1- please analysis the case. There are very few people who are not familiar with Sesame Street, but there are also very few people who knew how seriously imperiled The Children’s Television Workshop was before Jeffry Dunn took over as CEO. After examining several case studies that could be characterized as discouraging (Wells Fargo Volkswagen and BP) I hope you enjoyed reading about a very successful leader who, in his initial two years, was successful in transforming the non-profit and its leadership, bringing in former colleagues from the for-profit television industry and tapping other longtime Sesame executives.
As you have already learned from reading the case, a major challenge for Sesame Street was funding, which Dunn partially resolved with his controversial deal with HBO. There were abundant other problems at this iconic high-profile but under-performing organization, however. Pay close attention to how Dunn managed change, executed strategy, related to very diverse stakeholders, created cross-sector alliances and demonstrated almost flawless turn-around leadership, all while revitalizing the organization’s identity and culture.
As you consider the many concepts presented in Chapter 9, which are pertinent to this case? Was bureaucracy the root of Sesame’s problems; were these problems avoidable if the organization had better leadership or were they the inevitable consequence of an aging organization? Was Sesame Street heading for inevitable organizational decline or just routinely moving through the typical organizational life cycle?
As always, my questions are just to encourage your reflection. Your case notes should highlight what you think are the key points, identify the major issue(s) and offer some ideas for their future success, all supported by concepts from the chapter on Organizational Size and Life Cycle.
You might be interested to look at these video clips for a quick profile of Jeffrey Dunn:
Q&A Interview with CEO Dunn (3 minutes)
Funny Interview with Dunn and Cookie Monster as they celebrate Sesame Street’s 50th Birthday and the naming of Sesame Street (53rd and Broadway, Manhattan) (5 minutes)
2- answer this question in one paragraph,
A Forbes article in 2019 described Dunn’s most significant and cultural change as the creation of two business units, signaling that the organization would have to operate with an eye to the bottom line. The article quoted Dunn as saying “People thought that non-profit meant we don’t have to make money …. If your revenues don’t exceed your expenses, you don’t stay in business.” (Forbes, 22/28/18)
As the case concludes, it becomes clear that Dunn’s work has been successful but clearly is not finished. Sesame Street will continue to be challenged by the need adapt in this digital era, to generate revenue from other sources, and it was not clear that the organizational structure he put in place was the best long-term solution.
What is the way forward for this beloved organization? Does Dunn have the leadership skills to move Sesame Street into its next transformation?