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«Linking Strategic Planning and Management Manpower Planning by Laurence J. Stybel A corporate strategic plan is merely an expensive report until it ...»

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Decline—As market share declines, it may be necessary to achieve a smooth exit from the marketplace. Plants may have to be shut down, sold off, or allocated to other SBUs. The ideal SBU manager for this phase is someone capable to making potentially painful decisions or someone crafty enough to negotiate a profitable sale for the SBU. Since the focus of this phase is on the dissolution of an organization, not the development or maintenance of one, Gamesmen may not be suited to this role and Corporate Men may lack the emotional stamina necessary to make risky and unpopular decisions. This type of situation is well suited to the Lion Jungle Fighter.

Another options for the SBU in the decline phase is to augment products through the introduction of novel or path-breaking technologies. This would bring the SBU back to the introductory phase and the Lion-type Jungle Fighter.

Neptune Computers The following case illustrates applications of corporate strategic planLAURENCE J. STYBEL ning and management manpower planning in relation to the hardware R & D department of "Neptune Computers."

Neptune Computers is a minicomputer firm with 1982 hardware sales of $150 million. For the past ten years, Neptune's hardware R & D department prided itself on being on the cutting edge of technology.

It had managed to attract and retain some of the country's best, high-level engineering talent. Most of them were Craftsmen, in the sense of being perfectionists about their work, and not particularly sensitive to financial or marketing constraints. Neptune was in the midst of a major growth period, where projected sales would reach $700 million within five years. In response to an increasingly competitive environment, a strategic decision was made to change focus of the company. In the past, Neptune was known as afirmwhich was always on the cutting edge of technology in minicomputer hardware. The new emphasis would be to develop the strongest and most creative software R & D group in the industry. R & D technological breakthroughs in minis would be replaced by innovations of existing Neptune products.

This change of strategy required that the R & D department culture be altered from that of a collection of brilliant prima-donna Craftsmen to that of a cohesive team of scientists committed to achieving the new game plan. The cost of such a requirement would be that Neptune would probably lose some of its most creative technical people. The full impact of the change would not be felt for another year. In the meantime, it was important to integrate a manpower planning program for the R & D department to achieve the objectives of the corporate strategic plan.

A program was established for a select group of R & D professionals.

Those in the program would be given an opportunity to gain first-time experience in sales, field and engineering, assembly operations, and software R& D through a six-month series of short-term rotations.

These professionals would have an opportunity to see the impact of their ideas in a broader corporate context. The goal of the program was to help insure a cadre of R & D hardware professionals who perceived themselves as less isolated from what would be the new corporate mainstream and to identify those people likely to assume leadership of hardware R & D within the next thirteen years. Seven professionals volunteered for the program, and the R & D manager identified three whom he felt would be the most suitable. These three were the least technically proficient, and therefore the most expendable in terms of the R & D manager's present project.

Given the strategic goals for the hardware R & D department, it was important that those selected for the program be Gamesmen or be Craftsmen with the potential of becoming Gamesmen. The seven


volunteers' personnel records were reviewed for evidence that they had been team leaders or team developers. In addition, psychological assessments were performed on the seven volunteers to determine those most likely to be Gamesmen/Craftsmen. Of the seven volunteers, two of the R & D manager's candidates had the necessary traits.

One of the volunteers not selected by the R & D manager also had the capability. These three completed the rotational program; one year later, they were three of six professionals who volunteered to attend in-house management development workshops. One of the three managers was eventually selected to become the new R & D manager when that manager resigned to accept a high-level position with another firm more interested in staying on the cutting edge of hardware technology.

The elements of the project at Neptune included a clear strategic game plan for the company and how it would impact on the hardware R & D department. This impact was then translated into a job-related management classification scheme capable of differentiating those qualities necessary for successful leadership of the R & D department.

A skills inventory of existing personnel was taken to identify those engineers with the required leadership qualities. Psychological assessments were used to provide back-up data since some of these engineers' jobs did not provide them with many opportunities to demonstrate Gamesmenlike behavior. Finally, a development program was installed to insure that those with the desired qualities would have the necessary background to assume leadership positions.


Just as the product life cycle is a useful conceptual device in corporate strategic planning, Michael Maccoby's managerial classification is a useful conceptual device for management manpower planning. When linked together, these two frameworks provide senior management with a powerful tool for insuring that the execution of corporate strategy is entrusted to the SBU managers most likely to carry it out.

The high-technology sector has been the major focus in this article because Maccoby's classification scheme is based on interviews with managers in this sector. It is, however, quite likely that his classification scheme might be appropriate for other industries as well.

The model, while useful, does not begin to scratch the surface of the difficulties involved with implementing it. In the case of management manpower planning, there are three major difficulties in implementing the model.

The first difficulty rests with an implicit assumption that it is acceptable to pull an SBU manager from an organization and replace the manager with someone else as the SBU enters a new phase of the 56 LAURENCE J. STYBEL PLC. While it is acceptable practice for baseball managers to change pitchers midgame in response to new developments, this philosophy of management succession flies in the face of a traditional assumption made by many chief executives and boards of directors. That assumption views senior managers as magical renaissance leaders who ought to be able to lead the SBU under any circumstances. K they cannot do so, it indicates a failure on the manager's part. The model described here assumes a finite set of managerial capabilities. It is very doubtful that there are many managers capable of performing competently under all PLC phases. Management removal is not so much a sign of personal weakness as it is a recognition that managers have finite capabilities.

A second and related difficulty rests with career assumptions made by SBU managers themselves. They, too, tend to see themselves as renaissance leaders capable of meeting the challenges of all PLC phases. There is also a natural tendency to want to remain in one's leadership position in order tofinishthe job. The model described here assumes that there is an organizational climate and a compensation system which encourages high internal management mobility from one SBU to another as circumstances change. Such an organizational climate will be difficult to foster and wiU likely meet with stiff initial resistance.

A third difficulty focuses on the available technology to identify managers in terms of Maccoby's classification scheme. Self-reports are notoriously inaccurate. Performance appraisals are useful but can be distorted for political reasons or by the desire of superiors to justify salary increases for their people. In addition, the situational or technical nature of some jobs may not allow for the full expression of latent capabilities. Psychological assessments or assessment centers can provide management selection committees with useful second opinions, along with evaluation of formal track records and self-assessments.

These problems are very real, and there will be many chief executives who will cogently argue that the potential benefits of this approach to management manpower planning do not outweigh the costs of possibly destabilizing the status quo. But there are managerial types who would probably view the same situation as an enormous opportunity.


1. Business Week, "Wanted: A Manager to Fit Each Strategy" (25 February 1980) pp 166-168.

2. Michael Maccoby, The Gamesman (New York: Bantam 1976).

3. Bruce Henderson, On Corporate Strategy (Cambridge, MA: Abt Books, 1979).

4. Theodore Levitt, Marketing for Business Growth (New York: McGraw Hill, 1974).

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