Research Summary

Developing Organizational Capabilities to Compete

by Michael Beer


Michael Beer's current research is concerned with how leadership teams can shape an effective high performing company capable of implementing its strategy and learning. Working in cooperation with Becton Dickinson, a global medical technology company, he and Russell Eisenstat developed a process that a top management team at the corporate or business unit level could use to diagnose and reinvent their organization. That process, called Organizational Fitness Profiling (OFP), has been applied in approximately eighteen corporations and over 150 units with these companies. Using action research methods, Beer and Eisenstat have been able to identify six core barriers to strategy implementation and change. Because these barriers are known to everyone but are undiscussible they have called them 'silent killers.' Their action research has also begun to identify a number of factors that materially influence the capacity of a company to reinvent itself. And, they have been able to use the many applications of OFP to improve its power in reshaping an organization's 'fitness' to compete.

Beer and Eisenstat's findings have been reported in a number of cases, working papers, book chapters, and articles. The most recent article 'The Silent Killers to Strategy Implementation and Learning' appeared in the summer 2000 issue of The Sloan Management Review. Taken together, the findings and cases developed from Beer's and Eisenstat's research form the core of Strategic Human Resource Management, a program for senior human resource and line executives offered by the Harvard Business School.