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This course started with a presentation in which the class was shown various book titles on success strategies. The take-way was that most of these books don't live up to their expectations and also their titles are controversial.
Following are my take-away from various case studies, class discussions and readings:
Video case: 12 Angry Men
"12 Angry Men" was a brilliant movie shown as a video case. This video case had a 12 men jury, which was responsible for doing deliberations in the first degree murder trial of an 18-year old boy accused in murder of his father. This movie gave many lessons related to persuasion and conflict management which I think can help me in future to become a better manager. Following are the learning which I had from this movie:
Convince the person who is least opposing (or neutral) first and tackle the person who opposes most at the end.
Before watching this video case, I was in the opinion that it is always a good idea that in any discussion, one should first convince the person who opposes you the most. But after watching the video, I felt the opposite. In this video, the strongest opponent was "Messenger Service Owner" and the persuader (i.e. "Architect") never tried to convince him but focused his efforts towards others who were relatively easy targets. Based on this video and subsequent class discussion, I found that it is important to get the buy-in from those who are either neutral or least opposing first. By doing so, the persuader will get the majority on his/her side. At the end of the day, this will make the strongest opponent being left alone in his decision and he/she will then self-realize the mistake/bias in his/her view and will then go with the right decision.
How to persuade others when you are in minority position.
I saw that the "Architect" was in minority position in the beginning of the discussion. He never tried to oppose the views of majority directly by saying that the accused boy is innocent. He always mentioned that he has doubt and eventually moved from a minority position to a majority position by questioning the beliefs of other members. I also found that giving credit to others is an influential tactic which can help in persuasion. This was evident from the video case when "Architect" gave credit to the "Old man" for his inputs.
In a discussion pay attention to people who are quiet and who don't receive attention.
I found that "Architect" used different ways to give attention to jury members who were quiet and have not received much attention such as "Man from the Slums", "Watchmaker" and "Bank Teller". One such way was when the "Bank Teller" offered the cough drops to other members; no one accepted it except "Architect" even though he was not coughing. This not only helped the "Architect" to get ideas and expert knowledge from these silent members but also gave those members an opportunity to think critically and find themselves as an important part of jury. For instance: when the jury members were discussing how a boy from slum will hold a knife, the view from "Man from the Slums" served as expert advice due to his background in slums. Since the people defer to experts (Principle of Authority)  , so the jury members started doubting whether it was the boy who attacked his father.
As a result, I learned that one should utilize the knowledge of those who are quiet and this is very important in a team based environment. In retrospect, in my past experience in a Technology Consulting Team, I found that some of the consultants were silent in team meetings and rest of the team never gave much importance to them. They were very knowledgeable in many areas and now I feel that by paying attention to those members, our team could have utilized their knowledge in solving various clients' assignments.
How the Principle of Social Proof affects our decision making
In this video, during the first voting (guilty or not), I found that many jury members raised their hands after imitating response from others. This is in-line with the Principle of Social Proof (from Cialdini) which I remember discussing in my class on Managing People in Organization. There was also an experiment discussed in that class called "Asch Experiment" which showed the role of Social Proof in conformity. On the basis of this video and my prior understanding, I learned that one should avoid taking an open poll at the beginning of group meeting.
Bob Galvin and Motorola, Inc. (A)
"Bob Galvin and Motorola" was a case which is primarily focused around the speech which Bob Galvin, chairman and CEO of Motorola delivered on April 24, 1983. The aim of this speech was to share the vision of the company with the employees but rather than successfully communicating the vision, this speech caused confusion among the employees. This case (along with the reading: The necessary art of persuasion referred in the class) equipped me with an in-depth understanding on how to communicate vision (what to do and what not to do) and also showed me key elements of the art of persuasion. Following are the lessons I learned:
Power of Credibility
When Bob delivered his speech, employees have not discounted Bob's opinion even though the speech was missing clarity and action plans. The reason behind this was Bob's credibility among the employees. This is in line with my learning experience during recent summer internship where I found how important credibility is in the process of persuasion. During my internship, I was supposed to present a strategic plan to the board of directors. A few days before this presentation, my supervisor told me to request one-on-one meetings with the various board-members to build a relationship and get buy-in from those members.
Effective visioning speech should involve an action plan (implementable)
In case of "Bob Galvin and Motorola", the speech delivered by Bob missed action plan. This became one of the reasons why employees started doubting the seriousness of Bob's speech. I found this as a very important point and when I looked back in my past, I found that the speech from various senior executives in my company which compelled me the most were the ones with a real action plan (or at least with some clear next steps).
Effective visioning speech should not be confusing
In his speech, Bob mentioned "I see a welling up of the evidence of need and today I think window is open" which gave a sense of urgency to audience. But later he mentioned "When we come together in two yearsâ€¦" which gave a conflicting signal to audience. As a result, I learned that it is important to have clarity and consistency in a speech.
Key Elements necessary for persuasive speech
From the class discussion, slides and reading (The necessary art of persuasion), I learned that there are four major elements which form the basis of persuasion: Establish credibility, Frame for a common ground, Provide Evidence and Connect Emotionally. I also learned the four ways which should not be used to persuade someone.
Daimler-Chrysler & "I have a dream"
This class comprised of discussion on Daimler-Chrysler case and presenting the speech on the same. The speech delivery by three students as newly appointed CEO was full of learning for me. The last part of this session was a video on the famous speech - "I have a dream" by Martin Luther King. This video along with the discussion gave me a lot of insight about persuasive speech. Following are my learning from this session:
Speaker should repeat key message regularly but not too often
During the Daimler-Chrysler speech, I was able to easily grasp the key message since the students repeated the key messages regularly in their speech. Apart from this, I saw that one of the students repeated the key message too often. This was a bit annoying to me as audience and I realized that there should be a balance that the presenter needs to maintain while repeating the key message. I found this approach of repeating key message/s in a balanced way very useful and will use it in delivering speech in future.
Practical experience of analyzing key elements of persuasive speech
I have learned the four key elements of persuasive speech  from class discussion and reading but this class exercise of writing as well as listening to three speeches gave me a practical experience of analyzing key elements of a persuasive speech. I found that how one of the speech which has a lot of emphasis on stories/vivid language differs from the one which has more emphasis on common ground. I also saw how a balance is important to be maintained in all the four key elements of persuasive speech.
Recipe of a perfect speech
After listening to the speech - "I have a dream", I found it to be one of the greatest speeches I have ever heard. This speech had all the four elements of a persuasive speech. It had words such as "Now is the time" which actually showed the sense of urgency. Also, the setting - "Lincoln Memorial" was in-line with the speech content.
I also saw that initially Martin Luther King, Jr. was reading it from his notes but when later he started speaking it without any reference to notes, the speech became much more interesting and I saw that his connection became much better with the audience. The lessons which I learned from this speech were related to emphasizing certain words/phrases in the speech and also that the speaker should try to avoid reading notes.
Video Case: Jamie's School Dinners
"Jamie's School Dinners" was an amazing video case which described how Chef Jamie Oliver improved the quality of school dinners provided in schools in Britain. This case provided me a very detailed insight about the various steps involved in leading a change and the class discussion helped me to understand what Jamie Oliver did well and what he has not done well.
Following are my key learning from this case:
How an outsider with no formal authority can bring a change in an organization
Before going through this case, I always wondered that a formal authority is very important to lead a massive change. But after going through this video case, I changed my opinion. This case showed how Jamie Oliver who had no formal authority on dinner ladies, was able to bring a positive change in the school dinner throughout Britain. I found that the process of bringing about a change as an outsider involves getting a buy-in from key actors. Another important aspect is establishing informal networks  which Jamie was able to establish with the staff members. I also saw that before starting the process of making a change, it is important to understand the constraints in the system. Jamie Oliver had a good understanding of the constraints such as cost per plate. Inspite of some positive aspect of Jamie's attempts, I also saw the mistakes he made and learned from it (based on class discussion). The first thing was that he should have given the training to dinner ladies in the first week itself rather than doing it so late. He did no planning in the beginning which he should have done. Also, he should have tried to get buy-in from Norah in the very beginning.
People accept change when people know what to expect after the change
An important aspect of bringing about change is to keep in mind the target audience (i.e. people). People mostly do not accept changes which results in something they don't know. In simple words, they are not open to 180 degree change. This was evident in this video case. I saw that Jamie Oliver was trying to offer school kids what he likes rather than understanding their expectations. He offered food items to kids which they did not know. Later, when he started offering sandwiches, he was a bit successful.
One of the early steps in leading a change is stakeholder analysis
Based on the class discussion and the presentation after Jamie Oliver case, I found that the stakeholder analysis is the first step for leading a change. One of the reasons why it is the first step is because the change leader needs to understand the priorities of all stakeholders and also needs to get a buy-in from them. This will help in establishing credibility for change leader and in bringing the change. I also learned the Kotter Model as well as four-step model (Golden) for leading change.
It is important to involve people in the process of change
After his initial setback, Jamie Oliver decided to educate the kids about healthy meal and also involved them in preparing food. This actually helped him to not only get a feedback and buy-in from them but also helped him to make them more informed about the kind of food he wanted to offer them.
A group of change leaders are often more beneficial than a single change leader
During the class discussion, it came out that a group of change leaders are more beneficial than a single leader. This is because the group of leaders will be able to handle various aspects of change simultaneously as compared to a single leader. I also think that a group of leader will be more effective since they will have a bigger informal network and so they will be able to better utilize their networks.
Johnsonville Sausage Co. (A)
This case is about how Ralph Stayer led the transformation of Johnsonville Sausage Co. from a highly centralized organizational structure to a decentralized structure. I learned a number of things from this case. Some of my lessons are the following:
Sole Decision Maker can be a bottleneck
A single decision maker can be a bottle neck for a growing organization. Most of the time, such a powerful decision maker will not realize that he is no longer efficient in handling the growing complexity of his organization and in order to keep his/her control, the decision maker shows resistance leading to poor performance of the company. In the case of Johnsonville Sausage Co., Ralph was leading Johnsonville Sausage Co. for a number of years. But after few years he saw the deteriorating performance of his company and realized the importance of decentralized structure where everyone was an entrepreneur. I also liked the idea of Goose as a symbol on the factory and that Ralph explained this change by telling how the formation of goose adapts to external weather with no single leader- They all are leaders.
There is no specific way to determine whether decentralization will be successful for a particular industry
During the class discussion, one of the students asked this question if there is a way to determine whether decentralization approach will work for an industry or not. The response from the professor was that there is no such way and the ability to achieve success in any industry also depends on how the change leader handles self resistance as well as resistance from others.