The Dynamic Enterprise:
Tools for Turning Chaos into Strategy and Strategy into Action

Lisa Friedman & Herman Gyr (Jossey-Bass, 1997)

Friedman and Gyr have built a useful change management methodology around a relatively small number of clear and comprehensive models and frameworks. Although no real conceptual breakthroughs in organizational science are presented, the framework incorporates a number of widely accepted methodologies and viewpoints in a nicely integrated package. Practitioners and others involved in or embarking on change management programs will find that this book provides them with an accessible overview of the processes, challenges, and life cycle of change management efforts. The methodologies, coupled with the usual war stories, give the reader a reassuring sense that the book has been distilled from extensive experience in facilitating corporate change.

Their approach centers around three principal integrating elements:

  1. The STEP model, whose elements are: Structure (structural elements of the organization), Task (i.e., service or product output), Environments (internal and external) and People. This provides a basis for formulating what are commonly referred to as the “as is” (current) and the “to be” (desired future) states in reasonably comprehensive but not overwhelmingly detailed form. The STEP elements can be developed through the usual consulting inquiry methods such as interviews, group sessions, etc.
  2. The Enterprise Development Map (a.k.a. by clients as the “football” or “hamburger” model), which provides the linkages between the current and future STEPs. This model ties the transformation path together by breaking out roles for three critical groups that drive (or, unfortunately, sometimes inhibit) change: Leadership, Stakeholders, and Performance Support (facilitators such as internal or external consultants).
  3. Organizational Life Cycle (as per the Adizes “S curve” models) and Organizational Structure, providing a guide to the appropriate “to be” models for the new organization.

As these models are developed and explained, the book takes on the character of a “how to” manual, carefully describing the various states and roles of the organization and the players in the transformation activities. The authors are quite frank about the pitfalls and potential failure modes that all too frequently accompany major change efforts, while laying out a compelling roadmap for successful change implementation.

The authors have broken the change program down into six main steps. They describe the roles of the three groups that drive change at each of these steps in reasonable but not tedious detail. For the person or group facilitating change, this provides a useful and well-thought-out process template that is recognizable to anyone who has been through or facilitated such a process. A strong emphasis on the need for communications and the various traps and pitfalls round out the description of the change process.

As a practitioner myself, I found that much of the material reflects typical experiences and methods encountered in the change management environment. The change process is laid out in a very easily followed format and provides easily communicated frameworks and methodologies. Midsize organizations new to business transformations will find this a reasonable way of going about a change program. Consultants from the major BPR consulting firms will recognize the need to expand the outline with the methodologies developed to handle the long term (months or years) of complex change at very large corporations.

The reader searching for insights into the issues of complexity in organizations will find that Friedman and Gyr have focused on the mechanics of change and not on the underlying causes of organizational complexity and its consequences. The authors are not deeply concerned, in this book, with examining the root causes of complexity or with methods of dealing with complexity. Given their goal of effecting change, their methodology is quite reasonable.

Thus, for example, the role of management (and other stakeholders) is treated here from the perspective of leading or inhibiting change. This boc c is not about the myriad other activities that typically occupy a manager’s time. The authors do not tiy to unravel the fundamental causes of dysfun tionality in corporations. The underlying assumption is that the desired future state (the future STEP, in the authors’ terms) will cure these problems by design, and the book provides some high-level organization models for the future STEP and the pathway to get from here to there. But why should we assume that the very staff who have created a dysfunctional or no-competitive company will be able to design the necessary “to be” state?

Comparing The Dynamic Enterprise with other books on organizational management, Friedman and Gyr focus on “how to” change the organization rather than illuminating the nature of the organization. This is, for example, a much “lighter” book than Gouillart and Kelly’s Transforming the Organization, based on Gemini Consulting’s experiences and methods. Friedman and Gyr achieve clarity of purpose in this way, but leave this reviewer with the uneasy question that lurks behind many change programs—is the company simply going to get better and better at doing the wrong things? Although they reference many of the strategy and organizational classics, strategy, in this sense, is not their purpose. They provide a “punch list” of key questions to be raised in assessing the STEP elements, but these are not set in a context of deep strategic analysis. One imagines them being used in a typical two-day corporate brainstorming effort—which, unfortunately, is all too often the time that many corporations allocate to strategic thought! The change leader using their methodology should be well versed, or have a colleague who is well versed, in strategic thinking to ensure that the future STEP is, in fact, a better end state than the current situation.

If I have one quibble with this otherwise rather excellent book, it lies with the title that the authors have chosen. The book is strongly focused on the process and dynamics of change, with a logical leap, perhaps, to the belief that the future organization will be more dynamic than the current one. The title ties together the “Enterprise” buzzword so popular today with the somewhat meaningless “Dynamic”—but, in fact, this book is not about whatever a dynamic enterprise might be supposed to be.