Business Finance
MGMT 653 Indiana University Sink or Swim Case Study

MGMT 653

Indiana University


Question Description

I’m trying to learn for my Business class and I’m stuck. Can you help?

Learning Outcome: Create and recommend a change management process that engages and motivates employees and fosters creativity and innovation

Each student reads, researches and analyzes the case below using the principles and concepts studied in this course.

MGMT653 case 13-147 Sink or SWIM

Finding a way to meet management challenges by presenting a variety of solutions allows for the opportunity to not only effectively use one of these solutions, but a chance to find a unique approach. For this assignment, students will develop a detailed recommendation or recommendations to the case provided. A rough draft of the student's work (this initial rough-draft post does not need to be formatted as an APA document. However, the final paper due by Day 7 should be formatted as an APA-formatted paper) should be posted to the Discussion Board by Day 3. Between Day 3 and Day 7, students are encouraged to provide feedback to their peers' rough draft posts. Each student’s final recommendation(s) to the case will be submitted in an APA-formatted paper to the instructor by Day 7. Peer feedback may or may not be included in the final paper. The final recommendation is the work and approach of each individual student; regardless of the feedback received from peers. Students may find that the peer feedback is valuable and may include it; or they may not. It's up to each student.

Each student should read, research and analyze the attached case using the principles and concepts studied in this course. To assist you in this quest, please make sure you use the AMA 8-Step Case Study Guide as it will show you what to look for when analyzing the case.

Use the8 step guideto prepare your Discussion Board rough draft and final paper. Each of the steps should be used as a header - and don't forget a conclusion.

Each student's rough draft should be posted to the main Discussion Board by Day 3 and the final paper/recommendations should be submitted to the assignment submission folder by Day 7.

Peer engagement points this week will be earned through each student responding or reacting to at least two peers' rough drafts. Each student may (or may not) wish to incorporate their peers' feedback into their own final paper. All peer engagement posts should be completed by Day 7.

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13-147 July 5, 2013 Sink or SWIM Lauren Ankeles, Marine Graham, Roberta Pittore and Priyanka Ramamurthy How could a sunny February afternoon take such a turn for the worse? The clock ticked in the MIT Sloan Student Life Office (SLO), where the three Sloan Women in Management (SWIM) club copresidents and two conference directors were gathered.1 SWIM’s 3rd annual conference, 11 months in the making, was scheduled to take place the next day. A winter storm was looming, with weather predictions varying widely from three to 50 inches of snow in the next 48 hours. It was almost 2:00pm and a decision had to be made – setup was slated to begin in minutes, and speakers were boarding their flights for Boston. Should the conference be canceled, modified, or go forward as planned? SLO Associate Director Marco Esquandolas looked at the five women seated in front of him and asked, “Ladies, what is your final call?” Background on SWIM The Sloan Women in Management club was founded in the 1980s and had become one of the largest clubs at MIT Sloan. The organization’s primary goals were to create an inviting and supportive community for all Sloan women; advance the careers of current female Sloan students; work with faculty, administrators, and the greater business community to increase opportunities for women in business; and, attract top female students to MIT Sloan. 1 The Student Life Office provides programs and services to foster a graduate student community based on collaboration and contribution. This includes oversight of student organizations and support on student events and initiatives. This case was prepared by Lauren Ankeles, Marine Graham, and Priyanka Ramamurthy (MBAs, Class of 2013), and Senior Lecturer Roberta Pittore. Copyright © 2013, Lauren Ankeles, Marine Graham, Roberta Pittore, and Priyanka Ramamurthy. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA. SINK OR SWIM Lauren Ankeles, Marine Graham, Roberta Pittore and Priyanka Ramamurthy In an effort to meet all of these goals and cater to the broadest set of women, SWIM hosted a variety of year-long programming including networking events, speaker series, professional development workshops, mentorship programs, and community building events. In addition, the club held three flagship events, one of which was an annual conference where students could dialogue with leading women in business. As of February 2013, SWIM had approximately 300 members,2 550 Facebook fans, 640 Twitter followers, 270 LinkedIn group members, and 300 individuals on the alumnae mailing list. The annual conference had quickly become the organization’s largest event, despite its inception just two years earlier. After the relatively small-scale initial conference featuring panelists primarily from the MIT Sloan community, the 2012 conference directors sought to create the gold standard in women’s business conferences. The “Innovating through Adversity” 2012 conference brought several renowned speakers including Fortune 500 CEO Laura Sen (BJ’s) and VP of Google Local/Maps/Localization Marissa Mayer to a sold-out crowd of over 400 attendees. All who participated hailed the conference a tremendous success. Male and female students who attended agreed that of the roughly 30 annual MIT Sloan conferences, SWIM’s was the best conference of the year. There was strong support and interest from the administration due to the high profile of 2012’s conference. As SLO Director Christine Pugh noted, “The 2012 conference knocked it out of the park – probably based on some learnings from the 2011 conference. I heard it was just phenomenal, enough people really raved about it that I’m very confident in saying that.” The 2013 Conference Leadership Team The 2013 SWIM club co-presidents, Rachel, Lea, and Tarini, were eager to build on the previous year’s success and, immediately after their election to their leadership roles in February 2012, they began planning for the 2013 conference.3 As the conference was the club’s largest event of the year, Rachel, Lea, and Tarini agreed that they wanted to maintain the previous year’s structure of heavy involvement with the event, taking on the roles of conference CFO, COO, and CMO, respectively. They would next need to select two directors who would oversee the content of the conference, including selecting the theme and speakers, motivating a large team to execute the event according to their vision, and serving as the masters of ceremonies for the event. The 2013 conference directors, Janet and Merrill, were selected in March 2012 by all of the copresidents, both past and present, and the previous year’s conference directors. According to Janet, “I 2 Members include women from various Sloan programs (MBA, Leaders for Global Operations, Master of Finance, Sloan Fellows, Executive MBA). 3 Names of people from MIT Sloan have been disguised for the purposes of this case. July 5, 2013 2 SINK OR SWIM Lauren Ankeles, Marine Graham, Roberta Pittore and Priyanka Ramamurthy was thinking through my next year’s goals. Something I wanted to do was make a substantial impact on Sloan. There were lots of ways I could do that. I decided that one of my goals would be to work on the SWIM conference which has a very tangible output with a group of people I really respect.” The theme for the 2013 conference was set as “Dare to Fail: Taking Risks When it Matters Most.” Soon after deciding the theme, the directors finalized a shortlist of keynote speakers, began brainstorming speakers for panels, and scheduled meetings with relevant Sloan faculty and administration. The past presidents warned Rachel, Lea, and Tarini that they experienced significant tension the previous year over who had final authority in the decision-making process. Despite this warning, the same dynamic quickly developed with the new team. The co-presidents wanted be included in all key decisions, believing they needed to have a say in the selection of speakers and topics, both for the purposes of the conference, as well as to ensure integration with the SWIM brand and overall organizational strategy. The conference directors felt that they were being micromanaged for an event that they were directing. As the SWIM leadership team headed off for the summer to five different cities to pursue internships, expectations were set that Merrill and Janet would focus on recruiting speakers, and Rachel, Lea, and Tarini would work on sponsorship, operations, and marketing (including ticket sales), respectively. The five loosely agreed to check-in calls, though specific dates and milestones were not set. Maintaining contact during the summer proved challenging, as the group of five were in different time zones and had different work schedules. Throughout the summer Merrill and Janet continued to chip away at speaker recruitment without much success. Despite sending out multiple keynote requests, they continued to hit dead-ends due to scheduling conflicts and non-responses. On August 10 the first keynote was confirmed – Four Star General Janet Wolfenbarger – and the team breathed a small sigh of relief. As they all geared up to return to campus in the fall, however, there was still significant concern from the entire team about the lack of progress that had been made over the summer in finalizing speakers. Shortly after General Wolfenbarger was confirmed, the group faced yet another unanticipated setback. Merrill, whose summer internship had been at a start-up, had been offered significant equity to leave MIT Sloan and continue in her role at the start-up. On August 20, she sent the following email to the co-presidents: …I am nothing less than obsessed with this event – and with working with Janet and each of you – and I seriously considered returning to school JUST to direct the conference. However, that didn’t seem like the most logical decision, and I ultimately didn’t feel that giving up my stake in July 5, 2013 3 SINK OR SWIM Lauren Ankeles, Marine Graham, Roberta Pittore and Priyanka Ramamurthy the company was worth the conference, regardless of how amazing the conference is going to be. I do, however, have a proposal… I would like to ask to continue to co-direct the conference with Janet. I am committed to this event’s tremendous success, am passionate about the theme, and will work incredibly hard to develop speakers and panels that are worthy of SWIM. I’ve spoken with Janet, and she is in support of this. While it was not clear how involved Merrill would be moving forward, the co-presidents agreed to this arrangement. They were concerned about finding an alternate director given the late stage in the planning process and trusted that Janet and Merrill had discussed managing their time appropriately. The five-person team committed to weekly meetings to ensure that communication lines would remain open and progress would continue. Conference Planning Despite these challenges, the team maintained a positive outlook upon returning to campus for the fall semester, and worked hard to harness the energy of the first year MBA students. The annual conference was historically a crucial way to engage new students and identify future leaders for the organization. Committees were created to focus on speaker recruitment (led by Merrill and Janet), marketing (Tarini), operations (Lea), and sponsorship (Rachel). Speaker Recruitment Over the course of the fall semester, it became increasingly clear that Janet and Merrill were struggling to find speakers. The plan had been to secure at least two keynote speakers by the end of the summer, and then form teams of first year students to take the lead in recruiting four to five speakers for each of the two panels. The panel teams were moving forward with mixed success. Speakers were responding well to the theme of failure, but were unable to commit to the conference date. This had a significant effect on the rest of the conference planning, particularly the marketing team, which struggled to accurately frame the conference. With Merrill on leave from MIT, a disproportionate amount of work was placed on Janet. Though angry words were never exchanged, tension grew between the conference directors and the co-presidents. While the presidents had each other to rely on, Janet shouldered much of the pressure on her own, searching for a way to push forward and maintain an energetic exterior to keep the conference team engaged. By the end of November 2012, the panel teams were pushing out multiple speaker requests and tapping all of their networks for introductions. The team scrambled to finalize the conference agenda July 5, 2013 4 SINK OR SWIM Lauren Ankeles, Marine Graham, Roberta Pittore and Priyanka Ramamurthy before they left for winter break, as everyone would be spread out traveling the globe until the beginning of February. By the end of December, nearly all the speaking engagements were confirmed. On January 23, 2013, with two weeks left until the conference, original keynote General Wolfenbarger canceled her participation due to government budget-cuts. The team, exhausted from the search for speakers, scrambled once again to fill the gaps in the lineup and manage the fallout from attendees who had bought tickets intending to hear the General speak. The co-presidents were convinced that there was no way to find a keynote at this late date, but to their surprise a new keynote speaker who was a growing force in the venture capital world was quickly confirmed. This was just what the team needed to sell their last few tickets. Marketing In 2012, an aggressive marketing campaign had led to a sold out conference (400 tickets) nearly two months prior to the event. For the 2013 conference, the directors wanted to sell 500 tickets, at a slightly higher price – $25 for students and $50 for professionals. The main challenge for the marketing team, however, was not the price point, but that marketing needed to begin before speakers had been confirmed. Falling steadily behind 2012’s numbers, Tarini commented, “I don’t even know why the current attendees are buying tickets. Right now, I’m just selling air.” To compensate, the marketing plan from the prior year was beefed up to include social media, outreach to other schools, and mailing lists targeting professionals. December was a busy month for ticket sales thanks to the team individually emailing over 100 professionals in the area, including every female professor associated with MIT Sloan, launching an aggressive social media campaign, and revamping the promotional material each time a new speaker was added to the roster. However, ticket sales still lagged behind the previous year, and Tarini checked daily as the fear of a half-empty event continued to grow. The weekend before the conference, the team confirmed that the event was sold out. Operations The conference event space, the premier location on campus and a highly sought after venue, had been booked in June 2012. Lea formed a team to help with operations including vendor management (catering, facilities, custodial services, security, furniture rental, audio-visual needs, lighting, videography), day-of logistics management, and preparation for the VIP dinner, traditionally held the night before the conference to welcome speakers and thank corporate sponsors for their support. Students who had been active participants in conference planning were also invited to attend. To cut costs and improve logistics, the team opted for a new dinner venue close to campus, which meant building new relationships with vendors and planning the budget, menu, and event space from the ground up. A non-refundable deposit had been put down to hold the space, and the final payment for the dinner, estimated to be $3,000, would be due upon completion of the VIP dinner. July 5, 2013 5 SINK OR SWIM Lauren Ankeles, Marine Graham, Roberta Pittore and Priyanka Ramamurthy During the planning period, the leadership team identified a major glitch – a classroom in the same building as the event venue, traditionally used as an overflow space for conference attendees, was booked for a class during the conference. Preparations had to be adjusted accordingly to accommodate the reduced seating and inflow of non-conference attendees that would be coming through the building entrance. By the end of January, all of the work orders and purchase orders had been set up, though no formal contracts had been signed, and vendors were scheduled to begin arriving at 2:00pm on Thursday, February 7 to set up (Exhibit 2). The MIT Sloan administration had agreed to host an alumnae breakfast at the conference. In-kind donations had been solicited from coffee and pastry shops in the area, who would be delivering items on the day of the conference. However, on January 24, the MIT administration notified Lea that they could no longer sponsor the alumnae breakfast as originally promised due to budget constraints. With just two weeks until the conference, the team scrambled yet again to adjust. Sponsorship The sponsorship team, led by Rachel, began planning for the conference in late June 2012. Initially a small group worked on drafting promotional materials that would be shared with potential sponsor organizations and would provide a summary of the 2012 conference, the vision for 2013, and information about the benefits of sponsorship. With this information in hand, the team began reaching out to the prior year’s conference sponsors to gauge their interest in sponsoring once again. The team had a fundraising goal of $40,000. This amount, in addition to the revenue from ticket sales, would enable them to cover all conference costs and have a buffer, which could be applied to the following year’s conference should the funds not be required. While many of the previous year’s supporters were interested in partnering with SWIM again, many companies did not have the same budget resources available to them, and as such the sponsorship team was hard pressed to raise enough money to fund the conference. Rachel turned to the first year student committee to help brainstorm a list of new sponsor organizations and reach out to their network of contacts. Despite getting off to a slow start, a driven first year student stepped up taking on virtually all fundraising tasks and, in late January, signed the final sponsor, bringing the fundraising total to $38,000, enough to fund the 2013 conference. Miraculously the week before the conference, speaker recruitment, marketing, operations, and sponsorship were all coming to a successful close. Final Preparations Monday, Feb. 4 Five days to go. On Monday, February 4, students arrived back on campus after their January break, ready for a new semester. The energy level was at an all-time high as the full conference team, 20 July 5, 2013 6 SINK OR SWIM Lauren Ankeles, Marine Graham, Roberta Pittore and Priyanka Ramamurthy members strong, assembled to discuss final details on the event that was now 11 months in the making. Much like a dress rehearsal, the operations team walked through all events for the week, hour-byhour, to finalize last minute details. The marketing team confirmed that the event was officially sold out with 500 tickets disbursed (Exhibit 3), and the sponsorship team officially closed out their sponsorship efforts with $38,000 raised, confirming that the conference would easily break even on costs (Exhibit 4). All 15 speakers had recently been confirmed and information on their travel logistics was being collected. Outside of the five-member leadership team, most students had been focused on their own assignments until now, and this was the first time they were able to see the breadth of work that had been completed to date. At the meeting, final decisions were collectively made regarding social media strategy for the day of the conference, speaker biographies were approved for the programs, and signs for the event space were designed and sent to the printers. Tuesday, Feb. 5 On Tuesday, between and after classes, the co-presidents focused on last minute details for the conference including printing nametags, determining the room-flow for the event space, communicating with the photographer, assigning handlers for VIP attendees, and setting up interviews between speakers and members of the media. Volunteer assignments, that took into consideration both the schedules and personal interests of 50 student volunteers, were confirmed. Late that afternoon, murmurs began that a snowstorm was approaching, but in New England, predictions of inclement weather were an ordinary occurrence. Weather reports were vague, varied, and contradictory across networks (Exhibit 5). The conference team continued operating according to the original schedule, knowing that since 1997 MIT had closed only twice due to snow. As Janet remarked, “Boston is Boston. There is really no way of knowing so let’s just keep going. It’s just go go go. There is a lot to be done.” However, as night approached, weather predictions became more distressing. Wednesday, Feb. 6 Forty-eight hours before the start of the conference, weather predictions across different networks began to indicate the possibility that a major storm would hit the Boston area some time on Friday. Starting at 8:00am, the team began operating on two streams: (1) continuing to prepare for Friday’s conference with the finalized set of speakers, and (2) identifying alternate local speakers should flights be canceled. At 9:00am, an email was exchanged among the conference leadership team: July 5, 2013 7 ...
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Final Answer




Case Study Analysis: Sink or SWIM



Step 1 - Recap and analyze the relevant facts
The “Sink or Swim” case study is based on a student-run organization at MIT Sloan, the
Sloan Woman in Management (SWIM) Club. The club had the responsibility to promote the
welfare of Sloan women by working closely with the school administration and the business
community to create opportunities for women. The club co-presidents and conference directors
had worked hard for 11 months to prepare the club’s 3rd annual conference themed “Dare to
Fail: Taking Risks When it Matters Most” (Ankeles et al., 2013). However, despite working
tirelessly to put the event together, the day the event was scheduled to begin, it was predicted
that the Boston area would be hit by three to 50 inches of snow. Few minutes to 2.00 pm the
when set up was about to begin and traveling of the speakers, the leadership team needs to decide
if to cancel the event, modify the timings or proceed with the event as planned (Ankeles et al.,
Step 2- Determining the Root Problem & Step 3 - Identifying the Problem Components
The ma...

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