John Weeks
John Weeks

Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior

John Weeks is Professor of Leadership and Organizational Behavior. He works at the intersection of leadership, organizational culture, and change. He helps leaders understand how they can manage themselves to lead others more effectively and to have a positive and intentional impact on the culture of their organizations.

He believes leadership is about helping people to change their mindsets, and that the most important legacy of a leader is the culture they help create around them. Defining organizational culture as what people say and do when they think their bosses are not looking, he argues that leaders influence culture even when they don’t mean to. Leaders are role models – even, or maybe especially, when they don’t intend to be. And the more senior we become, the more we are in the spotlight all the time. Weeks’ work helps leaders to be their best selves as often as possible in order to have a consistent, insistent, and persistent influence on the culture they want to create.

The basis of leadership is the capacity of the leader to help people change their mindset. The most enduring legacy of a leader is the culture they leave behind.

Weeks’ work has focused on the future of the office in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, including a 2021 Harvard Business Review article on the topic entitled Designing the Hybrid Office. He concludes that although we have seen that, for many jobs, individual work and task-related meetings can be carried out well through remote working and without the need for a daily commute, the office retains an important role for functions that technology cannot easily replicate such as driving culture, strengthening relationships, and fostering learning. And this means that office design, technology, and management practices need to evolve so that offices can become equally effective as social, learning and innovation spaces.

He has worked with a long list of clients in Europe, the Americas, and Asia, including ABB, Actelion, Aggreko, Alcatel-Lucent, AXA, BAT, BMW, Bolton Group, Bühler, Grosvenor, Group SEB, Firmenich, Georg Fischer, Hempel, Holcim, Iberdrola, Imerys, KPMG, Kone, LafargeHolcim, LDC, LEGO Group, Maersk, Mars, Mazda, Neste, Nestlé, Nokia, Novartis, Orion, Pon, PwC, SABIC, Société Générale, STADA, Tenaris, Tetra Pak, Van Oord, VAT, X5, and WWF.

Weeks is also Associate Director of IMD’s High Performance Leadership (HPL) open program, an intensive six-day program for experienced senior leaders, and until recently served as a board member at LEO Pharma.

His book, Unpopular Culture, on the corporate culture of a British bank, won widespread praise from the Financial Times, The Economist, BBC Radio 4, The Guardian, The Spectator, Times Higher Education, The Boston Globe, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, CIO Magazine, and Business Digest (France), as well as the American Journal of Sociology, Administrative Science Quarterly, Contemporary Sociology, and Work and Occupations. The Financial Times said that the book’s thinking applies to all companies in all countries.

Weeks’ work has also been published in Harvard Business Review, the Financial Times, the Academy of Management Review, and Organization Studies. He previously served as a senior editor at Organization Studies and a member of the editorial board at the Journal of International Business Studies.

Before joining IMD in 2007, he was Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior at INSEAD for 11 years. He has a background in technology and training as an organizational ethnographer, holding a PhD in management from the MIT Sloan School of Management, an MPhil in management from the University of Oxford, and a BA in computer science from the University of California, Berkeley.

 

Selected publications
Book
Unpopular culture: The ritual of complaint in a British bank
Organizational BehaviorCulture
When we start a new job, we learn how things are done in the company, and we learn how they are complained about too. This book considers why people complain about their work culture and what impac...
1 January 2004
Article
Designing the hybrid office
CultureOrganizational DesignTechnology Management
The natural experiment forced on the world by the coronavirus demonstrates that the academics and tech visionaries who have been talking since the 1980s about the possibilities of remote work were ...
1 March 2021
Article
Who moved my cubes?: Creating workspaces that actually foster collaboration
Organizational DesignOrganizational Behavior
Managers once discouraged, even forbade, casual interactions among employees. To many bosses, chitchat at the watercooler was just a noisy distraction from work. Today we know that chance encounter...
1 August 2011
Article
Photocopiers and water-coolers: The affordances of informal interaction
CommunicationCultureOrganizational Design
There has been increasing recognition of the importance of informal interactions in organizations, but research examining the effects of the physical environment on informal interaction has produce...
1 January 2007
Article
Find the gold in toxic feedback
Organizational Behavior
The article discusses how managers can deal with feedback from peers or subordinates that is personally offensive, inaccurate, irrelevant, or unbalanced. Many managers, it is said, either become de...
1 April 2007
Academic publications
Article
Blood, powder, and residue: How crime labs translate evidence into proof: Book review
General Management
The author reviews the book "Blood, powder and residue: How crime labs translate evidence into proof" by Beth A. Bechky
1 June 2022
Case Study
The LEGO Group leadership playground: Energizing everybody every day (A)
LeadershipTalent Management
In 2018, the LEGO Group defined a new way of leading to enable the company to move more quickly, to make the right decisions, to deliver its mission and the commercial momentum that sustained it, a...
2 February 2021
Case Study
The LEGO Group leadership playground: Energizing everybody every day (B)
LeadershipTalent Management
In 2018, the LEGO Group defined a new way of leading to enable the company to move more quickly, to make the right decisions, to deliver its mission and the commercial momentum that sustained it, a...
2 February 2021
Case Study
Eli Lilly and company: A transformation journey “on equal footing” (A)
Talent ManagementLeadershipGeneral Management
When Simone Thomsen took over as General Manager of Eli Lilly and Company, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, the last thing her new team wanted from her was yet another vision. The organization had fa...
24 June 2019
Case Study
Eli Lilly and company: A transformation journey “on equal footing” (B)
Talent ManagementLeadershipGeneral Management
At the end of her first year as General Manager of Eli Lilly and Company, Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Simone Thomsen took a risk and let the organization’s Leadership Challenge Team (LCT) design...
24 June 2019
Case Study
Eli Lilly and company: A transformation journey “on equal footing” (C)
Talent ManagementLeadershipGeneral Management
By 2017 it was clear that the transformation of Eli Lilly and Company, Austria, Switzerland, Germany had been a success. Business results were outstanding, and people in the organization were energ...
24 June 2019
Case Study
Rebooting IBM again
IBM, under CEO Ginni Rometty, is trying to transform itself into a cloud and cognitive computing services company. This huge shift requires a culture change that, Rometty argues, the company is wel...
31 October 2017
Article
Introduction to the special issue: The day to day lives of cultures
Culture
In a sense, the study of everyday life epitomizes the challenges and opportunities of ethnography. The papers¦in this Special Issue show how the close examination of the day-to-day lives of people ...
1 June 2017
Article
Evaluating espoused values: Does articulating values pay off?
Finance
Many corporations these days publish and talk about their values, believing these values, and their culture more generally, to be critical to their success. This study illuminates the phenomenon of...
1 October 2015
Article
Affordance for practice
Technology ManagementPsychology
This paper argues that Gibson's concept of affordance inserts a powerful conceptual lens for the study of sociomateriality as enacted in contemporary organizational practices. Our objective in this...
1 October 2014
Article
Book review : Anne-Laure Fayard and Anca Metiu : The power of writing in organizations: From letters to online interactions
Leadership
This remarkable little book shows that organization studies operates under a myth of oral superiority, an assumption that oral communication, especially face to face, is the ideal mode: richer and ...
1 January 2014
Article
Photocopiers and water-coolers: The affordances of informal interaction
CommunicationCultureOrganizational Design
There has been increasing recognition of the importance of informal interactions in organizations, but research examining the effects of the physical environment on informal interaction has produce...
1 January 2007
Article
A theory of the cultural evolution of the firm: The intra-organizational ecology of memes
Culture
In this article, the authors propose a theory of the cultural evolution of the firm. They apply cultural and evolutionary thinking to the questions posed by theories of the firm: What are firms and...
1 January 2003
Article
What do ethnographers believe?: A reply to Jones
Psychology
The author of this article gives an answer to Todd Edwin Jones about his article entitled : Ethnography, Belief Ascription, and Epistemological Barriers. The author explains that Jones overstates h...
1 January 2000
Insight for Executives
A converted skeptic on growing a pharma business with an entrepreneurial culture
Article
A converted skeptic on growing a pharma business with an entrepreneurial culture
LeadershipStrategyEntrepreneurship
STADA CEO Peter Goldschmidt on instilling an entrepreneurial ethos to help STADA outperform its peers and making growth mindset a strategic priority.
6 April 2023
The office is not dead…yet
Article
The office is not dead…yet
Human Resources
Creativity could become a casualty of the new workplace order if you don’t reassess the functions that workspaces need to serve as employees embrace a new hybrid model of working.
31 March 2021
Article
Designing the hybrid office
CultureOrganizational DesignTechnology Management
The natural experiment forced on the world by the coronavirus demonstrates that the academics and tech visionaries who have been talking since the 1980s about the possibilities of remote work were ...
1 March 2021
Dynamically designed around human connection, the hybrid office is the workplace your team needs
Article
Dynamically designed around human connection, the hybrid office is the workplace your team needs
Organizational Transformation Technology Management
Pandemic restrictions have revealed the vital processes facilitated by the office space itself. Hybrid workspaces will offer the best of both worlds in the post-pandemic landscape.
25 February 2021
Report
Neste and IMD: Partnering for renewal
Organizational TransformationStrategySustainabilityCulture
When Matti Lievonen became the CEO of Neste in 2009, the Finnish oil refining company was facing strong headwinds – a sharp fall in oil prices, market overcapacity, falling margins and new carbon e...
28 February 2018
Article
Ne gâchez pas la crise!
Disruption
Les dirigeants savent que certains changements seraient bénéfiques à leur entreprise mais que leur mise en pratique reste difficile à cause de la résistance au changement. L'inertie, les blocages p...
17 February 2015
Article
Das Kreative BĂĽro
StrategyTeamOrganizational Design
Teams sind dann besonders innovativ, wenn die Mitarbeiter spontan mit anderen Kollegen Gedanken austauschen und Ideen diskutieren können. Doch die Gestaltung der Arbeitsplätze und das Verhalten der...
1 October 2011
Article
Who moved my cubes?: Creating workspaces that actually foster collaboration
Organizational DesignOrganizational Behavior
Managers once discouraged, even forbade, casual interactions among employees. To many bosses, chitchat at the watercooler was just a noisy distraction from work. Today we know that chance encounter...
1 August 2011
Article
Blurring face-to-face and virtual encounters
CommunicationCultureDigitalTechnology Management
Here's a puzzle: Technology connects us more completely than ever before (we can call, text, email, and Skype practically anyone anywhere, and we do) and yet the face-to-face conference business is...
18 July 2011
Article
In azienda come in pista: Bolt dĂ  lezione ai manager
StrategyOrganizational Behavior
La velocità in azienda la ricetta di Bolt ai manager fl usiness e sport spesso si intersecano, in entranJL bii casi stare altop nonè facile L'uomo pi veloce del mondo, la medaglia d'oro olimpica Us...
21 July 2010
Report
Communicating corporate purpose
CommunicationStakeholder Management
Leading European companies publicly express their sense of purpose. Expressions of purpose balancing the interest of different stakeholders and customer-focused expressions of purpose were dominate...
1 January 2010
Article
Leadership lessons from Usain Bolt
General ManagementLeadership
Athletes who are the best in the world give us tremendous joy. We get incredible satisfaction when our favorite teams or athletes excel and prevail. Can managers learn anything from such stellar ac...
11 September 2009
Article
Business lessons from a world-class athlete
LeadershipOrganizational Behavior
Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt is the fastest man in human history after setting three world records at the Beijing Olympics last year. Reaching the heights that Bolt attained required motivation, cr...
1 July 2009
Article
Find the gold in toxic feedback
Organizational Behavior
The article discusses how managers can deal with feedback from peers or subordinates that is personally offensive, inaccurate, irrelevant, or unbalanced. Many managers, it is said, either become de...
1 April 2007