We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing weÔÇÖll assume youÔÇÖre on board with our cookie policy

nalysis of HBS case on Charlotte Beers at Ogilvy & Mathers

The whole doc is available only for registered users

A limited time offer! Get a custom sample essay written according to your requirements urgent 3h delivery guaranteed

Order Now

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.┬áInterestingly, she tries to bypass the “coordination” evolution phase and go directly to the collaboration phase. Thus, she advocates:

├╝Problem solving through cross-functional teams;

├╝A consultative approach through conferences of key managers;

├╝Experiments 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”.

2. “You ask for collaboration but occasionally you act autocratically”

Like for David Simon at BP, Charlotte Beers’ predecessor correctly diagnosed the strategic issues but failed the execution reportedly because of an uninspirational leadership. Beers rose to the leadership challenge and deployed a wealth of persuasion skills.

Beers is definitely matching most leadership criteria suggested by Bennis:

├╝She innovates (“brand stewardship”);

├╝She develops (by stimulating customers’ desires);

├╝She focuses on people (instead of finance or organisation);

├╝She challenges the status quo (the commoditisation of advertising);

├╝She is her own person (her passion in brands);

├╝She inspires trust (through her energy and passion);

├╝She has her eye on the horizon (not the bottom line);

Like Kennedy (as described by Zaleznik), she forces people to act beyond immediate concerns and identify with her.

However, a top-down approach would negate her organisational objectives (nurture team work, solidarity and creativity). Also, her power base is weak since Ogilvy main assets are volatile. Creative talents may walk away and so may the 50 non-majority-owned offices.

She therefore engages in a deliberate effort at persuading, negotiating and networking with her entire organisation.

Charlotte Beers’ persuasion scorecard

├╝Establish credibility:├╝Not a given (as an outsider from a smaller agency)├╝Borrowed from stakeholders (customers, vision group, WCS)├╝Dismissed one top executive and embraced O&M simultaneously (“our beloved agency”);

├╝Frame for common ground:├╝Addressed her vision group individual issues (the Chewton Glen Declaration)├╝Framed the process away from the previous regional and discipline divide.├╝Opted for an undirected process to nurture debates.

├╝Provide evidence:├╝Regained Amex;├╝Won Jaguar

├╝Connect emotionally:├╝Challenged people (“where are you?”)├╝Promised hope (“to be the most valued brand”).

The Chewton Glen and Westchester meetings illustrate Beers’ way:

1.Unfreeze the situation by nurturing debate (establish priorities or a vision statement, respectively);

2.Precipitate change by challenging people (the declaration and “where are you?” respectively);

3.Freeze everything through structural changes (the WCS division, the vision-related initiatives respectively).

The “Chewton Glen Declaration” is also compromise prowess to nurture Beer’s network. Apparently adressing O’Dea, Wright, Harry and Reid’s request for a strategy, it is actually Beers’ vehicle to connect personally with them. Thus, point 1 addresses O’Dea frustrations, point 2 favours Wright’s integrated approach and point 3 is along Reid and Thedens financial discipline priority.

The only reported structural outcome, the WCS division, is also telling. WCS supervisors are instantly an influential network for Beers ideas:

├╝Their past status was unsatisfactory (=> low resistance to change);

├╝Their exposure to global accounts goes Beer’s way;

├╝They have extra credibility as insiders.

As a result, Ogilvy’s vision is a masterpiece that:

├╝Aligns the core disciplines around a shared concept (“brands”);

├╝Appeals to its internal audience (O&M staff value their O&M brand);

├╝Increases solidarity through its shared goals;

├╝Appeals to customers too.

3. Keep “moving” people, start moving boxes and bucks too.

Charlotte Beers immediate challenge is to refine her vision into a strategy. To establish goals and allocate resources in a comprehensive manner will require a more structured communication, the development of extra change agents and changes in both the structure and the reward system.

Based on Greiner’s model, the collaboration organisational stage she is aiming at requires some extra characteristics:

├╝A matrix-type structure in line with her globalised client-centric vision;

├╝Educational programs in behavioral skills (cross-functional collaboration);

├╝Appropriate management information systems;

├╝Updated compensation systems for brand teams and local agencies (working on behalf of global accounts);

Charlotte Beers’ transformation to-do list

├╝Establishing a sense of urgency:├╝Examined market and competitive realities through customer contacts by meeting 50 clients in 6 months.├╝Identified and discussed crises, potential crises, or major opportunities (the Chewton Glen and Westchester meetings). 1

├╝Forming a powerful guiding coalition:├╝Assembled a network of change agents and empowered them to initiate the change effort (the Chewton Glen group).├╝Encouraged the group to work together as a team by fostering discussions and avoiding a top-down approach2

├╝Creating a vision:├╝”the agency most valued by those who most value brands”├╝Developed strategies for achieving that vision by stimulating clients’ demand3

├╝Communicating the vision:├╝Chewton Glen Declaration and the Westchester meeting.4

├╝Empowering others to act on the vision:├╝the WCS, Westchester’s task forces├╝Changed structures that undermine the vision (made one “public┬áexecution”)5

├╝Creating short-term wins:├╝Amex, Jaguar 6

Consolidating improvements: Systems (compensations of local agencies and WCS), structures (organisation chart), and policies not yet changed; Potential shortage of change agents; No new initiatives.7

Institutionalizing New Approaches: No connection between new behaviors and corporate success. No means developed to ensure leadership development.8

Source: “Leading change: why transformation efforts fail” J. P. Kotter, HBR March/April 1995

She may look at developing, in team, and communicating some new initiatives reinforcing her “vision” or some simple goals (the way David Simon did at BP). More formal training, reporting and communications may also be needed in a way similar to the re-engineering process implemented by Harvey Golub at American Express. She may rely for this on Reider, Thedens, Wright and O’Dea who had been pushing for more strategy guidelines, financial discipline and an integrated range of communications services during the vision-building seminar.

The process has been described as painful, messy and chaotic. Actually any other alternative (a process re-engineering, corporate downsizing or organisational restructuring) would have been even more so without a guarantee that it would have restored creativity and instill solidarity at the same time.

Related Topics

We can write a custom essay

According to Your Specific Requirements

Order an essay
Materials Daily
100,000+ Subjects
2000+ Topics
Free Plagiarism
All Materials
are Cataloged Well

Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website. If you need this or any other sample, we can send it to you via email.

By clicking "SEND", you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails.
Sorry, but only registered users have full access

How about getting this access

Your Answer Is Very Helpful For Us
Thank You A Lot!


Emma Taylor


Hi there!
Would you like to get such a paper?
How about getting a customized one?

Can't find What you were Looking for?

Get access to our huge, continuously updated knowledge base

The next update will be in:
14 : 59 : 59