Managing Change and Transformation - Harvard Business School MBA Program

Managing Change and Transformation

Course Number 2040

Professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter
Spring; Q3Q4; 3 credits
12 2.5-hour sessions

Career Focus

Managing Change and Transformation is preparation for future CEOs and general managers or those who advise and consult to top executives. It will be immediately useful for jobs in entrepreneurial ventures that are scaling; new business development and venture oversight; consulting and private equity; and project management, organizational development, or department/division management.

Educational Objectives

In turbulent times, the core of leadership is to address continuing challenges of change and organizational adaptation as well as change in the wider world, such as addressing problems of health, education, and the environment. This is essential for enterprise success, and those leaders with the skills to steer change effectively are in high demand. This course will arm students with practical skills and hands-on tools for planning and guiding large-scale systemic change (major strategic shifts, business turnarounds, organizational and cultural transformations), managing specific change projects (innovations, pilot projects, new and emerging ventures), diffusing or scaling up specific projects for company growth or change, and creating and managing social innovations to "change the world."

Challenges of globalization, new technologies, industry restructuring, increased public scrutiny, and other pressures on today's businesses require change skills throughout the organization - for improvement and renewal as well as turnaround and transformation, for cost-reduction and consolidation as well as innovation and growth. Stakeholder demands for performance improvement, accountability, and competitiveness increasingly require organizational cultures that are change-ready and change-adept. And change leadership is needed to enrich ecosystems and tackle global, national, and local problems.

Course Methods and Content

HBS cases will be augmented by exercises, workshops, live cases, tool application sessions, and class visitors. Change skills will be applied to important 21st century business issues; for example, case situations will include:

  • Change across organizational boundaries: mergers & acquisitions; strategic alliances, partnerships, and 'extended enterprise' networks; synergies and collaboration across departments; network management and global connectivity; building a 'one enterprise' culture across borders and boundaries;
  • New ventures in established companies: change through the creation of 'greenfield' sites; greenhouses and incubators to nurture innovations and new ventures; managing the tensions between the organizational mainstream, its heritage and legacy systems, and innovations that depart from tradition;
  • Human resource challenges: workforce diversity; the workplace of the future; managing knowledge workers and empowering professionals; knowledge management and the development of 'learning organizations';
  • New organizational models in every sector: industries in the midst of restructuring; transformation of large public or quasi-public bureaucracies (e.g., hospitals/health care systems or public education); business as a social change agent.