Section 11: Organizational Change
All organizations must change, either because of a shift in mission or threats from the external environment. However, organizations must also put in place standard operating procedures in order to align action and resources towards specific organizational goals. Similarly, networks form organically in organizations that actively participate in problem-solving. In order to change, these processes and structures must be disrupted. Delicate political balances can be upset. As a result, inertia is very common in organizations. What are factors that lead to failed change processes in some organizations, and what can be learned from organizations that successfully implement change efforts?
Why Transformation Efforts Fail
Kotter, J.P. (2007). “Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail.” Harvard Business Review, January: 96-103. Author: Tansits, Colin E; Editor: Perez, Philip A
In John Kotter’s Leading Change: Why Transformations Efforts Fail, he explains that many managers and leaders in organizations do not understand that transformation is a process, not an event. Transformation occurs in stages that build on one another, and it takes a long time—years. Kotter explains that managers, who feel pressure to speed up the process, end up skipping stages. He warns that short cuts do not work when trying to effectuate a transformation.
In the article, Kotter focuses on eight errors common to several attempted corporate transformations: (1) Not Establishing a Great Enough Sense of Urgency, (2) Not Creating a Powerful Enough Guiding Coalition, (3) Lack of a Vision, (4) Undercommunicating the Vision by a Factor of Ten, (5) Not Removing Obstacles to the New Vision, (6) Not Systematically Planning for, and Creating, Short-Term Wins, (7) Declaring Victory Too Soon, and (8) Not Anchoring Changes in the Corporation’s Culture. Coincidentally, Kotter explains that positively addressing these errors creates the eight steps to transforming an organization.
Not Establishing a Great Enough Sense of Urgency is a common mistake that befalls many corporations. Kotter explains that a large percent must believe that a change to the usual course of business must occur. He says that, “From what I have seen, the answer is when about 75% of a company’s management is honestly convinced that business as usual is totally unacceptable.”
Not Creating a Powerful Enough Guiding Coalition is an error borne of only having a minimal amount of leadership on board with the transformation. Kotter explains that some minimum mass of leadership must join the transformation coalition for it to be successful.
Having a Lack of a Vision is a fairly straightforward error. Kotter explains that the guiding coalition must have a detailed picture of the future that is sought by the transformation. The vision should be more than a five-year plan—it should help clarify the direction in which the company needs to move. This vision should also include a strategy to achieve it.
Communication is essential to proper organizational management, and Undercommunicating the Vision by a Factor of Ten is all too common. Kotter explains that communications on all levels of the organization is necessary, and further, he explains that employees must be understanding and open to the communicated messages.
Despite creating a vision, Not Removing Obstacles to the New Vision can stop the transformation dead in its tracks. Kotter explains that the big obstacles must be confronted and removed. Obstacles might include decisions between moving the organization forward per its new vision and serving one's self interest. For example, budget cuts may be necessary for an organization, and if a manager cannot or will not cut his own salary, then others will question his commitment to the vision and the vision will be undermined. The manager should probably be let go.
Because the transformation process is so long and drawn out, small wins are important. By Not Systematically Planning for, and Creating, Short-Term Wins, there will be no goals for the organization to meet and celebrate. Kotter explains that employees need to see evidence of success in 12 to 24 months of the start. Further, Kotter makes clear that there is a difference between hoping for short term wins and creating them.
Tied directly to this is Declaring Victory Too Soon. Managers who do this can sink morale, and give little incentive for employees to follow them due to the lowered level of credibility. Declaring victory too soon kills the progress made on the organizational culture, progress, and other habits an organization is trying to create. Kotter states it takes 5-10 years for such progress to really "sink deeply into a company's culture," and declaring victory too soon may destroy any progress made. Kotter finds that "resistors" point to the declared victory as an indication that the "war has been won," and the old traditional habits that were toxic creep back in to the organization.
Lastly, Kotter explains that the transformation becomes the new norm when it becomes “the way we do things around here.” Not Anchoring Changes in the Corporation’s Culture is a harmful error that may lead to failure. For the transformation to fully succeed, it must become a part of the new norm.
The Power of Crisis
Duhigg, C. (2012). The power of habit: Why we do what we do in life and business (Vol. 34, No. 10). Random House. CH 6: The Power of Crisis: How Leaders Create Habits through Accident and Design. Author: Damon-Cronmiller, Christopher; Editor: Boucher, Timothy M.
Chapter 6 of Charles Duhigg's "The Power of Habbit: Why We do What we do in Life and Business," focuses on the major themes of "An Evolutionary Theory of Economic Change," by Yale professors Richard Nelson and Sidney Winter. Duhigg notes that this particular book is much too dense for the average person, and so takes the liberty of explaining its major themes of institutional habbits in layperson's terms. Institutional habits, according to Duhigg, are a response to inherent human nature and a fundamental characteristic of human organizations. Specifically, they are "battlefields in a civil war" with people constantly trying to vie for power and control. Most companies, nontheless, manage to survive because of artificially constructed "institutional" or "organizational" habits that prevent office politics from bogging them down (or even outright destroying them). Indeed, Duhigg argues that institutional habits actually give workers freedom to "experiment with new ideas without having to ask for permission" every time they try something new. He further finds, relying on Nelson and Winter, that institutional habits actually serve as a "rought organizational justice" in which internal strife "'follows [a] largely predictable path'" that is kept within certain confines so that work continues to get done. Furthermore, once institutional habits are formed, the only way to modify them is through crisis - that is, if an organization's life is hanging by a thread. To futher illustrate this concept, Duhigg draws upon two very different real-life cases that nontheless have a very similar theme.
The first case is that of the Rhode Island Hospital, which at the time was the only Level 1 trauma center in southeastern New England, and Brown University's primary teaching hospital. Despite its prestige, however, it was also a high-stress organization with an incredibly toxic work environment. In fact, nurses even set up a "color-code" system among themselves to brief each other of the doctors' personalities: from blue (nice and easy to work with) to black (can potentially put a nurse's job in jepoardy if they offer so much as one word of criticism). They also had a system to double-check orders from particularly "error-prone physicians." Technically, these habits worked for a time, but ultimately were unsustainable because they were constantly being developed on the fly. Ultimately the nurses' system began to fall apart when one day, a man in his late 80's arrived delirious and with severe bleeding from within his brain (sustained by a fall a few days prior). Due to a mix-up with the consent forms, the doctor in charge accidentally began to operate on the wrong side of his head; and beforehand when a nurse (not acknowledging at that moment this doctor was "code black") voiced concern about the consent forms, the doctor verbally attacked him and essentially threatened to kick him out of the room. While the doctor's team eventually drained the blood and stopped the bleeding, the man unfortunately never woke up from surgery and died a couple of weeks later. Some nurses claimed that this kidn of accident was inevitable because the hospital's institutional habits were abysmal.
Similar errors happened within the next couple of months, and the hospital ended up loosing roughy $500,000 in one year from fines alone. Before long the hospital became the sight of a media circus, forcing (among other things) an administrative change in staff and all elective surgery units to be shut down for an entire day while staff went through emergency team-building activities. As of Duhigg's book, safeguards are in place to make sure that everyone working in a trauma room has their voices heard, and the hospital has largely shaken off its reputation as a toxic place to work; and error rates went down significantly.
The second case is of a very different organization - King's Cross station of the London Underground (a.k.a., the city's metro system). Unlike the Rhode Island Hospital, the London Underground had a rigid, firmly planted system in place to make sure the organization ran smoothly and that no one stepped on each other's toes - drawn upon previous, legitimate altercations among staff and department heads. Unfortunately, the London Underground's institutional habbits were so deeply engrained it became very hard for staff to take on additonal duties, to grow professionally, and to take immediate action if they saw something was going wrong. This system of institutional habit fell apart during the King's Cross fire of 1987, which began when ticket booth worker Philip Brickell saw a wad of burning tissue at the foot of one of the station's wooden escalators and put out the fire. However, due to institutional habits, he was dissuaded from notifying anyone of (or doing anything else about) the incident, since an entierly different department handled fire saftey - and he knew better than to potentially get into trouble by overstepping his bounds. Several minutes later, a passenger hit the escalator's emergency stop button upon seeing smoke and "a glow from underneath the escalator's stairs." However, the station's chief saftey inspector Christopher Hayes did not initially call the fire department (a police officer on duty ultimately did) because he did not see any smoke at first and risked getting into trouble if he called the fire department before it was "absolutely necessary". When Hayes eventually entered the machine room to investigate, he immediately realized the fire was far larger and stronger than anyone could have imagined; however he, nor anyone else working in the station, could activate the sprinklers because the only people who knew how worked in an entierly different department (and even if they did the fire was already too powerful by the time Hayes officially discovered it). Additionally, King's Cross Station's Director of Operations was previously worried about the flamibility of the station's ceiling paint, but did not mention anything for fear of stepping on the toes of maintanance department officials.
The first firefighter arrived a half hour after Brickell first saw the burning tissue, but by then it was too late - a few minutes later a gust of wind from an arriving train triggered a flash fire throughout the station that killed 31 people and injured at least a dozen others. While such disasters are not entierly unheard of in metro stations, what set King's Cross station apart from other cases was what happened after the fire. When government special investigator Desmond Fennell probed into the specifics of what happened, he realized that the institutional habits that allowed the fire to happen had to be changed - and could only be changed through a crisis situation. A media circus developed from the 1987 King's Cross fire's aftermath, similar to that of the Rhode Island hospital - yet this one was deliberately orchestrated on Fennell's part through months of hearings, interviews, and a sharply critical report of his own writing. As a result, the administration of King's Cross station changed hands, and an entierly new institutional habit was formed - that of placing passenger saftey above all else.
How a Charter School Revamped Its Culture
How a Charter School Giant Revamped Its Culture to Put a Stop to Burnout. Author: Orlan, Samuel Lawrence; Editor: Lancto, Katelyn N
This article is about how the KIPP charter schools tackled the difficult task of decreasing prevalent principal burn out that was leading to harmful turn over of talented teachers and principals at their schools.
KIPP is one of the largest charter school networks in the U.S. with over 180 schools in Washington, D.C. and 20 states. By 2010, KIPP had grown from one classroom in Houston to almost 100 schools. KIPP quickly realized that they had a problem; their principals were buring out after just one or two years. Approximately half of the KIPP principals who founded schools in 2006 were not in those same roles four years later. Research showed that principal turnover had a detrimental effect on student learning. In 2011, the National Bureau of Economic Research published a report stating that “the departure of a principal is associated with higher teacher turnover rates and lower student achievement gains.” It also said that “faltering organizations with high levels of turnover often have difficulty attracting experienced successors, who tend to be more effective. As a result, they become trapped in a ‘vicious circle’ of high managerial turnover and declining performance.” Dave Levin, a cofounder of KIPP charter schools, wanted to shift the way that people think about teaching, to viewing it as something you “could do for a career” and not just “thinking about it as something you do for a limited time, almost as a tour of duty.”
The broader education reform movement was also trying to dispel the perception that it was recruiting young individuals into the classroom that were only using the teaching experience as a stepping stone to other professions. Some charter schools have embraced this “revolving door of talent” system, accepting high turnover with teachers who are willing to work 80 hour weeks for a few years, while others have sought to retain educators deep into their thirties. These schools have tried various incentives including pay raises and “doctor days” which are semi-annual personal days dedicated to health and well-being. These changes were not enough. KIPP had a culture where the school leaders were seen as a “mythic figure.” Working long hours was a badge of honor, and that culture had to change. They were not sleeping; they were not exercising; they were not living in ways that were sustainable. KIPP hired a consultancy company called VitalSmarts to help change a culture where principals, similar to relay runners in a race, would “sprint for two years, and then pass the baton to someone else.”
The solution, VitalSmarts determined, was to “get help, so you can focus on what’s important.” A new approach, based on “vital behaviors,” was developed in an effort to change habits. The biggest task was changing the view of the principal and their primary responsibilities. Steven Epstein, executive director at KIPP school in Austin said "there’s nothing unique about your skill set that can do something better around a custodial issue or a food service issue, but there is something unique about coaching and professional development. The principal’s main responsibility is to develop the other people in their building." In 2011, KIPP introduced this new model and way of thinking. Of the founding principals who started that year, 82% were still in those positions four years later.
This new framework had many practical changes for principals. They shared “personal and professional goals with their managers, mentors, and staff [and] also [spoke] publicly about objectives like attending yoga twice a week, having dinner with friends once a week, and cooking healthy weeknight dinners for growing families.” The intent here was to link personal goals to the long-term success of the organization, which also helped eliminate some of the weirdness of talking about it. One principle lost over 60 pounds. The last “vital behavior” was “Renew to get stronger.” Levin chose this language because he felt “it removes all of the guilt.” He feels that the phrase “work-life balance” is too prosaic and can set the wrong tone. He reasons; "From an organizational point of view I tend not to think about issues of balance, I tend to think about issues of fulfillment. Everyone’s balance is going to be different, and there are going to be really long days. That’s just the nature of doing something great. But there’s an ebb and flow to this stuff and we want to create the condition for people to be successful and fulfilled by their roles."
The Ballad of Paul O'Neill
Duhigg, C. (2012). The power of habit: Why we do what we do in life and business (Vol. 34, No. 10). Random House. CH 4: The Ballad of Paul O’Neill. Author: Dieselman, Andrew; Editor: Whiting, Cal McCulley
In the fourth chapter of Duhigg's "The Power of Habit," the author begins by introducing the new CEO of Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa). This new CEO, Paul O'Neill, was first introduced to investors. He began, not with the usual CEO speak of profit and synergy, but safety. This confused investors, and they panicked. They were wrong to do so. O'Neill, the author explains, drove Alcoa to massive profits in his 13 years at the companywould exit the company 13 years later having driving Alcoa to massive profits, all while driving down intances of accidents. How? O'Neill explains it as targeting 'keystone habits,' or habits that, when they start to shift, dislodge and remake other patterns.
O'Neill used the education he gained from his job in D.C., observing various agencies utilize their institutional habits to do either good or pointless work. He stepped into a very serious situation, one worker described it as "the Manson family, but with the addition of molten metal." He intended to bring the company together by focusing on something that everyone could agree on, safety.
He understood that he needed to find the root cause of injuries - why the injuries happened in the first place. He needed to institutionalize habits that promoted safety. O'Neill did this by forcing VP's to contact him with a plan everytime someone was injured on the job, in order to ensure that that injury could not happen again. This shifted everything else at Alcoa, making it a safer and more productive company.
The author continues the chapter by using Micheal Phelps as an example. In order to make him into an olympian, Phelps' coach knew they had to do something extra. Everyone in the olympics is a good swimmer, but phelps and his coach implemented a habit of visualizing the perfect race. Through continual visualization, Phelps was able to dive into the pool as if he had done it a thousand times before, and succeed.
The third portion of this chapter begins with O'Neill's experience with the U.S.'s high infant mortality rate. O'Neill was able to trace this phenomenon back to poor diets of mothers in rural areas, which was caused by poor education, which was caused by a lack of teacher training. Therefore, the solution was to educate teachers better on nutrition, so they could teach young women more effectively. By creating strctures that help other habits to flourish, O'Neill helped lower the infant mortality rate by 68%. The key to O'Neill's success was getting at the root cause of institutional failures. At Alcoa, this was safety. For infant mortality rate, it was lack of teacher training. O'Neill did not just attempt to address problems he saw at face value, but rather the things that caused these problems to occur, thus eliminating the problem more effectively.
eBay's $50 Billion Turnaround
Carlson, N. “You Can Explain eBay’s $50 Billion Turnaround with Just This One Crazy Story.” Business Insider, February 8, 2014. Author: Uk, Bolary; Editor: Boucher, Timothy M.
The article describes an incredible visionary of eBay CEO, John Donahoe, who successfully turned around the company from an 80% decline in stock price. After joining eBay in 2005, Donahoe started to restructure the company by deemphasizing eBay’s auction business. He began to move the company towards being a “technology partner” to small and large retailers and helped the businesses cope with a world dominated by Amazon.
The story of turnaround at eBay started from this smart tactical adjustment. Donahoe realized the main problem of eBay was the death of innovation in that employees stopped creating and developing sophisticated search technology. The company lost profits to other tech companies. In turn, the quantity of sales declined as the company depended on the Google ads tool which made it hard for consumers to find products they wanted to buy. After the issues had been identified, Donahoe came up with a solution after consulting with eBay board director Marc Andreessen, who was best-known as the creator of the first Web browser. Andreessen strongly believed that the output of tech companies is innovation and that great innovative ideas come from the founders of the successful tech companies.
Knowing that the founder of eBay had no interest in re-joining the company, Donahoe decided to build a team of founders by acquiring 34 companies after becoming the CEO. Currently thirteen startup founders work for eBay. A great turnaround example is the two-week reinvention of the eBay homepage, which was based on a rough idea of Jack Phillip Abraham, the founder of an e-commerce startup called Milo. When Milo joined eBay and Abraham built Milo’s technology into eBay the team soon became known as eBay Local, a division of the company responsible for assisting customers in getting quick access to products from local retailers.
On Feb, 2012, Donahoe invited Abraham to join him and other senior personnel for a meeting on the topic of “Innovation." The purpose of the meeting was to bring to life the earlier idea pitched by Anreessen to revamp innovation in the company. Abraham got the idea to reinvent eBay by having a similar News Feed like Facebook. However, instead of displaying updates from friends, the page could show updates from eBay sellers and product categories. Based on the shopping history and searches of users, eBay would turn the feed on without waiting for users to start following any product. Donahoe was excited about the idea and asked Abraham to get him a plan for next few weeks. He also promised to give Abraham all the resources he would need. While Abraham still had his own daily work to do with eBay local, he decided to create a small team of 6 of the smartest people from eBay to turn his idea into a reality. He kept his team small because having a bigger team would be time consuming, due to the politics and bureaucracy of eBay. Abraham also believed that he needed to take the team to far-away location for a limited time to accelerate the project. With a long history of entrepeneurial spirit, Abraham has been the kind of person whose risk-taking has resulted in significant innovation and productivity. However, without a clear roadmap of what the team was going to do, the fear of uncertainty arose and Abraham began to second guess his plans to reform the eBay website. Despite this fear, Abraham moved forward and took his team of six to Sydney, Australia where they brought his dream into fruition. Over two weeks, the team worked together and built a functioning prototype of a reinvented eBay.com.
Upon returning from the secret trip, Abraham had a meeting with Donahoe and presented the prototype of the new eBay.com. Donahoe looked at the prototype on the computer screen and ultimately burst out laughing stating "this could be the future of eBay." Similarly, the entire board of directors loved the feed and soon the feed became the central part of eBay.com. With this valuable tool, eBay has been able to increase sales and engagement. This is but one example of Donahoe's innovative vision for the future of the digital world and his ability to reform a slacking tech company back into the market leader it once was.
Failed Policy Change
Greider, W. “The education of David Stockman and other Americans.” The Atlantic, December 1981. Author: Sears, Kicia Kimberly; Editor: Tansits, Colin E
The article details the first year in office of the man behind Reganomics, David Stockman. To get the public behind the drastic changes in Washington, Stockman had weekly conversations with the author, explaining the ideology behind supply-side theory, the chaos of early budget meetings, the battles in Congress, and the adjustments made after failure—either in Washington or in the market.
Stockman grew up on a farm in Michigan, and was a conservative Republican congressman when he was appointed to run the OMB for President Reagan. He enjoyed a mild youthful rebellion against his conservative beliefs as an activisit and theology scholar, but eventually came back to republicanism after studying at Harvard under influential neo-conservatives in political science and history. When he was called to work for OMB, he was a newcomer to supply-side theory, and was tasked with making Reagan's campaign promises a reality.
Unfortunately, the doubters and naysayers would prove themselves correct. Reagan's promises to cut income taxes, raise defense spending, and balance the budget were mutually exclusive. But early on in his appointment, Stockman was confident. He and other supply-side economists were predicting that Reagan's dramatic policy action would be enough to shock the market: they expected interest rates and inflation to fall, employment to become more efficent, and a big boom in the private sector that would outgrow the government. This belief held strong, and Stockman was confident that these new methods would do a far better job than the mostly-democratic relief programs, which he had seen fail again and again in his home state of Michigan. He predicted some pushback from liberals but thought that they would be convinced if he went after weak ideas and claims rather than people.
The first few months in office were a whirlwind. Stockman and his staff were putting together policy papers that recommended drastic cuts in nealry every governmental program in existence in a matter of days. They were also forecasting with the help of a computer that modeled the national economy. However, after inputting their changes based on Reagan's campaign promises, the model showed massive federal defecits, to the tune of $82B in 1982 and $116B in 1984. These numbers would certainly not result in the kind of market shock Stockman was hoping for, so he and other supply-side theorists changed the computer's model.
Stockman used the deficit predictions, however, to get the President to commit to the massive cuts necessary to balance the budget. He calculated that $40B in cuts were needed across the board. However, with the way actual government spending works, these cuts seemed impossible. If the total federal spending were a dollar, 48 cents of it went toward the social safety net, which Reagan had promised not to touch, so that whole piece was exempt from Stockman's cuts. Defense was another 25 cents of the dollar, and not only could that not be touched, but Reagan had promised to increase its share. 10 cents of the dollar went to paying off interest on the national debt. The remaining 17 cents went toward everything else government does: operations and grants to state and local governments. This is where most of the cuts would have to be taken from. Even though this seemed impossible, Stockman didn't believe the numbers. He thought he could make the government run more efficently with his cuts and the effects wouldn't be as drastic as they seemed.
Additionally, the plan was to get cuts approved as quickly as possible, before new Cabinet members could fully get a grasp of their departments and put together effective counter-arguments and proposals. And this worked. As a result, "Stockman's agency did in a few weeks what normally consumes months; the process was made easier because the normal opposition forces had no time to marshal either their arguments or their constituents and because the President was fully in tune with Stockman."
The author also presents a nice summary of some of these changes that I will reproduce in full here:
"The check marks [programs that were approved by the President for cuts] were given to changes in twelve major budget entitlements and scores of smaller ones. Eliminate Social Security minimum benefits. Cap the runaway costs of Medicaid. Tighten eligibility for food stamps. Merge the trade adjustment assistance for unemployed industrial workers with standard unemployment compensation and shrink it. Cut education aid by a quarter. Cut grants for the arts and humanities in half. "Zero out" CETA and the Community Services Administration and National Consumer Cooperative Bank. And so forth. "Zero out" became a favorite phrase of Stockman's; it meant closing down a program "cold turkey," in one budget year. Stockman believed that any compromise on a program that ought to be eliminated—funding that would phase it out over several years—was merely a political ruse to keep it alive, so it might still be in existence a few years hence, when a new political climate could allow its restoration to full funding." (My note).
This all happened so fast, and eventually Stockman would come to lament the speed with which everything was done. He had to make snap judgements based on little information--something that barely ever works unless one is already deeply experienced.
One of the major fights that came up was regarding cuts to the Export Import bank (Ex-Im). Stockman was trying to prove that supply-side theory could be equitable, and make cuts on the wealthy, on big interests, etc. and not just cut social programs. However, the interests he was going after favored big American manufacturers. Though he got the cuts for the moment, he anticipated pushback in the future.
While this was happening, defense was running wild with spending. They had been told they couldn't be cut, and had been promised increases in the future. Their budget was basically rubber-stamped and then ignored.
Stockman was also preparing to increase revenue and reduce defecits. This next phase of his plan involved closing loopholes in the tax code, which he thought would assuage liberal fears. However, the President rejected this plan. Stockman, at least on the surface, wasn't upset, "The vulnerability of Stockman's ideology was always that the politics of winning would overwhelm the philosophical premises." When his ideas would get shot down by the president, fail or get mutilated in Congress, or fail to meaningfully affect the market, he was quick to shrug it off and move on. He felt like the drastic action by the administration was shocking politicians and more and more were coming to support supply-side theory. He even had a "spy" in Democratic meetings that helped him meet and respond to their budget proposals.
However, though he could rally after political failures, the market failures were a much bigger pill to swallow. In fact, the market was not only not booming, but going into decline. The CBO predicted future defecits of $60B, which forced the administration to face uncomfortable questions, questions that Stockman thought he had prevented by placing what he called a "magic asterisk" on any future defecit problems that came up in his recommendations, claiming that these issues could be taken care of in the future, with more cuts. At this point, Stockman and his analysts knew the plan wasn't working. But this is not what they said publicly. The author notes, "Reagan's policy-makers knew that their plan was wrong, or at least inadequate to its promised effects, but the President went ahead and conveyed the opposite impression to the American public. With the cool sincerity of an experienced television actor, Reagan appeared on network TV to rally the nation in support of the Gramm-Latta resolution, promising a new era of fiscal control and balanced budgets, when Stockman knew they still had not found the solution."
Instead, Stockman planned to make small changes to the Reagan policy that he hoped would go unnoticed in the political arena as being contrary to what was initially promised. He needed to cut the defecits, but he couldn't be perceived as abandoning the strategy. He hoped to make changes to the tax-cut plan, and to cut defense, Social Security and health costs (Medicare and Medicaid). He hoped that the uproar after the CBO's defecit numbers was enough to get people willing to do these things.
He anticipated delaying the tax-cuts would be easy, politically. He also anticipated that he could make compromises to Social Security and health costs by ignoring future predictions of problems (in 2010) and emphasizing how bad things would be immediately if these cuts weren't made. The hardest part was defense, and Stockman knew he couldn't make any changes that looked like contradictions to the Presidents promises. However, he thought that defense had gotten so greedy that they alienated themselves and the cuts wouldn't be opposed in Congress. He still anticipated a market boom, but pushed it from April to August.
When he was met with bigger resistance on Social Secuity cuts than he anticipated, he brushed it off, saying that he felt peopel would come around and that they were just too sensitive to reactions of the public and press. In the end, the President turned on these cuts and they were postponed, until they would be of no use in preventing huge defecits. They ended up modifying the tax-cut plan instead to help close the gap.
Through all of this, Stockman was beginning to doubt the supply-side theology. He had seen what happened with these ideas in action, and thought that instead of being revolutionary, supply-side was just a way to rebrand old Republican idology of "trickle down" economics.
As things fell apart, his fears were confirmed. Politicians did what they (are supposed to) do best: compromise and make trades. Agreements were reached, and figures were decided. However, Stockman felt the figures that got approved were "ceilings" which could be reduced later on. Politicians were not on the same page, and when these figures were challenged later on, they turned on him. Eventually more agreements were struck and Stockman was forced to admit that his quest for equity in fiscal revolution had failed: "Now, as the final balance was being struck, he was forced to concede in private that the claim of equity in shrinking the government was significantly compromised if not obliterated."
Though it seemed like they had won politically, Stockman was no longer confident. He knew the numbers being presented to the public were imaginary. He said, " 'There was less there than met the eye. Nobody has figured it out yet. Let's say that you and I walked outside and I waved a wand and said, I've just lowered the temperature from 110 to 78. Would you believe me? What this was was a cut from an artificial CBO base. That's why it looked so big. But it wasn't. It was a significant and helpful cut from what you might call the moving track of the budget of the government, but the numbers are just out of this world. The government never would have been up at those levels in the CBO base.' "
Faced with failure, not just in the present but in the future, Stockman reflected on what had gone wrong. He blamed the speed with which he was asked to make cuts in the early months of his term, admitting they were made without much information. He turned on the supply-side purists, calling them "naive" and arguing that they had "gone too far." But more than that, he basically threw up his hands. He was scrambling to keep things together and said he couldn't put too much thought into how the system works, how slowly it moves, or what might happen, since he had little control over those things. He instead tried to focus on the immediate, and continue plugging away. He didn't know what would happen after the next election cycle, but it didn't seem to concern him too much. The reporter ends the article with a quote that seems to show Stockman calling supply-side a "crackpot" theory, but one that he is still going to push forward until there is another major shift in the economy or the political arena. He is defeated, but committed to lying in the bed he's made for himself. Unfortunately, it's not just his bed, but one he has made for the entire country as well.
Organizational Change in an International NGO
Lux, S. and Bruno-van Vijfeijken, T. (2013). “From Alliance to International: The Global Transformation of Save the Children.” E-PARCC Case Study on Collaborative Governance. Author: Whiting, Cal McCulley; Editor: Fantigrossi, Steven Marc
Part A - Barry Clark comes on Board
In 2002, Barry Clark took note of many organizational issues when he joined an NGO named “Save the Children Alliance” (SC). The organization of the company did not connect between regional offices and there was no way to distinguish offices from each other. Even worse, the SC United Kingdom director barley even knew his counterparts. This decentralized organization was a result of World War II, where SC affiliates were on opposite sides and began to focus on different missions. As a result of SC’s lack of coordination, its reputation was damaged in the 1960s and 70s. Failure to respond effectively to disasters like the Guatemalan earthquake in 1976 plagued the organization.
To address the issue, SC members established an independent secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland in 1993 and named it the Save the Children Alliance (SCA) with the goal of facilitating collaboration. Due to its too few employees, lack of a clearly defined mission, and self-interested SC branches, SCA struggled to come together for the common cause.
Part B - In Search of Strategy
Clark noted that “[SCA’s] problem wasn’t so much a structure or organization or people problem, it was in fact a lack of coherent strategy.” While CEOs of the four major SC members representing United Kingdom, USA, Norway, and Sweden began to assert themselves in promoting a more centralized SC, but the many SC identities made its organization and strategy confusing to donors and also created inefficiencies. Many SC partners were not only not collaborating but were openly competing with one another!
Due to these inefficiencies, Clark convinced SCA to develop a new global strategy which included the adoption of independent board members to the Save the Children Alliance and the appointment of an independent Chair, a plan to develop a coordinated Alliance strategy for 2020, a 5-year plan, and an agreement on a common goal for the alliance to maximize contribution to the children,
Part C - Give and Take, Changing Governance
Three years after implementing the new global strategy, SC Alliance brought Peter Woicke onto its Board as Chair and appointed Charlotte Petri Gornitzka as the Alliance’s CEO. After receiving some resistance from the idea, Barry Clark took steps to coordinate work at headquarters, just as they do at the field level. Since Woicke believed that the four largest SC’s dominated the decision making process, he began to make changes to the structure and governance. The mission drove the structure; as Gornitzka stated, “We didn’t start with a decision about what would be the right organizational structure, instead, we focused on thinking about what children need, what the relevant role for Save the Children was, and what we were good at.” Unsurprisingly, the four large branches pushed back against the changes as they would be losing autonomy in decision making.
As part of the centralization process, SC established “managing members” of countries instead of “participating members” in order to make managing affairs in a country more clear-cut. SC established three workgroups focused on Fundraising, Strategic positioning, and People, Organization, and Governance (POG) group. These groups engaged in talks about the different options SC should look at.
In 2009, Members agreed to reconstitute Save the Children Alliance into what would now be Save the Children International. New bylaws for SCI board were then drafted and approved and the old alliance board stepped down. SC International’s board now consists of 14 directors – 9 drawn from the boards of the largest members by income, 3 elected by other members, and 2 independent external elected by the board. Peter and Charlotte resigned and took over responsibility for the next most significant task of SC’s organizational change, what became known as the “All Members Agreements.” To make the change, member organizations had to give up the operational control and direction of programs that occur in the field which was now facilitated by SC International through the regional offices and country programs as a direct outgrowth of the model of Unified Presence.
Part D - Save the Children Org. Change: Implementation and Early Results
Implementation of the new Members Agreement, in fact, would be more laborious, more time consuming, and more complicated than the change that SC had experienced to that point. The most daunting task that SCI faced were two key aspects of transferring country level programs into a unified delivery platform
Staffing issues became a difficult challenge, necessary for the new SCI. SCI needed to quickly recruit transfers from member organizations or hire externally into the new SCI positions that had been opened up. Budgets and decision making authority was lost by the program staff, national boards who raised funds no longer controlled the resources, and finance and audit departments lost authority over project finances. SC leadership faced pushback on the needed changes and relied on the values of organization to make the point that more children would be helped through the new structure.
The changes resulted in the members of the organization thinking of themselves as part of a larger SC team. Save the Children received increased media attention and was able to gain greater geographical coverage. Additionally, SC found attract talent and funders to help their efforts.
Organizational change was needed at Save the Children because it lacked unity among its various field offices, which created inefficiencies in service delivery that cause funding to decrease. Since SC is an international organization, its offices throughout the world quickly developed their own identities, funding mechanisms, and decision making processes. These problems made it difficult to coordinate in its response and advocacy functions. Often, different field offices had different missions and visions for responding to certain crises or how to operate their individual office. All of these problems were manifest from a highly decentralized organization of the company that lacked an independent authority responsible for establishing a unified mission and coordinating between offices to ensure adequate delegation of authority and responsibilities. SC organizational change was successful primarily because it centered on maintaining the mission and identity of SC. In the talks surrounding how to change the organization of SC, the main question asked was “how does this change assist in our mission of assisting as many children as we can?” By having organizational mission drive organizational change, SC was able to greatly enhance efficiency while maintaining and building its ultimate goal.