Managing, Organizing & Motivating for Value - Harvard Business School MBA Program

Managing, Organizing & Motivating for Value

Course Number 1816

Associate Professor John Beshears
Senior Lecturer Andrew Wasynczuk
Fall; Q1Q2; 3 credits
28 Sessions

Career Focus

This course is about how you can become a better value creator. Managers create value by influencing the behavior and decisions of those with whom they work. To motivate value-creating behavior, skillful managers use a mix of informal persuasion (e.g., skills from psychology) and formal incentive systems (e.g., skills from economics). This course provides a powerful framework (and set of practical skills to help managers motivate employees to make decisions in line with their organization's value-creating purpose. The course is useful for students in all career tracks and with any industry focus.

Educational Objectives

The course builds frameworks for:

  • Understanding the sources of value creation/destruction, and how a dynamic strategy built around "learning, adapting and influencing" is central to developing and executing value propositions.
  • Understanding the behavior and motivation and behavior of people (including ourselves).
  • Becoming a more effective value creator by building skills around agile thinking, trust-building and emotional/social intelligence.
  • Effectively working value propositions in negotiations concerning pay, incentives, budgets, decision making authority, and resource allocation.
  • Aligning incentive systems with organizational strategies.
  • Understanding how to build, manage and implement incentive systems so that they motivate value-creating behavior of individuals and teams.

Course Content and Organization

The starting point of the course is that the purpose of organizations is to create value. The goal of individuals, therefore, is to motivate the value-creating decisions and behavior. Manager-Motivators do this by persuading and influencing others through dynamic strategies centered on "learning, adapting and influencing." This is the focus of the first part (about 40%) of the course. The focus in the latter 60% of the course shifts from how Manager-Motivators create value to how Mangager-Organizers create value. Manager-organizers build organizational systems and structures, and especially incentive systems, that align rewards ( broadly defined) with value-creating behavior. Of course, informal motivational techniques and formal incentive systems interact, often in unintended ways, and effective managers must therefore be able to simultaneously wear both the Manager-Motivator and Manager-Organizer hat.

MOMV has three modules. Module 1 explores the value-creating framework of the course, emphasizing the significant challenges and opportunities associated with fostering cooperative and coordinated behavior. The focus is on dynamic settings that require quick/agile thinking in settings where you often "don't know what you don't know." Thus, we develop insights based on a dynamic strategy of "learning, adapting and influencing."

Module 2 focuses on how you can become a better value creator through the use of interpersonal influence tools. Insights of Module 2 are drawn from the social psychology literature on influence and motivation, but Module 2 also draws on game theory, "improv" comedy, social/emotional intelligence, lie detection and military strategy.

Module 3 focuses on the motivation of value creating behavior through the formal design and management of incentive systems.We develop a framework that focuses on the three crucial features of any reward system: the allocation of decision rights, the performance measurement system and the reward/punishment system that aligns rewards and performance. We use this framework to examine many types of incentive schemes including: bonuses, sales plan incentives, promotion-based incentives, option and stock-based incentives, subjective vs. objective plans, and human capital strategy more generally, especially with regard to alignment with organizational strategy. Module 3 has a heavier focus on economics, but also draws from strategy, human resource management, psychology and organizational behavior.