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Uninspiring Communication at Life Inspired

CASE STUDY, ORGANIZATIONAL BEHAVIOR
ET Cases, 11 pages

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Uninspiring Communication at Life-Inspired1

 

November 18th 2013 was to be a great day for Nimish John Mangudiyan (Nimish) except for the phone call from Thrissur, Kerala, India. Nimish was enjoying a long postponed family holiday in Dubai. His new venture, Life Inspired Retail Pvt. Ltd. (Life Inspired), had kept him very busy. However, as Life Inspired completed 2 years, Nimish squeezed out some time for the long-planned vacation. Also, he wanted his life partner and business partner, Tessy Nimish Mangudiyan (Tessy), to enjoy some personal time with family. Moreover, Nimish had decided for the vacation as he was relieved that he could put to rest the people issues which had been troubling Life Inspired in the last couple of months. He had shared with Tessy, how relieved he had been since the time the people’s problems had been put to rest. Little did Nimish know that the problems had vanished just temporarily and would bounce back!

On November 18th 2013, as Nimish was having lunch with his family in a plush restaurant on the beachside in Dubai, he received a phone call from one of his close confidantes back home in Thrissur. He was informed that some people issues in the organization had affected the pace of work on the ongoing project. This was the least that Nimish had expected when vacationing with his family after a long time and that too after having put to rest all the perceptible problems at Life Inspired. He had no choice but to cut short his vacation and be back at Thrissur to take charge of the situation. On his flight back to Kochi, en route to Thrissur, he was besieged with several intriguing questions that he wished had perfect and permanent answers. Quite disturbing was the promise he made to his father 2 years ago when he had said, “I just need a little financial support and I can handle everything else”...............

 



1 Certain information in this case study has been modified to maintain confidentiality.

Teaching Note Preview

Uninspiring Communication at Life-Inspired

 

Synopsis

This Case Study enables an interesting discussion on organizational communication challenges in the backdrop of the entrepreneurial story of Nimish John Mangudiyan (Nimish), the protagonist of the Case Study. Life Inspired, a spin-off of the family business of Paul & Sons, was a long cherished dream of Nimish. While he had started the venture after much preparation, it was quite disheartening for him to see his fledgling venture suffer due to communication issues. The Case Study helps identify the communication problems at Life Inspired and the workable solutions, in the light of established theoretical constructs, can be attempted. Organizational communication in a startup is quite an intriguing task. As people come together, processes get aligned and the purpose gets traction, organizational communication metamorphoses from being highly informal to being more formal. And this metamorphosis also means organizational challenges. This Case Study helps discuss the role of organizational communication in team-building and in organizational performance. Most importantly, it showcases the problems that a family business spin-off may face in professionalizing the organization.

Prerequisite Conceptual Understanding/Before the Classroom Discussion

Prerequisite Conceptual Understanding (PCU) material is the mandatory background material that would aid immensely in mapping the decision areas of this case study and bring a synthesis amongst the relevant concepts. The participants/students should be encouraged to read this material to benefit from the broader perspectives outlined in the case study.

a. Stephen P. Robbins, et al., “Communication”, Organizational Behavior, 15thEdition, Dorling Kindersley (India) Pvt. Ltd., India, 2013 – To develop an understanding on the concept and importance of organizational communication

The students were asked to read the following three sections of the book chapter in particular:

  • 1. Section 3: Direction of Communication
  • 2. Section 4: Interpersonal Communication
  • 3. Section 5: Organizational Communication (Formal Small-Group Networks)

 

b. “Blake and Mouton Leadership Grid”, http://www.makeadentleadership.com/blake-andmouton. html, (accessed date: September 13th 2014)

Suggested Reading for the Faculty

  • • T. Eisenmann and A.B. , “Scaling a Startup: People and Organizational Issues”, Harvard Business School, 2012 – To understand the five most important people and organizational challenges associated with the scaling up of a startup
  • • Bruce W. Tuckman, “Developmental Sequence in Small Groups”, Psychological Bulletin, Vol 63 (6), June 1965, 384-399. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/h0022100 – To explore the relationship between the stage of team formation and ideal communication format

 

Expected Learning Outcomes

At the end of this case study, the students/participants were expected to be sensitized/to be proficient with:

  • • Understanding the importance of organizational communication in general and in startups in particular
  • • Analyzing if organizational communication plays any role in organizational success, especially during the take-off stage of a startup
  • • Organizational communication dilemmas at a family-business’s spin-off
  • • Analyzing the role of organizational structure (business functions) in organizational communication
  • • Structuring an effective organizational communication process

 

Positioning/Case Setting

This Case Study can be suitably used in the following courses:

  • I. Concept of communication in Organizational Behavior course – To understand the directions of communication, interpersonal communication and organizational communication in formal small-group networks
  • II. Organizational communication in startups/family businesses/entrepreneurial firms – To highlight the broader connotations of the importance and structuring of organizational communication in a family business/startup and also to sensitize the participants to the relationship between organizational structure and organizational communication

 

Assignment Questions

I. What’s your assessment of the nature and intensity of organizational communication breakdown at Life Inspired from the standpoint of:

  • a. Direction of communication (upward, downward and lateral communication)
  • b. Interpersonal communication (oral, written and non-verbal)
  • c. Organizational communication at Life Inspired (formal small-group network and grapevine)

 

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During the Classroom Discussion

The classroom discussion of this Case Study was quite interesting as the participants had several points to debate on from the story of Life Inspired. The classroom discussion was carried out under five main sections [Exhibit (TN)-I]. At the end of each section, the participants were able to arrive at the key insights from the discussion. The Board Plan [Annexure (TN)-I], given at the end of this Teaching Note summarizes the orchestration of this case study in the classroom...............

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Abstract


This Case Study's1 purpose is to sensitize the participants to the importance of organizational communication. Nimish John Mangudiyan (Nimish), the third generation entrepreneur and a successful management graduate began his entrepreneurial journey with Life Inspired Retail Pvt. Ltd. (Life Inspired), a new product line of Paul & Sons' traditional furniture business line. Having had a successful career for about 8 years in India and Dubai and having an oriental look, Nimish was very upbeat about an affordable luxury home décor retail venture. Since the time Life Inspired was launched in 2011, Nimish had been grappling with several organizational impediments, the biggest being organizational communication. As the venture was to expand, he was besieged with lack of communication amidst his employees, jeopardizing the business as well as his promise to his father a few years ago. Having tried several solutions, he seemed to be exhausted at further options. What should he do to realign organizational communication with organizational goals?



Pedagogical Objectives

  • To understand and analyze the importance of organizational communication, especially in a startup and understand the relationship between organizational communication and organizational success
  • To discuss and debate on the possible solutions for organizational communication dilemmas at Life Inspired
  • To analyze the role of organizational structure (business functions) in organizational communication and examine if there are effective ways to structure effective communication

Positioning/Case Setting

This case study can be suitably used in the following courses:

  • Concept of Communication in Organizational Behavior course - To understand the directions of communication, interpersonal communication and organizational communication in formal small-group networks


1 Certain information in this case study has been modified to maintain confidentiality



This Case Pack Includes:
 - Abstract
- Case Study
- Teaching Note (**ONLY for Academicians)
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