The New England Wire and Cable (NEWC) present a situation that was quite possibly very common amongst many towns and smaller cities in the United States during the mid-1980s to the early 1990s. As large corporations with new technology swept across the country, small town American and its legacy manufactures and companies struggled to keep pace. This case study references the New England Wire and Cable Company that in some ways was resistant to change. John P. Kotter’s article, Why Transformation Efforts Fail, outlines eight classic errors that are made in the transformation process. Likewise, Kotter’s article also outlines eight steps that could spearhead transformation within an organization. There was clearly a commonly hidden problem within the NEWC the so many times goes unseen. That problem was the leadership of NEWC.
In John Kotter’s article, the first error mentioned I believe is one of the most important of all the steps. Not establishing a great enough sense of urgency is a very common error. Without this, a company usually has no idea how it has already started the failure process. In the reference to the NEWC, Gregory Peck’s character Andrew "Jorgy" Jorgenson is the benevolent and folksy leader who is very near and dear to the small Rhode Island company. He is in a sense the hometown hero. Even his nickname, Jorgy, shows the affection that the workers established and personal relationship they with their boss. From his speech, it is clear that he and everyone else knew NEWC was in trouble financially. During Jorgenson’s appeal to the shareholder, he spoke as a friend and not as the leader of the company.
Danny DeVito’s character Lawrence "Larry the Liquidator" Garfield was a seen as a big city investor who was coming to destroy the hometown business that had supported most of the people of the town for decades. Even his nickname had casted him a villain. Garfield recognized the problem and did establish a great sense of urgency. He acted as leader and not as a friend. Garfield saw the facts and explicitly expressed the situation in his address to the shareholders. I would have taken a similar approach as Garfield. In most cases, you need an outsider or someone not as closely tied to the situation to help define the problem. I believe this is the reason many consultant are hired to give an honest observations of a company’s process. As a leader, you have to see the situation from a leader’s perspective.
Error number two is not creating a powerful enough guiding coalition. I think the key point about this coalition lies in one word, powerful. The word powerful as defined by position and not in number. Jorgenson clearly had the support of the people, the majority. He addressed the people of the company, the common worker that is. On the other hand, Garfield’s rebuttal was directed at the shareholders. Jorgenson’s coalition was a very powerful one in number of supporters, but Garfield’s speech had...