By H. Irving Grousbeck, Sara Rosenthal
2022 | Case No. E798 | Length 5 pgs.

Josie Sung and Greg McNamara founded Denver-based Lighthouse Systems in 2006 shortly after graduating from the Stanford Graduate School of Business in 2005. After exploring several ideas, they landed on a technology solution for helping large corporations better communicate with their customers. However, after running into a few roadblocks in the early days, the company pivoted as it learned more about its customers’ needs. Now, almost seven years after its founding, Lighthouse had finally found its sweet spot with the launch of a mobile-based app that would allow companies to deliver valuable content to their employees (similar to a company intranet) via any electronic device.

By the spring of 2013, Lighthouse had gained steady momentum, with 30 percent quarter-over-quarter sales growth, and it was on track to reach $150 million in revenue by year end. With the potential to really take off, Josie and Greg decided it was time to bring on a senior sales executive to drive revenue growth to the next level. In November 2013, Tristan Jones joined Lighthouse as the company’s vice president of sales and quickly made a significant impact on the organization. After closing one of the company’s largest deals in 2014, Tristan delivered outstanding results throughout the first half of 2015, and served as a valued member of Josie’s eight-person management team. However, Josie is faced with a challenging situation when Tristan violates the company’s gifting policy on more than one occasion. Should she find a way to accommodate her best salesperson so as to not sacrifice company performance, or terminate her top performer and deal with the fallout that will inevitably follow?

Learning Objective

This case-based course is offered for students who want to refine their ability to manage challenging professional conversations. The class will focus on the preparation for and execution of role-playing dialogue as well as on postmortem analysis. The case highlights situations in which there is not a clear “right” or “wrong” answer, but decisions that come with tradeoffs. In deciding whether to terminate her star sales representative, Josie must factor in the impact on her organization’s top line, morale, and culture.
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