problem 1: How is it possible for the individuals and organizations to fail to focus on the customers?
problem 2: [Keep in mind that customers can be external – customers in the ordinary sense of the word – and internal, ex: other departments are the customers of the corporate IT department]. Some functions can have both internal and external customers (ex: marketing). What are the similarities and the differences between serving internal and external customers. describe customer focus strategies – internal or external – from you own experience.
problem 3: Middle managers are frequently at the center of efforts to develop tactical plans to implement established strategies. How tactical plans are usually established? What challenges confront middle managers charged with the strategy implementation?
problem 4: Beer and Eisenstat identify what they call ‘silent killers’ of strategy implementation and learning. Give concrete exs – preferably from your own experience – of how such ‘silent killers’ sabotage strategy implementation. Why do Beer and Eisenstat add ‘learning’ to the list of victims of such ‘silent killers’?
problem 5: What are the primary tensions that Dodd and Favaro identify? How does finding the balance among such tensions impact middle managers? Give illustrations from your experience.
problem 6: Kaplan & Norton suggest methods for implementing strategies devoid of disrupting organizations. Provide illustrations from your work experience of disruptive and non-disruptive strategy implementations.
problem 7: Were the strategies that didn’t disrupt the organization deliberately designed so as not to be disruptive?
problem 8: Is it sometimes appropriate – even essential – to design strategies with the intention of disrupting organizations? Can implementing disruptive strategies constitute a strategy for organizational change? How do disruptive strategies impact middle managers?
problem 9: Mintzberg distinguishes between ‘deliberate’ and ‘emergent’ strategies. What are the merits of emergent strategies? Are they particularly suitable and effective in certain types of organizations? In certain types of environmental and competitive conditions? In tackling certain kinds of problems?
problem 10: Comment on RosabethKanter’s use of improvisational theater as a metaphor for the emergent and flexible strategy.
problem 11: Characterize the culture of the organization in which you work. How does this culture influence the work of middle managers?
problem 12: Have you experienced deliberate interventions by senior management that was intended to refocus, refine or revise the culture of an organization? To what degree were such interventions successful or unsuccessful? Why?
problem 13: What is organizational design? How is it like and how unlike design of a manufacturing process (for illustration: automobile production)?
problem 14: Organizations have both formal and informal (tacit) structures. How can we predict the effects of computed and deliberate organizational change on informal networks and structures? How can we mitigate against unanticipated and unintended effects of organizational redesign?
problem 15: Give illustrations from your experience of the different types of leaders recognized in the readings. Are typologies of leadership styles helpful in the practice of management? If so, how? If not, why not?
problem 16: Does a good manager need to be a leader? Is a leader essentially a good manager?
problem 17: Within any group a leader typically emerges. How can a manager efficiently supervise an employee which emerges as a group leader and turn the leader-employee into a managerial asset?
problem 18: Provide illustrations from your work experience of ways that managers strike the balance between their organization’s commitment to systems of control and to empowering employees. Are there systematic strategies to address such challenges?
problem 19: To what degree does an organization’s success in this area depend on the good instincts of middle managers and the good will of employees?
problem 20: Tannen analyzes gender differences in communication in organizations. Does her analysis resonate in your experience? Have gender-specific differences in communication become less pronounced as participation by women at all levels of employment has increased or do they remain stubbornly fixed and inflexible?
problem 21: In your experience are female bosses which speak and manage like their male counterparts perceived differently by their subordinates? How so? Why? Do women managers confront more resistance from male or female employees or is there no observable difference?
problem 22: Do managers of color face obstacles comparable to those that Tannen discusses with respect to women? What regarding managers from minority religions? Old (or very young) managers? Managers with disabilities? Gay or lesbian managers?
problem 23: What strategies can organizations employ to enhance communications in light of the patterns, influences and challenges that Tannen discusses?
problem 24: How are reward, benefits and employee development systems aligned with the strategy in your organization?
problem 25: What, according to Huselid, Beatty & Becker, are A, B, and C ‘players.’ What role should each of such categories play in an organization’s strategy? Does your organization have a clear and coherent strategy for recruiting, training and retaining employees in all three categories? Are you in the category proper to your talents?
problem 26: Kerr addresses illustrations of misalignment between strategic needs and reward systems. Give illustrations of reward systems which fail to provide incentives, or in fact provide disincentives, to efforts and activities which advance organizational mission and strategy. How can middle managers mitigate the undesirable effects of such types of misalignments?
problem 27: Have you encountered situations that you would describe as exs of Ghoshal’s allegation that ‘bad management theories are destroying good management practices?’ By contrast, can you recall conditions where management theories have assisted managers in making good decisions?
problem 28: Roxburgh identifies some ‘hidden flaws in strategy.” Give illustrations from your own experience. Have you encountered strategic flaws which do not fit into the categories which Roxburgh identifies?
problem 29: Does Rosabeth Moss Kanter’s article resonate in your experience? How?
problem 30: Do you feel empowered and capable to innovate in the organization in which you work? And to what extent?
problem 31: What limits your capability to innovate? As a manager, how do you empower your subordinates to be innovators? Does your organization support such efforts?
problem 32: What risks does your organization face with respect to your regions of responsibility? How do you and your organization assess and mitigate such risks?
problem 33: What distinguishes quality initiatives such as ISO 9000 and the Baldridge National Quality Program from Total Quality Management (TQM) and similar managerial commitments?
problem 34: There is some evidence that in the years instantly following Baldridge or ISO certification or accreditation, performance standards and attention to quality actually decline to levels below the build up to accreditation review. What might describe this result? How can managers guard against this kind of ‘relapse’?
problem 35: If you have been employed in an organization that has gone via the Baldridge or ISO process, share your experiences. What challenges did you face? Was the payoff to the organization worth the effort?