Charles Jackson is chief information officer (CIO) at McConnell Spice, a large M
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Charles Jackson is chief information officer (CIO) at McConnell Spice, a large Maryland Spice company. In an industry that has a large national market presence yet is global in its need for raw materials, McConnell Spice is always looking for ways to increase productivity and speed things up while staying connected to its worldwide sources. Two years into the job, Jackson suggested to company president Ann McConnell that McConnell implement a new global knowledge-sharing application that promises to cut development time and costs in half. Jackson has done extensive research on knowledge-sharing systems and has talked closely with a fellow IT director at the global powerhouse ADM. The ADM director believes the knowledge-sharing systems play an important role in a company’s competitiveness and concurs that Jackson should pursue purchasing one.
McConnell presented the idea to the board of directors, and everyone agreed to pursue the project. She has asked Jackson to investigate firms that could assist McConnell’s IT department in developing and implementing a global knowledge-sharing application that would be compatible with McConnell’s existing systems. McConnell explained that she wants to present the information to the board of directors for a decision next month.
Jackson and his team, after many long nights, identified three major firms that he believed could handle the work and made an appointment with McConnell to go over the findings. At the appointed time, Jackson approached McConnell’s office door, where he was immediately greeted by Geraldine Fox, a woman who served as a sort of executive assistant to McConnell. Fox took the information from Jackson and promised the president would review it within two days. Disappointed with being unable to submit the findings in person, Jackson returned to his team, who was anxiously awaiting Mc Connell’s response. Frustrated with the lack of feedback, Jackson sent the team home early to put salve on the wound.
The next afternoon, McConnell called Jackson to her office and asked why Standard Systems, a small local consulting firm, was not being considered as a potential provider. Jackson was surprised—Standard was known primarily for helping small companies computerize their accounting systems. Jackson was not aware that they had done any work related to knowledge-sharing applications, particularly on a global basis. Upon further investigation into the company, Jackson learned that Standard was owned by an uncle of McConnell’s son-in-law. Fortunately, he also learned that the firm had some limited experience in more complex applications. At their most recent meeting, McConnell insisted that Standard be included for possible consideration by the board.
During the next two weeks, representatives from each company met with Jackson, his two top executives, and the IT staff to explain their services and give demonstrations. Jackson had suggested that the board of directors attend these presentations, but McConnell said they would not have the time and he, Jackson, would need to evaluate everything and make a recommendation to the board. At the end of these meetings, Jackson prepared a final report evaluating the pros and cons of going with each firm and making his first- and second-choice recommendations. Standard was dead last on his list. Although the firm had some excellent people and a good reputation, it was simply not capable of handling such a large and complex project.
McConnell informed Jackson that the Board would meet in one week and he was to present his findings and decision to the Board for approval. McConnell said, “I know you agree with me and are for Standard, but we have to pretend that these other companies are in contention.” McConnell winks and walks away leaving Jackson devastated and appalled at the idea that the least effective company could get the job.