Katzenbach Center Foresight archive

Ask pride builders across companies and industries how to motivate employees, and you’ll get remarkably similar responses: Give front-line workers autonomy to make decisions. Make sure workers understand the "why" behind what they do. And give recognition for work well done. Applying research in cognitive and social psychology, the authors explain how organizations can use these principles to shape employee behavior.


Leading upstream oil and gas companies are focusing on operational excellence (OE) to manage rising costs and safety risks. But though most companies already have OE frameworks in place, their plans often don’t meet expectations. The solution isn’t a new framework — but rather harnessing the power of pride builders, or frontline staff who understand how to motivate others to excel.
By identifying and empowering pride builders, oil and gas companies — as well as companies in other industries — can grow employees who deliver operational excellence over the long term.


Conventional approaches to culture and change management overlook the emotional, human foundation on which lasting cultural impact is based. Focus instead on “the critical few”—critical behaviors, existing cultural traits, and critical informal leaders—to successfully bring about sustainable change.


Corporate culture influences everything a company does. But true cultural transformation doesn’t happen through programmatic redesign efforts. In this new Harvard Business Review article, follow five steps to enable, energize, and engage employees for the long term.


Teaming has evolved over the last decade. Ten years ago, the conventional wisdom held that the best way to solve a problem was to form a team. However, today, with the ever-increasing necessity of working across organizational and geographical boundaries, more leaders at all levels are finding that it's not always practical — or even best — to put together a team. The blog discusses today’s alternatives, including the potential of focused networks and subgroups, which can work more effectively in different modes than "real teams."


Leaders can learn a lot from the late Apple CEO, but not all of it should be emulated. Most business leaders would be thrilled to achieve Steve Jobs’s level of market success, but should they aspire to lead like him? Steve Jobs may have been, as Walter Isaacson says in his eponymous biography, “the greatest business executive of our era,” but he was a mercurial, demanding, and tyrannical one. Applied to the wrong strategy, market, or product, his behaviors could sink a company. In the end, what made Jobs such a successful leader was his much-lauded talent for envisioning and delivering breakthrough products and services.


This article in Harvard Business Review helps CEOs and other senior executives answer a perennial question: How much should they take on? The authors analyze how the CEO’s span of control logically evolves and offer advice for managers as they progress through their career.


Analysis of informal networks offers a potent leadership model for the C-suite: Make top teams the hub of the enterprise, and watch performance improve.
Think of the leadership teams that have the greatest impact. Does most of their value come from the meetings they conduct and the decisions that flow from them — or from their informal interactions and their connections with others outside the group? This article argues that in most companies, very little of the top team's power derives from its decisions, directives, or actions as a deliberative body. Instead, that influence comes from its members' informal and social networks, their willingness to make the most of those connections, and their ability to work well in subgroups that are formed to address specific issues.


In this Harvard Business Review Idea in Practice (a case illustrating a wider business issue), the authors show how any company can better execute its strategy without making costly, disruptive changes to its organizational structure. Using the story of a highly successful global company referred to as Canson Industrial Goods, the authors illustrate how you can uncover serious obstacles preventing your company from meeting its goals, how you can change decision rights, and how you can improve the flow of information to effectively implement your strategy.


We invite you to listen to the audio recording of the Katzenbach Center webinar, with Jon Katzenbach, author of the strategy+business article Stop Blaming your Culture and Paul Leinwand, co-author of the book The Essential Advantage, and hosted by Art Kleiner, editor-in-chief of strategy+business magazine.


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