Ron Ashkenas

Partner Emeritus of Schaffer Consulting

Now Partner Emeritus, Ron is a trusted advisor and coach to senior leaders across industries- with a current focus on nonprofits, startups, and healthcare. He has helped leading organizations achieve dramatic performance improvements while also helping CEOs and senior executives to strengthen their leadership capacity. Ron collaborates with staff groups and internal consultants to improve the bottom-line impact of their professional contributions. Ron’s clients value his pragmatic approach and insight into their challenges, as well as his ability to help them navigate and overcome the political obstacles that so often threaten success.

He is a leading voice on transformation, acquisition integration, and simplification. The author/co-author of over 100 articles and six books, Ron blends thought leadership with extensive experiences helping organizations achieve results.

Ron’s clients have included many of the Fortune 500 companies, as well as premier financial, governmental, and non-profit organizations such as J.P Morgan Chase, Cisco Systems, The Federal Reserve Bank of New York, Pfizer, Merck, The World Bank, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, ArvinMeritor Automotive, Zurich Financial Services, ConAgra Foods, Applied Materials, Visiting Nurse Services of New York, Thomson Reuters, MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Stanford University Hospital.

Ron was part of the original team that collaborated with then-CEO Jack Welch to develop GE’s Work-Out approach for creating a faster, simpler, and more nimble organization. The widely documented results constituted one of the largest and most successful corporate transformations in history. After that, Ron helped lead Schaffer Consulting’s efforts to adapt and enhance the WorkOut methodology and apply it to other organizations. He is the co-author (with Dave Ulrich and Steve Kerr) of The GE Work-Out (McGraw-Hill, 2002).

Ron writes extensively on organizational change. In addition to over 200 digital posts for HBR, seven of his full-length pieces have appeared in the Harvard Business Review magazine including Rebounding from Career Setbacks, Simplicity-Minded Management, Making the Deal Real: How GE Capital Integrates Acquisitions, The Merger Dividend, and Why Good Projects Fail Anyway. His articles also have appeared in the National Productivity Review, the Human Resource Management Journal, Management Review, Leader to Leader, Chief Executive, and leading newspapers. In addition to The GE Work-Out, his books include Simply Effective: How to Cut Through Complexity in Your Organization and Get Things Done, published by Harvard Business Press in 2010; Rapid Results! (co-authored with Robert H. Schaffer and other members of the firm) published by Jossey-Bass in 2005; and The Boundaryless Organization (co-authored with Dave Ulrich, Todd Jick, and Steve Kerr) which was published by Jossey-Bass in 1995, and was named one of the best business books of that year. The book was reissued in soft cover along with The Boundaryless Organization Field Guide in 1999. A revised second edition was published in 2002.

Ron’s latest book is the HBR Leader’s Handbook: Make an Impact, Inspire Your Organization, and Get to the Next Level, published by the Harvard Business Review Press in 2019.

Ron lectures and conducts seminars on organizational transformation, acquisition integration, and simplification around the world. He has been on the faculty of executive education programs at major universities including Stanford Business School, the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern, and the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve. In 2012, Ron held an appointment as “executive-in-residence” at the Haas Business School of UC Berkeley where he focused on process innovation and simplification.

Ron received his BA from Wesleyan University, his EdM from Harvard University, and his PhD in Organizational Behavior from Case Western Reserve University, where he has also held several teaching assignments.