Don Burr’s vision for People Express was to create a better way for people to work together and to serve as a role model for other businesses. He implemented a minimal hierarchy as well as cross-utilization to achieve this. Cross-utilization can be an effective procedure in promoting flexibility and job rotation. It is also a great opportunity for employees to stay challenged and motivated, and learn different roles that they may be interested in (Schlesinger, & Whitestone, 2000, p. 11). Burr’s use of cross-utilization became limited and ineffective when People Express began experiencing staff shortages and cross-utilization became stagnated. People Express may have measured its effectiveness by soliciting feedback by surveying employees on the impact of their cross-training experience, and use that information to improve their efforts (Cancialosi, 2014). Instead of having monthly job rotations, the company could have instilled quarterly or annual job rotations to ensure stability within the different business units.
Burr also implemented a minimal hierarchy system, in which a flat organization structure was applied and there were only three formal levels of authority. Flat organizations increase employees’ responsibility and self-management, while encouraging autonomy and a simpler decision-making process (Meehan, 2018). On the other hand, flat structures also create confusion and authority struggles among management, and tend to produce competence, but not expertise (Meehan, 2018). There is also no clear sense of vertical growth and pathway of opportunity for employees. In Burr’s case, when the company began to face understaffing problems, People Express may have benefited from a hierarchal organization structure. In this business model, management has a clear sense of responsibility and enables employees to become experts in their field. Employees felt that they couldn’t raise questions, and management was less supportive and non-consulting (Schlesinger, & Whitestone, 2000, p. 20). Although hierarchies tend to have a lot of bureaucracy, the company may have benefited from a stronger management team to direct their line staff and receive direct input from their employees.
Antonio Mosquera’s vision for Merck Sharpe & Dohme was to restructure the organization’s culture, and did so by changing the management structure and implementing a training and development program. Like Burr, Mosquera’s vision entailed creating a better business model for their organizations. Unlike Burr, Mosquera didn’t want to serve as role model for other businesses, but rather improve the overall culture of his company. Like Burr, Mosquera aimed to restructure his organization to be less hierarchal. Hierarchies can be rigid and create “dysfunctional power dynamics” (Walsh, 2017). Such was the case for Merck Sharpe & Dohme Argentina prior to Mosquera’s joining. However, Mosquera did not incorporate a flat structure like Burr – instead he eliminated a level of bureaucracy and gave managers more authority to make decisive actions (Paine, & Hogan, 2006, p. 4). Managers in the previous system functioned less like managers and more like supervisors, without making any significant decisions. Mosquera’s restructuring was effective in increasing the flow of information throughout the organization by onboarding new employees who were “decisive yet flexible”, open to new ideas, and displayed good leadership skills” (Paine, & Hogan, 2006, p. 6).
Mosquera’s goal for his training and development program was to educate employees with the new MSD culture of information sharing, personal initiative, and non-authoritarian decision-making (Paine, & Hogan, 2006 p. 4). Don Burr also aimed to create a non-authoritarian organization. However, Mosquera was better at implementing this than Burr. Mosquera recognized that he would need to align staff training with the company’s new strategy to bring about a behavior change (Dessler, 2016, p. 194). Everyone, regardless of their position in the organization, was expected to have a plan for their professional and personal development. Managers were required to have 200 hours of training in learning the new values and expected behavior set in place by Mosquera. The case does not explore into the types of training and development that were offered, thus it is hard to say if it was effective in achieving Mosquera’s vision. It may be beneficial for the company to conduct lectures to staff, and introduce programmed learning since these cater to larger groups and take less time (Dessler, 2016, p. 203). Behavior modeling may also be useful, given that it is the most widely used, well-researched, and highly regarded psychologically based training intervention (Dessler, 2016, p. 203). To measure the effectiveness of these programs, MSD could have employees fill out an evaluation form to measure their reaction to the program, or by testing employees on the principles and skills they were supposed to learn (Dessler, 2016, p. 216).
Horst Schulze’s vision for Ritz-Carlton was to align his staff’s goals with the company’s overall success, and achieves this through their training and development program, and their Gold Standards policy. Like Mosquera, Schulze aimed to align his staff with the company’s vision. The Ritz-Carlton implemented The Gold Standards to further align employees with the company’s values. Schulze is effective in this policy because these standards were instilled through daily departmental lineups, which occur “before every shift, in every hotel, around the world” to strengthen the behaviors needed for employees to deliver high-quality customer service (Sucher, & McManus, 2005, p. 13). The lineups serve as an effective learning tool for reinforcing the company’s values and service culture on a daily basis. In contrast to Burr, Schulze implemented measures, such as The Gold Standards, which serve as a model of how employees should perform their job. Although these were well-defined standards, the Ritz-Carlton still had room for autonomy and creativity in relation to handling guest difficulties (Sucher, & McManus, 2005, p. 15). An even balance between employee autonomy while still upholding service standards is needed to empower employees, and Schulze is effective in this. When helping a guest with a problem, employees are encouraged to use their “empowerment” in creating a solution (Sucher, & McManus, 2005, p. 15). Having the freedom to solve problems of one’s own accord instills motivation and enables employees to give customers a more extraordinary experience.
Unlike Burr, the Ritz-Carlton had a clear hierarchy structure that placed importance on management. During the training and development program, Schulze aligns the managers of the hotel with the strategy of the company through conducting a separate leadership orientation where he explains what the role of being a leader entails, including the importance of customer satisfaction and in giving their employees a purpose (Sucher, & McManus, 2005, p. 14). Like Burr’s vision, the Ritz-Carlton served as a role model for other businesses. Specifically, their training and development program has been widely used by thousands of other companies. In fact, The Leadership Center was introduced in 1999, in which the Ritz-Carlton provides training and development services. Burr was unsuccessful in being a role model for other businesses, but perhaps if he had more supportive managers like Mosquera and Schulze, he would have been more successful.