Marriott Alumni Magazine

Summer 1985 Exchange

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EXCHANGE COMMENT We Can't Go On Meeting Like This Paul R. Timm The President of Moose Lips Corporation meant well, but somehow things just didn't work out quite the way he thought they would.* Matt Bayless had built Moose Lips from a one-man operation working out of his garage to the largest manufacturer of camping and recreational gear in the Pacific Northwest. Despite rapid financial growth, Matt had the uneasy feeling that things wouldn't continue to be so good. He was disturbed by a marked rise in production costs and an apparent increase in competitor activity. Nothing specific, but he was just uncomfortable. Then he hit on an idea. After dusting off a management textbook he'd read in college, Matt decided to use "participative decision making” to cope with the company's problems. "Sure, that’s it," he decided. "We'll have a big meeting and get some new ideas." His memo to all employees went out the next morning. Everyone was "invited” to participate in an all-day retreat at the Seaside Resort and Conference Center about 20 miles out of town. The agenda was set: The employees would all be getting together to "share their ideas" on how to retain market share, how to cut production costs, and "any other topics relevant to the success of their business." The entire company would be shut down all day Friday while the 126 employees conferred. A few days before the big meeting, word filtered back to Matt that a number of the Moose Lips employees had been mouthing off about having * This commentary is based on an article by the author which appeared in Communicators journal, Sept./Oct. 1984, pp. 54-8. 2

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