Serena and Lily

By H. Irving Grousbeck, Sara Rosenthal
2012 | Case No. E438 | Length 10 pgs.
The Serena and Lily case describes three challenging situations faced by Lily Kanter, CEO of Serena and Lily, a luxury home goods company. The first vignette involves Marta Calfee, one of Lily’s first and most dedicated employees. As the company grows, Marta takes on increasing responsibilities, but it soon becomes clear that her title, compensation and domain are all greater than her actual capabilities, and Lily must determine how to scale back or let go one of her most loyal and trusted employees. In the second vignette, Lily deals with an extremely challenging investor/board member whose abrasive style and conflicting ideas about the strategic direction of the company threaten to severely hinder the company’s progress. Finally, Lily is trying to recruit a highly valuable consultant to a permanent position at the company, but must figure out how to compete against a lucrative counter-offer from a highly esteemed retailer.

Learning Objective

This case is taught in Managing Growing Enterprises, a class which faces students with the day-to-day difficult conversations and decisions that arise in growing ventures. The learning objectives in this case are to give the students the opportunity to: 1) think through the difficult decision of when and how to best deal with loyal employees who may not be growing at pace with the company; 2) practice the difficult conversations associated with parting ways both with trusted employees and challenging board members; 3) role play a scenario whereby they need to recruit a valued player without the typical “hooks” (e.g. compensation, title, brand, etc.) inherent in larger companies.
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