, the third stage takes the plan and follows the direction to implement it, making the whole plan the solution to the customer’s problem.