Managerial functions, levels of management. Ms Susan Decker, the president of Yahoo, will soon unveil a new ‘operational blueprint.’ By definition, this is part of the planning function. Because the change is a large one – it involves the whole organisation – it is not surprising that it involves the top levels of management.
Specifically, the plan involves centralising the accounting functions of the company’s web services. This relates to the organising function in Yahoo: we would expect to see more central control of accounting employees if Ms Decker’s plan goes ahead. Because Ms Decker must ‘sell the plan to employees’ we can regard her as carrying out the function of leading, because leaders have to present a vision or idea to their organisation. The organising function appears again with the mention of the ‘internal shake-up’: the reporting relationships in Yahoo are being changed ‘to restore confidence’. Presumably Ms Decker belives that different staff rather than the present executives would do a better job of putting her new plan in place. As well, several senior staff (three vice-presidents and several other executives) are leaving, so this will lead to reorganising of the work they do. The controlling function is not mentioned directly, but at the end of the article we are told that ‘the investment community’ would like to be more confident that Yahoo has ‘devised[d] new ways to strengthen its brand against Google and to compete for consumers’ increasingly fragmented attention online’. This would require working out exactly how to monitor Yahoo’s performance against these goals, but it is not clear from the article what these evaluation mechanisms would be.
Mintzberg’s roles Mintzberg would regard Ms Decker’s development of new web services as part of the entrepreneurial role, since it is a major new project for Yahoo. In addition, ‘selling the plan to staff’ relates to Mintzberg’s ‘spokesperson’ role and the ‘organisational shake-up’ relates to the ‘resource allocator’ role (specifically, allocation of staff resources to projects). If Ms Decker needs to deal with negative perceptions of the investment community, she would be carrying out the ‘disturbance handler’ role.
Challenges for management in a global environment Yahoo is a global company: it operates and competes in more than one country. However the article makes it clear that Yahoo is having difficulty achieving a competitive advantage against Google. That is, it is so far not able to ‘produce desired goods or services more efficiently and effectively’ than that particular competitor. Waddell et al. (p. 22) say that the four building blocks of competitive advantage are ‘superior efficiency; quality; speed, flexibility and innovation; and responsiveness to customers’. Yahoo’s latest strategy, devising new web services which would appeal to different regions worldwide, appears to be aimed at ‘responsiveness to customers’, and also ‘innovation’, since the regional focus would differentiate Yahoo’s web services from Google’s.
The organisation’s environment Waddell et al. (p. 58) say that resources in the organisational environment ‘include the raw materials and skilled people that an organisation requires to produced goods and services’. Several skilled executives have already left Yahoo, and there are fears that more will leave, so Yahoo is clearly having difficulty keeping its skilled human resources.
Advantages and disadvantages of the thinking presented in the article The article gives good insights into Yahoo’s situation in its broader environment, the leadership activities of its president, and the four management functions at a general level. However it does not say much about the experiences and motivations of Yahoo’s employees, both those who are leaving and those who will take on new roles. Behavioural management theories would throw light on this.