Charlotte Beers at Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide (A) Document purpose: suggestions to increase acceptance of Ogilvy & Mather’s new Vison on employees below senior executive management. Problem definition December 1993: Charlotte Beers assesses the progresses made by the company after she became CEO: she realizes that clients love the Brand Stewardship concept, but most employees, below executive levels, have not embraced the newly created Vison. The problem I will focus in this document is the following: the majority of employees did not embrace the new Vison.
I will analyze why this is a key problem, why it is happening and I will propose steps to accomplish more acceptance. Analysis Brief Background Major events have shaped the history of the company in the recent years: first the hostile takeover, 1989, then the loss of key accounts and credibility in the business. Many key senior employees have left in the 2 years following the takeover. The company Vison has been: “just keep doing the same thing, just better”, but the world around has been changing.
The marketing business has clearly become more global in nature, with “mergers to form mega-agencies and the concept of transporting brands around the world”, and customers are demanding for “more service at lower costs”. Re-creation Technically the type of organizational change Beers has to face as new CEO of the company is called re-creation: it’s a change introduced in response to an immediate demand, in this case the loss of customers and image. The research indicates that fewer than one in ten re-creations succeed [Leadership for Organizational Change].
Vison and Values Crafting Beers has accomplished a great step already: the definition of Vison and Values. It is interesting to analyze the process that she used, and why it worked. She: • Gathered the persons in the company that were more inspired by a creative tension. • Educated them on the main problems, the “current reality” of the company. • Stimulated a constructive exchange of opinions and experiences among the same executives in the attempt to come up with a “common” set of ideas to be incorporated in the Vison statement.
By educating on the “current reality” and by inspiring the Vison of the brand (her idea since from her start at O&M), Charlotte is setting the creative tension necessary to resurrect the company, and she is beginning this from the top and key persons. Now she has to reach the lower level employees: the challenge is similar, but she cannot leverage anymore on the very powerful mechanism of getting people involved in the creation phase, the “building of shared vision” concept.
The reason is that lower level employees cannot participate in the creation of the company’s Vison; they have to accept it and implement it. Inspirational Leadership Charlotte Beers is an inspiring type of leader: she doesn’t necessarily know the solution to the problems, but she stimulates the company to find it. Instead of talking profits, Beers preached “passion”, the essence, she said, of resurrecting O&M. She said: “Consensus is a poor substitute of leadership”. Her key point is to get people from having an impersonal attitude to the business, into an involved one.
I think she has to leverage on this ability, this gift that she has, to reach the lower level employees in the same effective way she inspired the senior executive team. Detailed Problem Diagnosis I will analyze now in more detail why the vast majority of O&M employees have not embraced yet the new Vison. There are 3 main points related to this problem: 1. Poor understanding of the Brand Stewardship: most employees below senior level lack of experience on how to use the concept of Brand Stewardship.
O’Dea: “Only a minority of the population truly understands and embraces the Brand Stewardship concept”. Employees thus have to be educated on the concept. 2. Human resistance to the Brand Stewardship: some employees are contrary to the concept, because they see it as “an indictment of what they have been doing”. They perceive the embracement of the new Vison as admitting that previous practices were wrong [Org Change Strategies and Tactics]. Employees may need support and facilitation. 3. ·Lack of interest in the Brand Stewardship: employees feel that the new Vison is a loss of time for them. If it helps to get new business, that’s great, but why are you in my office talking about this? I have a dead line to meet and I don’t see what this has to do with creating advertising”. The importance of the Brand Stewardship has to be communicated to employees. Why is the problem of acceptance of the Vison among low-level employees a key one? The image of the company is a lot dependent on how everyone will interpret and implement the message of the Statement of Vison and Values. Clients now view O&M people as “uninvolved, distant, and reserved”.
Beers needs a way to reach all employees as effectively as she has done with the few key people: challenging them to be more creative, to toss aside the old rules and really embrace the new Vison. Recommendations 1. Reaching people in person: Charlotte has to increase her direct contact with the people: she has to take opportunities to visit key locations, give speeches directly to the employees; she is the one that has the big charisma to inspire them all. “Anyone who heard it firsthand from Charlotte bought in”. She could do a round trip in the four headquarters and give conference calls to the major offices in those countries.
The message has to come by her; she can make use of information technology to reach people so much spread in the world, but it’s key that everyone hears her voice. 2. Modify the Reward System: people are more likely to understand the importance of something if that affects directly their pocket or their professional fulfillment. Since one of the big parts of the Vison statement is the TEAM BRAND concept (“We work with the clients, as brand teams”, exhibit 4), the reward system should be modified to compensate also the success of the particular brand team.
The reward right now is going to the local offices for individual work (“The agency had always accorded the greatest prestige and the biggest bonuses to the presidents of local offices”), which seems to be contradictory if you relate it to the new Vison. 3. Information program: In order to increase the awareness of the importance of the Brand Stewardship for the company, Charlotte should start a mundane behavior program, which involves sending of signals through everyday actions (lunches and small meetings, offsite meetings …), and an information program trough the company (badges with the Vison, posters in all the offices …).
Summary Charlotte needs to solve the problem of increasing the acceptance of the new Vison among all employees. The proposed action items to reach this objective are: 1. Modifying the reward system with payouts and recognitions tied with the team brand performance. 2. Introduce information program and mundane behavior events related to new Vison. 3. Spread in person the new Vison worldwide, with a trip to the headquarters of each country and with IT tools. Make Charlotte’s voice heard to every employee.