Author(s): Coutu DL
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Abstract "It's worse than I thought.... She's completely lost her mind," says Harry Beecham, the CEO of blue chip management consultancy Pierce and Company. The perplexed executive was in a hotel suite with his wife in Amsterdam, the latest stop on his regular trek to dozens of Pierce offices worldwide. In his hand was a sheaf of paper--the same message sent over and over again by his star employee and protégée Katharina Waldburg. The end of the world is coming, she warned. "Someone is going to die." Harry wouldn't have expected this sort of behavior from Katharina. After graduating with distinction from Oxford, she made a name for herself by single-handedly building Pierce's organizational behavior practice. At 27, she's poised to become the youngest partner ever elected at the firm. But Harry can't ignore the faxes in his hand. Or the stream-of-consciousness e-mails Katharina's been sending to one of the directors in Pierce's Berlin office--mostly gibberish but potentially disastrous to Katharina's reputation if they ever got out. Harry also can't dismiss reports from Roland Fuoroli, manager of the Berlin office, of a vicious verbal exchange Katharina had with him, or of an "over the top" lunch date Katharina had with one of Pierce's clients in which she was explaining the alphabet's role in the creation of the universe. Harry is planning to talk to Katharina when he gets to Berlin. What should he say? And will it be too late? Four commentators offer their advice in this fictional case study. They are Kay Redfield Jamison, a professor of psychiatry and a coauthor of Manic-Depressive Illness; David E. Meen, a former director at McKinsey & Company; Norman Pearlstine, the editor in chief at Time Incorporated; and Richard Primus, an assistant law professor at the University of Michigan.
This article was published in Harv Bus Rev
and referenced in Journal of Socialomics