Business Organizational Fitness to Compete: Toward a Causal Model of Organizational Change and Learning -- Russell Eisenstat and Michael Beer
Breaking the Code of Change II, Rotman School of Management, August 2-3, 2000
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Michael Beer, Harvard Business School; and Russell Eisenstat, Center for Organizational Fitness
[David missed a lot of the presentation]
Task Force Training (1 day)
Task Force Interviewing (2-4 weeks)
Task Force Debriefing (1 day)
4-6 hour meeting.
Senior executive team to listen non-defensively.
Feedback and Planning Meeting (1st of 3 days)
Reviews with Task Force & Upper Management (2 days)
Go back to employee's task force.
If we go this direction, will it deal with these issues?
Task force calls the 100 people they interviewed to tell them what happened.
Comment: This creates a new network of relationships.
Deploy, Implement and monitor (ongoing).
Issue of institutionalization: executive's role of organizational architect.
What did we learn by using these methods?
Convergence around 6 organizational issues that came up at all task forces.
Silent killers: not publicly discussed, just one-to-one.
1. Unclear strategy or conflicting priorities.
2. Ineffective top team -- We don't know what these guys are doing in their meetings/
3. Style either too top down or too bottom up.
4. Poor vertical communication -- Upward gap.
5. Poor team work between interdependent functions or groups.
6. Inadequate leadership and development throughout the organization -- Leadership at lower levels.
1. Quality of direction
2. Quality of implementation
3. Quality of learning
Emergent principles for building fit and fitness
The process is robust, it always works in 3 days with coming up with different conceptions of the organization.
In the follow-through, however ....
Conditions for sustained change and learning
Existing of compelling problem
Leader not at risk: works very well with new general managers.
Leader value and skills
Organizational culture: requires a certain culture, will develop a culture
Urgent single loop change agenda competes for time and focus with explicit development of double loop learning.
Need a social technology so that executives go through the fitness process: But how many want to go to the corporate dentist?
Discussant: Jim Phipps
In-depth action research project.
Pushes toward integrating organizational behaviour and org change with fundamental business issues.
Intervention methodology well defined, so we can teach people to do this.
Assertion that barriers are for companies making transition from traditional to more flexible.
Maybe more pervasive than that.
Problem may not start with human processes, may start with strategy, e.g. SRSD at HP, described in the paper, hadn't resolved strategic priorities, choices about where to compete and how to win.
What does silent killers and root causes really mean?
Need a deep understanding of the path of physiology: What are the processes that create the pathology?
Would argue the 6 silent killers aren't root causes.
May also need to think of chains of causality.
Level of specificity.
Intervention affects the outcome, but the specificity of those outcomes needs to be elaborated.
Have picked variables that can operationalize, can get deeper.
Becton-Dickenson: Tension between process and organization, because they don't like conflict.
HP -- organization has used it but not the whole company.
Comment: The more you move into root causes, the less it's engineering and more science.
Comment: Compelling change, or strategic change?
Comment by Chris Argyris: More specific will result in a better engineering. They know more than they say.
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