DTE Energy (C): A Positive Organization and a Force for Social Good

by: Robert Quinn

Publication Date: May 14, 2018
Length: 14 pages
Product ID#: 8-986-935

Core Disciplines: Leadership/Organizational Behavior, Strategy & Management, Sustainability

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Teaching Note

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This case depicts how DTE Energy expanded its internal momentum as a positive organization to encompass improving the broader community as well.  The case opens at the end of 2015, with DTE’s stock price having tripled since 2008 and the company having won Gallup’s Great Work Place awards.  DTE Energy CEO Gerry Anderson has articulated the vision of DTE as being a “force for growth and prosperity in the communities where we live and serve,” but he wonders how he can operationalize such an expansive, intangible vision, particularly given its external focus. The case describes DTE’s work with the Center for Positive Organizations at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, detailing the characteristics of positive leadership, applying authentic leadership, connecting to purpose and calling, and DTE’s Positive Organization Framework. Students will be challenged to think of additional ways that for-profit organizations could become transformational forces for positive social good.

This is Case C of a three-case series which can be taught sequentially or as stand-alone cases.  The cases describe the organizational transformation of energy utility company DTE Energy into a positive organization, focusing first on the personal transformation of DTE’s CEO, Gerry Anderson (Case A); then on the transformation of the company (Case B) and finally on DTE Energy’s advancement to the “next level” – positive social issues to improve the wider community and societal context in which the company operates (Case C).


Teaching Objectives

After reading and discussing the material, students should:

  • Describe principles of positive organizations
  • Explain how a leader can create a sense of shared purpose
  • Identify potential pitfalls on the road to organizational transformation