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Case Studies Essay

5607 words - 23 pages

by Clayton M. Christensen, Matt Marx, and Howard H. Stevenson
Managers can use a variety of carrots and sticks to encourage people to work together and accomplish change. Their ability to get results depends on selecting tools that match the circumstances they face.

T
JIM FRAZIER

the primary task of management is to get people to work together in a systematic way. Like orchestra conductors, managers direct the talents and actions of various players to produce a desired result. It’s a complicated job, and it becomes much more so when managers are trying to get people to change, rather than continue with the status quo. Even the best CEOs can stumble in their attempts to encourage ...view middle of the document...

In this article, which employs some ideas from Do Lunch or Be Lunch, by Howard Stevenson and Jeffrey Cruikshank, we explain how to choose the right tools and offer advice for managers contemplating change.

The Agreement Matrix
Leaders who want to move their organizations in a new direction must first understand the degree to which employees agree on two dimensions: what they want out of working at the company and cause and effect, or how to achieve what they want. A high level of agreement on both dimensions, such as exists at Apple Computer, requires a completely different set of change tools than leaders will need in, for instance, lowagreement environments.
Broad consensus

Microsoft in 1995

Apple Computer

Over our many years observing management successes and failures up close, we’ve found that the first step in any change initiative must be to assess the level of agreement in the organization along two critical dimensions. The first is the extent to which people agree on what they want: the results they seek from their participation in the enterprise; their values and priorities; and which tradeoffs they are willing to make in order to achieve those results. Employees at Microsoft, for instance, have historically been united around a common goal: to dominate the desktop. While of course there will always be pockets of employees who are an exception, this theme has defined the company’s culture. The second dimension is the extent to which people agree on cause and effect: which actions will lead to the desired outcome. When people have a shared understanding of cause and effect, they will probably agree about which processes to adopt– an alignment that was clearly absent at P&G as Jager attempted to transform the company. The exhibit “The Agreement Matrix” depicts these dimensions. The vertical axis shows agreement by an organization’s members on what they want; the horizontal axis shows their agreement on cause and effect. Employees in organizations in the upper-left quadrant share hopes for what they will gain from being part of the orga-

No consensus

Assessing the Existing Level of Agreement

Balkan Peninsula

Companies employing independent contractors

No consensus

Broad consensus

Extent to which people agree on cause and effect

nization, even though each might have a different view of what actions will be required to fulfill those hopes. Microsoft found itself in this situation in 1995, when Netscape was threatening to become the primary “window” through which people would use their computers. Everyone in the company wanted the same thing – to preserve Microsoft’s domination of the desktop – but initially there was little consensus about how to do that. Many companies that employ independent contractors and unionized workers, in contrast, are in the lower-right corner. These employees may have little passion for the goals of the company but are willing to follow prescribed procedures if they agree that...

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