Decisions to Learn From: The Life and Times of Brad Clancey
In 2010, Brad Clancey faced a tough executive decision. He believed that his company, Specialty Materials Technologies (SMT) might have to be sold. Because of significant and crucible life events, for Clancey (with a background in mergers and acquisitions), what would once have been a straightforward ‘on the numbers’ divestiture, was now more complex because it included the impact on the people of SMT; people who had worked diligently and creatively to keep things going. The case traces Brad Clancey’s career arc from a typical early career analyst to a more reflective leader and manager. While the decision is not atypical of managerial decision making – should Clancey’s company be sold and if so, to whom and how; other factors now add to the complexity of Clancey’s ultimate decision.
The case demonstrates the intersection between personal leadership growth and strategic/organizational decision making, a topic seldom seen in academic theory, but highly relevant to effective leadership. As a traditional case, the learner formulates an answer to the sell question - the “black and white” cognitive foundation of rational decision-making. However, students must also assess and integrate Clancey’s personal discomfort and the complex role of his values, life experiences and feelings into this sell decision. Though not as straightforward as the ‘how to sell’ decision, the process creates a far richer decision-making context (Fink, 2003).
Specifically, the case allows students to:
- Evaluate Clancey’s view of his career. Note that the case is based on his recall and assessments and students must evaluate the subjectivity and interpretation that such recall involves. Analytical skills require ability to differentiate among information sources and generate conclusions and decisions based on the assessment of complex and varied source information.
- Analyze and evaluate the impact of feelings and values created through life experiences on decision making. Students will argue to what extent personal experiences can and should impact on business decisions. Imbedded in this discussion would be the students’ own perceptions of issues and decisions the students might eventually face and how they might respond. This secondary analysis (and resultant debate) is frequently a rich part of case discussion – stimulated by asking students: “What would you do?”
- Integrate objective and subjective analysis in recommending a course of action regarding the sale of SMT. Students must understand the options available, the financial implications of each, and to consider what Clancey should do and why. Students will need to recommend a course of action to address the sale of the company, including relevant financial calculations.