This paper reviews the aspect of organizational change at the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC), which is an organization mandated with the duty of managing the private, public, and higher education within Abu Dhabi. The organization has four departments that are currently facing the challenge of integration into the overall goal of efficiency in service delivery. The current problem being faced by the organization is the inability of the four departmental heads to coordinate their functions in a unilateral manner. This forms the basis for the creation of this case study.
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Overview of the Organization
The Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) is the primary educational authority within Abu Dhabi. Established in the year 2005 by President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the organization has been at the forefront in managing and administrating the public schools within the United Arab Emirates’ city of Abu Dhabi. Besides, the organization is mandated with the duties of licensing, monitoring, inspecting, and reviewing the private schools within emirates.
Basically, the organization has become the model council for managing education within the region with its interesting programs such as the New School Model of the year 2009. This program was designed to manage organizational changes such as improving the standards of teaching within the UEA by introducing a better curriculum, teaching, and administrative approach to private and public education.
The organization has been empowered to govern education within public, private, and higher education institutions within the region of Abu Dhabi. The ADEC council falls under the ministry of education and has grown into the primary regulatory organization that manages education as part of the Abu Dhabi culture. The council has more than five hundred employees who are allocated duties such as administration, program implementation, human resources, and program review. These sections are discussed below.
This department deals with logistics and the daily running of the organization. The department has 53 administrators who are empowered to run the organization from budgeting to setting the agenda for each period of operation. The department has structures that micromanage the internal elements of the organization such as human resource, procurement, and tracking resource utilization.
Program Implementation Department
This is the largest department within the ADEC. This section deals with recruiting school inspectors, curriculum creators, curriculum implementers, and certification officers. The department is organized into smaller units that are run by ten employees consisting of a manager, assistant manager, supervisor, four inspectors, and a driver. There are six smaller units allocated to the public, private, and higher education sections within the organization. This means that the department has more than 100 employees working as inspectors, supervisors, drivers, and managers.
Program Review Department
This is a very dynamic department since it tracks the response towards any changes that are introduced within the Abu Dhabi education sector. The department is empowered to provide a comprehensive review of the current and proposed education programs from the cost-benefit perspective. The department has 79 employees who are organized into department manager, three assistant managers, seven supervisors, and other employees distributed in different sub-sections of the ADEC.
Human Resource Department
This department is mandated with the duty of recruitment and training of the entire workforce of the ADEC organization. The department is further organized into four sections consisting of the training, remuneration, disciplinary, and motivation sub-departments. There are thirty-nine employees in the department headed by a general manager and four assistant managers. There are about 90 employees in this department.
Key Persons who are in the Organization
The chairman of the ADEC is Mr. A who has been with the organization since it was established in the year 2006. Mr. A holds a master’s degree in Business Administration from the London School of Economics and an undergraduate degree from Harvard. Mr. A is the current 52 years old had has contributed a lot to the organization through a wealth of leadership experience. Mr. A is the central management point man and manages all the four departments of the ADEC as the overall manager. Mr. A commands respect and admiration from the staff members of the ADEC because of his decisive and proactive leadership experience.
Besides, the idea to create the program change management strategy is accredited to his wit and strategic management skills. Mr. A is a Muslim who has been active in the political scene as an expert advising the government on educational matters. Mr. A believes in equal education for everyone and is a keen follower of the free for all education philosophy. Mr. A comes from the region of Abu Dhabi and has set a goal of creating a model education sector within the region of the Gulf. Mr. A is very flexible and a keen listener who encourages the proactive engagement of all the players within the Abu Dhabi education sector.
Mr. B is the general manager of the administration department of the ADEC organization. Mr. B is a holder of a Masters Degree in Education Psychology from the University of Wale and an Undergraduate Degree in Public Administration from the Cape Town University. Mr. B joined the organization in the year 2009 as an administration clerk and has ascended through the ranks due to his wealth of experience and successful management of the New School Model logistics. Mr. B is currently 42 years old and has more than 25 years of experience in administration. Mr. B is currently positioned to replace Mr. A, who is due to retire in the next eight months. Mr. B has progressive work ethics, which is characterized by the creation of a friendly work environment for the employees.
Besides, Mr. B believes that Abu Dhabi should have a model education sector that can be emulated in the region because education is the only equalizer of different disparities in society. Mr. B is also a Muslim who is convinced that educational management is the puzzle towards creating standard and market oriented syllabus. Mr. B has a goal of ensuring the programs under his care are well executed and proactively managed in a progressive and inclusive manner. Mr. B has a warm relationship with all his subordinates and other managers within the organization due to his social skills. He is one of the most approachable managers of the ADEC organization. He prefers direct engagement as a communication style for managing the logistics department.
Mr. C is the current manager of the Programs Implementation Department within the ADEC organization. Mr. C is a holder of two Master Degrees in Project Management and Education Policy from Leeds University and Cambridge College, respectively. He also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Project Management from the University of America in Abu Dhabi. Mr. C joined the organization in the year 2013 in the current position and has managed the Programs Implementation Department successfully for the last three years. Mr. C’s goal is to create systems and channels that can ensure that all education policies and programs within the ADEC are standard and sustainable.
Mr. C is currently 45 years old and has brought a vast experience in programs management from the private sector into the organization. Mr. C originates from within Abu Dhabi and is a Muslim. Mr. C is very friendly to other employees and was voted as the most helpful manager in the year 2015. The work ethic of Mr. C is equal work for better educational management to break the boundary of impossibility. Mr. C uses interactive communication style to keep in touch with other employees of the ADEC organization.
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Mr. D is the current manager of the Program Review Department and is mandated with the duty of tracking the response to changes brought about the programs. Mr. D holds a Masters Degree is Project Management from Cairo University and Undergraduate Degree in Education from Punjab University. Mr. D is currently 39 years old and is the youngest among the manager of the ADEC organization. Mr. D has more than ten years of experience in change management and is the key note person in managing fallouts and conflicts as a result of changes that are made in the ADEC. Mr. D is from the region of Doha and works in Abu Dhabi as an expert.
The primary goal of Mr. D in the ADEC organization is creating an ideal environment for proactive change management with minimal interference with the current organizational cultural orientation. Mr. D is also very friendly and commands respect from other member of the ADEC organization due to his warm personality and focus on inclusive stakeholder engagement. Just like other managers, Mr. D is in the forefront in promoting proactive communication between other employees and himself.
Lastly, Mr. E is the current manager of the Human Resource Department and is one of the longest serving managers from the year 2006. Mr. E has more than 20 years experience in human resource management within the education sector. Mr. E is originally from Yemen but has since acquired the UAE citizenship. He is 45 years old and has a clean record of being the most consistent and creative manager.
Mr. E holds Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resource Management from Stanford University and a higher diploma is Change Management from the Abu Dhabi Technical Institution. Mr. E practices positive work ethics and holds strong views on the need for integration of the employees to give optimal output. The goal of Mr. E is to create a holistic, success oriented, and friendly work environment that promotes creativity.
From interactions during council meetings chaired by Mr. A, Mr. B. Mr. c. Mr. D, and Mr. E have often conflicted on the best approaches of managing changes within the organization, since each department is independent of the other. Each person has always relied on their area of specialization to suggest ideas that are always not uniform and sometimes less appealing.
The XYZ organization provides consultancy services on project management with bias in change management. The organization has been the primary advisor of the council for the last four years. In the last three years, the XYZ organization has noticed a trend in inability of the organization employees, especially managers to agree on the most ideal approach for implementing change. For instance, in one of the meetings, the XYZ Company noted that Mr. B, Mr. C, Mr. D, and Mr. E were giving the chairman a hard time during the council session because none could agree on the best approach for managing the changes within the ADEC. In order to address this situation, Mr. A, who is the chairman of the council, prepared the following memo in a bid to create a neutral ground for the four departmental heads;
We need to move forward. This infighting is killing the spirit of teamwork. I am disappointed in the constant bickering before discussion. I am sorry we are not on the right track. We need to move in the same direction to fast track the current projects and review the success of the previous projects. Change is dynamic and we should be sober to avoid the current stalemate. Any idea of what we can do is highly welcomed.
Apparently, the current situation indicates unending conflict within the management council that is threatening to divert the goal of provision of quality education within the region of Abu Dhabi. The XYZ Company does not have a clear idea of the ideal approach to use to integrate the proposals from each department into a comprehensive change management plan due to conflicts of interest.
The Problem: How to Manage Change at Departmental Level
The inability of the four departmental heads to decide on the best approach for managing change is threatening to derail the current progress of proactive change management. For instance, Mr. B, Mr. C, Mr. D, and Mr. E are unable to come up with strategies for managing changes within the organization in a proactive manner to avoid rejection of some of the programs by their subordinates. This means that each of the four departmental heads are busy trying to draw change management plans within their departments that they feel can work without integrating the overall organizational goal.
The positions taken by the four departmental heads is affecting the current organizational change management at the ADEC organization since there is no clear definition of change management plan that can be implemented concurrently within the four departments in a concurrent manner. Mr. B is not sure of the best approach to use to ensure that his subordinates are flexible enough and supportive of the second part of the New School Model. Mr. C is worried that the actions of Mr. B to only discuss the proposed change management plan within the department without consulting him is tantamount to disruption of programs implementation, since his department is dependent on the proposals from the administration department run by Mr. B.
On the other hand, Mr. D is facing the dilemma of how to further integrate the potential conflicting plans from Mr. B and Mr. C since he has the role of tracking the program process in a way that is comfortable to his subordinates. Mr. E is not sure of the right motivational strategies he can introduce to universally operate within the organization since each department is current having conflicting change management strategies. Lastly, as the overall manager and chairman of the council, Mr. A is facing the potential dilemma of creating change management strategies that are not sustainable or aligned to organizational goal since the four departments are not well coordinated. This is how the council meeting went through.
Mr. A: As the chairman of this council, I am concerned at the stagnant progress in creating a dynamic change management sketch that company XYZ can use to help use create a strategic change management plan.
Mr. B: I think that we stick to departmental level in creating the change management sketch because I am comfortable managing my team than giving my ideas to Mr. C, Mr. D, or Mr. E. I am not happy with the kind of pressure they are subjecting me to.
Mr. C: What do you mean by pressure Mr. B? Are you not the problem here because of your fixed mind in addressing the request put forward by the chairman? I think this is not right because my decisions are dependent on the actions of the department you lead.
Mr. B: I do not think so. Each department can operate independently in managing change. I find it easy to work with Mr. D because he is never confrontational.
Mr. D: Mr. B, don’t hide in your refusal to work with Mr. C to create an impression that I am more flexible. I support Mr. B on this issue. However, he is equally very uncooperative to my department since I have to depend on his decisions to make things happen. Remember the incident last week. I had to literally force my subordinates to work with a very unfriendly schedule because of his refusal to share notes with me.
Mr. C: How could I share with Mr. D any notes when there was none coming from Mr. B.
Mr. E: It is high time we stop this blame game. I am disappointed in all of you because as the department that manages the motivation plan that accompanies in change management plan, I am worried that your approach of operating at departmental level might only create more confusion. Mr. D, what is your excuse for failing to turn in the list of possible motivation initiatives from your subordinates.
Mr. D: Why do you pick on me? Have the others given you their respective lists. I am still consulting and might not be able to meet your deadline since the chairman advised that we harmonize our lists.
Mr. A: I do not like the tone of this discussion. I wonder how the XYZ Company that we pay to design change management plan can work within the goal of the ADEC. I am in a state of quagmire. I am not going to tolerate this kind of work culture. I need results and that is why you are in the decision making organ of the ADEC. We need to meet again because time is up.
There is a clear disjoint in role execution between the four departments and the chairman is caught in confusion. The departmental heads cannot agree on the modality of running the organization and aligning their decisions to run concurrently. From the above case, answer the following questions.
- What is the possible reason for the confrontational approach to handling the current huddles within the ADEC organization?
- What can be done to address the current challenges noted?
- Create a comprehensive action plan and propose an ideal approach to manage and turn around the current challenges into organization strengths.
- Is it possible to integrate the four departments into a single unit that has similar change management strategies?
- If yes, define and discuss how the integration might be achieved.