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Prize winner
Published by: ESMT European School of Management and Technology
Originally published in: 2009
Version: 25 February 2013
Revision date: 27-Feb-2013

Abstract

This is the first of a three-case series. This three-part case-study illustrates key concepts and lessons about leading adaptive change in organisations in the context of turning around Deutsche Telekom, one of the world's largest telecommunication companies. The case portrays some of the efforts undertaken by Deutsche Telekom under the leadership of Rene Obermann after his ascent to the CEO position in that organisation. The case illustrates the challenges associated with resistance to adaptive change, management of expectations of organisational members from their leaders, and the psychological challenges of leading necessary, but unpopular, change efforts under the conditions of pressure from organisational stakeholders, who consciously or unconsciously attempt to divert the change-oriented leader from pushing the organisation forward. The case serves as fruitful ground for exploration of the theory of adaptive change as put forward by Heifetz & Linsky (2002), Heifetz, Grashow, & Linsky (2009a, 2009b), discussion of the dangers of leading (Heifetz & Linsky, 2002), and psychological challenges of leading (Kets de Vries, Korotov, & Florent-Treacy, 2007).

Time period

The events covered by this case took place in 2007-2008.

Geographical setting

Region:
Europe
Country:
Germany
Location:
Bonn

Featured company

Deutsche Telekom
Employees:
10000+

Featured protagonist

  • RenĂ© Obermann (male), CEO

About

Abstract

This is the first of a three-case series. This three-part case-study illustrates key concepts and lessons about leading adaptive change in organisations in the context of turning around Deutsche Telekom, one of the world's largest telecommunication companies. The case portrays some of the efforts undertaken by Deutsche Telekom under the leadership of Rene Obermann after his ascent to the CEO position in that organisation. The case illustrates the challenges associated with resistance to adaptive change, management of expectations of organisational members from their leaders, and the psychological challenges of leading necessary, but unpopular, change efforts under the conditions of pressure from organisational stakeholders, who consciously or unconsciously attempt to divert the change-oriented leader from pushing the organisation forward. The case serves as fruitful ground for exploration of the theory of adaptive change as put forward by Heifetz & Linsky (2002), Heifetz, Grashow, & Linsky (2009a, 2009b), discussion of the dangers of leading (Heifetz & Linsky, 2002), and psychological challenges of leading (Kets de Vries, Korotov, & Florent-Treacy, 2007).

Settings

Time period

The events covered by this case took place in 2007-2008.

Geographical setting

Region:
Europe
Country:
Germany
Location:
Bonn

Featured company

Deutsche Telekom
Employees:
10000+

Featured protagonist

  • RenĂ© Obermann (male), CEO

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