Introduction to the Lesson with the authors’ summaries:
1) Change Through Persuasion
Faced with the need for a massive change, most managers respond predictably. They revamp the organization’s strategy, shift around staff, and root out inefficiencies. They then wait patiently for performance to improve—only to be bitterly disappointed because they’ve failed to adequately prepare employees for the change. In this article, the authors contend that to make change stick, leaders must conduct an effective persuasion campaign—one that begins weeks or months before the turnaround plan is set in concrete.
Like a political campaign, a persuasion campaign is largely one of differentiation from the past. Turnaround leaders must convince people that the organization is truly on its deathbed—or, at the very least, that radical changes are required if the organization is to survive and thrive. (This is a particularly difficult challenge when years of persistent problems have been accompanied by few changes in the status quo.) And they must demonstrate through word and deed that they are the right leaders with the right plan.
Accomplishing all this calls for a four-part communications strategy. Prior to announcing a turnaround plan, leaders need to set the stage for employees’ acceptance of it. At the time of delivery, they must present a framework through which employees can interpret information and messages about the plan. As time passes, they must manage the mood so that employees’ emotional states support implementation and follow-through. And at critical intervals, they must provide reinforcement to ensure that the desired changes take hold and that there’s no backsliding.
Using the example of the dramatic turnaround at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, the authors elucidate the inner workings of a successful change effort.
2) Leading Change When Business Is Good
Lou Gerstner’s was a hard act to follow. As CEO in what were arguably IBM’s darkest hours, Gerstner brought the company back from the brink. After nearly ten wrenching years, in which the big-machine manufacturer remade itself into a comprehensive software, hardware, and services provider, business was looking good. So the challenge for Sam Palmisano, when he took over as CEO in 2002, was to come up with a mandate for a second act in the company’s transformation.
His primary aim was to get different parts of the company working together so IBM could offer customers “integrated solutions”—hardware, software, services, and financing—at a single price. As part of this effort, he asked all of IBM’s 320,000 employees, in 170 countries, to weigh in on a new set of shared corporate values.
Over a 72-hour period, thousands of IBMers throughout the world gave Palmisano and his executive team an earful in an intranet discussion dubbed “ValuesJam,” an often-heated debate about the company’s heart and soul. Twenty-four hours into the exercise, at least one senior exec wanted to pull the plug. The jam had clearly struck a chord with employees, but it was a dissonant one, full of rancor and discontent.
Palmisano let the discussion continue, and the next day, the mood began to shift. The criticism became more constructive. Out of the million words generated by the jam grew a set of values that, as Palmisano explains in this interview, are meant to guide the operational decisions made by IBM’s employees—and, more important, to serve as Palmisano’s mandate to continue the reinvention of the company.
At the end of this assignment, students will be able:
Discussions will be posted per week on Canvas. Students are required to post their views and discussions. You are also expected to read and respond to at least two (2) of your classmates’ postings for each discussion.
Your participation is an indication that you are learning. Your posted responses would demonstrate your understanding and application of the knowledge gained. Your postings to each discussion must be substantial and be supported with citations. Please follow the APA style for your writing. Remember this is a graduate level course and the length of your postings should be a minimum of 200 to 300 words in length. Discussion postings are expected to be more than just “I absolutely agree” or “Excellent point!” to receive credits; a guideline is that responses to your classmates’ postings should be between 100 to 150 words. All postings (discussions and responses) must be posted by the due date in order to receive full credits.
Please note that there are two due dates for all your online discussions:
The instructor would be monitoring all the ongoing “dialogues” and grading students on their participation.
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