Share Course Ware
Management > Leadership > Designing and Leading the Entrepreneurial Organiza
 Designing and Leading the Entrepreneurial Organiza  posted by  duggu   on 12/8/2007  Add Courseware to favorites Add To Favorites  
Further Reading
More Options

Burton, Diane, 15.394 Designing and Leading the Entrepreneurial Organization, Spring 2003. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed 11 Jul, 2010). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

A workflow diagram.

Work flow diagram. (Image courtesy of Jonathan Natiuk.)

Course Highlights

This course includes detailed lecture notes that correspond to each session's readings and material. A description of the required student projects is also included.

Course Description

This subject is about building, running, and growing an organization. Subject has four central themes:

  • How to think analytically about designing organizational systems
  • How leaders, especially founders, play a critical role in shaping an organization's culture
  • What really needs to be done to build a successful organization for the long-term and
  • What one can do to improve the likelihood of personal success.

Not a survey of entrepreneurship or leadership; subject addresses the principles of organizational architecture, group behavior and performance, interpersonal influence, leadership and motivation in entrepreneurial settings. Through a series of cases, lectures, readings and exercises students develop competencies in organizational design, human resources management, leadership and organizational behavior in the context of a new, small firm.


Course Overview and Objectives
This course is about the building, running, and growing an organization. This course has four central themes: (1) How to think analytically about designing organizational systems, (2) How leaders, especially founders, play a critical role in shaping an organization's culture, (3) What really needs to be done to build a successful organization for the long-term; and (4) What you can do to improve your personal likelihood of success.

This is not a survey course in entrepreneurship or in leadership. Instead, this course addresses the principles of organizational architecture, group behavior and performance, interpersonal influence, leadership and motivation in entrepreneurial settings. A primary goal is to develop your competencies in organizational design, human resources management, leadership and organizational behavior in the context of a new, small firm. 

For many entrepreneurs, the most pressing questions (aside from those about financing) are about how to locate and recruit talented people, and how to manage and keep them, and how to build a high-growth, long-term, sustainable firm. This course will address these questions and will provide you with a number of critical concepts and competencies that will be useful to you in both the short and long term. Throughout the course there will be a dual emphasis on thinking systematically and strategically about aspects of managing a rapidly growing organization, and on the actual implementation challenges associated with management and leadership.

The primary course material will be a series of cases illustrating both successes and failures. You will also be provided with supplementary readings and lectures that will supply concepts and frameworks. It is important that we take advantage of the experience of class members. So, where relevant, please feel free to bring your own experiences and illustrations into class discussion. Throughout the course--virtually in every session--we will consider how what we are discussing differs across settings. Students with global experiences are especially encouraged to bring this knowledge into the classroom. The employment relationship in the U.S. is different in many respects from many other countries, so it is important that as managers we appreciate these differences in how human resources might be framed differently in other cultures. If we are to meet our goal of increasing your effectiveness in leading and managing, it is important to explore how, why, and under what circumstances various approaches work. Your previous experience, both positive and negative, is a valuable source of data for this learning.

The course is organized into three main modules: Setting Direction, Building Skills & Capabilities, and Sustaining Momentum. In each module there will be a series of cases and readings. The course opens with a two-day case series that will foreshadow each of the topics covered in the course. Similarly, the course ends with a two-day capstone case-series that will allow students to apply the lessons learned.

Course Requirements
Class Participation: 50% of grade
Course Project: 50% of grade
Optional Case Write-ups: extra credit toward class participation
Note: All written submissions for this course must be professionally prepared, well-researched and documented, with reasonable fonts and margins.

Course Project

For complete description, see Project section.

Class Participation

Because this is a case-based class, each student is required to be an active participant in case discussions. Your participation grade will reflect my assessment of your total contribution to the learning environment. This includes not only the frequency of your contributions in class, but also their quality. Quality, includes, among other things: (1) sound, rigorous, and insightful diagnosis (e.g. sharpening of key issues, depth and relevance of analysis); (2) ability to draw on course materials and your own experience productively; (3) ability to advance or sharpen in-class discussion and debate, willingness to take risky or unpopular points of view, use of logic, precision, and evidence in making arguments; (4) professionalism of your conduct (attendance, punctuality, preparedness, and showing respect to all section members and their class contributions). Unexcused absences and lack of preparation will be counted heavily against your grade.

Case Write-ups

Some students may be more comfortable demonstrating their mastery of core course concepts in written rather than in oral form. To accommodate those students, there are two opportunities for students to submit written case analyses (no more than 5 pages long).

Case Write-up 1:
Apple Computer (A) (Abridged): Corporate Strategy and Culture, HBS# 495-044
Due before class, session 8.

Case Write-up 2:
Wolfgang Keller at Konigsbrau-Hellas A. E. (A), HBS # 498-045
Due before class, session 16.

Case write-ups are entirely optional and will be counted as extra credit towards class participation grades. The write-ups will be evaluated according to how well you have demonstrated your mastery of the course material. This includes the application of appropriate conceptual materials; the effective use of evidence to develop your arguments; explicit assumptions and clear logical inferences; and a coherent and integrated analysis and assessment. In addition the written work must be clear and well-organized. Case write-ups should be typed, with reasonable fonts and margins.


Module 1: Setting Direction
Session 1: Introduction

Erik Peterson (A) HBS # 494-005.
Erik Peterson (B) HBS # 494-006 (to be distributed).

Study Questions:

  1. What are the problems facing Erik Peterson?
  2. What are the underlying causes of these problems?
  3. How effective has Peterson been in taking charge of the Hanover start-up?
  4. What actions should he take now? Please be specific.

Session 2: Introduction

Cases: (to be distributed).
Erik Peterson (C), HBS # 494-007.
Erik Peterson (D), HBS # 494-008.
Erik Peterson (E), HBS # 494-009.
Richard Jenkins, HBS # 494-113.

Study Questions:

  1. What is your assessment of the events described in the Erik Peterson (C), (D), and (E) cases?
  2. What if anything, should Peterson have done differently?
  3. Could you have succeeded in Erik Peterson's situation? Why or why not?
  4. What should Peterson do next? Why?
  5. What lessons, if any, do you take away from Peterson's experience?

Reading: Tushman, Michael L., and Charles O'Reilly III. "Managerial Problem Solving: A Congruence Approach." Chap. 4 in Winning through Innovation. Harvard Business School Press, 1997.

Session 3: Leaders and Advisors

Zaplet, Inc. (A), HBS #601-165.

Study Questions:

  1. What did Alan Baratz face upon joining Zaplet? What were his key challenges? What were the firm's key assets?
  2. Evaluate Vinod Khosla's role in building Zaplet. What has he done? Are his actions appropriate for this firm? Are they appropriate for any firm?
  3. Does Baratz have the right organizational structure in mind for the future? What are the advantages and limits of this new organizational structure?
  4. Should Zaplet be building an application platform or individual products? What are the implications of this strategic choice for the organization?

Reading: Baker, Wayne. "What is Social Capital and Why Should You Care About It?" Chap. 1 in Achieving Success Through Social Capital. Jossey-Bass, 2001.

Begin HUMAX ASSESSMENT after class. Assessment must be completed by session 4.

Session 4: Entrepreneurial Networks

Jerry Sanders, HBS # 498-021.

Study Questions:

  1. How effective has Jerry Sanders been?
  2. Is San Francisco Science a viable business?

Reading: Baker, Wayne. "Evaluating Your Social Capital." Chap. 2 in Achieving Success Through Social Capital. Jossey-Bass, 2001.

Session 5: Social Networks & Social Capital

Heidi Roizen, HBS # 800-228.

Study Questions:

  1. What steps did Roizen take, over the various jobs she held, to develop her network? To maintain it?
  2. What are the strengths of Roizen's network as we see it at the end of thecase? The weaknesses?
  3. What suggestions would you give Roizen for adjusting and maintaining her network as she becomes more involved as an Internet venture capitalist?

Reading: Baker, Wayne. "Building Entrepreneurial Networks" (Chap. 3), and "Using Your Social Capital" (Chap. 4). In Achieving Success Through Social Capital. Jossey-Bass, 2001.

Module 2: Building Organizational Capabilities
Session 6: Employment Models in Entrepreneurial Companies

Reading: Baron, James N., and Michael T. Hannan. "Organizational Blueprints for Success in High-Tech Start-Ups: Lessons from the Stanford Project on Emerging Companies." California Management Review 44 (30) (Fall 1991): 8-36.

Session 7: Organizational Design: Consistency

Human Resources at Hewlett-Packard, HBS# 495-051.

Study Questions:

  1. What is the HP Way? How is it facilitated by HP's values, culture, human resource policies and management practices?
  2. Why does the task force believe that HP is losing its human touch? Are they justified in this conclusion?
  3. What should Lew Platt do about the task forces concerns?

Reading: Collins, James C., and Jerry I. Porras. "Organizational Vision and Visionary Organizations." California Management Review. Fall 1991.

Session 8: Organizational Design: Alignment

Apple Computer (A) (Abridged): Corporate Strategy and Culture, HBS# 495-044.

Study Questions:

  1. Is Apple an effective organization in 1990? Come to class with a rating on a five point scale [ 1  2  3  4  5] with 1=very ineffective and 5=highly effective.
  2. What is the nature of Apple's competitive environment in 1990 and the challenges it faces?
  3. What strategy should Apple adopt in 1990 to deal with its environment?
  4. To what extent does Apple possess the organizational characteristics needed to compete? What changes are needed?
  5. John Scully has been CEO of Apple since 1983. Has he done a good job in leading Apple? If yes, why; if no, what would you have done differently?

Reading: Schein, Edgar H. "The Role of the Founder in Creating Organizational Culture." Organizational Dynamics. Summer 1983.

Session 9: Organizational Design: Motivation

The Soul of a New Machine.

Study Questions:

  1. Why are these people working so hard?
  2. In what ways, if any, is Tom West contributing to his group's performance?
  3. What theory of "human motivation" can you infer?

Session 10: Organizational Design: Managerial Systems I

Cypress Semiconductor (A): Vision, Values, and Killer Software, Stanford HR-8A.

Study Questions:

  1. How would you describe T. J. Rodgers approach to achieving results?
  2. Are his policies and practices at Cypress aligned with the strategy? Are they a source of competitive advantage? Why or why not?
  3. How is the culture being developed and maintained? What are the specific mechanisms being used to manage the culture?
  4. At the end of the case (in 1994), T. J. Rodgers is wondering whether he should make any changes. What are your recommendations?

Reading: Rodgers, T. J. "No Excuses Management." Harvard Business Review. July 1990, Reprint #90409.

Session 11: Organizational Design: Managerial Systems II

Sun Microsystems: Realizing the Potential of Web Technologies, HBS #198-007.

Study Questions:

  1. Web technology made its way into Sun in 1993 and eventually became the centerpiece of Sun's business strategy. What were the critical events that occurred between the first discovery and the company wide embrace of this new technology?
  2. How effective was the technology adoption process?
  3. What are the advantages and disadvantages of the way Sun manages itself?

Readings: Adler, Paul. "Building Better Bureaucracies." Academy of Management Executive 13, no. 4. (1999).

Session 12: Leadership, Rhetoric, and Persuasion

Jan Carlzon, HBS #392-149.

Study Questions:

  1. Why was SAS having problems?
  2. What did Carlzon do to address those problems? Of all of his actions, which were most important? Why?

Reading: Kotter, John P. "What Leaders Really Do." Harvard Business Review (May/June 1990). Reprint #R0111F.

Session 13: Recruiting Executives

Vermeer (A): A Company is Born, HBS #397-078.
Vermeer (A-1), HBS #397-079 (to be distributed).

Study Questions:

  1. What did Charles Ferguson do from late 1993 to January 1995 to build an enterprise that attracted an offer from a group of venture capital firms to invest $4 million at a $4 million pre-money valuation? As Charles Ferguson, would you agree to the proposed deal?
  2. In January 1995, what are the major risks and opportunities that lie ahead for Vermeer? As Charles Ferguson, what would you do to seize the opportunities and mitigate the risks?
  3. What are the characteristics of the ideal CEO for Vermeer in 1995? How well does Charles Ferguson meet those requirements?

Session 14: Recruitment and Selection

Mark Pitts, HBS #801-414.

Study Questions:

  1. How well do Mark Pitts' credentials and accomplishments fit the Peoplestreet job description?
  2. What do you learn from his resume?
  3. What questions would you want to ask Mark in the interview in order to decide whether or not he is right for the job?

Readings: Mornell, Pierre, Inc. Zero Defect Hiring. March 1998.

Chambers, Elizabeth G., Mark Foulon, Helen Handfield-Jones, Steven M. Hankin, and Edward G. Michaels III. "The War for Talent." The McKinsey Quarterly, no. 3, 1998.

Session 15: Working Environments

Study Questions:

  1. Does physical space/layout matter?
  2. Do you personally work better in some environments than others? Why or why not?
  3. Would you design different space for a professional service firm than for a software engineering firm? Why or why not?

Readings: Gladwell, Malcolm. "Designs for Working." The New Yorker, 11 Dec. 2000, pp. 60-69.
Session 16: Managing Performance

Wolfgang Keller at Konigsbrau-Hellas A. E. (A), HBS # 498-045.

Study Questions:

  1. What is your analysis of the situation facing Keller as he returns to Athens?
  2. What is your assessment of Petrou's performance? Please be specific.
  3. How effective has Keller been as a coach to Petrou? Why? Could you have done better? Why? How?
  4. What are the underlying causes of his performance problems? What actions should Keller take upon returning to Athens? Be specific.
  5. What are the implications for Keller's development as a leader?

Session 17: Incentives and Rewards

Cambridge Technology Partners (A), HBS # 496-005.

Study Questions:

  1. What are the top three issues which Sims must address now to create the CTP that he hopes to create by 1997?
  2. What is the goal, the implementation plan, and the measurement process that Sims should put in place for each issue identified in (1) above?
  3. How have the external environment, internal culture, and business strategy of CTP changed from 1990 to 1993 (post-Sims' arrival)? How do you expect these to change from 1993 to 1997?
  4. How do CTP's processes and culture differentiate it from its competitors? Create value for its customers? Create value for its employees?
  5. Assuming Sims is successful in transforming CTP, what new problems are likely to emerge? How would you deduct these problems? How would you, at least, lessen their impact?

Session 18: Professionalizing

Iggy's Bread of the World, HBS #801-282.

Study Questions:

  1. What actions do the Ivanovics take to create a unique culture at Iggy's?
  2. What are the costs and benefits of this culture as the organization grows?
  3. Which roles should the Ivanovics hand over to their professional management team? Which should they retain?
  4. What should they do about Matthew McRae?
Module 3: Sustaining Momentum
Session 19: Managing Change

Meg Whitman at e-Bay Inc. (A), HBS # 401-024.

Study Questions:

  1. What have been the key success factors for eBay? What will they be in the future?
  2. If you were Whitman, what would be your change objectives and time frame?
  3. What would be your action plan?
  4. What can we learn from this case about leadership in the "new economy?"

Reading: Greiner, Larry E. "Evolution and Revolution as Organizations Grow." Harvard Business Review (May/June 1998). Reprint # 98308.

Session 20: Managing Growth

Shouldice Hospital Limited, HBS # 683-068.

Study Questions:

  1. How do you account for the performance of this organization?
  2. Specifically, what decisions would you make concerning a) the possible addition to the hospital of rooms for 45; b) the addition of a Saturday operating schedule to the clinic; c) the development of a new self-contained "branch" of Shouldice; and d) the development of a new specialty medical service? Why?

Session 21: Organizational Learning Exercise

Reading: Senge, Peter M. "The Leader's New Work: Building Learning Organizations." Sloan Management Review (Fall 1990): 7-23.

Session 22: Putting it all Together

SCORE! Educational Centers (A), HBS # 499-056.
SCORE! Educational Centers (B), HBS # 499-057 (to be distributed).
SCORE! Educational Centers (C), HBS # 499-058 (to be distributed).

Study Questions:

  1. How did Alan Tripp bring the SCORE! concept to life? Please assess the critical choices he made in building the company.
  2. What are the challenges facing Tripp and SCORE! at the end of the case?
  3. What should Alan Tripp do?

Session 23: Putting it all Together

SCORE! Educational Centers (D), HBS # 499-059 (to be distributed).

Study Questions:
To be distributed.

Session 24: Final Lecture

Summary of Class Sessions and Assignment Due Dates (PDF)   Tell A Friend