1. Write a brief description of any strategies outlined in the Wooding case study that you could use to exercise soft power and become more influential within your organisation.

(Max. 150 words) 

Four weeks ago, Jessica Wooding was appointed the new head of corporate planning at Proudstone. Before this appointment, she had run the financial planning department for four years and the appointment is a major promotion for her. Wooding has an excellent technical reputation and is well regarded by her peers, but her appointment caused some surprise. Not only was there tough internal competition for the position from others in the corporate centre and the major business divisions, but many executives had expected an outsider to be appointed to head the unit as the CEO had talked of the need for a fresh approach to planning and analysis. 

Wooding now had 5 executives reporting to her from the old departments, each with their own staff making a total of 25 people in corporate planning. In due course Wooding planned to review the staffing levels and organisation, but this was not her immediate concern. Wooding was pondering how best to position herself and corporate planning in Proudstone. As she put it: “How can we be as influential as possible?”

Proudstone is a global telecom and media corporation operating through its regional hubs in the major centres of its core businesses in North America, Europe, and Asia. It is headquartered in London where it was founded 50 years ago. For much of its past, it enjoyed long periods of substantial profit and growth when its proprietary technologies enabled it to establish strong market positions. Over the last decade or so, it has suffered from competition from other major players who have exploited developments in communications technologies to develop powerful rival products faster than Proudstone. 

It therefore began diversifying both by acquisition and organically, but with mixed success, and this strategy has not fully compensated for the slower growth and pressure on profit margins. Many Proudstone executives believe that the different businesses have not worked sufficiently closely to exploit the synergies that were expected from diversification. With its fluctuating fortunes there has been turnover in the most senior management positions; in the last five years, two chief executive officers have come and gone. 

The new CEO, appointed six months ago from outside Proudstone, has a reputation for turning around underperforming corporations and then rebuilding through acquisitions. There has been a renewed emphasis on shareholder value, which managers take to be a signal for cost cutting. Budgets have been reviewed and many have been trimmed back by between 10% and 15%. Part of this cost emphasis also includes a review of office space, and it has been decided that corporate functions will be centralised in Proudstone’s largest London office. Several senior executives left after the budget cuts were announced and the rumour mill suggests that the CEO “takes no prisoners”. Executives have to engage in detailed and vigorous discussions with the CEO about their business plans, following which they are expected to commit to stretching but deliverable targets in both the short and longer term. At the same time, the CEO has emphasised that Proudstone will be looking to spend money on acquisitions if they make strategic sense and the price is right. 

As part of the rationalisation of the company, three formerly separate departments have merged to form corporate planning, headed by Wooding who reports to the CFO. This new unit is made up of the corporate finance department, the financial planning department, and the business area analysis department. Corporate finance reviews potential acquisitions, liaising closely with the financial institutions, and undertaking due diligence work when necessary. It has a high profile and is made up of a small number of specialists who keep to themselves and regard their work as complex and important. Because of the acquisitions made in recent years, it has been busy and influential: previous CEOs and the CFO spent considerable amounts of time meeting with people in the department and relied on their expert advice particularly in investor relations. 

The financial planning department reviewed business plans presented in capital expenditure proposals and offered pricing policy advice to the major businesses. They, too, are proud of their technical expertise and have considerable sway over strategic decisions. Some rivalry between financial planning and corporate finance existed in the past and people tend not to move between the two departments. Finally, the business area analysis department liaises between business groups and geographic regional offices. It does research on various aspects of financial performance and provides advice to the businesses on competitor performance, market shares, and other business indicators. In the past, this department also tended to pick up other aspects of internal “consultancy” in order to sustain work levels. Some of this was high-level and some was more routine.

 

2. Do you recognise the models of influence outlined in this unit in your own organisation? Write a brief explanation of how these models apply to your own context. 

it is based on congers model of influence and cialdini’s six persuasion of influence

(Max. 200 words)