Chapter 4 Case Study: What the Research Says

Use this case study as a discussion prompter with your teams or students.


The following is a discussion that took place among CEO Janice, COO Marcus, and CFO Linda at a mid-sized U.S. company founded in the mid-2000s with a unique niche in adaptive intelligence (AI). As AI has edged into mainstream enterprise operations, the organization has experienced exponential growth, especially in the last three years. Its prime time for expansion into new markets with the need for a new vice president of product development. A few of the c-suite leaders have their eyes on someone whom they feel would best fit the role.


CEO Janice: “Thank you for coming to our initial discussion of candidates for the new position of Vice President of Product Development. In this first discussion, let’s just put our cards on the table and discuss whom we each have in mind. I know each of us have our own ideas about the one we feel should advance to fill the role, and I would like us to share who that person is why we feel they are right for the job.”


CFO Linda: “Well, Randee has been with us for nearly five years and has been a strong performer in her current role as Director of Product Design. She has demonstrated strong critical thinking skills, runs a high-functioning department, and connects well with others. Although she occasionally misses a deadline, she always works overtime to get the job done. Her team’s work product is consistently above standard Also, she has asked to take on more responsibility. Randee reminds me of myself when I was climbing the corporate ladder.”


COO Marcus: “The person I believe would be the best fit for the position is Ben who is our Director of Sales. Although he has only been with the organization for three years, under his leadership, sales have increased each year by 35-40%. Ben has fresh ideas about new products based on sales forecasts in the market and is not afraid to take risks. I will be honest, there have been some issues with his team saying he is sometimes difficult to reach and lacks empathy. Otherwise, he has the right skillset, and these concerns can be overcome. Ben can learn to improve to better connect and empathize with others.


CEO Janice: “The person I have in mind for the role is Chris, current Director and Team Lead in product support for home security systems. Chris uses strategic thinking skills to not only plan for the short term in leading the team to meet deliverables but has a vision for the future of the department and organization. One skill that stands out most about Chris’ is his adaptability. He has shown a strong capacity to pivot when needed to overcome obstacles and produce excellent results. On top of it all, he has an amazing relationship with his team and turnover under his leadership is the lowest in the organization.

Questions to Consider

  1. Based on just the brief information each leader presented about the potential candidate they were recommending, what are your initial thoughts?

  2. Would you eliminate any of the candidates and why?

  3. Which candidate do you feel has the greatest potential for the position and why?