| HBS Case Collection
(Revised December 2015)
Trouble at Tessei
In 2005, Teruo Yabe is asked to revive Tessei, the 669-person JR-East subsidiary responsible for cleaning its Shinkansen ("bullet") trains. Operational mistakes, customer complaints, safety issues, and employee turnover are at or near all-time highs, even as the demands on Tessei continued to grow.
Given previous leaders' failed attempts to fix Tessei's problems with increased managerial monitoring and controls, Yabe seeks a creative approach to overcome the motivation, capability, and coordination challenges facing his organization. Like many contemporary leaders, he selects transparency as his tool. He is, however, unique in adopting a highly nuanced approach to implementing transparency. In the process, he not only leads a fantastic organizational turnaround but even helps to make otherwise "dirty" work more meaningful for Tessei front-line employees. The case therefore presents students, particularly in leadership, organizational behavior, operations management, and service operations courses, with an opportunity to think through how a well-crafted transparency strategy can act as a powerful leadership tool.
Keywords: service operations;
leadership and managing people;