Case | HBS Case Collection | October 1994 (Revised April 1995)

Visionary Design Systems: Are Incentives Enough?

by George P. Baker III and Karin B Monsler


A compensation case about Visionary Design Systems (VDS), a small, high-tech full service systems integration firm based in Silicon Valley with eleven offices throughout the country. All employees, including engineers, administrators, and receptionists, received a significant portion of their income from commissions and bonuses, and all were shareholders. The company espoused a philosophy of empowerment, under which all employees were given substantial decision-making authority, and were expected to act in the interests of the firm. This case examines one group that, although it had both the authority and the incentives to exploit a new market opportunity, continued to wait for top management's instructions and approval before making decisions or taking action.

Keywords: Decision Making; Cost vs Benefits; Compensation and Benefits; Employee Stock Ownership Plan; San Francisco;


Baker, George P., III, and Karin B Monsler. "Visionary Design Systems: Are Incentives Enough?" Harvard Business School Case 495-011, October 1994. (Revised April 1995.)