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
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
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
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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