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what should Boyer do now in the attached case?
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4360
NOVEMBER 9, 2011

MICHAEL BEER
INGRID VARGAS

Celeritas, Inc.:
Leadership Challenges in a Fast-Growth Industry
Celeritas CEO Philip Boyer was in an upbeat mood during the 90-minute drive back to Boston
from his companys off-site meeting. He and his five senior vice presidents (SVPs) had just engaged
in a two-day team-building exercise that he believed would reenergize the company and help to
jump-start the next phase of growth. His SVPs all seemed to trust and respect the organizational
development consultant who had run the offsite, and he was confident that they would follow
through on their commitments to enrich the strategic plan and improve their relations with one
another. His only concern was that the exercise had uncovered what might be a serious problem
with Dave Lloyd, his SVP for Sales and Marketing. Ill deal with Lloyd after next weeks vice
presidents meeting, thought Boyer. He was looking forward to sharing the progress made at the
offsite with the 21 vice presidents who would have to implement the executive teams plan.

The Business
Celeritas was a leading firm in the enterprise network optimization industry, a highly competitive
industry that provided businesses with solutions to accelerate and enhance their existing computer
networks. Until recently, industry revenue had been largely based upon Wide Area Network (WAN)
acceleration, a market estimated at $1.1 billion in 2010, with a projected compound annual growth
rate (CAGR) of 20% over the next several years. Additionally, facilitation of cloud computing
presented a new market opportunity for Celeritas and its competitors. In 2011, cloud computing was
beginning to transform IT service delivery. Cloud computing and related technologies offered a
centralized system of virtual storage and applications that allowed businesses to access data and
applications from anywhere through a high-speed internet connection.
Founded in 2003 by three MIT engineers, Celeritas was among the first companies to offer WAN
accelerators to businesses looking to boost the speed and performance of network links at their
remote offices. Celeritas large team of research engineers designed both hardware and software at its
Cambridge, Massachusetts, offices. Celeritas had quickly established a reputation for quality and
innovation, often being the first to market with product enhancements and new solutions. Annual
revenue more than doubled each year until 2008, when growth slowed to 40%. Since then, annual
growth had remained above 20%, but Celeritas had missed its sales targets for the first two quarters
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
HBS Professor Michael Beer and writer Ingrid Vargas prepared this case solely as a basis for class discussion and not as an endorsement, a source
of primary data, or an illustration of effective or ineffective management. This case, though based on real events, is fictionalized, and any
resemblance to actual persons or entities is coincidental. There are occasional references to actual companies in the narration.
Copyright © 2011 Harvard Business School Publishing. To order copies or request permission to reproduce materials, call 1-800-545-7685, write
Harvard Business Publishing, Boston, MA 02163, or go to http://www.hbsp.harvard.edu. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored
in a retrieval system, used in a spreadsheet, or transmitted in any form or by any meanselectronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or
otherwisewithout the permission of Harvard Business Publishing.
Harvard Business Publishing is an affiliate of Harvard Business School.

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4360 | Celeritas, Inc.: Leadership Challenges in a Fast-Growth Industry

of 2011, lowering its projected revenue to $280 million for the yeara 17% increase over the previous
year. Several competitors had seen better growth during the past few years, threatening Celeritass
position as a top player. The fact that Celeritas was the last of the six largest industry players to
launch products to enhance the new cloud computing technologies added to the negative outlook.
Celeritas executives disagreed on the reasons for slowed growth. Each SVP maintained that his or
her own area was running smoothly and that other units had dropped the ball. Sales and Marketing
took much of the heat. Boyer believed that high employee turnover, low morale across the company,
and lack of cooperation among divisions were the principal problems affecting the business. In fact,
he had already tried working with an expert in organizational effectiveness a year and a half ago.
That consultant had studied the issues and made some recommendations, but nothing had come of it.
Boyer believed that his executive team never took the consultants work seriously, and had resisted
implementing any changes.
Undaunted, Boyer had searched for a new heavyweight
organizational consultant who had experience working with fast-growing high-tech companies; the
name that kept cropping up was Carla Reese.

Planning the Intervention
Consultant Carla Reese spent several hours discussing Celeritass organizational structure and
reporting relationships with Boyer. (See Exhibit 1 for an organizational chart.) Boyer attributed
Celeritass early success in large part to the strong teamwork among the founders and the companys
first employees, and he wanted Reese to help reestablish positive working relationships. Boyer
explained that in Celeritass early years, he and his two cofounders made all of the decisions, and the
next level of management carried them out without question. A few years ago, one co-founder left to
return to academic research and the other left to launch a new venture. Since then, Boyer had run the
company on his own. Im the only one who has the whole picture, so Im the one who has to make
all the major decisions, he told Reese. When I took over in 2005, Celeritas had 450 employees.
Today we employ more than 1,000. The business has become so large and complex that I need a
strong team to help me. Boyer continued:
I want to delegate more, but thats tough to do when my team is divided and not
necessarily seeing the big picture. Each of my SVPs is highly competent within their own
functional area. Take Vishal Arul, our chief scientisthes a brilliant MIT Ph.D. who knows
enterprise networking as well as anyone alive. But Im not sure that Vishal or any of the others
has the vision and foresight needed to make the strategic decisions that will have the biggest
impact on the future of this company. My approach is to solicit information rather than
opinions. I listen to what each of my SVPs has to say, but in the end I make the decisions.
Reese learned that Boyer gathered information via the weekly executive management meeting
and through the monthly written reports produced by each SVP. Every Monday afternoon Boyer
and his five SVPs met for two hours. (Executive profiles are in Exhibit 2.) Boyer would ask each SVP
to discuss what was happening in his or her area, including a run-down of major accomplishments
and challenges.
If theres an issue that needs my attention, Ill usually ask for additional data to allow me to
make an informed decision. Sometimes Ill ask my SVPs for input on whatever Im working
on, and I might start the next meeting with an update on how Ive decided to handle it.
Boyer was concerned about the antagonism that he sensed among his top executives. I want you
to focus on team building, he told Reese. This group needs to understand that Celeritass goals take
precedence over any divisional objectives. Thinking of the previous years failed attempt at change,
2

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Boyer stressed the need for Reese to gain buy-in from his executives and to be involved in the first
stages of implementing whatever changes needed to be made. They agreed to start off with a series
of in-depth interviews to identify the key challenges facing the leadership team, and then to address
these challenges at an off-site meeting. The third step would be to involve the next level of
managementCeleritass VPsin the process.

Reese Digs Deeper
Reese held 90 minute one-on-one interviews with each of the five SVPs. Her goals were to get the
SVPs to trust her and to gain an understanding of each SVPs interests and concerns. Most of the
SVPs expressed skepticism about having anything positive or meaningful come out of the process,
but they generally seemed to welcome the opportunity to vent, and made some very revealing
comments which Reese took note of for use in the team-building exercise. Much of what Reese heard
in the interviews fell in line with what Boyer had related to her. Most saliently, everyone recognized
that Boyer made all the major decisions. Only two big surprises came out of her conversations with
the SVPs: questions about Boyers effectiveness as a leader and manager, especially with regard to
his indecisive entry into the cloud technology market, and the personal animosity toward sales and
marketing head Dave Lloyd that was expressed by all four of his fellow SVPs. Both of these issues
could easily derail the team-building process and would have to be handled with care, thought
Reese.
Once all of the executive interviews were completed, Reese reviewed her notes and summed up
the issues into four main areas of concern to address at the offsite.





Lack of trust and communication among senior executives
Inconsistent decision making and follow-through
Confusion about company goals and priorities
Poor coordination among business functions and units

The goal was to have an open and honest discussion of each issue and to come to some agreement
on how to move forward on each. To help motivate structured discussion at the offsite, Reese
prepared a PowerPoint outlining the four issues and illustrating each with a few anonymous quotes
taken from the interviews. (See Exhibit 3.)

The Executive Offsite
The executive offsite was held on a Thursday and Friday in August 2011. Reese started off the
meeting by describing her role and setting a few ground rules:
Each of you has discussed with me some of the challenges you have faced working with
colleagues in this room. Today you are here to talk with each other about those challenges,
and how to overcome them. I encourage you to be honest and respectful. To help you do that,
I will be enforcing a few simple rules: (1) Stay on topic; (2) When talking about another person,
look him or her in the eye; (3) Allow the person being discussed a chance to respond; (4) Any
person receiving criticism has the power to stop the discussion and request a move to the next
topic.
Next, she used the PowerPoint slides to introduce the four topics that emerged from the interviews,
and suggested that they tackle them one by one.

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3

4360 | Celeritas, Inc.: Leadership Challenges in a Fast-Growth Industry

Issue 1: Lack of Trust and Communication among Executive Management Team
To get things started, Reese presented a few of the interview quotes about trust and asked the
executives to elaborate or respond. The SVPs hesitated to say anything, but Boyer broke the ice by
saying that everyone should feel free to speak his or her mind. He went on to say that he had noticed
that his direct reports had a tendency to come to him with concerns about their senior colleagues or
their divisions, rather than speak directly with each other. I cant see why you dont just work out
disagreements among yourselves, exclaimed Boyer.
I think many of the communication issues have to do with our different backgrounds and styles
of interacting, volunteered CFO Shawna Davis. For example, most of you have engineering or
mathematical backgrounds and are accustomed to dealing with clear-cut facts, but Dave operates in a
world of relationship building and deal-making. Sometimes it seems that you speak different
languages.
I dont think its a question of not being able to understand each other, said CTO Carlos Rivera,
I think some of our personalities just dont mesh well. Its difficult to communicate with someone
who is easily angered.
Lets be clear, injected COO Mike Harper. Its impossible to engage in a civil discussion with
Dave. He gets very defensive and treats everyone like the enemy.
I have no trouble expressing myself, countered Sales SVP Dave Lloyd, and if I have to raise my
voice to be heard, I will. He went on to recount the many times that engineering had missed product
deadlines, putting client relationships at risk. The others had heard this from Lloyd before, and Arul
and Harper joined Rivera in arguing that their divisions should not be held responsible for meeting
unrealistic promises made by Sales.
After about 30 minutes of heated discussion, Reese saw the conversation heading toward an
impasse, and interrupted the SVPs to introduce the second major issue she had uncovered.

Issue 2: Inconsistent Decision Making
Arul launched into this topic, saying: I have a problem with any one of us independently going
to Phil to make our case and try to get a decision in our favor. Strategic decisions about important
things like new products need to be discussed and made as a team.
The problem is that decisions based on one-on-one meetings with Phil are often reversed when
others protest or make their own case, volunteered Harper. I cant be telling my managers to make
changes that will be rescinded days later. That wastes time, frustrates my people, and undermines
my authority.
The five SVPs urged Boyer to be more transparent about how and why he reached a particular
decision and that once a decision had been communicated, he should remain firm. Boyer looked a bit
uncomfortable hearing this from his team, but managed to listen and responded that going forward
he would try to be more conscious of the effects of decision reversals. However, he pushed back on
the issue of transparency. I dont believe I have to explain my decisions to anyone but the Board of
Directors. Nevertheless, I do bring all of you into discussions of the issues Im grappling with during
our Monday meetings. Everyone has a chance to provide input, and I usually share my own thinking
on the subject, said Boyer.
This opened the door to a discussion about the executive team meetings, with the five SVPs
agreeing that meetings were not effectively used to deal with substantive matters. My feeling has
4

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Celeritas, Inc.: Leadership Challenges in a Fast-Growth Industry | 4360

been that Phil doesnt want contentious issues discussed at team meetings, and prefers that we come
to him privately with such things, said Harper. Im wondering why we havent been using our
weekly executive management meetings to address some of the issues that are coming up today,
said Davis. Instead, we usually talk about administrative matters that are not directly connected to
corporate goals and strategy.

Issue 3: Confusion about Goals and Priorities
Reese turned the executives attention back to her slides. Lets talk about your quotes regarding
goals and priorities. It seems to me that there is some disagreement about what the top goals of the
company are or should be. How are Celeritass goals communicated to employees?
Boyer referred Reese to Celeritass published mission statement and explained that each year he
leads a retreat for senior managers, including his five SVPs and all of their direct reports. I talk
about achievements over the past year and present our goals for the coming year. As long as the vice
presidents are communicating these goals to their teams, there shouldnt be any confusion.
Actually, I think there is confusion, even among senior management, offered Davis. From my
perspective is seems goals are communicated in very broad strokes, leaving a lot of room for differing
interpretations. Lloyd agreed: The top goals tell us about objectives, but theres no clear direction
on what path we should take to reach those objectives.
It often seems that each one of us has our own idea of what Celeritas should be doing now and
on the direction it should take for the future, said Harper. The problem is that some of our ideas
are conflicting, so we end up working at odds with each other. We need specific goals and priorities
in order to come up with a unified strategy.

Issue 4: Poor Coordination among Divisions
Several of the SVPs had told Reese that there was not much interaction between the various
divisions. Coordination was minimal, and unless Boyer specifically dictated cross-division
collaboration on a particular project, it didnt happen. While the problem existed across all divisions,
the discussion of this issue centered around Lloyds personality and management style. The SVPs
took turns describing incidents in which Lloyd had been overly aggressive or hostile. Reese
reminded them to look Lloyd in the eye as they spoke. Boyer remained quiet but was listening
carefully to the claims that Lloyds confrontational style did not fit in at Celeritas. The discussion
became quite heated toward the end of the day.
Daves people are constantly making promises without consulting with my team, said Harper.
He tells a client that an improvement will be ready by an unrealistic date, then we get pressured to
meet client expectations. We have to reorganize production schedules to meet his whims. Basically,
weve got the marketing tail wagging the corporate dog.
It seems like Dave is more concerned with promoting his ego than with whats best for Celeritas.
Hes like the big man on campus who needs to show off in front of clients by proving that he can
make things happen, added Davis.
None of you get what the role of marketing and sales is, retorted Lloyd. We build
relationships with clients, and they need to believe that we have some pull to get things done for
them, or we have no credibility. Its not marketing thats wagging the dog, its our client baseand
thats how it should be!

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4360 | Celeritas, Inc.: Leadership Challenges in a Fast-Growth Industry

So now youre saying our clients should run the company, exclaimed Arul. With thinking like
that, its no wonder were missing sales targets.
Yes, lets face it, said Rivera. The reason were even having this team building is because
sales are down. Its not because theres a problem with research, engineering, or operations. All of
the other divisions are doing their jobs, so why arent you doing yours?
Because our sales and marketing division is half the size of our competitors! yelled Lloyd.
Then he took a deep breath and continued with a level tone. Celeritas is stuck in a time when it was
one of the few companies out there selling a new technology. Things have changed, but most of you
dont get that. We need to make a serious investment in marketing to move our products.
Dave, youre the one who doesnt get it, said Arul. Every dime we spend on marketing is a
dime that doesnt go toward technology innovation. If we dont spend enough to take the lead on
innovation, someone else will get the next breakthrough and our products will become obsolete.
Lloyd interrupted: Our clients arent willing to bankroll the next breakthrough. Celeritass prices
are higher because we need to cover exorbitant R&D costs, while our competitors are offering
cheaper solutions to meet the markets immediate needs. Who do you think is winning?
We are winning on quality, responded Rivera. Our products are superiorand if you dont
believe that, then you shouldnt be marketing them. Celeritass reputation was built on cutting-edge
technology, and that is the only thing that will get us back on top.
Boyer had become increasingly uncomfortable with the tenor of the discussion, and finally
stepped in to calm things down. Weve certainly got a lot out on the table, and I think thats a good
thing. These are business disagreements, not personal ones, he said. Lets remember that we are
all on the same team. I say we call it a day and meet up later for dinner.

Preparations for the Second Day
The first day ended at 3:30 pman hour and a half earlier than had been scheduled. Reese and
Boyer took the time to strategize for day two. They decided to spend the day working on the third
issue by having the team define a clear set of goals and priorities in the morning, and then discuss
how the divisions would work together to meet those goals in the afternoon. Reese decided not to
join the team for dinner to allow them time to relax among themselves.
After a rather tense and quiet dinner, Boyer invited the group to a bar for drinks. Later, Boyer
recalled That was one of the best moves Ive ever made, he later recalled. The six of us had quite a
bit to drink and really got loose. It broke the tension, and people started saying how good it had felt
to get things out into the open. We were even laughing about some of the arguments wed had. Im
sure thats what set the stage for the great work we did on day two.
During the second day of the offsite the SVPs appeared less agitated and more willing to listen to
each other. Carla and I clearly picked the right topics for day two, thought Boyer. The team got
down to facts and numbers and as a result there were no emotional outbursts. Boyer was quite
pleased with the results of the offsite, and began thinking about next steps during his drive back to
Boston.

6

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The Vice Presidents Meeting
Back in Boston, Reese was planning the next stage of the organizational change process. She was
satisfied with how the offsite had turned out, but was more cautious in her optimism than Boyer. She
had noticed that Lloyd had held back during the second day, speaking only when directly asked for
his input. She was also discouraged by the news that during her 30-minute absence to make a phone
call on the second day, the momentum in the room had slowed, and people were less engaged. Still,
she and the executives were proud of the strategic planning they had accomplished on the second
day, and she was looking forward to leading the meeting where the outlines of the plan would be
shared with Celeritass 21 vice presidents.
Reese had been planning to hold the vice presidents meeting a week or two after the offsite, but
over the weekend Boyer had sent out an email to the SVPs and the 21 VPs who reported to them,
announcing they were all required to attend an important meeting Tuesday afternoon. The VPs
were not happy about having to clear their schedules on such short notice and some were grumbling
as they filed into the large conference room. Boyer stood at the front of the room with Reese sitting
close by. Ive brought you together to unveil a new era of teamwork and cooperation across
Celeritas. The SVPs and I are fired up about a new approach that is going to smooth the way to
increasing market share and profits, said Boyer. The executive team will be joining us in a few
minutes, but first I want to introduce you to Carla Reese, an organizational consultant who has been
working with us on this new initiative.
Reese stood up and explained the idea of team building and why Boyer and his staff believed it
was important to the continued success of Celeritas. She talked about organizational development
generally and outlined the four issues that had been addressed at the offsite. The VPs listened with
interest, and Reese could see some of them nodding in agreement. But as Reese summed up the
changes that the executives had agreed to make, and how she was confident that with the help of
everyone in the room, Celeritas would be reenergized, the VPs became restless and began whispering
among themselves.
As soon as Reese opened the floor to questions, one VP stood up and asked, Dont you think that
there may be a couple of people in the executive group who wont change, either because they dont
want to, or because they lack the capacity to do so? Reese responded with a flat No. She said
that she had worked with many groups in the past and that she was convinced that this team was
committed to changin...

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what should Boyer do now in the attached case?
Boyers ideas have not take fruit. Though his leadership has been greatly appreciated and
people in the organizations and VP have been very...

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