HBR: David Dunwood [Response]

How should Dunwood respond to Barber’s voice mail? Should he personally return the call? What should Dunwood’s (or another Mountain Auto representative’s) objectives be for that conversation?

[ROUGH DRAFT] Mountain Auto seemingly is in financial peril, having suffered internal and external inefficiencies. The organization’s prospects look bleak, with investors panicked. Notably, board members were irked with the organization’s financial direction and the headwinds the future would incur. Additionally, Jordan — Dunwood’s college friend and a prospective employer — presents a moral problem, presenting him with a situation where he could offset his stress workload and delegate the organization’s economic baggage to a new CEO. Contextually, Dunwood is facing a heuristic decision with a high degree of dissonance. Each outcome would net unforeseeable results and unintended consequences. These aggregating factors should be considered when assessing who should and how to answer Barber’s voice mail.

Dunwood should delegate the organization’s contractual obligation to another chief executive, given Dunwood’s personal and work-life situation (stress incurred as CEO and the perspective of being employed by his friend, another CEO.)

To placate investors’ fears and to mitigate implicit bias, Dunwood should delegate financial and contractual negotiations to another party within the chief hierarchy — such as Chief Finance Officer or Chief Revenue Officer.

The conversations objective should be derived from several positions:

- What the board of directors deems necessary.

- The impact on shareholder equity.

- The impact on stakeholders/supply chains.

Moreover, conversations could be recorded — therefore, to prevent fiduciary missteps (such as false promises or financial puffery), the chief in charge of negotiations should be counseled by an inhouse counsel and the human resources team (preferably, the chief of human resources). Equipping the CFO/CRO with financial, legal, and human capital intelligence would better position the negotiator and mitigate any intent (or unintentional) disclosure of malfeasance. Additionally, the human resource department could devise a stratagem conveying corporate governance, and the legal department can advise the negotiator on the boundaries to which regulation confines what he should/can’t disclose.

Adel Al-Aali


[1] HBR: The Role of The Chief Financial Officer https://store.hbr.org/product/the-role-of-the-chief-financial-officer/216079

[2] HBR: People Before Strategy A New Role For the CHRO https://hbr.org/2015/07/people-before-strategy-a-new-role-for-the-chro



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