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Leading Change Strategically Essay


Whereas change does not cause renovation, all improvements require modification. The ability to develop, test, and implement changes are important for any specific, group, or organization that wants to continually enhance. There are many kinds of changes that will result in renovation, but these particular changes develop from a limited number of change principles. A change idea is a basic notion or approach to alter that, which has been found to be useful in developing specific ideas for changes that result in renovation. John Kotter notes an eight-step process to change. This narrative provides an in-depth review of Charlotte Beers and how she gained trust of those at Ogilvy and Mather Worldwide while CEO, and leveraged that trust to turn internal and external organizational challenges. Employing Kotter’s eight-steps when fostering change, this narrative closely reviews the concepts and how Beers applied the steps to develop change within the sixth largest advertising agency in the world.

Charlotte Beers At Ogilvy and Mather Worldwide

Sense of Urgency

Beers was appointed CEO of Ogilvy and Mather (Ogilvy and Mather) Worldwide in April 1992 to turn around the embattled advertising agency (Levin, 1992, p. 2). Ogilvy and Mather was losing market share and the internal leadership was doing more in fighting than moving the organization in becoming the number one advertising agency. Hiring Beers was key in getting the organization on the right track, leveraging several of Kotter’s change steps in doing so. Coined as someone who is exterior to the organization, Beers was an anomaly as she chosen as a leader who was appointed from outside, that, which was not typical. Most senior leaders within Ogilvy and Mather were promoted from within.

After losing major campaigns from Unilever and Shell Oil Company, certain change was imminent, but unaware in how to embrace (Levins, 1992, p. 7). Additional campaign losses affected the New York office and directed this failure to the most senior person within the organization. A major shake-up took place in 1999, when CEO, Phillips stepped down as the senior leader, and for the first time in history and person outside the company was appointed. With a strong history preceding her, Beers’ prior successes while COO of Tatham-Lair & Kuder, provided expertise needed for Ogilvy and Mather.

To be successful, Beers would have to inject a sense of urgency (Kotter, 2002) by outlying the vision of the organization. Beer knew that change would be easier if people at Ogilvy and Mather desired the change and motivated in making it happen. Beers needed to leverage effective communication and build a guiding coalition who could help move that vision to the forefront. Beers was responsible for infusing her vision, while still conducting her managerial and strategic tasks for moving the organization forward. Beers would have to build a new organization structure, which managing politics and keeping eyes on Ogilvy and Mather’s mission and vision. Strategic in her approach, Beers needed to bring into line the organization with Ogilvy and Mather’s vision. Kotter emphasis, possessing a sense of urgency is the first step when implementing change (Kotter, 1992). Getting her message to all internal Ogilvy and Mather stakeholders, Beers wanted one single, clear message that introduced expectations while soliciting help and in gaining buy-in from staff and other organizational leaders.

Her first effort was using multimedia to creating a clear message that she needed there help, while still shaping Ogilvy and Mather’s future. Beer’s candor and openness was heart-felt by the masses. Beers needed to form a credible guiding coalition and delegate the authority to them to work across the organization (Kotter, 1992). Once Beers applied these first steps successfully, she could direct her focus on the third step of the model in developing a change vision and strategy. Organizations sometimes rush through this step too quickly. When done correctly, however, it requires time to get a change vision and strategy right (Kotter, 2002).

Guiding Coalition

Beers established herself as a leader, and made time to meet with each senior executive to hear concerns and how they thought about the impending changes. She selected her “guiding coalition” based on those ready for the challenge (Ibarra, 2011). She selected her essential senior leadership team by meeting with them one-on-one to assess their allegiance to Ogilvy and Mather, and ultimately to her. Ensuring that her team reflected the entire organization, composed of artistic and management-focused talent.

Convincing Ogilvy and Mather’s key people was crucial in creating Beer’s coalition, built upon the urgency and momentum (Phillips, 2012, p. 496). Ogilvy and Mather’s old ways of doing things was indicative of habitual behaviors. These habits were regular stable patterns of evens that became routine and would take time to change for the failing advert giant. Beer knew organizational change involved both anticipated and unanticipated changes in Ogilvy and Mather’s power and influence structure. While some of the leaders may find their influence or power increased, and others found theirs decreased as a result of Beer’s changes. Bee dealt with misunderstandings as a result of communication barriers, permeated lack of accountability during the prior leadership’s tenure.

Getting the Vision Right

Beers took the proper steps to hearing her stakeholders concerns while providing a listening ear. These discussion forums provided Beers with information that would help in getting the vision right. Beers did not follow the standard old way of doing things, but chartered new lines of communication. She provided the financial community with analysis that was very different from her predecessors. Beers indicated to investors where Ogilvy and Mather could become the advertising agency of choice; as they once were. She reinforced her mantra by painting a clear picture to investors of Ogilvy and Mather’s stellar work.

Painting a clear vision to the masses was important to Beers, even though she was still working it out. She appealed to the emotional side of employees and leaders, which established linkage and accountability. Beers needed to get the team to establish a simple vision and strategy. She focused on the emotional and creative aspects necessary to drive service and efficiency (Kotter International, 2013). This step meant removing Ogilvy and Mather’s old things as they were. For Beers to get the vision right, she needed to deem what were Ogilvy and Mather’s values, and why they were essential to the change when executing the vision.

Communicate for Buy-in

Stakeholder meetings across the United States were difficult for Beers, especially the one in Vienna. There were personality clashes, and each meeting seemed to nearly end the vision before gaining traction. Beer’s tenacity and relentlessness forged the vision Ogilvy and Mather needed to repair the damaged caused by a stalemate of change. Establishing Beer’s vision was difficult as each meeting concluded. Ogilvy desired to be the advertisement agency of choice by all of the Fortuned 500 firms.

Beers addressed her leaders by getting to know them and painting a picture that would appeal to their concerns. Daniel Goleman notes six varying leadership styles, when applied to organization structures include: visionary, coaching leader, affiliate, democratic, pace-setting ad commanding (Primal Leadership, 2004). Beers adopted only three of these styles; democratic, authoritative, and coercive. With the most direct approach, Beers often used coercive leadership, which amounts to whatever the boss asks; they receive. While her authoritative approach affords autonomy when propelling individuals toward collective goals. Beers knew she had to tread lightly with this style, as Ogilvy and Mather had not yet stabilized from chaos.

Beers knew she had to get united with the nay-says that was giving the changes, the most push back. While in a meeting in Westchester, New York, Beers leverage the audience to gain consensus on Ogilvy and Mather’s mission and vision. Although she was hesitant in having this meeting, she agreed to have another meeting with a larger audience. Utilizing varying leadership styles, provided Beers with trust during a different time of change for Ogilvy and Mather. Her ability to navigate during such a challenging time provided Beers with the credibility needed to galvanize the organization.

Advertising Age. (n.d.). Advertising Age AdAge Encyclopedia RSS. Retrieved November 3, 2013, from
http://adage.com/article/adage-encyclopedia/tatham-laird/98897/ Can Charlotte Beers revive O&M?; Frustrated Sorrell seen as force behind agency shuffle. Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee, Primal Leadership, HBS Press, 2004 Advertising Age, Retrieved from Ogilvy and Mather.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/lnacademic. Kotter, J., & Cohen, D., (2002). The heart of change: real-life stories of how people change their organizations. Boston: Harvard Business School. Kotter, J. & Rathgeber, Ogilvy and Mather. (2005). Our iceberg is melting. New York: St. Martin’s Press. Ibarra, Ogilvy and Mather., & Sackley, N. (2011, September 21). Books, Cases, Articles, Audio, and More …. Charlotte Beers at Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide (B). Retrieved November 3, 2013, from http://hbr.org/product/charlotte-beers-at-ogilvy-mather-worldwide-b/an/495032-PDF-ENG Kotter, J. (n.d.). Step 1 Kotter International – The 8 Step Process – Step 1. Kotter International – Innovative Strategy Implementation Professionals. Retrieved October 19, 2013, from http:// Ogilvy and Mather.kotterinternational.com/our-principles/changesteps/step-1 Phillips, J., & Gully, S. M. (2012). Organizational behavior: tools for success. Mason, OH: South-Western Cengage Learning.

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