Breaking the Code of Change II, Rotman School of Management, August 2-3, 2000
These participant's notes were created in real-time during the meeting, based on the speaker's presentation(s) and comments from the audience. These should not be viewed as official transcripts of the meeting, but only as an interpretation by a single individual. Lapses, grammatical errors, and typing mistakes may not have been corrected. Questions about content should be directed to the originator. These notes have been contributed by David Ing (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the IBM Advanced Business Institute ( http://www.ibm.com/abi).
Classics of Organization Theory (10 years ago)
Chronology of organization theory
Martin Evans: Why do we keep having to relearn organization theory?
No agreed-upon methodology that works.
Everyone has to do a Ph.D. on something new.
Critical levers of change: Almost all studies have these levers.
Strategic levers: Mike Porter
Psychodynamic / relationship
Systems and tools: e.g. SAP
Reward and punishment:
McWhinney: Paths of Change
Value of a firm isn't what the firm is doing, but the future earning.
Jack Welch: speed, simplicity, stealth
Noel Tichy: the teachable moment (at Ford)
Sophisticated practitioners put them together: the 50 things you need to do for quality.
Xerox 47 critical levers to a total quality program.
Why don't the critical levers work?
They're idiosyncratic, based on what individuals like to look at.
One size fits all
Missing implementation skills: Bartlett, just do it.
Static vs. changing -- what needs to be done first year, second year ...
Endless market for critical lever approach
People don't like hard work
Just want to sign the big cheque, get the big result.
If Jack Welch writes a book ...
Radical suggestion: Design each transition as a unique creative work.
All of today's papers have a emphasis on a learning and developmental approach.
CEO and steering group needs to lay out some designs.
Suggest do it quickly, over 1 or 2 weeks.
What needs to change?
When a rough picture is available, move into results learning incubation action project
Much less time on diagnosis.
More important to get organization moving, and then the organization learns more than when standing still.
More quickly into action.
Less time on what's wrong: agree on moving out of those 6 issues, but digging them up is painful.
Change can be exhilarating, fun.
Change Incubation Action Projects focus on some specific, measurable result, keyed to some urgent goal.
An area where you could make some progress, over the next few months.
Projects with a beginning and end.
Some managerial and methodological innovations that they can test: not better teamwork or communication
Design models for incubator projects:
Strategic pilot project
Start on small strategic projects to get some learning
Managers not having time usually means anxiety -- don't like discussing strategy.
Comment from Ron Ashkenaz: McKinsey went into room to analyze data, but CEO insisted that trying out as soon as possible. Soon McKinsey liked this, because they got results.
More design models ...
A model month project:
What can we do for a week, or a month? May not sustain at this level, but they've learned something.
Want to make these into organization development projects: fun, up feeling.
Project management disciplines, measurements, delegation, collaborating across boundary lines
Steering group starts with change sketch
Move into action change incubation projects, launch
Just-in-time experimentation learning and tools creation.
Periodic assessment: What are we learning?
Institutional change in supporting the change process.
New definitions of the business
Acquisitions and divestitures
Staffing of key roles
These require a lot of consultant help -- not as structured as other methods.
Need to create structures together.
Can take theories of developmental help.
Every senior manager as an architect of change.
Discussant: Hillary Austen
Paper with creative work:
Recipe / creativity balance.
Jim March: On average, a recipe will give you better results.
Could it be fun, and less scary?
Artists at work: they like disrupt thing; they formulate while they implement; they like to be surprised; they like tensions and don't want them to collapse; struggle with incompatibility.
Robert: Main help: What they can do now, as opposed to changing the whole vision of the enterprise.
Piece that was missing:
In innovation, you fail and fail and fail.
Need to turn this to be more productive.
Small successes will lead them to bigger risks.
This doesn't work with organizations that are doing okay; need someone at top who says we must change.
Question from Mike Jensen: How to deal with failure? How do you deal with interdependencies, that you can't change one at a time?
To deal with failure, try to load the dice by carving the project down. If you see that they're headed for failure, stop them and turn them around.
There's so much unused capability an organization, would like to leverage a few percentages.
e.g. Tylenol, how long did it take to design safety packaging? One year estimate. They did it in 7 to 8 weeks.
e.g. Mohawk carpet: carpet mill collapsed roof. Instead of two buildings, they ran in one building, and got the same production from one line, that used to done on two lines.
Question from Chris Argyris: Under what conditions does this work?
We don't ask what do you want to do next, because it's a threatening question.
Mike Beer: Chris talking about top teams, Robert talking about cross-functional teams that never worked together before?
Robert: Are there some things that you can do, that would help.
Ron: If was easy and worked all of the time, it wouldn't be fun.
Jim: Project can't trigger defenses
Chris: This still sounds too much like T-groups stuff. Want to limit to conditions.
Russ: Is this for operational efficiency projects?
Robert: Gradually get to larger and larger projects.
Roger: Self-selection of consultants.
Comment by Edie: Model of organizational wellness, as opposed to organizational fitness.
Focusing on successes break down the fear.
Comment: Make it an experimental approach.
Is something different happening, or is it self-selection?
Allan: We've joined the client, the problem and consultant. Ron and Allen were both GE-workout consultants. This starts with getting rid of the garbage. Start with small stuff. On the first engagement, decided not to work on a trivial problem, then project stalled. Some people work like work on complex problems, some don't. This is what community developers do. They go in, start talking. Kentucky town first stray dogs, then traffic light, then built enough of a relationship to do bigger things.
Robert: Strategic people like to think about big idea, which get to be scary. How do we managers to think about strategic choices on low risk, rapid cycle issues?
Comment from Mike M: Tension between control by the self, i.e. what do you want, and control of the self, i.e. failure. Best solution would be self-control, or what Tom Schelling calls ego-nomics. The problem is not outside controlling force.
Allen: This about entry, not about whether there is or is not a problem.
Terry: At the cognitive level, does working on P problems make you any better to work on NP problems?
Edie: Yes, at the group level. (But at the individual level?)
Comment: Turning a logical problem into a physical one, e.g. drawing a line down the middle of a Motorola plant.
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