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ESMT Case Study

Anna Frisch at Aesch AG: Initiating lateral change

ESMT Case Study No. ESMT-410-0112-1
2020 TCC Best-selling Case, 2018 TCC Best-selling Case, 2017 TCC Best-selling Case, 2016 TCC Best-selling Case, 2014 TCC Best-selling Case, 2014 TCC Case Writing Award Human resource management/Organizational behavior
Urs Müller, Ulf Schäfer (2010)
Human resources management/organizational behavior
initiating change, implementing change, change management, communication of change, lateral change / leading change from the middle, influencing / persuading, stakeholder management, power and politics in organizations, change in a global matrix organization
Anna Frisch has tried to initiate change at Aesch AG, a large global provider of medical devices for the healthcare industry. As marketing director, she has identified major shifts in German healthcare that demand that Aesch changes its ways of approaching customers. Instead of targeting the specific needs of doctors in hospitals, Aesch should rather address the new decision makers: the CEOs, CFOs, or CIOs of hospitals, who have a different buying logic. In Aesch's matrix organization (global product responsibility, supported by regional sales) Anna wants to convince the heads of marketing for the different product businesses to change. She seems to be able to quickly convince her colleagues of what she calls "C-level marketing." However, as soon as work is supposed to start, she realizes that commitments were less strong than she assumed. A few weeks later, Anna is clearly told that there will be no support for her.
The short case study is set when Anna realizes the failure of her change initiative. The case discussion allows analyzing and discussing various mistakes in the areas of:
- defining an attractive vision and strategy,
- reading and playing the organizational culture, power and politics,
- communicating a change initiative successfully,
- managing the stakeholders.
The case is supported by a 6-minute video showing Anna reflecting on the events, her analysis of failure, and her personal preferences as of December 2008.
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