ALIGNING CULTURE AND STRATEGY Harvard Case Solution & Analysis

Aligning Culture And strategy Case Study Solution


Nichols,a distribution company which dealt with the supplying of industrial supplies. It was a large distribution corporation situated in Chicago, United States. The company deals in supplying of bearings, cleaning supplies, fasteners, and abrasives for the other industries. Nichol was a medium-sized supplier of industrial products which carried around 300,000 of SKU (Stock keeping units). It had around 25 different offices situated in the United States which covered almost all of the regions in the U.S.

The method for distribution was supplying products through huge bulks and selling it to the companies via of its sales agents. The company agreements with the medium-size customers were conducted through phones, emails, and website or through fax. Most of the dealing of the customer was done by the inside sales agents (ISAs) who most of the time spenton phone calls and answering emails. The ISA would generally take the order of the customers and manage the placement for the goods.  The ISA would receive its salary along with a 10% of compensation depending upon its results.

Due to the increase of technology, Nichol further enhanced its business by working on online ordering system and improving its inventory management software. Most of thelarge distribution company had been able to improve its sales by implementing innovative technology and had made them occupy a significant position in the market.

The customers were mainly dealt through the customer sales representative (CSR) who understood the customer needs and were mainly responsible for the orders and distribution. During the year 2005, most of the customer left Nichols for full-service distributors companies and caused the sales growth to slow. The company decided to hire more CSR veterans to acquire more orders and improve the sales growth of the company. The success of the company mainly lies on the CSR who led to the reduction of costs, smaller purchases on team resources and customer often would prefer to remain with the CSR instead of switching to another distributor.

Organization Goals and Strategy:


Nichols overall goal is toimprove the profits and sales margin of the company. The company was currently a medium-sized company with having a few number of customer and had not been providing full services to the customer. The goal was to also become a large-size distribution company on the top 10 which would be able to compete with the other large distribution company in the United States.


The strategy for the achieving the company’s goals and theobjective is mainly through the acquiring of more customers in the market. The strategy which would make the company obtain more customer was through the customer sales representative (CSR). Since the company usually acquired customers through the CSR, it had been focusing on improving the sales by hiring more CSR. The Nichols team of CSR was still smaller compared to its competitor who led to slow sales growth of the company. The company had been taking avarious step for accomplishing its goals which are the increase in its profits; such steps are based on the CSR:

  • The hiring of more CSR that would generate better revenue for the company through taking orders from customers.
  • The hiring of veteran CSR on which it would look after the affairs of other CSR and improving the sales effectively.
  • Providing the revenue of 70% which would be kept by the CSR and 30% of would be paid as a fee to Nichols
  • The Hiring of CSR led to the increase of cost saving such as the company stopped its focus towards improving technology infrastructure.

Identify the structure of the Organization:

The Nichols Organization controlled by Roger Dufour who is the Chief Executive Officer of the company. Dufour main responsibility is towards creating goals and strategy in which his attention turned towards thehiring of CSR as the technology-based ordering was not effectively generating new customers which purpose was to ease for ordering. John Klein was the newly hired vice president of Nichols whose responsibility was towards running and controlling of the sales team. He made certain recommendations towards improving sales by hiring of new customer sales representative and also changing the culture of the company.

ALIGNING CULTURE AND STRATEGY Harvard Case Solution & Analysis



Shannon Bikes who was the lead CSR whose responsibility was towards the hiring of new CSR and as well as looking at their performance and also how they view the organization. He had believed that the culture of thecompany has caused some of the CSRs to work purely for their benefits and were presenting certain challenges. The challenges were that many CSR were considered as mercenaries of the organization as they had no shared values about the corporate strategy, goals, and objective. They just would prefer to work in the company just to gain their own personal benefits.

The other members of the organization were the inside sales agents (ISAs) who collected the orders from the customer and coordinated the placement of the goods. The ISA was really becoming effective in the organization as they were leading 99% in placing of order fill rate during late 2009.......................

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