Charlotte Beers took over as CEO and chairman of Ogilvy and Mather Worldwide (hereafter O&M) during a period of transformation and change in the advertising industry. The after-effects of the economic shock of 1980’s, rapidly changing industry environment and increasing competition, etc. were all having an adverse impact on the company.
Beers recognized the need for a fundamental change in O&M to revitalize the organization. O&M was the world’s sixth largest advertising agency. Beers wanted to fully utilize the existing competencies and assets of the company to chart a new course for the agency. She wanted to bring the company out of the status quo and regain the trust of the market and the clients. She wanted to accomplish an organizational change in O&M, a resocialization and transformation of the entire organization and its employees, wherein the people were able and eager to face every situation.
Beers began the task of creating a vision for the organization. In this pursuit, Beers faced stiff resistance from the strong inbred culture and inertia prevalent in O&M. To overcome this, Charlotte concentrated on a three-point strategy to restore the company to vitality:
1. Incorporating employees into the process of dealing with business challenges: Charlotte formed a cross-functional team of change agents. This was a team of like-minded people (the “thirsty for change” group) and Beers engaged with them in discussions with the intention of formulating a vision for O&M. Participation by all members meant that all of them could identify with the vision and internalize it. These discussions led to a final 3-point strategy bounded by the concept of brand stewardship. Furthermore, the group members also worked to communicate the strategy to the next level of managers.
Charlotte’s intention was to involve the employees in this process of change and transform the way in...