Microsoft Hazel Case Essay

Hazel had worked for the same Fortune 500 Company for almost 15 years. Although the company had gone through some tough times, things were starting to turn around. Customer orders were up and quality and productivity had improved dramatically from what they had been only a few years earlier due to a company-wide quality improvement program. So it came as a real shock to Hazel and about 400 of her fellow coworkers when they were suddenly terminated following the new CEO’s decision to downsize the company.

After recovering from the initial shock, Hazel tried to find employment elsewhere. Despite her efforts, after eight months of searching, she was nowhere closer to finding a job than the day that she had started. Her funds were being depleted and she was getting more and more discouraged. There was one bright spot, though: She was able to bring in a little money by mowing lawns for her neighbors. She got involved quite by chance when she heard one neighbor remark that now that his children were on their own; nobody was around to cut the grass. Almost jokingly, Hazel asked how much he’d be willing to pay. Soon Hazel was mowing the lawns of five neighbors. Other neighbors wanted her to work on their lawns, but she didn’t feel that she could spare any more time from her job search.

However, as the rejection letters began to pile up, Hazel knew she had to make an important decision in her life. On a rainy Tuesday morning, she decided to go into business for herself – taking care of neighborhood lawns. She was relieved to give up the stress of job searching, and she was excited about the prospect of being her own boss. But she was also fearful of being completely on her own. Nevertheless, Hazel was determined to make a go of it.

At first business was slow, but once people realized Hazel was available, many asked her to take care of their lawns. Some people were simply glad to turn the work over to her; others switched from other lawn care services. By the end of her first year in business, Hazel knew she could earn a living this way. She also performed other services such as fertilizing lawns, weeding gardens, and trimming shrubbery. Business became so good that Hazel hired two part-time workers to assist her and, even then, she believed she could expand further if she wanted to.


In what ways are Hazel’s customer s likely to judge the quality of her lawn care services? Hazel is the Operations Manager of her business. Among her many responsibilities are forecasting, inventory management, scheduling, quality assurance, and maintenance.

What kinds of things would she likely forecast?
What inventory items does Hazel probably have?
What scheduling must she do? What things might disrupt her schedules and cause her to reschedule? How important is quality assurance to her business? Why?
What kind of maintenance must be performed?

Hazel decided to offer the students who worked for her a bonus of $25 if she implemented one of their ideas on how to improve the business, and they responded with several good ones. One idea that she initially rejected now appears to hold great promise. The student that proposed the idea has unfortunately left, and is currently working for a competitor. What should Hazel do?

Hazel Case Revisited


What competitive advantage does Hazel have over her competitors? Hazel would like to increase her profits, but she doesn’t believe that it would be wise to raise her prices considering the current state of the local economy (she is aware of this current state because of her keen environmental scanning abilities!). Instead she has given some thought to increasing productivity.

Explain how increased productivity could be an alternative to increase
prices? What are some of the ways that Hazel could increase productivity?

Hazel is thinking about purchasing some new equipment. One type of new equipment she is considering is power sidewalk edgers. She believes that power edgers will lead to an increase in productivity. Another type of new equipment would be a chain saw, which would be used for tree pruning. What trade-offs must Hazel think about in her analysis?

Hazel is fairly successful in her neighborhood and now wants to expand into other neighborhoods, including some that are up to five miles away. What would be the advantages and disadvantages of doing this? (this is a classic expansion dilemma) Hazel does not have a formal mission statement and a set of objectives. Take one of the following positions and defend it:

Hazel does not need a formal mission statement and a set of objectives. Many small businesses don’t have them. She definitely needs a formal mission statement and a set of objectives. They would be extremely beneficial. There may be some benefit to Hazel’s business, and she should consider developing one.

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