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The Trouble with Filling Shoes at Nike

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Case Analysis for:
“The Trouble with filling shoes at NIKE”

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Executive Summary Nike founder Phil Knight is a successful entrepreneur. When Phil Knight was ready to step back from direct supervision, he handpicked ex-head of S.C Johnson William Perez to take over. With just 13 months as CEO, William Perez was forced out of his position and Phil Knight once again stepped in to “conquer all.” The core problem is that Phil Knight can and will not be able to find someone who can successfully fill his shoes. Contradictory to his original wishes, Knight lacked to see Perez’s new set of discipline. The problem was that Nike insiders and founder Phil Knight were resistant to any sort of change. Many Nike insiders believed that Perez did not have an intuitive sense of Nike as a brand, and disagreed with his discipline of relying on the “spreadsheet, analytical approach as opposed to having a good creative marketing sense.” (Griffin, 2010) The constraints regarding Bill Perez as CEO of Nike, was that he had to compete with the company’s managerial talent that has from this date, been mostly homegrown. Before long, Perez struggled to work effectively with numerous executives, including two Nike lifers, Mark Parker and Charlie Denson. Instead of focusing solely on the culture of Nike, the organization should focus on organizational and managerial discipline within the company. Implementing the best solution for Nike would be to create an organization that does not rely on filling the shoes of founder Phil Knight. It is through scripture that we read we should not fear work or our own abilities to be creative. It is through work that we should be inspired and open about the products and services we provide. Nike executives and insiders should not be so righteous that they ignore the ideas of all others. It is through a variety of cultures and disciplines that Nike will find their greatest purpose of all.

Table of Contents SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND AND FACTS 4 STATEMENT OF CORE PROBLEM 4 SECONDARY PROBLEM 4 CONSTRAINTS AND LIMITING FACTORS 4 ALTERNATE SOLUTIONS 4 IMPLEMENTATION OF BEST SOLUTION 4 JUSTIFICATION FOR SOLUTION 4 CONCLUSION 5 REFERENCE 6 Appendix A 7 Appendix B 8 Appendix C 9 Appendix D 10 Appendix E 11

SUMMARY OF BACKGROUND AND FACTS Nike founder Phil Knight is a successful entrepreneur. Knight is a man who identifies himself so closely with the organization he founded, the product that he built, and the people that he created that it has become nearly impossible for him to let go. When Phil Knight was ready to step back from direct supervision, he handpicked ex-head of S.C Johnson William Perez to take over. With just 13 months as CEO, William Perez was forced out of his position and Phil Knight once again stepped in to “conquer all.” Being Knights third attempt to step down from his current position, he just could not let go of the reigns without grabbing them back again.
STATEMENT OF CORE PROBLEM The core problem is that Phil Knight can and will not be able to find someone who can successfully fill his shoes. Stephen Mader, Executive Headhunter once said, “The message about filling shoes is that you can’t. You’ve got to design new shoes.” In hiring Perez, Knight had hoped Perez could “instill the sort of organizational and managerial discipline that had never been his own strong suit.” (Griffin & Moorehead; 2010, pg422) Contradictory to his original wishes, Knight lacked to see Perez’s new set of discipline. In efforts to create a new sense of discipline Perez asked questions, “of 20-30 year veterans that had never been asked before,” and “questioned award winning ads and adopted an unfamiliar approach to evaluating campaigns.”
SECONDARY PROBLEM Nike insiders and founder Phil Knight were resistant to any sort of change. One executive insinuated, “Perez, ruffled feathers almost from day one.” While his questions also, “irked marketing executives.” (Griffin & Moorehead; 2010, pg 423) Many Nike insiders believed that Perez did not have an intuitive sense of Nike as a brand, and disagreed with his discipline of relying on the “spreadsheet, analytical approach as opposed to having a good creative marketing sense.” (Griffin, 2010)
CONSTRAINTS AND LIMITING FACTORS The constraints regarding Bill Perez as CEO of Nike, was that he had to compete with the company’s managerial talent that has from this date, been mostly homegrown. Knight and Nike “created a promote-form-within mentality, combined with a strong cross training for managers.” (Griffin, 2010) Before long, Perez struggled to work effectively with numerous executives, including two Nike lifers, Mark Parker and Charlie Denson. This added to an additional constraint, in which both Parker and Denson had competed for the same CEO position before Knight decided to hire Perez.
ALTERNATE SOLUTIONS Instead of focusing solely on the culture of Nike, the organization should focus on organizational and managerial discipline within the company. “Nike’s early management meetings,” reports a writer familiar with the company, “were rowdy, drunken affairs. When fights broke out…Knight would rarely interrupt. He liked to see the passion.” Conflict stimulation is not the best solution for Nike, because Nike insiders are so passionate about the culture of Nike they forget about the discipline that goes into creating a successful organization.
IMPLEMENTATION OF BEST SOLUTION Implementing the best solution for Nike would be to create an organization that does not rely on filling the shoes of founder Phil Knight. Nike insiders are almost afraid to think outside of the box for fear of being rejected from the Nike culture. “People who don’t get the culture,” advises Don Murray, a management consultant who has worked closely with Knight and Nike for many years, “don’t stick around for very long. They know they don’t fit. That’s it.” (Griffin & Moorehead; 2010, pg 422) At Nike, new ideas and new cultures should be discussed openly amongst Nike insiders without fearing a death with amongst the organization and its members.
JUSTIFICATION FOR SOLUTION When Adam and Eve were created God gave them the responsibility to take care of the garden (Genesis 2:25). They were given authority over all the animals. Work is a natural and important part of life. It is through work that we are creative and that we produce products or provides services that benefit ourselves and others. The ability to work is a gift from God. God worked in creating the world. Because we are created in God’s image, we find meaning and fulfillment in work too. (Chewning;1990, pg 74) It is through scripture that we read we should not fear work or our own abilities to be creative. It is through work that we should be inspired and open about the products and services we provide.
CONCLUSION
“It’s almost like a death wish, coming into the company from outside,” says Stephanie Joseph, an expert on corporate boards. At Nike, this should not be the case. Nike executives must carry out management responsibilities through the works of servant hood. In both the management and leadership of people, we must be “servants” by conveying the idea of working for and at the direction of others. Nike executives and insiders should not be so righteous that they ignore the ideas of all others. It is through a variety of cultures and disciplines that Nike will find their greatest purpose of all.

Works Cited
Chewning, R. (1990). Business Through the Eyes of Faith. New York: Harper Collins Publishers.
Moorhead, G. &. (2012). Organizational Behavior. Ohio: Cengage.

Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

Appendix D

Appendix E

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