A Memo Addressing the Cultural and Communication Issues at Satellite Systems and the Communications Division-Wayne State University Case Solution



Wayne State University – Department of Communication
Communication 3300: Business and Professional Presentations
Case Study
Satellite Systems
by Scott Hammond

It was 9 AM and time for the staff meeting, but the VIP wasn’t there. Satellite Systems Vice President and General Manager Bill Curtis noticed that this meeting was different from the usual weekly affair. He could see each manger was dressed a little sharper and the coffee was being served in “real” cups. The participants from the different departments in the satellite uplink company were going through their wallets, showing each other their cards. One suggested that before starting they pledge allegiance to the plaque on the wall. After twenty minutes, the VIP from
corporate came in. He was Robert Vallet, CEO of the communications division. He was dressed like a CEO, or at least a Wall Street banker. Lean in appearance, he also had the reputation of being lean on risk. “A bottom-line man,” Curtis had heard Vallet call himself.
Today’s meeting did not have the usual agenda of business-related items. Instead, Robert Vallet stood and talked about the greatness of the company, the bright future of the organization and the pride each manager should feel. The group of twenty managers listened politely and intently. They did not want to disagree or take issue. Vallet did not invite the other fifty technical workers in the company. Bill Curtis had suggested inviting them, but Vallet had said he wanted to meet with the “movers and shakers” and not a bunch of technicians. To Bill, who was an engineer by training, these technical workers were the heart of the company. He know that the technicians and staff workers were talking about the “big wig” meeting and that whatever information they did not get soon would be fabricated by the grapevine anyway. Vallet continued to talk, but Curtis was only half-listening. Only the day before over lunch Curtis had reviewed the state of the company with this same group. Most had agreed that moral was at an all-time low. “It’s like the soup of the day around here,” said one experienced and senior technical manager. “We get a new program every six months that is supposed to make us better people and create a better company. But it’s really just window dressing. They don’t want to address the real issues.” Another technical manager complained that the organization had not caught up with technology. She said, “They want a one-size-fits-all program in this company, but they reality is that we are very different from out sister divisions. They are really show biz with a little technology built in. But we are truly a technology company.Our success is based on how we stay on or create the leading edge. If we fall behind, our customers are gone in 90 days.” Bill’s mind wandered as he thought of the frustrations of his people. He could think of five or six “effectiveness programs” that has come from corporate over the last six years. Through “required”, they had no apparent relevance to the company’s circumstances or conditions. In addition to these half-dozen programs, he knew there were others he was forgetting. This new program that Vallet was pushing, however, seemed to have more emphasis than the others – perhaps because Vallet himself was relatively new and did not have a real history with the firm. Overall, Bill was proud of his division. Despite the problems of a rapid, everchanging technology, he believed his group had adapted well. Most of the competition had gone under or merged in the last few years, leaving Satellite Systems, smaller and more agile than the remaining bunch. Bill liked to think they were closer to the clients’ needs than their competitors. In fact, Bill knew most of their major clients on a first name basis. He was not above going to lunch with one of his account managers who was meeting a client. Contrary to what some of the managers felt about the practice initially, Bill’s presence usually made the account managers feel important, showing that they were on a first name basis with the vice president. And the clients felt more important, too. In the conference room, Vallet talked about the corporate wide values program. He said he believed it had been a success. He said the company had come to
represent the values of fairness, honesty and integrity to the customers and employees: “We are a people company and we are proud of it”. As part of the program, headquarters issued plaques to every division with the values statement inscribed. The CEO said he was glad to see that there was a plaque in this very room. Bill Curtis scanned the room. On the faces of all, he could see the outwardevidences of that sense of pride, but he knew it was not genuine.Bill knew, for example, that the conference room white board usually covered the plaque – except when there was a corporate visitor. Then there were the cards. As if on cue, CEO Vallet continued by asking each of the employees to hold up the “values card” that each was expected to carry in pocket or purse. Twenty out of twenty managers held up their cards. Bill had to smile wryly, knowing that the grapevine from other divisions was working. They were warned at Satellite Systems to expect that the CEO would ask to see the cards. Some had dug through their desks to fine the unused card. Bill himself had to borrow one from hissecretary.“I believe that if we are to keep these corporate valued before us, we will treat out people better and have a better company!” Vallet paused for effect and it was something less than he expected. There was polite applause, however, and then the CEO sat down. Bill rose and asked if there were any questions. That, he felt, was a least a polite gesture. He did not really expect any questions and silently prayed that there would be none. Wouldn’t you know, though, that one of the younger, outspoken sales managers piped up. “We’ve spent a lot on a new uplink system this year and now we learn that it won’t be on-line until the middle of the fourth quarter. Our customers simply aren’t buying because they can’t see it
working yet. Because of that”, she stumbled a little, apparently realizing she was now getting to the sticky spot, “because of that, sales revenues are down. What should we do?” This particular issue has been the major, most hotly debated topic of the last five staff meetings at Satellite Systems. Members of the sales-force were concerned because they were losing needed commissions, but everyone agreed fully that if they could just get the new system on-line; there would be plenty of commissions and plenty of other work to go around. Meanwhile, it was not just rumored: the company, admittedly, was borderline in the red. Robert Vallet rose to his full CEO height and responded directly to the brave questioner: “If you can’t sell this thing, then we will get some-one who can!” There were no more questions.

Now that you have read the above case study, you are a consultant who has been hired by David Wayne, CEO of the Holding Company. As a consultant, you have been asked to review and make suggestions on how the cultural and
communication issues at Satellite Systems and the Communications Division can be resolved. Write your memo and address it to David Wayne.

When writing the memo you should provide a brief description of the problems, you have found. What are the facts about major issues? Identify facts about key players in case, the business problem(s) and then rank order the critical issues. Consider relevant information and underlying assumptions. Finally your
recommendations. As you write your recommendations, you should evaluate the following;

  • How do the cultural values at Satellite Systems relate to communication, technology, information flow and openness?
  • Could or should the parent company try to impress its values on this division? (Pro/Con)
  • As the company goes forward, should it stick to the espoused or practiced culture?
  •  How would you suggest that they resolve this disparity? In other words
  • what should they do?
  • Provide specific suggestions that will help both Robert Vallet and Bill Curtis as they go forward.

In the closing, highlight benefits of your recommendations. As a consultant, you need to be honest but tactful in your recommendations  Remember
Overall, this assignment has five elements that are all inter-related.

1. Carefully read the “case study” and type a letter/memo that details your specific analysis and recommendations about how problem presented in case might be approached and solved. This document should be formatted
for reading ease, not a page of text. Make sure you use headings, bullet points and bold to make it easy to read.
2. Depending on where this assignment is being reviewed you will need to bring an electronic copy to the class lab for exchange your individual letter/memo with team members for peer editing and feedback. (Lab session). For the
class assignment answer to these questions regarding your letter/memo:
a. What elements of your team’s advice would you incorporate?
b. Which did you ignore?
c. Why?
3. Analyze case with team members and reach group consensus on specific analysis and recommendations to be included in final team letter/memo (all group members will initial and receive a group grade for final team
4. Compose final version of Team Letter/Memo (parts of different members’ individual documents may be cut and pasted to compose final teamdocument).
5. Discuss the team’s findings in class







To: David Wayne, Chief Executive Officer

From: My Name,Consultant

Date: February 20,2018

Subject: Summary of problems in Sattelite Systems


Mr. Wayne,

I would hereby like to give you a details statement on the problem and issues that I am seeing affecting the Satellite Systems. I will take you through the multiple problems starting from the financial to cultural

The first problem that I see is a strong rejection of any sort of input or suggestion that is coming from the lower part of the company and thus resulting in a very stifling environment in the company. I am of he views that the main problem or the source of the problem for this issue is the CEO of the company. He is a person who gives more importance to the aesthetic portion of the company to the real problems that are plaguing it. It was very evident in a recent meeting that was conducted where a young employee was made to shut up and sit down just because she had pointed out a not so rosy picture and asked for a solution for it

Another problem that I feel is heavily plaguing the company stems from the fact the there is a clear demarcation between the manager and the technicians. Though being a completely technological company, the technicians are in most of the case kept in the dark about the various changes and steps that the company is taking. This mainly happens because the engineers are kept out of any type of important meetings and are generally updated through grapevine sources. This has led to heavy dissent in the company. I would also point out this problem to the CEO of the company who makes sure that the technicians do not attend any of the meetings.

Now if we come down to a more cultural approach of the company from the lower side. The culture in the company does not encourage any sort of questions and dissent, The manager who attend the various meeting only act as a mute listener rather than really putting up his/her view on something of concern. This not only results in a less than optimum atmosphere but results in any new blood being pushed into not being inquisitive too. I believe the VP of the company who is famous for giving a personalized approach to any type of client meeting should take the lead in this and try to change the ongoing atmosphere in the company truly.

Though It would be better for the balance sheets to actually give a better description of the financial statements of the company the company is recently bordering red. The reason being a complete apathy of the upper management to correct the things that are of real importance completely. This includes the uplink system, lack of which is resulting in a huge loss of commissions and sales from every salesman each day.

Having taken all these cultural issues into account, I believe that the parent company should take the reins in its hand and actually try to impress its values of openness into this company. This will not only result in an open culture but will start a cascading process to further improvements.

Such type of disparity that has been pointed out between the technicians and the manager should not be let to go forward as it will only keep on alienating them and create higher response time for any sort of issue that occurs.

I would suggest the CEO Vallet actually to look into the real situation of the team, take heed of the problems that has been pointed above and actually try to take in more inputs and keep the aesthetic factors for a later day on the other hand the VP should be more inviting and encouraging to the employees,more firm in his demand for fairness and use his personalized approach in the company as well.

A company can only work well if all the people are open enough to dive in the real problem.remove their ego and work wholeheartedly towards it. If that can be done this company has a huge potential.


Please let me know if you have any question.


My Name,


Holding company


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