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Shanghai Tang

In: Business and Management

Submitted By kokosamoa
Words 914
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1) Do you agree with Le Masne’s decision? What would you have done?
Le Masne made three decisions – 1) assumed the Creative Director position; 2) provided creative latitude to designers for what appears to be “runway” purposes only; and 3) hired a marketing director. The following will serve as a brief summary of my assessment of Le Masne’s decisions.
Assuming the Role of Creative Director
I disagree with Le Masne’s decision to assume the role of Creative Director. As executive chairman, I believe that the creative power and authority subsumed within Le Masne’s role is maximized best by championing the strategic direction of the company to further penetrate the Chinese market place while also growing their position in the US and Europe, creating a psychologically safe environment for the designers and management team to voice and resolve their respective concerns, and challenge the creative process via his role on the Product Committee and mentoring and management of the Creative Director. The strategic foundation, which has served Shanghai Tang well, is to develop a fashion line that traces its roots back to Chinese culture and is wearable, modern and colorful. This approach has worked well in the US and European markets. Although not as successful in the Chinese markets, it could be because the term wealthy in China is being defined as household income equal to or greater than $35,000 or more. I don’t know anyone making $35,000 a year who is buying Chinese themed pajamas for $350. Accordingly, Shanghai Tang may need to develop two lines – one for the west and another line specifically designed for China (designs and pricing).
I would have hired a replacement for Joanne Ooi and would have left the reporting and job responsibilities unchanged.
Hiring a Marketing Director
I agree with this decision. As executive chaiman, Le Masne cannot be expected to perform the role of creative director and marketing director. Further, it is also best that Le Masne not be viewed as a bottleneck to the creative/design process or desired marketing campaigns. I do believe that Le Masne’s thinking with regards to surveying his customers is directionally correct. I would also extend this thinking to survey all key stakeholders within the design-to-market supply chain to really understand what needs to be done to penetrate the Chinese marketplace and transform Shanghai Tang into a true Chinese Emporium.
2) If you were Le Masne, how would you handle the tension between the designer’s creativity and business side quantitative leaning?
Two thoughts come to mind as I reflect on this question – 1) Le Masne’s power seems to be challenged due to poor processes and 2) innovation is challenged due to poor creative processes. Note that poor processes are at the heart of each challenge. The following will explore each of the aforementioned challenges.
Power and Influence
Le Masne’s power and more specifically his ability to influence others are being challenged most notably by the design team’s desire to push the envelope on the creative strategy of Shanghai Tang. To reestablish Le Masne’s position of power and influence, he should consider the following: 1) clearly describe each stakeholder’s creative role, responsibility and line of accountability; 2) empower all stakeholders with the power and authority, within a defined set of strategic guardrails, to close the distance between the his perceived high and potentially out of touch power with the low and loud power of the design team; 3) create a process for the designers to work more closely with the management team prior to developing new lines. In summary, by fostering a broader culture of collaboration and adherence to a well governed process, I believe Le Masne’s power and ability to influence can be reestablished.
Intrinsic Motivation
A two year old can fly a kite. However, the kite cannot lift off or stay in the air without being restrained by a string and someone or something at the other end of the string. Similarly, I do not believe that the unbridled creativity that the designers are seeking will result in a happy ending. Le Masne needs a Design Director who can establish a creative framework for the designers to work in and clear process for the design-to-market process to follow. If the designs have a hard return on investment and fall within the creative guardrails, they should be allowed to move forward into production. Helping all of the key stakeholders understand the creative guardrails and the process should alleviate many of the current concerns. In summary, convergent and divergent thinking is made possible in part by good creative processes.
How do you assess your own leadership? Are you more like Coach K or Coach Knight?
I view myself as a collaborative, inclusive and transformative leader. I value people more than process but appreciate the importance of process in managing and leading people. In tense situations, I try to run the situation through a mental framework that allows me to think and analyze first before opening my mouth or typing a curt email. I prefer to minimize the drama in favor of productivity and work life balance. I believe that great ideas come from those that are closest to the details, the customer and/or the problem. I consider intelligence and work ethic to be table stakes. Lastly, I think that K stands for Kool, Kalm and Kollected. I’m definitely aligned with Coach K. There are many paths to winning. And I prefer Coach K’s path.

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