Teaching Note | HBS Case Collection | June 2005 (Revised March 2017)

Siebel Systems: Organizing for the Customer

by Robert Simons


Teaching Note to (103-014). The Siebel Systems case describes the unusual accountability and organizing choices made by managers of a successful, rapidly growing software development company. The case is set in 2002, but details the critical decisions made by founder Tom Siebel in 1993 at the inception of the company. Two decisions, in particular, stand out: (1) to define the success of the company primarily in terms of customer satisfaction, and (2) to build the organization on a strong foundation of measurement and accountability for performance. The case is designed to raise one central question: How can any organization function effectively when people are accountable for broad measures (such as customer satisfaction) but do not control all the required resources to ensure success?

Keywords: Management Control Systems; strategy; Execution; organization design; structure; job design; diagnostic control systems; customers; Customers; Strategy; Organizational Design;


Simons, Robert. "Siebel Systems: Organizing for the Customer." Harvard Business School Teaching Note 105-079, June 2005. (Revised March 2017.)