Accueil > Leading change


Type d'enseignement : Lecture alone

Semester : Autumn 2018-2019

Number of hours : 24

Language of tuition : English

Voir les plans de cours et bibliographies



Course Description

This course aims to equip students with the skills to responsibly lead change in whatever community they operate. It focuses on the skills needed to advance a change agenda, taking the organization as its central analytical unit, and combining material from organizational behavior, leadership, human capital management, finance, project management, political theory, sociology, and anthropology, to propose a practical tool kit for public leaders. In the first part of the course, reliable frameworks are introduced and we do an in-class simulation. The second part is co-created with the participations with class time devoted to student-selected topics and practice applying course material. The course concludes by suggesting linkages to current developments in business, politics and society.


TOPOLNYTSKY, Michael (Consultant)

Course validation

45% Group assignment: diagnosis of an organization's effectiveness 45% Individual assignment: briefing note building on your diagnosis, recommending a course of action 10% Participation

Required reading

Ross, Alec “The Industries of the Future”, 2016

Plans de cours et bibliographies

Public administrations around the world are facing an increasing pace of change, yet are often slow to respond and adapt. This leads to risks of loss of public confidence in government and deteriorating public administration effectiveness. 
This practically focused course aims to equip students with the tools to understand organizational effectiveness and to lead change. Well-established frameworks are introduced and trained, drawing on cross-disciplinary material from organizational behavior, leadership, human capital management, finance, project management, political theory, sociology, and anthropology, to propose a practical tool kit for public leaders. Students also participate in a practical, in-class simulation of navigating an organizational landscape.
The course evaluation is anchored in a semester long engagement with a specific organization case. The class is first divided into teams which undertake a diagnosis of an organization and its situation. Individuals then work on recommendations and a change plan as their final assignment.
The course concludes with a discussion of recent research and approaches in understanding organizational effectiveness, including complexity theory, distributed leadership and organizational resilience
The course is best suited to students with some previous work or internship experience.



  • Bettencourt, Luís M. A. et. al. “Growth, Innovation, Scaling, and the Pace of Life in Cities”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2007 vol.104 no.17

Session 1: Introduction
Description of the strategic landscape in which PSIA graduates will operate. The case for taking an organizational perspective. Elaboration of course objectives, grading and student co-creation.
Required readings:

  • The Practice of Adaptive Leadership, Chapter 2
  • Centre for Creative Leadership “Challenges Leaders Face Around the World: More Similar than Different”, Nov 2013
  • Ostroff, Frank “Change Management in Government” HBR, May 2006

Session 2: Organizational Diagnostics
The first step in planning any kind of change is understanding how organizations work and diagnosing the current state of an organization’s effectiveness. David Nadler and Michael Tushman’s classic Congruence Model is introduced as a reliable framework for understanding organizations, combining both “hard” and “soft” factors in a coherent, dynamic model. This model provides a common language for describing organizations and change dynamics for the rest of the course.
Required readings:

  • The Practice of Adaptive Leadership, Chapter 4
  • Nadler, David A., Tushman, Michael L. “The Congruence Model”, text will be provided

Session 3: Political Savvy, Part I
Although organizational politics are a fact of life, many people who work in organizations denigrate politics and attempt to avoid ‘playing’ them. A research-based case is made that organizational politics can be successfully and ethically navigated, before student teams participate in an in-class simulation based on the Political Savvy approach developed by Joel DeLuca.
Required readings:

  • The Practice of Adaptive Leadership, Chapter 10

Session 4: Political Savvy, Part II
Simulation debrief, discussion of blockers to engaging in organizational politics, and Politically Savvy strategies for advancing a change agenda.
Required readings:

  • The Practice of Adaptive Leadership, Chapter 6

Session 5: Input and Strategy
A crash course on concepts and tools applicable to managing any organization: basic strategy models, NPV and project valuation, portfolio management for sustainability and resilience. Triggers of change and a typology of organizational change initiatives.
Required readings:

  • The Practice of Adaptive Leadership, Chapter 8

Session 6: The Technical System – Organization Design and Human Capital Management
Introduces current practice in human capital management relevant to change initiatives: organization design, talent management, the strategic workforce planning framework, compensation and rewards. Application of strategies from human capital management to influencing organizational change.
Required readings:

  • Bernstein, Ethan and Nohria Nittin “Note on Organizational Structure”, HBP 23 May 2016

Session 7: The Social System – Leadership & Culture
In settings where formal organizational structures are fixed over the short and medium terms, leadership behaviors and culture offer considerable opportunities for influencing change. Leadership basics including human behavior patterns, understanding changing organizational culture.
Required readings:

  • The Practice of Adaptive Leadership, Part 4
  • Groysberg, Boris et. al. “A Leader’s Guide to Corporate Culture”, HBR Jan-Feb 2018
  • Katzenbach, John R., Ilona Steffen, and Caroline Kronley “Cultural Change That Sticks” HBR Jul-Aug 2012
  • Schleifer, Andrei “Psychologists at the Gate: A Review of Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow”, Journal of Economic Literature, 2012, 50(4), 1-12

Session 8: The Dynamics of Change
Change as a dynamic process encompassing technical and social systems. Patterns of change dynamics in organizations. Discussion of common sources of resistance to change and strategies for overcoming them. Applying an understanding of change dynamics to project management.
Required readings:

  • The Practice of Adaptive Leadership, Chapter 5
  • Bridges, William “Managing Organizational Transitions” Organizational Dynamics, Vol 15(1), Summer 1986, pp.24-33
  • Kim, W. Chan and Renée Mauborgne “Fair Process: Managing in the Knowledge Economy”, HBR Jan 2003

Session 9: Planning Change Initiatives
Turning theory into practice: introduction and application of basic frameworks for planning and executing change initiatives. Project management, leadership communications and communications plans. Strategies for identifying and managing risk in project execution. The impact of behavior patterns on project management.
Required readings:

  • The Practice of Adaptive Leadership, Chapter 11
  • Kotter, John P. “Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail” Harvard Business Review, January 2007

Session 10: What They Don’t Usually Teach You (And Often Derails Leaders)
Leaders often derail because, along their careers, they unluckily had no opportunities to learn some basic work habits from effective managers. Weakness in seemingly trivial skills can lead to large problems in executing a strategy. To help avoid easily prevented problems, and free your attention for more important issues, tips and tricks are introduced, drawn from issues that commonly arise among leaders in daily life.
Time can also be devoted to class discussion and peer review of student’s Case Assignments in progress.
Session 11: The Future of Organizations
Introduction to current research and approaches in organizational design. Topics include complexity theory and complex organizations, distributed leadership, innovation, agility, adaptability and resilience.
Required readings:

  • The Practice of Adaptive Leadership, Chapter 12
  • Klijn, Erik-Hans “Complexity Theory and Public Administration: What’s New? Key concepts in complexity theory compared to their counterparts in public administration research” Public Management Review: Vol. 10 Issue 3 2008 299 – 317
  • Mowles, C; Stacey, R and Griffin D. “What contribution can insights from the complexity sciences make to the theory and practice of development management?” Journal of International Development, 2008, Volume 20, pages 804-820

Session 12: Conclusions and Outlook
Key elements from the course are reviewed with the benefit of lessons learned from case assignments and simulations. Recent successful change efforts are discussed using the course material. The usefulness and limitations of applying an organization lens to understanding broader social change are critically discussed. The particular challenges of managing change in public sector organizations are revisited with strategies for leading change in these environments.

  • Moss Kanter “Leadership for Change: Enduring Skills for Change Masters”, HBR Nov 2005


Title: Leadership & Organization Consultant
Affiliations: Spark Leadership, AlixPartners
Michael Topolnytsky is a leadership & organization consultant who helps senior leaders execute strategy more reliably using a combination of operational and behavioural approaches. His international M&A and new ventures experience help him understand the business impact of people & organization issues, and he works comfortably at the intersection of human behaviour, business viability and technological feasibility.
Michael uses quantitative and qualitative analytics to find priority areas for action. He designs and manages leadership development programs for individuals, teams and organizations customized for each organization’s unique context, and understands learning as a tool for effecting organizational change. He is fluent in current tools and approaches in digital and blended learning, and delivers content in strategic influencing and ethically navigating organizational politics.
Clients have included the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, Philips Lighting, Siemens, the Razak School of Government in Malaysia, the Skolkovo School of Management in Moscow, and global organizations in manufacturing, energy, engineering, management consulting, private equity, banking and public administrations in North America, EMEA, CEE and Asia. Michael is currently affiliated with AlixPartners and Spark Leadership.
After completing his MBA from INSEAD in Fontainebleau and Singapore, he joined Mercer’s/Oliver Wyman’s Organizational Change & Leadership Development practice in New York and Munich, working with its leadership team to expand the business into Canada, France, the UK and Germany through M&A and organic growth. He proceeded to lead the build out of a leadership development consultancy for Manfred Kets de Vries, a Top 50 Global Thinker in Management and founder of INSEAD’s Global Leadership Centre. He is now affiliated with Spark Leadership in London and Mumbai and AlixPartners in Munich.
Michael began his professional career at Droege & Comp. AG, a management consultancy in Germany, helping blue chip and mid-cap clients refocus their business portfolios and build out operations for new product and service areas. His work included launching Germany’s largest online investment brokerage and supporting the IPO of Deutsche Post.
Michael earned his BA (Hon) in Political Science at McGill University in Montréal with specializations in international relations and economics and a minor in German Studies. He is a Canadian with EU permanent residency, and splits his time between Munich and Paris. His mother tongue is English, he is fluent in French, German and Ukrainian, and speaks some Czech and Russian.