Analysis of HBS case on Charlotte Beers at Ogilvy & Mathers (Organisational behaviour).

Essay by altersyscjiUniversity, Master'sB+, June 2003

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1. Unfreezing a fragmented Ogilvy & Mather out of the Ice Age.

Charlotte Beers tries to turn around Ogilvy by implementing a strategy based on differentiation. However, Ogilvy's organisation and culture are obstacles to this process. She has therefore to unfreeze the situation first to allow change to be implemented through a communal culture and a collaborative organisation.

Evidence of a crisis are numerous:

Major accounts have been lost (Amex);

Revenues and earnings are in decline;

Agencies services are increasingly commodities;

Staff morale is low;

O&M culture is fragmented. It is low on both sociability and solidarity as defined by Goffee and Jones. Individual offices are run independently (low solidarity) and the historical congeniality ("gentlemen with brains") has been reversed: a customer reported to Beers his direct witness of O&M political infighting over an account and creativity has declined.

The changes in the industry make a compelling case for a communal culture: creativity still need to be fostered through high sociability and the globalisation trend require some higher level of discipline and coordination achieved through high solidarity.

O&M organisation, described as "light center, strong regions" has reached a "delegation" evolution phase and its size has triggered a control crisis, as modelled by Greiner. Top executives have lost control of Ogilvy's decentralized and diversified operations.

Beers seems aware that re-centralizing management would likely fail. Interestingly, she tries to bypass the "coordination" evolution phase and go directly to the collaboration phase. Thus, she advocates:

üProblem solving through cross-functional teams;

üA consultative approach through conferences of key managers;

üExperiments in new practices like the empowerment of the WCS supervisors (who are "dual citizens" in "virtual organisations" and not headquarter staff);

Such a transformation in style and culture seems like an mammoth task. Charlotte Beers only needed two words to achieve it: "brand stewardship".