Skip to main content
ESMT Case Study

Lea Block at Seuzach AG: Initiating digital transformation

ESMT Case Study No. ESMT-421-0190-1
Urs Müller, Ulf Schäfer, Nora Grasselli
Human resources management/organizational behavior
Initiating change, implementing change, change management, communication of change, lateral change, leading change from the middle, influencing, persuading, stakeholder management, power and politics in organizations, change in a global matrix organization, digital strategy, Generation Y
Lea Block has tried to initiate digital transformation at Seuzach AG, a large global provider of medical devices for the health care industry. As marketing director, she has identified major shifts in German health care that demand that Seuzach changes its ways of approaching customers. Instead of targeting the specific needs of doctors in hospitals, Seuzach should rather address the new decision makers: the CEOs, CFOs, or CIOs of hospitals, who have a different buying logic. Seuzach should also leap into the future players in the industry through the application of digital innovations which allow for data driven, cloud-based digital services and business models that integrate data across the whole product range. In Seuzach's matrix organization (global product responsibility, supported by regional sales) Lea wants to convince the heads of marketing for the different product businesses to change. She seems to be able to quickly convince her colleagues of what she calls 'digital C-level marketing.' However, as soon as work is supposed to start, she realizes that commitments were less strong than she assumed. A few weeks later, Lea is clearly told that there will be no support for her. The short case study is set when Lea realizes the failure of her digital transformation initiative.
The case discussion allows analyzing and discussing various mistakes in the areas of: (1) defining an attractive vision and strategy; (2) reading and playing the organizational culture, power and politics; (3) leading from a peer-position, with a diversity profile (gender and age); (4) communicating a digital transformation initiative successfully; and (5) managing the stakeholders.

Key teaching/learning objectives:
(1) defining an attractive vision and strategy for a digital transformation initiative
(2) reading and playing the organizational culture, power and politics
(3) leading from a peer-position, with a diversity profile (gender and age)
(4) communicating a digital transformation initiative successfully
(5) managing stakeholders
This case is an update of the case Anna Frisch at Aesch AG: Initiating lateral change, a sanitized case that was set in 2007, in response to demands from students to have more up-to-date case as a basis for classroom discussions. As compared to the original case, this case provides an update of the developments in the German healthcare sector and puts stronger emphasis on the technology-related aspects of the proposed changes.