When the CEO Can't Let Go (Commentary for HBR Case Study)
For teaching purposes, this is the commentary-only version of the HBR case study. The case-only version is reprint 95509X. The complete case study and commentary is reprint 95509. Every morning, Paul Marsh, the chairman, president, and CEO of Kansas-based Coltrane Farm Equipment & Manufacturing, climbs the six flights of stairs to his office as part of his stress management plan. But recently the stress has intensified. In just five months, Marsh is retiring, and critics charge that there is no one suitably prepared to step into his job. Coltrane has prospered mightily under Marsh's leadership, and in recent years he has pushed the company to grow overseas. At the same time, Marsh also has a history of conflict with his closest subordinates. Coltrane's former president and COO left eight months ago and has not been replaced, and the head of international operations was fired in 1992 after just 21 months on the job. With the clock ticking, can Coltrane develop a plan to find a replacement for Marsh who can successfully lead the company into the next century? In 95509 and 95509Z, John Pound, Philip A. Lichtenfels, Alonzo McDonald, and Jeffrey Sonnenfeld offer advice on this fictional case study.