Five Capabilities for Enterprise Change: Approaches for Integrating Continuous Improvement and Strategic Change Across Organizations


MIT SDM Systems Thinking Webinar Seriesroth

George Roth, Principal Research Associate, MIT

Date: July 25, 2011

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About the Presentation

Successful organizations must do more than manage their own changes; they must also adapt and change the larger system in which they operate. The history of and prognosis for managing organizational changes is not good. Researchers consistently find that nearly two-thirds of change efforts, whether re-engineering, quality, lean, or other improvement initiatives, do not achieve their goals. There is perhaps nothing more important in business today than for managers and their organizations to be able to learn and change effectively.

This webinar presents studies of what organizations have done to successfully extend their learning and change efforts to sets of organizations, or enterprise changes. These approaches were found by examining improvement efforts begun with lean and other continuous improvement methods and extended beyond the original firm. The companies and their managers went from operating as organizations to performing as enterprises, achieving and sustaining significant improvements across all dimensions of financial and operational results.

These studies are used to identify five enterprise change capabilities. These capabilities are developed and deployed in managing the revolution and transformation that enables sets of organizations to function as high-performing enterprises. These five enterprise change capabilities can be used to diagnose and guide other organizations’ current change approaches and assess their abilities to achieve and sustain high levels of enterprise performance.

An emphasis in this webinar will be on a recently completed series of case studies on the history and application of the United Technologies Achieving Competitive Excellence (ACE) operating system. Over the past 20 years, UTC has developed its operating system, and through it outperformed all other large corporations (based on stock performance) in the decade from 2000 to 2009. What UTC has developed and deployed illustrates its enterprise change capabilities, and how a system of change based on developing capabilities leads to enterprise excellence.

About the Speaker

George Roth is a principal research associate at MIT’s Lean Advancement Initiative (formerly Lean Aerospace Initiative). He is currently working on a book about enterprise change — a theory and approach for managing across organizations. He illustrates these ideas with cases studies to show how some organizations and their people achieved and sustained high enterprise performance. This new research on change across organizations builds upon his previous work on organizational leadership, learning, change, and culture.

Roth is a past chair of the Organization Development and Change Division of the Academy of Management and a founding member of the Society for Organizational Learning. He is the author of numerous award-winning academic and professional journal articles on learning and change, including articles in the Harvard Business Review, Organizational Dynamics and AQP Journal describing new approaches to diffusing learning across organizations. Other writing about companies’ experiences in developing, sustaining, and transforming learning are in his co-authored books: To the Desert and Back: The Story of One of the Most Dramatic Business Transformations on Record; The Dance of Change: The Challenges to Sustaining Momentum in Learning Organizations; Car Launch: Managing the Human Side of Change; and Oil Change: Perspectives on Corporate Transformation.

About the Series

The MIT System Design and Management Program Systems Thinking Webinar Series features research conducted by SDM faculty, alumni, students, and industry partners. The series is designed to disseminate information on how to employ systems thinking to address engineering, management, and socio-political components of complex challenges.