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Nov 20, 2023

Use the Hartman Model to analyze this situation, and choose the best course of action. Describe the element of the Model, leading to the conclusion about what best to do.

You are a bright, young professional employee, working for a Fortune 100 company, headquartered in a community of several hundred thousand population. The Company has always held safety as a core value, dating from its origins as an explosives maker. Your firm dominates the local culture - it is the best employer, with the best jobs and leading citizens; its influence pervades the landscape. One person has called working there "playing Major League ball, in a sandlot." In fact, to provide high-quality accommodations for business visitors, your company also runs the best city hotel, with the best restaurants in the region - at one time, it even owned the local newspaper!

It`s November. You are glad that this means you can look forward to gearing-back for American Thanksgiving and the year-end Holidays Season, without worrying about all those late-night papers and challenging exams from your Masters program; they were a major pain (but they did prepare you for your coveted first job with The Company). Annual bonusses are paid December 20th, and this has been a very good year for The Company. To hear your boss tell it, it`s been a good one for you, too.

Your reverie is interrupted by a call from the corporate VP who runs The Hotel/its restaurants. You are ordered to her conference room, immediately. Something`s up! When you arrive, the room already hosts The Company`s chief medical officer (industry leader, oft-quoted in the business press), senior execs from The Hotel/restaurants, and higher-ups in Public Affairs and Legal. Everybody looks serious.

One of the chefs from The Blue Room restaurant in the hotel has just been diagnosed with hepatitis!

As further background, you`re aware that 40% of The Hotel`s annual profits derive from the uber-busy Holidays Season just underway. You also know that there have been rumors that the Executive Committee has been thinking about outsourcing the whole function - it`s hardly a `core business`, and major hospitality firms would jump at the chance to acquire this captive `niche` market.

You also know that the local paper just loves to stick a thumb in the eye of The Company when bad stuff happens - it`s as if they want to demonstrate to everyone that they are no longer `kept` journalists! Any scandal could be ruinous to the earnings year and the future of The Hotel - to say nothing of the corporate black-eye and schadenfreude enjoyed by the rest of the community.

The medical officer reports that hepatitis is not something he knows much about, but from med school he recalls that it can be serious, especially for older folks or others with compromised immune systems. There are two varieties, he says, both with significant `incubation` periods before symptoms appear. One is difficult to spread between people; the other is quite contagious. The chef has been tested, but those results take time - they won`t be known for a week. So far, the situation is `contained` - few people outside this room know what`s up.

The hotel exec begins to poll the room. The first few hotel folks tend to minimize the situation - they suspect such sickness often happens in the restaurant business - all those patrons and staff in close proximity, dirty dishes washed nearby, etc. It`ll probably blow over. Legal opines that there are no regs governing this matter. The medical officer equivocates, arguing some of this, some of that, but reaching no definitive conclusion (thanks, doc!).

Now, it`s your turn. What advice will you give the meeting? How should The Company respond? Take a few minutes to chew over these facts, and prepare your best approach to this urgent problem.


1 - does it matter what you say? Why? To the meeting? To your bonus? Your career?

2 - what further information would you like to have before answering?

Which variety, of course
Countermeasures, effectiveness
What has cook worked-on for past week?
Can any of it be learned before deciding?
3 - who are the "stakeholders" in this situation? How are their interests the same, or different?

4 - How do we rank them? How serious is this to any of them?

5 - What are The Company`s interests? Immediate? Long term? Are there values in-play?

6 - If we do nothing ...

What`s the worst that can happen?
What`s the best?
What are the probabilities?
6 - What other options exist?

7 - if the meeting goes against you, what will you do? (There is that good-looking young reporter at the paper, who`s been bugging you for an anonymous `scoop`)

8 - what`s your plan?

Outcome: fire drill. Only food handled after cooking is of concern. Securities Analysts meeting with ExCo only affected individuals. Gamma globulin shots in the butt ordered as preventive. Non-contagious, anyway.


Positional authority is important, but not everything

Some corporate interests transcend legal `requirements`

Consider most serious consequences, for whom - do you have the right to make their choices?

If you can appeal to principle, it may focus the meeting, suggest the outcome.

Risk is a precious thing - sometimes nothing happens, but sometimes it does. Minimize it always.

Consider personal impacts - they are legitimate, and they include your conscience.

Doing the right thing may have positive ancillary outcomes.

Don`t pre-spend your bonus. You may have to live with the satisfaction of knowing that the entire Exec Comm and leading Wall Street analysts dropped their pants on your command.

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