Save the Seven Million -- Robert H. Schaffer

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 ( at the IBM Advanced Business Institute (

Robert Schaffer

Classics of Organization Theory (10 years ago)

Martin Evans: Why do we keep having to relearn organization theory?

Critical levers of change: Almost all studies have these levers.


McWhinney: Paths of Change

Stern-Stewart: EVA.

Five stages

Jack Welch: speed, simplicity, stealth

Noel Tichy: the teachable moment (at Ford)

Core competencies

Sophisticated practitioners put them together: the 50 things you need to do for quality.

Why don't the critical levers work?

Endless market for critical lever approach

Radical suggestion: Design each transition as a unique creative work.

Change Incubation Action Projects focus on some specific, measurable result, keyed to some urgent goal.

Design models for incubator projects:

Start on small strategic projects to get some learning

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 ...

Want to make these into organization development projects: fun, up feeling.


These require a lot of consultant help -- not as structured as other methods.

Can take theories of developmental help.

Every senior manager as an architect of change.

Discussant: Hillary Austen

Paper with creative work:

Robert: Main help: What they can do now, as opposed to changing the whole vision of the enterprise.

Piece that was missing:

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?

Question from Chris Argyris: Under what conditions does this work?

Russ: Is this for operational efficiency projects?

Roger: Self-selection of consultants.

Comment by Edie: Model of organizational wellness, as opposed to organizational fitness.

Comment: Make it an experimental approach.

Is something different happening, or is it self-selection?

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.

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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