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Workshop 1 (Half Day)

Corporate Renewal: How to Overcome Barriers to Alignment

Michael Beer
Harvard Business School

Organizational theorists generally accept that an organization’s effectiveness is a function of alignment with its environment. Various elements such as structure, systems, leadership style, shared values, skills, and staff must be internally consistent and they must align with competitive strategy. A demanding competitive environment is forcing all corporations to make more frequent changes in strategy and to strive for higher levels of performance. More frequent and fundamental changes in organizational behavior are required. Most efforts to realign an organization are characterized by a variety of change programs—training, total quality management, structural changes, and reengineering, for example—that fail to achieve fundamental changes in behavior. Even when they do, they usually fail to develop the organization’s capacity to adapt and change in the future.

Mike Beer will discuss six core barriers that block an organization from aligning with strategy, changing its culture and becoming a high-performance system. He will describe Organizational Fitness Profiling—a process he has developed in the last decade to aid management in overcoming barriers to organizational change. Organizational Fitness Profiling has been applied in a number of corporations at the corporate and business unit level. It is a powerful process that provides a top team with an unvarnished picture of the organization’s pattern of behavior delivered by its own employees. And, the process guides the management team through a diagnosis, the redesign of the organization and its management processes, and finally through the change process itself. In effect, Fitness Profiling delivers an organizational performance appraisal and guides management through the whitewater of change.

Participants will be required to read a brief case study that will be discussed at the Workshop.

Michael Beer is Chaners-Rabb Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School. Prior to joining the faculty at Harvard, he was Director of Organizational Research and Development at Corning Inc. He is currently teaching in the Advanced Management Program, and in a residence education program for senior executives from around the world. Mike’s research interests are at the intersect of organizational effectiveness, organizational change, and human resource management. He has written numerous articles, book chapters, and several books. The Critical Path to Corporate Renewal, co-authored with Russell Eisenstat and Bert Spector, won the Johnson, Smith, and Knisely award for the best book on executive leadership in 1990, and was a finalist for the Academy of Management’s George R. Terry Book of the Year award. Mike received the 1998 OD Institute award for the best OD Worldwide Project for his work with Organizational Fitness Profiling.

Mike Beer was Visiting Professor of American Management at Johann Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, and has been on the editorial boards of several journals. He was Program Chair for the Division of Industrial/Organizational Psychology, served as the division’s representative to APA Council, was Chairperson of the Academy of Management’s Organizational Development and Change Division, and served on the board of Governors of the Academy. He is Chairman of the Center for Organizational Fitness, has consulted with numerous corporations and was a member of the board of GTECH, Co.

Coordinator: Karen Paul, 3M

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