Book Critique

Book Report

MBA 642 – Influencing Organizational Change

Andy Gruenbaum

June 17, 1999

 

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Driving Change: How the Best Companies are Preparing for the 21st Century, by Jerry Yoram Wind and Jeremy Main, Published by The Free Press, a division of Simon and Schuster, ISBN 0-684-82744-1, copyright 1998.

I chose this book because it was a recently published book that focused on the changes occurring in the business world at the start of the next century. Many of the books provided on the list were older books with titles that sounded like they were not comprised of current information. Since all but a few months of my post-MBA life will be in the 21st century, this type of book seemed like a much better choice.

The main ideas of the book are divided into four main principles. First, the next century will be very dynamic. Change will be a constant companion of all successful business in the next century. Often, a company will need to adopt something new before the old has completed its usefulness. Many of the new innovations will be technology-related. Despite the rapid change, companies need to realize all businesses are dealing with change. And when this is realized, companies will be better prepared to face the changes as an opportunity to gain an edge on the competition. Second, companies of the next century will need to be integrated. Companies need to break the silos that exist between departments. Connections must be formed between all groups within a company. When this is achieved, companies can become more efficient and more successfully pursue growth opportunities. Third, companies must also be more effective. The company of the future can look at many of the recent self-help books for improving an organization. There is no lack of ideas. There is, however, a lack of good follow through. If changes are made, they must be committed to and executed correctly. To be effective, a good idea must be given the necessary time to create the desired outcome. Lastly, companies must be more responsible. The public often views a company as: “unfair, greedy, ruthless, and dishonest.” The other, less visible, personality is of a company that strives to provide a quality work environment and be a good neighbor within its local community. The next century will demand companies spend more time being a good employer and a good citizen.

For the most part, I agreed with the book. I somewhat disagreed with the chapter on the “indispensable employee”. I think this comes out of how dispensable I have felt in my positions lately. As I read a recent article in “Inc.” magazine, I saw a quote from Abraham Maslow. The quote was, “The only happy people I know are ones who are working well at something they consider important.” When I read the quote, I thought, “I really want that in a career.” I believe anyone who finds that at a company is truly indispensable. The chapter focuses on the things that a company can do with dress code, benefits, and training etc. but not as much on having an employee serve in a role he really enjoys. I did, however, agree with the chapter on “absorbing the customer”. This chapter directed companies toward an outward, customer-oriented focus rather than an internal, corporate focus. With the Internet and entrepreneurs willing to meet previously unmet customer needs, pleasing the customer will have to be the primary focus of any successful 21st century company.

I recommend the book, especially to MBA students. The book gives a very good review of the types of learning that occurs in the MBA program. Although there is a chapter and an MBA class on leadership, most of the chapter topics are themes woven throughout the MBA. I also found the summaries at the end of the chapters very helpful. The summaries provided a good review of the chapter topic. Additionally, the summary broke the topic down so that people could do a quick check on how their own organizations are addressing an area.

Theory Practice Linkage

As I work with my change paper, the two main principles I am working on changing are the dynamic nature of the project and its integration. Presently, my work as the processor of the Internet web logs at Victoria’s Secret is a very frustrating position. Because the pace is so rapid, the process is not keeping up with the demands placed upon it. The process was thrown together to generate some basic reports, but the amount of log file processing and the quantity of reports requested has exceeded the capacity of the present system. At the very minimum, I want my change paper to pave the way for the removal of the weaker points within the present system. Secondly, the present systems are not very integrated. As a member of the Web Team in the Information Technology group, I do not have the best available tools to do some of the analysis that is being requested of me. As I attempt to generate more sophisticated reports, the limits of the tools I am using are even more apparent. Fortunately, it seems these limitations have been noticed. During recent meetings and in conversations, it seems the shift towards allowing the internal groups that are more proficient analyzing the web logs has begun. Thus, I have helped launch another series of changes.

Learning

bullet I learned that change is something that all companies, industries, and departments encounter. The ability to deal with and embrace change will be an important part of everyone’s success in the next century.
bullet My reasons for starting the MBA were reaffirmed. I started the MBA because I saw my programming skills failing to meet the requirements of someone on a technical path. Now that the program is nearly complete, I have continued to acquire technical skills AND I have an MBA. I truly made a good decision two years ago.
bullet The personality assessments and many team activities have convinced me of the contributions all group members are capable of making. When you help others, you will understand the subject matter better AND you are very likely to have a time when they can teach you something.
bullet By getting an MBA, I have realized how responsible I am for my own personal growth. This attitude is making me lean towards returning to consulting. By having a constantly changing environment like that faced by consultants, I will be able to keep evolving professionally and be viewed as an expert in my field. Although consulting does have a downside, I believe the negative factors can be overlooked because of the challenges available.

 

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