Case | HBS Case Collection | March 2009

Barbara Norris: Leading Change in the General Surgery Unit

by Boris Groysberg, Nitin Nohria and Deborah Bell


Barbara Norris struggles to address the many problems facing her as a recently promoted nurse manager in the General Surgery Unit (GSU) at Eastern Massachusetts University Hospital (EMU). She has inherited a unit with the lowest employee satisfaction scores and highest employee turnover rate among all of the departments at EMU. Furthermore, her new unit was infamous for its culture of confrontation, blaming, and favoritism. The staff that has remained is dissatisfied, unmotivated, and not functioning as a team to deliver patient care. In fact, GSU's patient satisfaction scores, although average, had been declining steadily over the past few years. Barbara has been asked by EMU's Director of Nursing to turn the unit around in the midst of an economic crisis and deep cost-cutting measures throughout the hospital. Where and how should she begin?

Keywords: Employee Relationship Management; Leading Change; Service Delivery; Organizational Change and Adaptation; Organizational Culture; Groups and Teams; Motivation and Incentives; Satisfaction; Health Industry;


Groysberg, Boris, Nitin Nohria, and Deborah Bell. "Barbara Norris: Leading Change in the General Surgery Unit." Harvard Business School Case 409-090, March 2009.