Division of Protect, Inc. , had returned to his office. His desk was a sea of telephone messages. Several were from Oxen’s chemical plant in Beaumont, Texas. Protect had submitted a bid to provide a highly sophisticated, computer-based process control system for the Beaumont plant. The competition was in its late stages and Exxon was nervous about Protest’s commitment to its control system business. Clifford threw himself into his chair and began thinking about what to tell Exxon. A knock at the door interrupted his thoughts.
It was Joanne Lambert, the plant manager for protest’s control systems plant. Clifford sank further into his chair. Learners entered. “Scott, do you have a minute? ” she asked. “I’m concerned about our handling of the control systems product line. With these inventory cutbacks you’ve imposed, it looks like we’re trying to dump our product and move out Of this line. Scott, we’ve worked together and been friends for a long time. I really need to know what’s going on. What is our strategy for control systems? Are we dumping the business? Should I be looking for another job? Clifford new that corporate was thinking seriously of eliminating the control systems line. The company was under heavy financial pressure, and management wasn’t sure it could continue to fund the business until it reached break-even in 1999. Efforts to find a strategic partner, while encouraging at times, had foundered. Clifford still believed in the product line and its eventual success, but he had to keep Joanne and all his best managers on board to make the business work. He didn’t know how to respond to all these inquiries. Should he tell Joanne the truth? Should he stall? What should he tell his customers and potential customers?
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