question archive Acme Manufacturing Company  Steve Arnold is a production manager at Acme Manufacturing Company in New Jersey

Acme Manufacturing Company  Steve Arnold is a production manager at Acme Manufacturing Company in New Jersey

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Acme Manufacturing Company

 Steve Arnold is a production manager at Acme Manufacturing Company in New

Jersey. When drove into the parking lot at the plant on Tuesday morning at 8:35, he was

already 35 minutes late for work. Steve had overslept that morning because the night before he

had stayed up late to finish the monthly production report for his department. He parked his car

and entered the rear of the plant building. Passing through the shipping area, Steve spotted his

friend George Summers and stopped to ask how work was progressing on the new addition to

George’s house.

 Entering the office at 8:55, Steve greeted his secretary, Ruth Sweeney, and asked whether

anything urgent needed his immediate attention. Ruth reminded him of the staff meeting at

9:30 with Steve’s boss—Frank Jones, the vice president for Production—and the other produc-

tion managers. Steve thanked Ruth for reminding him (he had forgotten about the meeting) and

continued on to his adjoining inner office to look for the memo announcing the meeting. He

vaguely remembered getting the memo in an email one or two weeks earlier, but did not take the

time to read it or look at the attached materials.

 His phone rang, and it was Sue Bradley, the sales vice president, who was inquiring about

the status of a rush order for one of the company’s important clients. Steve promised to look

into the matter and get back to her later in the day with an answer. Steve had delegated the

rush order last week to Lucy Adams, one of his production supervisors, and he had not thought

about it since then. Stepping back into the outer office, Steve asked Ruth if she had seen Lucy

today. Ruth reminded him that Lucy was at a training workshop in California. She would be

difficult to reach until the session ended late in the afternoon, because the workshop facilitators

regard cell phone calls and text messages as an unnecessary distraction.

 Going back into his office, Steve emailed a message to Lucy asking her to call him as

soon as possible. Then, he resumed his search for the memo about the meeting with his boss

and the other production managers. He finally found it in his large collection of unprocessed

emails. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss a proposed change in quality control proce-

dures. By now it was 9:25, and there was no time to read the proposal. He hurried out to get to

the meeting on time. During the meeting, the other production managers participated in the

discussion and made helpful comments or suggestions. Steve was not prepared for the meet-

ing and did not contribute much except to say that he did not anticipate any problems with the

proposed changes.

 The meeting ended at 10:30, and Steve returned to his office, where he found Paul Chen,

one of his production supervisors, waiting for him. Paul wanted to discuss a problem caused

in the production schedules by a major equipment breakdown. Steve called Glenda Brown,

his assistant manager, and asked her to join them to help rearrange the production schedules

for the next few days. Glenda came in shortly and the three of them worked on the pro-

duction schedules. At 11:25, Ruth came in to announce that Mr. Ferris was waiting and he

claimed to have an appointment with Steve at 11:30. Steve looked at his calendar but could

not find any entry for the appointment. Steve asked Ruth to tell Mr. Ferris that he would be

ready shortly.

 The schedules were completed around 11:40. Since it was nearly noon, Steve invited

Mr. Ferris to join him for lunch at a nearby restaurant. During lunch Steve learned that Mr. Ferris

was from one of the firms that provided materials used in the production process at Acme, and

the purpose of the meeting was to inquire about some changes in material specifications the com-

pany had requested. As Mr. Ferris talked, Steve realized that he would not be able to answer some

of the technical questions. When they returned to the plant at 1:15, Steve introduced Mr. Ferris

to an engineer who could answer his questions.

 Soon after Steve walked back to his office, his boss (Frank Jones) stopped in to ask

about the quality report for last week. Steve explained that he had given top priority to finish-

ing the monthly production report and would do the quality report next. Frank was irritated,

because he needed the quality data to finalize his proposal for new procedures, and he thought

Steve understood this task was more urgent than the production report. He told Steve to get the

quality data to him as soon as possible and left. Steve immediately called Glenda Brown and

asked her to bring the quality data to his office. The task of reviewing the data and preparing a

short summary was not difficult, but it took longer than he anticipated. It was 2:40 by the time

Steve completed the report and attached it to an e-mail to his boss. 

 Looking at his calendar, Steve noticed that he was already late for a 2:30 meeting of the plant

safety committee. The committee meets weekly to review safety problems, and each department

sends a representative. Steve rushed out to the meeting, which was held in another part of the

plant. The meeting was dull this week, without any important issues or problems to discuss.

 The meeting ended at 3:30, and as Steve walked back through his section of the plant, he

stopped to talk to his assistant manager. Glenda wanted some advice on how to resolve a prob-

lem in the production assignments for the next day. They discussed the problem for about a half-

hour. When Steve returned to his office at 4:05, his secretary was just leaving. She reported that

Lucy had called before leaving to fly home from the conference

 Steve was feeling tired and decided it was time for him to go home also. As he drove out of

the parking lot, Steve reflected that he was getting further behind in his work. He wondered what

he could do to get better control over his job.


 1.  What specific things did Steve do wrong, and what should have been done in each instance?

 2.  What should Steve do to become more effective as a manager?


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