Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Tools of Cooperation and Change

The Tools of Cooperation and Change.
By: Christensen, Clayton M., Marx, Matt, Stevenson, Howard H.,
Harvard Business Review,
October 2006, Vol. 84, Issue 10

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

THE PRIMARY TASK OF MANAGEMENT is to get people to work together in a systematic way.

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 people to work together toward a new corporate goal.

The tools of cooperation can be grouped into four major categories: power, management, leadership, and culture.

"Power tools" are such as fiat, force, coercion, and threats.

"Management tools" include training, standard operating procedures, and measurement systems.

"Leadership tools":Vision, charisma, salesmanship, role modelling, financial incentives, control systems

"Culture tools": Tradition, rituals, folklore, religion, democracy

As MIT’s Edgar Schein wrote in Organizational Culture and Leadership, culture is "a pattern of shared basic assumptions that was learned by a group as it solved its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore, to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think, and feel in relation to those problems." In organizations with strong cultures, people instinctively prioritize similar options, and their common view of how the world works means that little debate is necessary about the best way to achieve those priorities. Companies with strong cultures in many ways can be self-managing.


Clayton M. Christensen (cchristensen@hbs.edu)is the Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School in Boston.

Matt Marx (mmarx@hbs.edu)is a doctoral student at Harvard Business School.

Howard H. Stevenson (hstevenson@hbs.edu)is the Sarofin-Rock Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and the vice provost for Harvard University Resources and Planning. He is also the chairman of the board for Harvard Business School Publishing.

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