Case Study DGL International

When DGL International, a manufacturer of refinery equipment, brought in John Terrill tomanage its Sales Engineering division, company executives informed him of the urgentsituation. Sale Engineering, with 20 engineers, was the highest-paid, best-educated, andleast-productive division in the company. The instruction to Terrill: Turn it around. Terrillcalled a meeting of engineers. He showed great concern for their personal welfare andasked point blank: “What’s the problem? Why can’t we produce? Why does this divisionhave such turnover?Without hesitation, employees launched a hail of complaints. “I was hired as an engineer,not a pencil pusher.” “We spend over half of our time writing asinine reports in triplicatefor top management, and no one reads the reports.” We have to account for every penny,which doesn’t give us time to work with customers or new developments.”After a two-hour discussion, Terrill began to envision a future in which engineers were freeto work with customers and join self-directed teams for product development. Terrillconcluded he had to get top management off the engineers’ back. He promised theengineers, “My job is to stay out of your way so you ca do your work, and I’ll try to keeptop management off your backs, too.” He called for the day’s reports and issued an order effective immediately that the originals be turned in daily to his office rather than mailed toheadquarters. For three weeks, technical reports piled up on his desk. By month’s end, thestack was nearly three feet high. During that time no one called for the reports. When other managers entered his office and saw the stacks, they usually asked, “What’s all this?”Terrill answered, “Technical reports, No one asked to read them.Finally, at month’s end, a secretary from finance called and asked for the monthly traveland expenses report. Terrill responded, “Meet me at the president’s office tomorrowmorning.”

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