Ron Ashkenas, a senior partner of Schaffer Consulting who specializes in "injecting simplicity into a complex world," has been appointed a Haas School executive-in-residence. In his role, Ashkenas will focus his attention on the school's online learning initiatives and Haas@Work course.
Ashkenas is an internationally recognized consultant and speaker on organizational transformation, acquisition integration, and simplification. Since joining Schaffer Consulting in the late 1970s, Ashkenas has helped leading organizations achieve dramatic performance improvements while also coaching CEOs and senior executives to strengthen their leadership capacity.
Ashkenas has worked with many Fortune 500 companies as well as premier financial, governmental, and nonprofit organizations such as J.P Morgan Chase, Cisco Systems, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Pfizer, Merck, the World Bank, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Applied Materials, and Stanford University Hospital.
Ashkenas also was part of the original team that collaborated with then-CEO Jack Welch to develop GE’s Work-Out approach to create a faster, simpler, and more nimble organization. GE's Work-Out approach uses efficient, focused, multiple-day work sessions to analyze a critical business issue and develop recommendations for improvement. Ashkenas has led Schaffer’s efforts to adapt and enhance the Work-Out methodology and apply it to other organizations. He also has served on the faculty of executive education programs at major universities, including Stanford and Northwestern.
"We are very fortunate to have such a forward-thinking and well-respected expert on organizational behavior as an executive-in-residence," Haas Senior Assistant Dean for Instruction Jay Stowsky says of Ashkenas. "Ron's insights and experience will be tremendously valuable as we shape our online learning initiatives, which is important to the future of our school, and Haas@Work, one of our experiential learning courses that is also a powerful bridge to the business world."
Ashkenas first introduced the notion that simplification should be a core leadership strategy in a groundbreaking Harvard Business Review article titled “Simplicity-Minded Management” (December 2007). In his latest book, Simply Effective: How to Cut Through Complexity in Your Organization and Get Things Done, he builds on this simplification imperative to show how corporations can reduce costs, accelerate innovation and strengthen the bottom line by mounting a direct attack on complexity.
"During my thirty years of consulting I've become intrigued by the challenge of making organizations more simple—for managers, employees, and customers," Ashkenas explains in Forbes. "Nobody tries to make organizations more complex—but it happens nonetheless—and unless we actively counter that complexity it becomes hard to get things done. My consulting work and my writing therefore strives to inject simplicity into a complex world."
Ashkenas is the co-author of two other books, The GE Work-Out and The Boundaryless Organization, and writes regularly for the Harvard Business Review, Huffington Post, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Forbes.
Ashkenas is one of two Haas executives-in-residence, joining David Riemer, former vice president of marketing for Yahoo!, who has helped dozens of students with business ideas, project ideas, career strategies, and networking.
The Haas School also has four executive fellows: Twitter Co-founder and serial entrepreneur Biz Stone; retired Chevron CFO Steve Crowe, BS 69, MBA 70; IDEO General Manager Tom Kelley, MBA 83; and John Hanke, MBA 96, VP of product for Niantic Labs at Google. Executive fellows advise the dean, faculty, and staff and participate in events and programs that serve students.