Reviewing the gene one scenario


After reviewing the Gene One scenario, imagine that you and your team members are the siblings of the late Don Ruiz. Everyone in the family (your learning team) has a different opinion about the leadership within Gene One and how that leadership should change to implement a successful IPO. At a family (team) meeting, each member should present an analysis of one of the four remaining members of the executive team. Then, as a team, decide the leadership structure and styles that are best suited to move Gene One into the future and what the end vision of Gene One should be.

Individually, write a change strategy for the company that effectively pairs your selected leadership structure and styles with the team's end vision for Gene One.


In 1996, Gene One entered the biotech industry with groundbreaking gene technology that eradicated disease in tomatoes and potatoes. As a result, farmers no longer needed to use pesticides when growing these plants and consumers were pleased to buy homegrown products untainted by chemicals. The win-win situation helped Gene One grow to a $400 million company in just eight short years.

Accordingly, sharply rising stock indices on Wall Street indicate a growing interest in biotechnology. And leadership changes at the Food and Drug Administration are further enhancing investor confidence in the industry. At Gene One, the CEO and his Board believe that in order to keep pace with demand and realize conservative annual growth targets of 40 percent, Gene One is going to have to go public within the next three years. The time seems right, but the company needs IPO capital for new development, advertisement, and marketing if it is to remain successful.

Working toward a 36-month maximum deadline, the CEO and his Board have devised a clear strategy with the help of key members in the investment community. It is their hope that implementing it will help Gene One realize its growth targets, establish the company as a strong competitor and show Wall Street that Gene One has the leadership and organizational capabilities to succeed as a public entity.


Don Ruiz, Chief Executive Officer: At age 37, Don became a young entrepreneur when he recruited four colleagues to make his brainchild -- Gene One -- a reality. As CEO and creative force behind Gene One, Don not only brought his extensive technology and industry knowledge to the company, but a significant part of the $2 million dollar start-up investment as well. Now, as a $400 million company, Gene One is positioned to realize growth targets that will make it an industry leader. Don is excited about the company's IPO opportunity, and has engaged his leadership team, as well as an external consulting firm, to develop a sound strategy to ensure that Gene One not only serves the public but leaves a legacy of his work.

Michelle Houghton, Chief Financial Officer: Part of the start-up five, Michelle invested everything she had into Gene One and, as a result, feels a strong sense of ownership and emotional attachment to the company. Don and Michelle share a solid working relationship and friendship; in fact, with their spouses, they socialize often. Reserved and quiet, Michelle is often mistaken for a pushover when in truth, she is passionate about issues that put the company at risk and has been very successful in securing funding from government and private investors. At 35, Michelle had never before directed Finance in a large corporation or been involved in an IPO; nonetheless, she has earned a credible reputation with the leadership team, the Board, the FDA leadership and the government.

Charles Jones, Marketing Officer: Two years after Gene One's start-up, Don recruited 35-year-old Charles because of his reputation for "smart" risk-taking and his biotechnology connections. Don saw him as the perfect person to develop and implement Gene One marketing strategy. Self-confident and moral, Charles easily garners trust for himself and the company. He has no personal investment in Gene One, but his professional pride motivates him to work hard at defining products that will sell, and creating a Gene One brand image that is synonymous with technology innovation, future of America, potential for major economic returns, etc. But Charles likes to focus on the big picture rather than the details, which means his efforts to design and implement a marketing infrastructure have yet to be completed.

Teri Robertson, Chief Technology Officer: Part of the original start-up team, and Don's niece, 37-year-old Teri has a world-renowned reputation; it was her doctoral research that led to the genetic breakthrough discovery that Gene One's success is built on, and she holds a number of patents pertaining to it. A scientist at heart, Teri is highly competent with a passion and talent for technology research and development. Though Charles involves her in marketing to a degree, he recognizes where her talents lie and, most often, leaves her to them. That suits Teri just fine; Gene One has become her life.

Greg Thoman, Chief Human Resources Officer: Six years ago, at age 30, Greg came to Gene One after an eight-year stint at a Human Resources Consulting company. Known for his "can do" attitude, Greg has staffed Gene One with talented researchers and innovative product developers. In the past two years, Gene One's massive growth has meant thousands of new hires, and Greg has had his hands full with staffing. As a result, he hasn't had time to focus on developing future talent, or creating a corporate culture conducive to growing the business.

John Kirby, Executive Director Board Member: CEO of Nuke, Inc., a nuclear medicine company, John has spent more than thirty years in the science and technology industry. His expertise has made him an influential member of the industry community and he knows it -- when he wants something, he doesn't take no for an answer.

Susan Wells, Executive Board Member: Serving her second term, 62-year-old Wells is a well

Attention Senior Leadership Team:

I just returned from a Board meeting, and you'll all be pleased to know that we've gotten the go-ahead we need to proceed with the IPO. The Board agreed with us on all counts -- the three-year timetable, the 40% growth targets and the need to raise capital and develop new products. I'm very excited about this; I think the time is right and it's the right thing for Gene One.

That said, I realize that, collectively, we have zero experience with IPOs, so I think it's critical that we get ourselves a bit of an education about IPOs and begin outlining the steps we need to take as we move through this process. To that end, I've set up a two-day, off-site meeting that will give us time to determine what we need to do to realize this opportunity, as well as identify any challenges we might foresee.

I've attached the Executive Summary from the Board meeting. I'd like you all to take a look at it before the meeting. Generally, it's good to have a rep from our financial institution there, but I don't know if I'll be able to arrange it in time.

Executive Summary

Well, I think we've all succeeded in raising issues, but let me remind you of the goals that we all agreed on: We want to grow this business 40 percent per year for the next three years, and we want to find additional funding so we can introduce new products. Going public is our only ticket. It will give us the credibility and capital that come with being a publicly traded company. I would like you all to think of the issues raised here today as bumps, not walls. I have no doubt that this is the right thing to do and it is going to happen, like it or not. Michelle, I will be looking to identify and handle these financial issues. Charles, I'd like you to lead the team in finalizing our marketing and branding plans. Teri, if you could give me some notes outlining your plans for the new technologies, as well as a projected timetable for their completion, I would appreciate that. I'd also like to know what new product lines you and Charles have defined for our current technology. Greg, let's talk about how we need to communicate this strategy internally, and how you'd like to let Wall Street know that we are without a doubt capable in both leadership and technology. Individually, each of you has made major contributions to this company, contributions that have made Gene One the successful company it is today. But I think if you worked as a team, you could realize even more success. I need your support and commitment if we are to realize our strategy and make this IPO happen. But if it's not what you want, and if your not wanting it is going to create resistance to our efforts, I will respect that, and support you in your resignation. Do I have your understanding?

Maybe Ruiz wasn't kidding. Everything Gene One does appears to be focused on the business. In less than eight years, three young and ambitious leaders have taken Gene One from a $2 million start-up to a thriving $400 million company. They are here to make contributions to their stakeholders and to society. And they do that by using gene research that "creates new and better produce varieties that can change the lives of people around the world."  It's not just Gene One's office location that is lofty; the company's vision is as well. The company's business leadership practices, however, appear to be anything but.

The agenda for this staff meeting concerned quicker international product introductions. Why? To improve the bottom line by improving cash flow. No lofty marketing plan here. Rather, they identified 10 "quick options," a term coined in that very conference room, and one intended to keep meetings moving quickly and efficiently. In an hour's time, the leadership team has evaluated 10 options -- that's one every six minutes -- and chosen their best. Don Ruiz and Marketing Director Charles Jones will make two trips abroad next week, both directed toward finalizing an important plan. I can't share the exact details of their approach, but I can say that it was as brilliant and as well thought-out as their research.

In Don Ruiz, Gene One has a CEO with a passion, not only for his business but for his team, a team that clearly looks to him for inspiration that he never fails to deliver. Their business process is focused, quick and skillful. CTO Teri Robertson presents ideas that clearly define technology as a business priority. Her technological talent and ability to attract leading researchers have led to one new technology and product after another. That you know the names of these products -- Tender Tomatoes, Perfect Potatoes, to name two -- is testimony to Charles Jones, a marketing leader who knows how to make things happen. And Michelle Houghton, the CFO, not only knows her numbers, but knows how to look at options both strategically and financially.

To an innocent bystander, the meeting seemed almost vitriolic for all the passionate and energetic arguing. The team members hurl ideas at each other at rapid speed until the meeting reaches fever pitch. But amazingly, what results isn't a fistfight: It's a great plan, born of everybody's input, created by a team.

Driven and successful, all of them. Divergent, certainly. Yet they never lose sight of one fact: They are first about making a contribution to society. That commonality allows them the synergy and potential to continue growing this business at an amazing rate.

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