Case Study: Green Haven — Changed Values
Philip Cooper became the CEO of a small, family-owned plant nursery business called Green Haven,
which had been run by his father. He had taken over the reins of the business about six months ago.
He came on board after his father, Adam Cooper, the founder of the business, retired due to illhealth.
Philip, who was 43 when he became the CEO, was an accountant by profession and had
worked at an accounting firm since his graduation over 20 years ago. He was also familiar with the
business, especially since he had set up its accounting system and helped the company accountant
whenever his expertise and knowledge was required.
Managing his father’s business was very different from his work at the accounting firm, but Philip
was very happy to make this career move as he felt very proud of his father’s business
achievements. Green Haven, which had started out as a small nursery in a leafy suburb of
Melbourne, had grown over the last 30 years to become a business that owned 11 nurseries across
different regions of Melbourne. It had taken Adam a lot of hard work over the years to expand his
business. Adam was very proud of the quality of the plants and seedlings available at his nurseries.
He made sure that the gardening tools, equipment and decorative items for sale at Green Haven
were exclusive and of the highest quality. He was also committed to keeping the profit margins low,
as gardening was a passion for him and he was very happy that this passion also provided him with a
living. The workers that he had hired at his nurseries were chosen because they too shared his
passion for gardening. Adam was very fond of the people who worked for him, and he had an
individual connection and relationship with each one of them.
These relationships had come about because of his tradition of holding monthly staff meetings that
everyone attended. Over the years, the tradition had grown so that the venue for the monthly staff
meetings was rotated around the 11 nurseries. On the day of the meeting, the business was closed
down and everyone got together and discussed their work issues. Those meetings were normally
very fruitful for all the staff; they learned new practices from each other and exchanged gardening
tips, which they could later share with customers. It was also a time for discussing new ideas that
people had come up with, new information or knowledge about plants or gardening techniques that
someone had come across, or anything of interest that related to the staff’s shared passion for
gardening. The meetings were like picnics, where everyone got together to discuss the business but
also to have fun together and socialise with staff from other branches. All the staff looked forward to
these meetings, and everyone tried to bring something new to the meeting to share and to discuss.
This was also a forum for anyone to raise issues, and for Adam to share his views, receive feedback
from his staff and then make a decision on the issue at hand based on consensus. Adam found that
because everyone knew and understood each other very well, he usually did not have problems with
reaching a consensus even when there were differences of opinion between staff members.
Another practice that was very dear to Adam was that he would visit all of the 11 nurseries every
quarter and would work at the nursery along with the staff at the nursery. He loved interacting with
the customers and helping them to select the right plants for their gardens or backyards, and was
always very keen to share his knowledge and expertise. Adam would often give a free plant to
customers, especially if they were new home owners and were trying to find plants to start a
garden—a tradition that he encouraged his staff to continue. Adam was known to spend hours with
a customer trying to find what plants would best suit their needs. He would give them information
and advice until they were fully satisfied and were able to make decisions about what to buy. The
staff at the nursery saw Adam as a role model, and they followed in his footsteps in providing
information and education to their customers.
Adam also produced a quarterly newsletter that was sent out to all customers or visitors to the
nurseries who registered their names and addresses on the registration book kept at each nursery.
Case Study: Green Haven — Changed Values
MGB200 – Sem 1, 2017 – Assessment Item 3 – Case Analysis
He was very proud of the newsletter and would usually write an article on a particular plant in every
edition. For example, he had in the last few years researched and written about plants that were
drought resistant and about ways of conserving water while keeping the garden healthy, in line with
the drought being experienced in Melbourne. The newsletter was then printed, copied and mailed
out to a list of over 5000 people.
As Philip took over the management of Green Haven, he began to notice that there were some
practices that existed which he immediately picked up as unnecessary and a cost to the business. He
felt that even though the business was doing extremely well, there were some things that needed to
change as they were adding to the costs of doing business. For example, he discovered that each
nursery regularly gave out plants for free and it was not uncommon for each nursery to give out
plants worth a total of $200 to $300 a month as gifts to various customers. On his rounds to the
various nurseries, Philip also found that staff were spending two hours, on average, with each
customer, which he felt to be a waste of time and money. Within the first quarter of taking on the
CEO role, he sent out a message to all nursery managers to stop the practice of handing out free
plants to customers with immediate effect. He argued that customers needed to buy plants, since
that was what they came to the nursery for, and that there was no real benefit in handing out free
plants—in fact, it was an unnecessary cost to the business.
At the next staff meeting, Philip announced that there were some changes in processes that he
wanted to introduce. He told everyone that he had made some observations, and based on these he
had decided that they would no longer have day-long monthly meetings, but that there would be
fortnightly meetings held with nursery managers at his office and that the nursery managers would
then institute a system of meetings within their individual nurseries. He then announced the
introduction of computers at each nursery, which would serve as information points for customers
on any plants or gardening questions that they might have. Philip informed the staff that he had
made this decision based on his observation that individual staff members were spending, on
average, a very long time with each customer and that this was not a very efficient way of working.
He also mentioned the high cost of the production and mail-out of newsletters, but said that he had
decided to continue with the newsletter as this was something that he felt his father could work on
and it would give him a way of staying connected to the business. Philip then asked if anyone had
any questions, but he got none. He felt that the meeting had gone very well and he was happy that
no one had raised any objections to his decisions. However, the staff left the meeting very puzzled
and confused, as they felt that so many things had changed instantly and they had no idea why.
A few weeks after the meeting, the new processes were put in place. Free plants were no longer
being handed out to customers and the meetings were now held at Philip’s office. These were now
very formal processes, following an agenda that was circulated to all nursery managers two days
before the meeting, with an option to include additional agenda items. The managers began to get
used to this new way of working, but they yearned for their monthly meetings and associated social
events. They felt that they had stopped learning from each other and that their jobs had begun to
stagnate. They also felt that their staff were displaying signs of lost enthusiasm for their work.
Generally, the morale at their nurseries was low.
Six months later, Philips was sitting in his office trying to figure out what had gone wrong. He was
looking at the quarterly reports and was surprised to see that, despite the cost-cutting measures
that he had implemented, revenues were substantially lower than when he had taken over from his
father. He had also learnt that five of their nursery staff from across the various nurseries had quit
their jobs, and he had just received a resignation letter from one of the oldest nursery managers. He
was very puzzled and also worried.
Relate theory to a practical situation by applying the ideas and knowledge discussed in
MGB200 to the practical situation at hand in the case study.
Identify the problems
Select the major problems in the case
Suggest solutions to these major problems
Recommend the best evidence based solutions to be implemented