Part 2: Blake Sports Apparel & Switch Activewear Case Study

Blake Sports Apparel & Switch Activewear Case Study

Jack Welch Management Institute

JWI 510: Leadership in the 21st Century

Executive Summary

For Part 2 of Assignment 2, you will include your Executive Summary on page 2—so you will need to add a page to your part 1 response. Your executive summary (or abstract) should be one paragraph and should not exceed 120 words. To count the number of words in this paragraph, select the paragraph, and on the Tools menu click Word Count. It is a concise summary of the most important elements of your paper. All numbers in the executive summary, except those beginning a sentence, should be typed as digits rather than words. In your Executive Summary, you will concisely summarize the key points of your paper by addressing the following: What are the problems (dysfunctions and risks to the business)? What are the possible causes? What solutions do you recommend?


A real team is a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose performance goals, and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable (JWI510, 7). Blake Sports Apparel and Switch Activewear, a thriving young company with sustainable growth are on the verge of self-sabotaging. In the below case study, a review of the team’s dysfunctional behavior will be accessed and clarified to pinpoint a systemic pattern within the organization.

The Case: Problems and Successes

Blake Sports Apparel and Switch Activewear is a corporation that pays licensing fees to leagues and brands in order to manufacture sports apparel and accessories using their logos, which was sold to retailers in the marketplace (3). Members of the executive team have been with the organization for ten years and experienced the transition of the company into what is has become to date, a company barely holding on. The executive team is comprised of young entrepreneurial individuals that were passionate, competent, self-motivated and dedicated (3). Despite their success through the transition and growth of the company, the executive team developed some problematic behaviors that have a negative impact on the business.

Dysfunctions and Risks to the Business

The executive team’s dysfunctions have impacted the business in different areas; communication and trust. Dysfunction in these areas can cause problems internally or externally in an organization. Out of the three dysfunctional areas, communication or the lack of communication is the biggest risk Blake Sports Apparel and Switch Activewear is facing. As with any large organization, there is a risk of miscommunication from the lower level employee all the way up to management. One major problem with miscommunication with the executive team was related to withholding information. The executive team would hold information that dealt with ideas the could help improve the sales and inventory reports.

Withheld information for the purpose of protecting proprietary ideas leads to employees questioning the company’s financial standing (3). This thought alone could have an adverse effect on an employee’s morale and trust within an organization. The lack of trust is the most common dysfunction within an organization (6). The Finance Department did not trust the Sales department and informed the Sales department into thinking that the company was losing money which caused the Sales department to question how pricing was captured. The lack of trust caused departments to second guess another department and their decision making on various products.

Successes and Strengths

Blake Sports Apparel and Switch Activewear had weaknesses within the organization, yet the company managed successes by taking advantage of opportunities and sustaining growth over the years. The executive team was praised for being a super-talented group of individuals that were extremely knowledgeable about the industry in sporting goods (3). Loyalty amongst the team was the glue that held the company together.

Annual reviews and income data identified opportunities that would posture Blake Sports Apparel and Switch Activewear for setting new goals for the upcoming year. The executive team were aggressive and was able to obtain an increase in bonuses for each employee. Collaboration between departments aided in the company reaching number one in the world for sales of certain products (3).


Even with the existing team, Blake Sports Apparel and Switch Activewear had grown exceptionally. However, the CEO was not pleased with the loss in opportunities due to the lack of collaboration amongst various departments. The ability to work together, as well as align themselves for the firm’s sustainable advantage worried the executive team pertaining to assisting the organization address its current challenges and meet the long-term objectives (8).

The amount of control the Finance department has created friction amongst the other departments. Team members could not get along well enough to address the prevailing issues and differences ahead of them (8). As a result, the employees were affected, and the effects were shown through poor working relationships. The executive team focused on margins and discounts within the business model. At the end of the day, blame is placed on others as more responsibilities are given without any clear processes.

Impact of Early Entrepreneurial Success

In order to continue with growth within the company, the executive team had to be more methodical and detail-oriented. When the company was smaller, the executive team were able to solve problems that occurred by traveling, surveying the marketplace, examining pricing, and familiarizing themselves with customers (3). The executive team took a personal approach to see the growth and success of the company.

Trust, Communication and Information Sharing

The level of trust, communication, and information sharing among the Executive team could be characterized as slow-moving. The executive team was reluctant to share information with other departments that hindered the movement of products. After the gap plans were finalized, the executive team was failing to develop new products that were outlined in the plan, resulting in lost time and revenue while creating urgency for employees to design new products, develop, source, set up and ship within a year (3).

Impacts on Team Performance and Cohesion

The misalignment of goals encouraged an environment of competition within the organization. Initially, company-wide goals focused on margin and revenue which resulted in a 5 percent company-wide bonus (3). Through collaboration efforts, team members established a weighted scale specific to each department. Frustration set in when disparities were noticed within the grading scale. Managers would focus on different areas which resulted in conflict and trust issues. There is hardly anything more frustrating than working hard, meeting or exceeding expectations, and discovering that your efforts does not matter to your company. People need to get differentiated rewards and recognition to be motivated (1)

Team Structures and Decision-Making Processes

The current team structures and decision-making processes are impacting the business by creating bottlenecks within the company. Seemingly, all decisions must go through the Finance department for approval which results in delays. Finance focuses too often on their needs, without consideration and support for the entire team. The Finance department should be better integrated with the rest of the business (3). Providing feedback is only as good to the receiver if possible, solutions are presented as well.

CEO’s Leadership Style

Leaders are heavily relied upon for their ability to make decisions, especially during stressful times (JWI510, 2). CEO Cameron Barker’s leadership style and history with the company has contributed to the team’s dysfunctions. Although Barker is characterized as a passionate entrepreneur and visionary with strengths and shortcomings; he was described as inspiring, empowering, and talented (3). Barker’s leadership style mirrors the C style (conscientiousness) (4). Barker’s leadership style places a high priority on accuracy in order to achieve superior results, there is a tendency to analyze options rationally and separate emotions from the fact (4).

Barker’s leadership style indicates that there is a preference to work independently and has a detached approach (4). Seeing Barker’s leadership style as being conscientiousness, the executive team may have had no other choice but to take matters into their own hands. The response time needed from the Executive may have been challenged or Barker’s response may have taken too long. With this show of leadership from the CEO, it is only by example that the Executive team followed suit.


For Part 2, you will add the Recommendations section.

In this section, you will be acting as a leadership consultant to Cameron Barker and will be applying the principles and practices from this course as you make recommendations. Using the following sub-sections for guidance, you will provide recommendations for improving teamwork and resolving conflicts more effectively. If you choose, you may include a paragraph here under the main heading “Recommendations” that provides some brief context for the recommendations that will follow. Alternatively, you may choose to just begin with the sub-sections. However, keep the main Analysis heading in place.

Increasing Trust and Improving Communication

Recommend what Barker can do to increase trust and to improve communication. Cite specific examples and integrate course material to support your recommendations.

Incentivizing Team to Improve Alignment and Meet Goals

Recommend how Barker might incentivize the teams to improve alignment and to meet their collective goals. Cite specific examples and integrate course material to support your recommendations.

Improving Team Meetings

Explain what can be done to make team meetings more effective. Be specific and substantiate and support your recommendations.

Making Team Changes

Make recommendations as to whether Barker should change the teams either in terms of team leadership and members and/or overall structure. Explain and support your recommendations.

Identifying CEO’s Need to Change

What, if anything, does Barker need to change about his own leadership style and his behaviors in order to make his Executive Team more effective? Explain and support your recommendation.

Taking Additional Actions

Recommend additional action that Barker should take to improve team dynamics and performance and to ensure that both Blake Sports Apparel and Switch Activewear improve collaboration and thrive in their market segment.


Write a summary paragraph that brings the essential elements of the case, your insights, and recommendations together in a clear and concise way. This conclusion ties your paper together—reminding the reader the essential points of your analysis. This is the last section of your paper. Do not introduce new information in your conclusion.

Be sure to include your References list on the page following your conclusion. See the end of this document for a sample. The suggested length of your paper (including part 1 and 2) is 8 to 10 pages excluding your cover page and your reference list. Also note, you must integrate some of the course material from weeks 1-10 to support your paper such as course readings, videos, lecture notes along with DiSC, the TKI, the Vroom-Yetton decision-making model, Goleman’s model of EI, Goleman’s leadership styles, Lencioni’s The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Jack Welch’s Winning, etc. Outside resources are also welcome. In the body of the paper make sure you properly format the in-text citations. See the JWMI Writing Standards Guide for more information about citing.


Jack Welch. 2005. Winning

JWI510. Week 6. Lecture 1. Leadership and Decision Making

Boris Groysberg and Katherine Connolly Baden. 2017. Blake Sports Apparel and Switch Activewear: Bringing the Executive Team Together. Harvard Business Review

Everything DiSC Workplace. 2012.

Jon R. Katzenbach & D. Smith. 1992. The Wisdom of Teams. Harvard Business Press.

Patrick Lencioni. 2002. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

JWI510. Week 4. Lecture 1. Building High-Performance Teams

LePine, J. et al. (2008). A Meta-Analysis of Teamwork Processes: Tests of a Multidimensional Model and Relationships with Team Effectiveness Criteria. Personnel Psychology, 61, 273-307.

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