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The Change Masters

Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the American Corporation

By Rosabeth Moss Kanter
19-minute read
Audio available
The Change Masters: Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the American Corporation by Rosabeth Moss Kanter

The Change Masters (1983) is about Rosabeth Moss Kanter's findings from her extensive research on American corporations in the 1980s. She identifies the key factors that bring about change and innovation, and explains how you can structure your organization to adapt to change more effectively.

  • Change managers and business consultants
  • Managers and team leaders
  • Ambitious entrepreneurs and anyone interested in innovation

Rosabeth Moss Kanter is a sociologist and Management Professor at Harvard Business School, where she was the first woman to be awarded an endowment chair. Her main fields of research are leadership strategy, change management and innovation.

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The Change Masters

Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the American Corporation

By Rosabeth Moss Kanter
  • Read in 19 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 12 key ideas
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The Change Masters: Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the American Corporation by Rosabeth Moss Kanter
Synopsis

The Change Masters (1983) is about Rosabeth Moss Kanter's findings from her extensive research on American corporations in the 1980s. She identifies the key factors that bring about change and innovation, and explains how you can structure your organization to adapt to change more effectively.

Key idea 1 of 12

Collaboration and innovation are often stifled by success formulas in traditional organizations.

Globalization has dramatically changed the rules of business in recent years. Traditionally, most industries were dominated by a few big corporations and markets were relatively stable. Today's businesses have to compete globally and survive in rapidly changing, volatile markets. Many organizations are failing to keep up. Why?

One reason is that traditional organizations are often held back by their success formulas.

When companies overcome their first set of challenges, they typically develop a success formula that outlines the way the organization should be run. It can address issues like production techniques or the company's structure. The point is that since the formula worked for the business in the past, it becomes the standard protocol. This can seriously impede innovation.

The author conducted research on a textile manufacturer that struggled with just this issue. The company had experienced problems with yarn breaking since it first went into operation, so the owners considered this to be a normal cost of the business and didn't try to fix it.

Then a new plant manager joined the company. He worked to improve employee communication and eventually met a worker who had an idea for modifying the production technique to reduce breakage. He'd had the idea for 32 years, but he never shared it until he was asked.

When the new manager asked the employee why he hadn't spoken up before, he said that the old manager simply hadn't been interested in changing the process. This shows how getting too comfortable in your routine can be detrimental.

Change-averse organizations that cling to the status quo and don't promote collaboration are called segmentalist. In the modern business world, segmentalism is the main factor that determines whether a company adapts and thrives, or stagnates and fails.

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