Business Case Studies, Executive Interviews, Michael Beer on Change Management

Tell A Friend

Executive Interviews: Interview with Michael Beer on Change Management
June 2007 - By Dr. Nagendra V Chowdary

Michael Beer
Cahners-Rabb Professor of Business Administration,
Emeritus at the Harvard Business School,
Chairman and co-founder of TruePoint a research based consultancy.

Download this interview
  • What happens when the resistance to change is coming from Federal Governments (for instance, rigid / inflexible labor laws in Europe and few Asian countries)? How should companies respond to such a resistance knowing fully well that their business fortunes are tied up with those rigid policies?
    This is a hard change problem because the CEO does not have as much control of situation he or she has less influence to shape a process (P) of change that will create D and M. Nevertheless, the principles implied by the change formula must still be enacted.

    The leader must try to bring government, unions and external constituencies into a dialogue that will reveal the reasons why given regulations and their underlying assumptions lead to unintended consequences not foreseen or sufficiently valued by regulators. He must work at bringing these constituencies together and engage them in framing the problem as well as work collaboratively to solutions that will work for all. Clearly, politics and power can often interfere with a fact-based problem solving process because the leader does not have the authority to ask for fact-based discussions. Thus, in these circumstances, leaders must pay even more attention to the process of engagement and dialogue. It is also true that managers often highlight and blame regulations and unions for their problems without looking more closely at how they can work productively within constraints. In the US, managers blame government and labor law without showing any creativity in how to work within these constraints or ease them.

  • It might be relatively easy to identify the need for a change initiative/ intervention in the case of a company, i.e.,there are sufficient warning signals alerting the company. However, change management is required at an individual level too (in different capacities; at the highest level he becomes the initiator; at all the other levels, he becomes the follower). What are the signals for an individual to look at change management initiatives before he/ she is forced upon to embrace the change?
    Individuals who are concerned about surviving, learning and growing need to attend to the strategic context in which they operate. What is the competitive environment in which my firm is operating? What changes in technology and management practices are underway in the world of business, in my industry or in my profession? With this information, an individual can begin to develop a better understanding of the skills and attitudes they will need to develop to learn and prosper. These individuals are constantly developing their own "D" and are proactive in developing their own developmental plan (career path, education and training). They must then begin the dialogue with their boss about their development rather then waiting for manage ment to begin that process when a crisis hits.

  • If you look at companies like Nike, Southwest Airlines, Bloomberg, etc., how difficult is to manage change (including the transition) when the founder-CEO is not around?
    Leaders who succeed founders have to find a way to develop legitimacy with employees who are loyal and committed to the founders and their model of management. This means that they cannot tear up the culture that founders created. They must be seen as honoring that culture and then engaging people in adapting practices to new circumstances, if that is needed. Effective successors embrace the values, but work on changing the practices that need change given new circumstances. A great example of failure to do this is the story of Carley Fiorina who became CEO of Hewlett-Packard in 1999 and by 2005 was fired. She thought the culture was the problem and took many steps including a merger with Compaq to break up the culture. She did not honor the past (created top-down change and employed consultants rather than engaging employees including her senior team) in the actions she took, even though she espoused otherwise. Successor to founders are best off engaging senior executives who embrace the historical values and assumptions.

  • How do you think companies can make "Change Management" a part of their "catastrophe culture" (as Samsung Electronics CEO Jong-Yong Yun has done) so that the fire is on at all the times, both good and bad?
    It appears that the CEO of Samsung found ways to create ongoing dissatisfaction with the status quo. The primary way for doing this is to 1) Set high performance standards 2) Engage people in generating and discussing data from customers and employees from which a diagnosis can be developed about what needs to be changed. Then task forces and groups working can be engaged developing new ways. These task forces are in effect a parallel organization—one that is focused on identifying future threats and opportunities and developing ideas and methods for coping with them.

1. Change Management Case Studies
2. ICMR Case Collection
3. Case Study Volumes

Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7  8  9  Next

Contact us: IBS Case Development Centre (IBSCDC), IFHE Campus, Donthanapally, Sankarapally Road, Hyderabad-501203, Telangana, INDIA.
Mob: +91- 9640901313,

©2020-2025 IBS Case Development Centre. All rights reserved. | Careers | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Disclosure | Site Map xml sitemap