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Chris Peterson at DSS Consulting Case Analysis

Time Context

This case analysis chronicles the events that took place during a change process in DSS Consulting’s Organizational framework. DSS Consulting was formed in the late 1990s by three retired district administrators to assist small neighborhood schools within the Mountain West and the Mid-West regions. Notably, they handled labor agreements and the implementation of permanent system solutions, tailored to enable efficient running of the organization. In the early years of its operations, the firm was largely successful because the founders had personal relations with the heads of every school district they served (Chandler & Chandler, 2013). Consequently, the demand for services at DSS Consultants grew rapidly due to the evolving dynamics of challenges that each district schools faced. Beginning with the mid-2000s, DSS Consulting underwent some unusual changes in its management structure and clientele. During the period, the company founders reduced the time they spent on client engagement and instead, they relied on the expertise of each specialization area within the management.


Identification of Issues

Some of the challenges emanated from the reductions in budgets and the resultant decrease in some of administrative employees. Then, DSS Consulting restructured to factor in the change in service expectations of its clients. Accordingly, it created an organizational framework that comprised four specialization tenets (Ancona & Caldwell, 2010). They were Information Technology, Procurement and Systems, Facilities Planning, and Contract Negotiation. Consequently, a gap emerged, necessitating the need for the change of strategy that would attract and retain new customers. The new approach also meant adapting new services to meet the current demands of the quickly changing market (Chandler & Chandler, 2013). The factors, together with the growth of the company, forced the management to redefine their structure to stay competitive on the market. The major issues of this case entailed a successful restructurization of DSS’ structure, the implementation of changes while sustaining their success levels.

Point of View Taken

Perhaps, in a bid to fix things, the company needed to build new relations with school districts. Every team had the responsibility to develop relations with the communities that were adjacent to them (Hughes, 2015). A mutual trust between an organization and the customer is important in assessing their needs and customizing products and services to meet these requirements. Thus, a mutual respect and understanding are important for DSS Consulting to correct the gaps, created by establishing relations with the heads of districts (Ancona & Caldwell, 2010). The cross-functional teams, formed by the consulting firm, were to concentrate on the main areas, namely forging new ties with school districts and offering new products that matched new demands.

For a better understanding, DSS needed to develop new a relationship through self-disclosure, inquiry, and acting on feedback. Thus, self-disclosure implies that the company accepts its mistakes and endorses the need for a change. This change begins with a complete overhaul of old structures. Instead, it initiates the structures that address current gaps in marketing, product differentiation, and unfulfilled needs (Ancona & Caldwell, 2010). Inquiry implies that the management asks questions regarding whether their actions are correct. If they have failed somewhere, they change accordingly and meet the needs of changing markets. Feedback and compliments are important in noting where an issue arises and using the suggestions to establish products and services that address gaps in the districts.

Perhaps, a good starting point is to recognize the needs of school districts. They were concerned with speed, risk, return, and cost. Accordingly, these factors should have been addressed. The solutions, or mitigation measures, ought to have addressed the ways of reducing cost, decreasing risks, improving speed, and maximizing returns. While DSS scored more on strategic management, its primary unbecoming was in the weak organizational structure and culture. The company had a centralized decision-making body that also meant it maintained status quo (Adair, 2011). While centralization helps to put power in the hands of experts and it could improve consistency in design-making, it undermines teamwork since junior staff cannot openly give their opinions regarding products and services. Consequently, they might not contribute to the improvement of the organization’s image. It is evident that a high thick culture exists among the members of Chris’ team (Ancona & Caldwell, 2010). They have always found new ways of delivering services or making suggestions for improvements. A major drawback of a centralized organizational system is that only several people make the bulk of decisions. Thus, a majority of individuals, whose inputs could be equally important, is left out. Animosity and mistrust could emerge and further hurt the productivity of such companies.

Areas of Consideration /SWOT Analysis


Chris Peterson had prior experience of work on similar projects with high success rates. She forcused on the inclusion of everyone and acted on feedback from other teams. She believed in their previous accomplishments, relying on her ability to be innovative and creative in finding solutions for the tasks, assigned to her (Adair, 2011). In real life, employees have different viewpoints that should be accommodated to find holistic solutions that address new needs. She made significant decisions without consulting Meg.

Leadership requires flexibility and incentives that motivate employees to be innovative and productive. They must be motivated and feel recognized so that they could offer their best input.Thus, Path-Goal Theory suggests that a good leader endorses a behavior or style that fits the employee as well as creates a favorable working environment that allows them to achieve the company’s goals (Dyer & Wallace, 2017). Every leader should seek to motivate, empower, and satisfy their employees to become productive and to be a part of the company’s success. Fiedler’s Contingency Theory states that the effectiveness of a leader depends on a given situation, and it can be dictated by many factors such as the nature of a given task, the personality of the leader, and make-up of the group (Wong-Ming Ji, 2013).


A major weakness of Chris Peterson’s team is that it comprises many subgroups that could hamper the process of decision-making. When an organization has many subgroups, it is possible that they might not agree on most decisions or that they will take a long time to reach a compromise. Chris Peterson seemed to have worked on many assumptions that also became her major mistake in the end. When employees make decisions without consulting the management, the latter could feel undermined.

Another drawback of Chris was that she and her team had followed the same way of completing tasks for the last few years. Moreover, they seemed to take more risks that could hurt productivity, should things change for the worse. Sometimes, employees, or those charged to complete a given task, think that there are many procedures and rules. Consequently, their morale is weakened, and they become less enthusiastic about the job at hand (Chandler & Chandler, 2013). A good organization is the one that encourages its workforce to experiment with new ideas and invent new and better ways of completing their tasks.


Chris Peterson can use her previous leadership abilities and include the input of other teams to have an intrated approach towards resolving the isssues at hand. She can use her confidence and talk freely with Meg on a regular basis and convince her to see her point. The South West Team should consider the option of aligning their goals with the company’s restructured vision or a new one. They should also address practical issues that affect the company. At the same time, the project should focus on needs of large schools in the face of new realities (Ancona & Caldwell, 2010). Chris should bridge the gap in communication between South West Team and DSS teams. They must highlight high-priority needs areas and work on them according to their urgency and significnace. Consequently, they could not address issues that ought to have been a priority (Hodges, 2016). Instead of working in vacuum, Chris should direct her energy towards the project and not the organization’s needs of DSS Consulting. Additionally, she should drop the group mentality and expect changing businesses enviroments.


The major threats, facing DSS, were the need for integrated services that would cover larger districts. Innovation and competittion meant that DSS had to realign its services to the new expectations and market demands. Competition between Chris’ team and the interests of Meg was a threat in the sense that Chris had never shared the new vision with Meg. She alienated the team from DSS and relied on her networks that were weak and unsuccessful. The poor communication between her and the COO hurt the process even further (Adair, 2011). Meg could have felt that Chris had lacked the right leadership and communication skills, needed to complete the task.

The Desired Results or Expectations in Solving the Problem in Short Term/Long Term

In the short term, the teams of Chris and Meg need to work together on their descsion-making through feedbacks and suggestions. They need to address the issues of new market demands and develop an efficient and strategic leadership that deviates from the former stutus quo. In brief, they just have to deal with the problems of miscommunication and gaps at DSS Consulting.In the long term, the company should proceed with its differentiated approach to tackling the changing needs of consumers. For instance, the Information Technology Team should work on using innovative approaches and IT to improve deliveries. The Procurement and Systems Team should deal with the issues of taking orders from clients, while Facilities and Plannig Contract Negotiation Team should deal with all logistics.

Analysis/Action Plan

There would be a need to transform the management structure and develop functional teams to create, design, and implement product packages that would attract a larger market such as bigger school districts. They had to maintain their extent of commitment to satisfying the needs of their clients. The problems affecting DSS Consulting were compounded in 2005 due to many factors. First, the founders reduced their presence and commitment to the company. They became overconfident and never foresaw the changes that would come. They believed they had close ties with the district education and that their business would continue due to such foundations. Second, due to emerging needs and changing dynamics, there was a need to develop novel marketing strategies that deviated from the traditional model of selling products. Third, the needs of the district schools had changed (Ancona & Caldwell, 2010). Therefore, the management could no longer match their services or products with the new expectations. More diverse needs meant that there had to be new ways of satisfying the districts’ requirements. Moreover, the traditional way of doing business had to be changed to accommodate the new realities. Fourth, Iowa local standards became lax; district schools had no standard guidelines to direct the services of products they had offered. Thus, it was a challenge to tailor products to meet specific requirements (Ancona & Caldwell, 2010). Instead, DSS Consultants had to address many issues that were not initially included in the offered services. Perhaps, with the increasing competition, demand for the services declined as well. Therefore, they could no longer focus on a few areas, but rather many sectors, which implied that it was hard for the company to predict what to offer. Due to stagnating revenue and growth, DSS Consulting had to find a new business strategy. It was necessary to expand services from small districts to the vast areas in the wake of demand growth. There is also a necessity to form cross-functional teams that would look into the emerging issues and chart a new way forward (Ancona & Caldwell, 2010). The groups should have focused on and attended to their needs instead of adhering to the old redundant way of doing things. As they had not anticipated the growth in services, DSS Consulting had fewer staff members who could not delegate their duties promptly or correct the mistakes made.

Recommendation and Case Plan

For practical outcome and to prevent the problems from occurrence, Chris and the South West Team should have worked within the vision of DSS Consulting that was to address larger district goals as opposed to concentrating on small communities (Hodges, 2016). An effective communication between the South West Team and DSS should have been created so that Meg was updated of the progress from time to time. Instead of just letting the members of the team rely on their experiences, they should have sought for opinions of others and inquired into the possible ways of integrating into the new larger plan that meant to enroll services that met new demands and fulfilled the new capacity (Chandler & Chandler, 2013). Chris should have focused on the project regarding the timelines, communication, and getting feedbacks and comments.


Networking with other teams, experts on such issues, and the DSS Consulting should have been developed. For Chris and Meg to achieve a compromise, the former should not have have been too confident. She should have left nothing to chance and accepted that change was inevitable in every project. On her part, the passive-aggressive behavior, as portrayed by Meg, could have been resolved by understanding that every leader had unique abilities and styles of meeting the set goals. Moreover, it could have been critical for Chris’ team to be mindful of the company’s mission. They should have been conscious of the opinions of others. She should have communicated beyond the team and ensured that she had involved all stakeholders and was open to reality. The team dynamic was good, but overall, Chris had to align the vision, mission, and values of her group with that of the company’s corporate philosophy.

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