1. The traditional view of leaders “as special people who set the direction, make the key decisions, and energize the troops” is deeply rooted in an individualistic and non-systemic world view. Especially in the West, leaders are great men and women who rise to the fore in times of crisis. So long as these myths prevail, they reinforce a focus on short-term events and charismatic heroes rather than on systemic forces and collective learning. Leadership should center on subtler and ultimately more important work. Leaders should be designers, teachers, and stewards. These roles require new skills: the ability to build shared vision, to bring to the surface and challenge prevailing mental models, and to foster more systemic patterns of thinking. In short, leaders are responsible for building organizations where people are continually expanding their capabilities to shape their future, that is, leaders are responsible for learning.” Do you agree or disagree with these statements by Peter Senge.
2. Some believe that tough environmental regulations add costs, reduce firm competitiveness, and drive some firms to invest elsewhere. Others argue that tough environmental regulations force firms to be innovative and thus enhance competition and competitiveness. What do you think?
3. One of the most enduring ideas of organization theory is that an organization’s structure and management must “fit” its environment in the same way that a particular horse might be more suited to one course than another. In the recent past, MNC managers have been at the receiving end of a diverse and often conflicting set of organizational structure prescriptions. On the one hand, influential academics and consultants have been urging them to abandon simplistic structures and processes and instead to build multidimensional network organizations with distributed management roles and tasks, overlapping responsibilities and relationships, and built‑in ambiguity and redundancy. On the other hand, equally strong voices have been arguing that the performance problems faced by many large corporations are often attributable to the complexities of their organizations and that managers must have the courage to reestablish organizational simplicity by reverting to direct decision making and unambiguous accountability. In your opinion given the complexity of the global environment, which course (or is it horse) is appropriate?
4. Some argue that shareholders can diversify their stockholdings and that there is no need for firms to use corporate diversification to reduce risk for shareholders. The upshot is that instead of excess earnings (aka “free cash flow”) being used by corporations to diversify (such as by acquiring other firms or entering new countries), they should be returned to shareholders as dividends and firms should pursue single-business or focused strategies. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Why?
5. “No matter what kind of business you work in, no matter what the product, service, market, or location, a single set of management rules or principles, applied correctly, can in most cases turn poorly performing businesses into stars.” The author of this statement goes on to identify four rules of management: (1) Above all, make sure management has the right business focus; (2) benchmark your toughest competitors and then work like heck to become best in class; (3) bring into your business as much fresh blood as you can; and (4) let the people who create value earn a lot of money. Do you agree or disagree with these statements? Are there other rules of management that you have identified in your readings or studies?