Sense-making and Leadership

In the case study as described by Pye (2005), there is a representation of leadership and organizing. The case portrays sense-making in action and shows the specific challenges facing leaders and implementation of the strategy. The newly elected CEO had an unsuccessful bid in trying to initiate change through a global change program. This fueled the shareholders and the board to terminate the CEO through a vote of no-confidence. The strategy had received approval from the board, but the CEO failed in its implementation (Pye, 2005). The CEOs attention was too much focused on the formal position he held and used a tactic referred to as ‘the sense-making’ process. The case portrays a situation of sense-making where, in the first strategy used by the CEO was intellectually perfect but lacked the backing of other players within the organization. The employees did not feel connected to the strategy, and this was the main reason for the failure in implementation. What seemed to make sense to the CEO did auger well with employees and other managers.

The second approach adopted by the CEO after the failure in the first strategy indicated that the CEO had learned from his mistakes and taken a more leadership approach. Using this approach, the CEO involved the top managers in coming up with the new and effective vision and strategy to carry out the global change throughout the coming. This method involved a shared sense making which helped in generate ownership of the plans and increase the level of commitment to the plan. The CEO second strategy involved moving from imposed vision to a process of coming up with a common-sense-making (O’Connell, 2009).

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Application of resilient questioning to the case

If the CEO had applied the resilient questioning as described by Margolis and Stoltz (2010), he would have settled for the second option in the first attempt. The resilience questioning model has four lenses (control, impact, breath, and duration) and three questions (Specifying questions, visualizing questions, and collaborating questions) (Margolis & Stoltz, 2010). Had the CEO applied this model, he would successfully manage to implement the proposed strategy despite any real or perceived obstacles.

Had the CEO tried to use resilience questioning, the situation would have been different. Regarding control, the resilience questioning would have prompted the CEO to engage more collaborating questions thereby include the input of key managers from the beginning. The CEO would have considered the impact of his decision and how it would translate to the local manager who has the powers of making a decision affecting the local markets. Lack of their inclusion in the implementation process meant they did not accept the imposed decisions. The situation would have been different had the CEO applied the collaborating question indicated by Margolis on, “what can each of us do on our own and what we can collectively do, to contain the damage and transform the situation into an opportunity (Margolis & Stoltz, 2010). This would have prompted an all-inclusive approach that would have succeeded.


Margolis, J., & Stoltz, P. (2010). How to Bounce Back from Adversity. Harvard Business Review.

O’Connell, A. (2009). Lego CEO Jorgen Vig Knudstorp on Leading through Survival and Growth. Harvard Business Review.

Pye, A. (2005). Leadership and Organizing: Sensemaking in Action. Leadership, 31-49.

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