Class Reminders 2/6 AND Reading Questions

Hi all,


For next week, please:

STARTUP CASE STUDY: Choose an innovative media-related startup you admire or find interesting.  As you did last week, do a little research on them, check out their website, social media presence, etc. and write up what you learned. What have they done well? What kinds of attitudes or techniques might you adopt from them?  What problem do they solve? Think like a business person as well as an audience member – where is their revenue coming from? What is their content strategy (assuming they have one)? Their marketing strategy? Send this to me in a Word document, and be prepared to talk about it in class. I will post good ones on the blog.

Read: E. Schein Organizational Culture and Leadership Chapter 1 and 2 and 13 on UM Drive

Clayton Christensen Innovator’s Dilemma Introduction and Chapter 2 of the Innovator’s Solution On UM Drive

Kets de Vries in Leadership Mystique Chapter 7 The Rot at the Top & Chapter 8 Achieving personal and organizational change on UM Drive

In a comment on this blog post, answer the following questions:

Describe, briefly, one reason organizational change is challenging.

Describe one other thing you find interesting or relevant from readings or lecture.

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29 thoughts on “Class Reminders 2/6 AND Reading Questions

  1. Barry Parks says:

    Describe why organizational change is challenging:

    Essentially, the main consideration for attempting to implement change in an organization is the organization’s maturity. If it’s a new organization without having had time to implement enough trial-and-error to develop what Schein calls “basic assumptions” which define organizational culture, change is obviously easier. This is also a function of the receptiveness to change of the individual team members of a newer organization. More than likely, members of developing organizations will not be as rooted in Schein’s in organizational culture because that culture has not had full time to develop.

    In an established organization with a business culture intact, however, this is where the challenge to implement change is clear. Because, as Schein explains, culture results from proven business practices that result in an organization’s proprietary artifacts, beliefs and values and, more importantly, basic assumptions being established, any new idea or change in practice faces the need to overcome this pre-established identity and stability. It resonated for me when Schein characterized this foundational culture as “theory-in-use.” An organization developed with healthy shared relationships and experiences among its members evolves into a sort of systematic and ordered existence where the culture actually becomes subconscious.

    Schein points out that a good way to learn about an organization’s culture is to study what newcomers to the organization are taught. But because so much of a group’s culture becomes subconscious because of its routine, systems and procedures and even history, what defines the culture becomes almost unspoken and intrinsic for the members. Effecting change when this is the reality is as much as uprooting a tree. In more scientific terms, Schein quotes other sources that call this “double-loop learning” and “frame-breaking.” The inherent problem with assigning change when a foundational culture is largely intact is the resultant anxiety and challenge to stability. Organizations in a cultural ‘comfort-zone’ are inevitably resistant to change and may even be incapable of it on what Schein calls their genetic level.

    Simultaneously important to consider again is the human resource element. If it might be easier for group members of a new or developing organization to adapt, those who are a part of a more established group may face deeper challenges. Indeed, human resistance is a key factor to implementing change that can apply to both well-established and developing organizations. As de Vries points out, change implementation often has to happen on an individual basis. This author’s insightful statement that “it’s easier to change people than to change people” (p. 179) basically sums this up. If an organization has been able to identify and work through the “five C’s” for change as explicated in de Vries (concern, confrontation, clarification, crystallization and ultimately change itself), circumventing the human element in effecting change can ostensibly be as simple as breaking habit. But as Rodgers indicates, human nature is deeper than that. Rodgers identifies five descriptions that portray how people can accommodate change, these being innovators, early-adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards. The names of the categories explain themselves. As per these delineations, Rodgers suggests that human nature does not always lend itself to easy accommodation of change. When the cultural genetic makeup of an organization itself can impede, the very genetic characteristics of humans themselves can contribute even moreso to the difficulty.

    (As a side not to this response, I found it personally relevant to read through de Vries’ description of the five C’s of change. Having recently made one of the biggest changes of my life in relocating to Memphis for graduate school, I can systematically identify with and specifically remember moving through each of these stages as I was coming to terms with this huge change, even though I didn’t know there were names for them. A ‘poster child’ for the incumbent anxiety many of us face when considering a life-changing event, I nearly backed out at the crystallization stage. But I can definitely say that I’m glad I didn’t!)

  2. Barry Parks says:

    I forgot to comment on “another interesting relevancy”:

    Schein’s characterization of organizational culture and the existence of ‘subconscious basic assumptions’ made me start thinking about the days when I was a television reporter and how that cultural description applied to the newsroom where I worked.

    CNWG 10NEWS was a small cable operation, utilizing only four staff members to cover a 2-county-wide area where our cable system was installed. Three of the four staff members were dedicated to covering Floyd County, Georgia, where the station was located. I was hired as the sole correspondent covering neighboring Gordon County, Georgia.

    From the beginning, it was pretty clear to me that the station’s subconscious and unspoken priority was covering Floyd County–if only as was obvious by the number of staff dedicated to each respective county. But often, the news director would pull me off the Gordon County beat to dedicate even more staff resources to covering Floyd. Gordon County’s coverage was compromised in the process, but no one on the staff besides me seemed concerned about that. This was something that was never discussed or debated. It was simply a priority to cover Floyd County. Even after a new, more innovative news director was hired halfway through my time at the station, the status quo continued–still with no articulation of the reality.

    It occurs to me after reading Schein’s insights that the station had developed a subconscious basic assumption about what its coverage priority should be. Everyone knew it, but no one discussed it. Regardless if i was stupefied by it. The station’s management had obviously experienced enough trial-and-error success in its existence that management had subconsciously determined that Floyd County SHOULD be a priority for coverage.

    That was a totally confusing dynamic for me back in those days and in my first run as a reporter, a constant source of frustration and stress. I felt a sense of obligation and duty to my beat, but that was an unnecessary waste of time at that station. It all seems pretty clear now, thanks to Schein. If I had had this grasp on organizational culture at that time, I would’ve just relaxed and let the situation be what it was.

  3. 1. Why organizational change is challenging

    Organizational change is challenging because it is based on a change of the basic underlying assumptions of a group, as E. Schein puts it.

    Basic assumptions develop in a process of shared learning experiences of a group. That means that a group has to have some sort of common history, and has to have gained mutual experiences. Thus, it can have a common culture. Basic assumptions are usually taken for granted and nonnegotiable within a group. They determine a basic set of values, rules and norms within the group. Assumptions are very impalpable and not at all obviously visible. Schein compares the culture of an organization to its DNA. The assumptions then would be the particular genes that form the DNA.

    When a leader wants to change the culture of his organization, he has to change the underlying assumptions. They might have been imposed by himself or by one of his predecessors. Anyway, the underlying assumptions are not easy to change for the reason alone that they are not easy to identify.

    Furthermore, changing basic assumptions of a group can be very challenging. It is not for nothing that they are at the very essence of a group’s culture: They must have been created and developed beforehand in a complicated learning process.

    Finally, it is hard for a leader to enforce change. He needs to make his new beliefs, values and norms clear to his organization members. As assumptions are impalpable, they cannot just be taught to group members. Instead, the leader has to impose them by sending more informal messages and subtly showing them to the group.

    2. Thoughts on Clayton Christensen’s “Innovator’s Dilemma”

    Cardiac bypass surgery disrupted by angioplasty, notebooks disrupted by hand-helds, greeting cards disrupted by e-cards – the range of products that had been or can be disrupted is huge. In the introduction to the Innovator’s Dilemma, Clayton Christensen instances a lot of different branches and products. In our class, we mostly talk about journalism or media related disruption. In the course of this, I may have lost sight of disruption’s actual scope. Christensen shows that talking about disruption can mean talking about trivial products as e-cards that are just for fun – but it can also mean talking about expensive high technology branches as cardiology that can save lives.

    According to Christensen, all disrupting technologies have three things in common. First, they underperform in comparison to established sustaining technologies. Thus, they are often cheaper and simpler, and likely more convenient to a small group of new customers. Second, they can progress faster than the market’s and customers’ demands. Third, they are less likely than established technologies to be invested in. That is, basically, because they promise lower margins for companies.

    For media related disruption, the second assumption seems very accurate to me. Journalism has been working the same way for over 50 years. Then, disruption after disruption challenged the media environment. Change ensued increasingly fast. That is one of the main reasons for the current journalism crisis: Everything changes faster than companies, consumers, and even the market itself can adapt to. Now, we have to deal with many disruptive technologies at once and still need time to figure out how to.

  4. 1. Any change within an organization is not only challenging, but also very difficult and time-consuming. Why? In every organization you find a specific culture. If you want do any changes on an organizational level, you are supposed to understand this culture. You have to be able to “perceive and decipher the cultural forces” that operates in the organization, asserts Edgar Schein in his book “Organizational Culture and Leadership”. That is what makes any change so difficult.

    A company’s culture consists of a particular climate, of specific practices and values. A large part is not obvious at first, there are “phenomena” below the surface, “that are powerful in their impact but invisible and to a considerable degree unconscious”, describes Schein. What we can see, as a result of it, is the behavior of the members of a certain group. But not only being able to uncover an organizational culture makes it hard to change anything.

    It is also the way how group members defend their own culture that complicates influencing or changing it. Group members have adopted some attitudes, beliefs and values, and treat them as nonnegotiable assumptions. So culture gives them some kind of stability, it defines the group. That is why their members do not want to give it up. Consequently, an organizational change affects a group’s “way to think, feel, and act.” It must handle the anxiety of endangering stability, which makes it challenging, too.

    2. In my response to the first question I tried to exemplify why any organizational change is difficult. In the meantime, I wondered about the question, HOW you can successfully change things on the organizational level. I got an idea of it in Manfred Kets de Vries’ book chapter “Achieving personal and organizational change”.

    I do not want to go into detail, the author describes several components of change, change processes and strategies for implementing changes. One thing that I think is interesting: Organizational change is kind of product of individual changes. So you have to focus on individuals first. Maybe an individual is open to new ideas, and there is a willingness to change something. The problem rather is, that old ideas die hard. That is why any change effort not only has to be cognitive, but also emotional. You have to affect both “head and heart” to succeed in doing changes. So besides realizing the advantages a change will bring, a person has to be “touched emotionally”. And therefore it must be “navigated” through the change process.

    Another aspect worth mentioning after reading Kets de Vries’ book chapter: Organizational changes actually have to be made all the time. In order to survive and succeed, a company has to adopt to the changing business environments permanently, including new technologies, competitors, customers and so on. Only such kind of companies can respond to changing demands of their environment. This also makes clear: Some pain caused by changes (“There is no gain without pain”) will be less dangerous for your business than “hunkering down” in the status quo.

    • Carrie Brown says:

      Good, Robert. I think your last point is important because it’s easy I think for individual organizations to feel like they are the only ones having to deal with this, when it fact there is rich history and knowledge of org change that can be tapped into.

  5. Organizational change is challenging because: 1.) Many people are afraid of change, so when forced to change from their everyday routine, they don’t perform as well, will be confused and not able to adjust to the changes, which will cause them to resist changes being made. 2.) Change is time consuming and some organizations don’t have a lot of time to accommodate the modifications, which leads to disorganization. 3.) Lastly, a challenge may be that everyone is not in “agreeance” with the changes, which will cause friction within the organization, confrontation and can be a downfall.

    It is essential that organizational change is carefully planned, assessed, measured and strategic. Everyone should be informed on adjustments and modifications that occur so that everyone will be on one-accord. Otherwise there will be chaos. Nevertheless, change is indeed necessary, in order for businesses to succeed they have to keep-up and make sure they are adapting.

    Something that I found interesting from the readings on Leadership Mystiqe was the section on dramatic organization taking about external and internal communication. External communication is when the top executive does little scanning of the business environment, preferring to act on intuition rather than on facts. Internal communication is when information comes from the top, down. I have always disliked bosses like that. In some instances, yes there needs to be an executive decision made. However, I believe that working as a team, whether you are in a higher position or not, always lead to more positive work environments and encourage employees to do a better job.

  6. Ketevan Dolidze says:

    1. Organizational change is important because of the ever changing living and working environments. As Schein points out, organizational change is a healthy thing yet is not successfully executed in many organizations today. If you really think about it, not many of us really like change. We like consistency and stability, which would be lost for a brief moment if an organizational change were to occur. In addition, a group in a given organization can have a certain set of assumptions and values, which they have adopted through some past experiences. These sets of assumptions may be passed onto the new members of the group, forcing them all to think and to feel the same way. Though many leaders do attempt to enforce change, they do no succeed usually because of their leadership values. The manager or the CEO can certainly get up in a meeting and recite a well rehearsed list of expectations he has for his employees. However, if an employee notices that even his boss does not live up to those expectations or he is not sincere or open, trust will be lost in that organization, only further delaying the change. It is important for a leader to dig deeper, through all the assumptions, in order to get a true understanding of his or her culture.

    2. Another thing I really enjoyed reading Christensen’s houghts on the Role of sustaining innovation in generating growth. In this chapter, he points out that sustaining innovations are so attractive to some sustaining companies, that they ignore disruptive threats all together. It is not always a bad thing for a company to start with sustaining innovations, because it allows for a more focused and fast creation of products, without much distraction. However, according to Christensen, the theory of disruption, once these focused companies created their product on sustaining innovations principle, they should sell out to an “industry leader behind them.” This will simply take the risk of losing everything out of equation, and in turn, will make lots of money for those focused companies. The author further states that even though to start a new business with a sustaining innovations principle is not a bad idea always, it is not the best. Focused companies that use this principle are essentially going after the “established competitors best customers.” However, this only motivates the establish competitors to fight back and not “to flee.”

  7. In chapter 1 of Organizational Culture and Leadership, Schein summarizes his experience working with four companies to help facilitate organizational change. As Schein states, the efforts generally proved ineffective and caused him to reexamine his own notions of how the companies should, or could, work. By challenging the assumptions he held, Schein realized each corporation had a unique ‘culture’ that was deeply engrained within each of these companies. Instead of trying to initiate systematic change within these established corporate cultures, Schein began to work within, what he calls, “an essential element of their culture.” There are plenty of reasons organizational change is trying (resistance to change or lack/perceived lack of resources), but understanding how organizational culture (and culture in general) is created and maintained is the key to instituting change. I think that is way organizational change is challenging, because taking the time to challenge fundamental assumptions is not easy work. But as Schein lies out, if you do the dirty work you are much better suited to adapt to change and evolve as a person and as an organization.

    Sorry to be boring and stick with Schein and his discussion of culture from chapter 1, but that is what interested/resonated with me the most form this weeks readings. I really enjoyed his systematic breakdown and defining of culture. Also, the figure ‘Various Categories Used to Describe Culture’ was particularly useful when trying to apply his definitions outside the narrow lens of organizational change. I liked this line a lot: “But if the concept of culture is to have any utility, it should draw our attention to those things that are the product of human need for stability, consistency, and meaning.” This quote also works with the discussion of why it is hard to enact organizational change. We, as humans, crave a certain level of stability and if something threatens that stability we tend to lash out against it or resist it. That is what makes Schein’s revelation so powerful. Changing the culture isn’t about instituting the right set of guidelines. It is much more fluid than that. It is about understanding why/how the culture works the way it does, and then work within these assumptions to better reorganize the organization.

    • Carrie Brown says:

      Good. That desire for stability is something I see all the time as both a researcher and as a professional – it’s a pretty profound thing!

  8. Aidan Galasso says:

    1. Organizational change is difficult mainly due to fear of the unknown. People who are really good at doing things in one system may not be competent in another. In the business world change usually means layoffs. Schein’s writings on organizational culture along with DeVries writings on organizational change make me think that certain organizations have a culture built to handle change and others don’t. The leader of that organization makes will determine how receptive to change a company is. DeVries believes that the culture of an organization comes from its leader. This means that if a leader is too suspicious, detatched or compulsive their will be a lot of anxiety because those leadership styles are based around routine and rules. Changing an organization means reemphasizing certain rituals and introducing others. If an external consultant is bringing about change the right leader is necessary for it to be effective. If the leader does not make an effort to appear on board with the change than employees will get mixed signals and will be unsure weather to believe in praise for small gains or whether they can succeed by adopting a new culture quickly. Since more customers interact with employees than the CEO of a company it is important that they are unified so that when a company is changing they can keep customer confidence, which will go a long way to making the business highly profitable again. If a leader allows employees to feel confident in the change the organization will not have a problem making it. This can even be true of companies with multiple authority figures. If everyone at the top is on board with change then it will trickle down to the bottom. Schein mentions that older workers have more problems making change so it seems to me that perhaps the best way to successfully revamp an organization is to make some cuts to older employees or buy them out. While that may cost money it may help in the long run as the changes will receive less resistance. This could be especially necessary if certain leaders appear disgruntled by change because older employees will rally around them and in-fighting and office politics will dominate the change period. As a result more competent employees may leave for a competitor.

    2. Between Andre Fowlkes’ talk and Christensens’ chapter on beating competitors I believe that identifying if there is a potential customer base and what value networks can be stolen from a existing company may be the most important part of disrupting an industry. I think it is interesting that they broke down the questions that someone with an idea must ask if they want to develop it. Plenty of people have a good idea but determining whether their idea is actually going to provide a new convenience to enough people goes beyond finding a niche to market to. It also made me think about breaking consumers into value networks and how the socioeconomic status of an area where a startup wants to start can matter. If a lot of people in an area are willing to spend money on a product then the low value market may not be large enough for success. Reading Christensen and listening to Fowlkes made me realize that having a successful startup goes beyond identifying if people will be a product but rather it is determining if enough people will by the product in the right amount of time.

    • Carrie Brown says:

      Good – this is an important insight: “determining if enough people will buy the product in the right amount of time.” Not sure if “stolen” is quite the right word there but I get what you mean.

  9. 1. I think most would agree that people generally don’t like change. And humans are complex creatures—no two people handle change the same way. I think those two factors go hand-in-hand to make organizational change a challenge. From the number of organizational changes that I have witnessed or have been involved with, it seems the difficulty of implementing the change increases exponentially with the number of people involved. I think that’s why the “creating a shared mindset” step in the organizational change process discussed in the reading is so important. Before throwing a group of people into the scary world of “change,” there needs to be a “rallying of the troops,” or at least some sort of communication…inspire others in the organization to handle the change with ambition rather than fear.

    In my previous experiences, the changes that have been met with the most opposition have been those that were implemented swiftly with little forewarning or opportunity for dialogue. Change alone is challenging enough. Change with no strategy or preparedness of any kind is a recipe for disaster. Of course, there are some instances where there is no predicting or planning the change. Change is inevitable, after all. In that regard, I’ve found that it’s always best to handle the change by moving forward as a team.

    2. I thought the idea of a “hybrid disruption” presented in Christensen’s “How Can We Beat Our Most Powerful Competitors” chapter was interesting, especially his use of Southwest Airlines as an example. The airline targeted people who traditionally did not fly, opting for alternative modes of transportation like cars and buses; but Southwest also targeted customers on the “low end of the major airline’s value network.”

    It’s an interesting concept. Is a hybrid market the best bang for your buck? Or does targeting two separate groups cloud the vision of the business? From the figure included in the book, it shows that “some of history’s more successful disruptions were positioned along the continuum of new-market to low-end disruption at their inception.”

    Perhaps finding a happy medium is the best answer. But that’s easier said than done, I’m sure.

  10. reigningace says:

    1. I believe one reason why organization change is challenging is because we all come into organization with out own agendas like Schien said, but there are also an existing culture that may also be resistant to change. Today it is necessary to grow with the times but sometimes people who are already vital parts that do not agree with where the change is going. This in a way does go with the idea that everyone in the organization will have their own personal agenda and if an everyone’s ideas cannot be equal in importance they can become apathetic or resist. That personal resistance makes change challenging. I’ve experienced this in the shape of fear. Some organization are not willing to take the risk of failure. In those cases we had to go for new leadership instead of giving up on change. We also had to have an open mind and let go of the assumptions we came into the organization with.
    2. I really liked how in the Christensen talks about how disruptive technology offer benefits that are simpler and have appeal. This connected to my case study with Spotify. Spotify is a simple platform. It grants access over ownership. Spotify is the price for a whole month that of a whole album on iTunes.
    I also really enjoyed Andre’s lecture on what I means to make a product that people want. I’ve wanted to start a company my whole life, but that was the first time I’ve heard the steps to do it, and how many times you have to fail and reevaluate.

  11. alables says:

    1. Organizational change is challenging simply because people generally do not like change. Once people are set in their ways, whether those ways are the best ways or not, changing proves to be difficult. I have had experiences in organizations and at jobs where just the slightest organizational change caused an upheaval of disapproval from the constituents. Each individual person has beliefs about what he or she believes is best, and if the new change does not coincide with those thoughts then there will be unrest. In order to prevent this, gradually exposing people to the change and explaining why and how it will benefit them will allow them to more readily accept changes that are to come. It is imperative for the leader to be actively involved and to understand the people for this to be effective, which is why Schein’s discussion of culture makes so much sense. We must understand different cultures in order to understand people and why they do the things they do. Establishing this will enable the leader to find the best way to implement change.

    2. What I found most interesting this week came from Schein’s discussion of culture as well. “If we understand the dynamics of culture, we will be less likely to be puzzled, irritated, and anxious when we encounter the unfamiliar and seemingly irrational behavior of people in organizations and we will have a deeper understanding not only of why various groups of people or organizations can be so different, but also why it is hard to change them.” This is something that can be applied in every facet of life and is a great reminder to step back, breathe, and take a little while to learn about things before reacting to them. Understanding why people do what they do is essential if we want to properly and productively implement change.

    • Carrie Brown says:

      Good, although one thing I would add is just that it’s not *just* individual level resistance to change per se. A lot of organizational cultures are resistant to change because the ways they do things have typically “worked” very well for a long period of time, and come with a bunch of internalized routines and processes.

  12. rars22 says:

    1. Describe, briefly, one reason organizational change is challenging.
    Change is hard. Getting anyone to change is hard, but getting an entire organization to change can seem nearly impossible. Most people have been behaving they way they behave for a very long time. Many times, we resist change not because the old way is better, but because the effort it takes to do things differently is difficult. It takes time. It takes patience. It takes breaking old habits and learning new ones. At work, very often those ingrained behaviors are reinforced by the organization’s culture and by how its leaders behave. People need to understand what you want them to do differently. It’s not just sending out a memo and assuming it’s done. It’s a process of deeply engaging with people – actually talking WITH them and not TO them, listening to them, and framing the changes in a context that’s meaningful to them (not just the organization).

    If people understand the strategy and understand the desired organizational culture you are seeking, but look around and all they see the same systems and processes the organization was reinforcing yesterday, they think all that dialogue of change isn’t serious – it’s just dialogue. If we’re supposed to act with speed and urgency but the processes takes months to implement or become visible to the intermediaries, people will think, “Why bother? It’s just lip service – some buzzwords.” Yes, there are millions of processes in any large organization or company, and of course, you can’t change them all at once but people need to see upper management, role modeling new behaviors, following new processes, and building new capabilities.
    Prabhakar Goplan gives an example in her blog article about changing an organization’s “culture:

    “Imagine that you go to the opera on Saturday and a football game on Sunday. At the climax of the opera, you sit silent and rapt in concentration. At the climax of the football game, you leap to your feet, yelling and waving and jumping up and down. You haven’t changed, but your context has (the influence model that surrounds you)–and so has your mindset about the behavior that’s appropriate for expressing your appreciation and enjoyment.”

    “To continue with the analogy, organizations that are unhealthy are often caught between an opera house and a football stadium–not a comfortable place to be. Asking employees for a football-stadium mindset is no use if your evaluation systems and leadership actions communicate that your organization is still an opera house. If you want your people to think like football fans, you need to provide plenty of cues to remind them they are in a stadium.”

    People talk about organizational “culture” like it’s a single ‘thing’, but it differs from department to department and geographic location to location. The cultures are different. Some regions/groups respond best to well defined messaging based on self-interest, others on shared interest (sometimes corporate shared interest, other times societal shared interest). The point is that merely knowing the ‘right’ thing to do for a company is not enough. Purely, saying “you must now do this” is not enough. Change is hard and takes patience. Each company is different and there isn’t a handbook that translates organization-wide. Some companies are able to implement change in a manner that is effective and some aren’t. The implementation of change has to do with so much more than simply wanting to change or knowing that your organization needs change.
    2. Describe one other thing you find interesting or relevant from readings or lecture..

    In the Introduction to Christensen uses the example of Sears, one of the most respected companies in history, lost its seat at the table.

    I didn’t realize that it was the exact time in which Sears Roebuck was reveling in such success as their Sears’ downfall. As Christensen wrote “it is striking to note that Sears received its accolades at exactly the time –in the mid-1960s– when it was ignoring the rise of discount retailing and home centers, the lower-cost formats for marketing name-brand hard good that ultimately stripped Sears of its core franchise. . . . at the very time it let Visa and MasterCard usurp the enormous lead it had established in the use of credit cards in retailing.”

    If this doesn’t show how any company, no matter how well they are doing or widely recognized they are, can fall to their competitors who are “right around the corner” – I don’t know what does. This is a good lesson to learn as a startup, a nonprofit, or as a successful business. Don’t waste time celebrating today because tomorrow you may be gone.

    • rars22 says:

      Well – I’m still learning the intricacies of coding and such that is required for adding formatting to comments in WordPress so here is the actual answer to the second question:

      In the Introduction to “Innovator’s Dilemma”, Christensen uses the example of Sears’ success and subsequent failure to discuss how an organization can be on “top of the world” one moment and at the bottom, the next.

      I found it interesting to learn how Sears, one of the most respected companies in history, lost its seat at the table.

      I didn’t realize that it was the exact time in which Sears Roebuck was reveling in such success, it began its descent.  I have often heard such adages as “keep your head out of the clouds,” “always be selling,” “continually look to the future,” and “don’t waste time celebrating because your competitor right around the corner.”  On some level, I knew what these phrases meant but I suppose I never quite realized the potential consequences that could come from ignoring them.

      Sears Roebuck was reveling in such successes as their “Zenith” brand accounting “for more than 2 percent of all the retail sales in the United States” and their recognition for being one of the “most astutely managed retailers in the world” as well as accolades for pioneering such innovations as “supply chain management, store brands, catalogue retailing, and credit card sales” at the same time as their competitors were making the changes and laying the groundwork for what would ultimately be downfall.

      As Christensen wrote “it is striking to note that Sears received its accolades at exactly the time –in the mid-1960s– when it was ignoring the rise of discount retailing and home centers, the lower-cost formats for marketing name-brand hard good that ultimately stripped Sears of its core franchise. . . . at the very time it let Visa and MasterCard usurp the enormous lead it had established in the use of credit cards in retailing.”

      If this doesn’t show how any company, no matter how well they are doing or widely recognized they are, can fall to their competitors who are “right around the corner” – I don’t know what does. This is a good lesson to learn as a startup, a nonprofit, or as a successful business. Don’t waste time celebrating today because tomorrow you may be gone.

      • Carrie Brown says:

        Sears is an interesting case. I remember as a kid that catalog was quite the *it* thing.

      • rars22 says:

        Me too! I loved to flip through it every year before Christmas and fold down the pages. Of course, there were probably more folded down pages than not. Also, my grandmother couldn’t help but call Sears by its full name, Sears Roebuck and it was a huge deal to her generation. I always wondered what exactly “went wrong.”

    • Carrie Brown says:

      Good…you are definitely right that each organization’s culture is very unique and different, making general prescriptions for organizational change often wrong and useless.

  13. Schein clearly spells out why organizational change can be challenging. In chapter one of the reading he walks us through a few examples of him trying to bring change to different companies. Each company had different problems that needed to be solved, but they all had a different organizational culture.
    I found the readings to be very interesting because I have experienced this first hand. Being a server I change jobs like clothes so I have encountered several different organizational cultures even though I have remained in the same industry and city.
    Schein explains how important it is to first understand that culture within the organization before you can bring about change. He explains how a teacher could have several different classes that each behave differently even though their teaching methods haven’t changed.
    The organizational culture defines a group or company. If you want to bring innovative change to that company or it’s culture you must first understand it.

    I also found our discussion in class about our case studies to be very informative and interesting. I really enjoyed hearing everyone’s thoughts and opinions on memphis and it’s culture. I like how we got into discussing the lack of ‘young successful business people’ culture we have here.
    Just like a company or organization, we uncovered that a city can also have a culture. So I guess if we want to bring about change in memphis we must first understand the culture here. Many times the culture within a city is defined by many forces. I think the big problem memphis has with culture is its outside perception and lack of jobs. Maybe one of us will be able to change that. 🙂

    • Carrie Brown says:

      Great comment, Kelsey! I’m so glad you enjoyed the conversation – I did as well. This is really important, glad you pulled this out: “Schein explains how important it is to first understand that culture within the organization before you can bring about change.”

  14. Describe, briefly, one reason organizational change is challenging.
    *After reading E. Schein’s explanation of culture and leadership, I could say the main reason organizational change is challenging is that it requires you to change a culture. Culture is something people have worked on and around. They have built it, whether that be good or bad. When you shift someone’s organization you also shift the way people operate and communicate, both sides of culture. I have had the opportunity to work with companies in training and shifting their processes. Not all like what I have to say – but that’s mainly because I am shifting a culture they feel works for them. Often, those reluctant to change fail unfortunately.

    Describe one other thing you find interesting or relevant from readings or lecture.
    I was reading a section in Vries book on suspicious personalities in organizational leadership and it was talking about managers who are exerting control, have intense personal supervision and those who are aggressive with subordinates who speak their minds. This really brought back memories of working in my position with an RV company. The whole section really boils down to two types of bosses: those who are micromanagers and those who are power asserting. I’ve dealt with both because I have had a job to where every piece of my work was looked over with a fine tooth comb. On the other side of that, when I did speak my mind it was met with hostility. I see how morale can suffer because of this, and in retrospect it led to many people quitting my last position. Now, how can one shift that? Perhaps allowing people to take on their own responsibilities with a watchful eye but not an overpowering presence can be a start. I believe that the ship shouldn’t sink just because the captain gets sick.

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