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Organizational Development and Change Case Study

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Updated: Jun 11th, 2021

Action Research and Organizational Development

Sales have gone down at the XYZ Widget Corporation and nobody in the organization, including the CEO, seems to know why

Missing action research/ organizational development step. There are several steps that XYZ Widget Corporation missed out on in their action research. However, the most crucial is the data feedback and confrontation step. McLean (2006) explains that in the data feedback and confrontation step of organizational development, the management and the consultant divide the working population into focus groups who are then given the collected data to discuss, review and provide feedback. The grouping of the employees, who will take part in the study, should be done with guidance from the management. It can be argued that the step verifies the data that was collected in the previous organizational development step. According to the case study provided, this did not happen. The importance of this first missed step is that it allows the removal of any bias from the expert/consultant. Secondly, the measure also encourages a feedback process, where the employees can solve any arising issues. In organizational development, it is common to find some disputes regarding the results of the action research done. It is the data feedback and confrontation step that identifies and resolves such conflicts.

Why missing steps led to failure. The identified missed step led to the failure of the intervention that was proposed by the consultant. The proposed intervention was the raising of salaries of all the sales agents in an attempt to make them more motivated to work and perform better. The identified missed step, data feedback and confrontation, added to the failure of the intervention as the consultant did not resolve some of the disputes in the data collection process. Some of the disputes that might have been noted include the other highly rated reasons for lack of motivation in the sales agents. The consultant only focused on low income, which might not have been the core issue at hand. The said step would have identified the other factors that were leading to poor performance, and allowed both the consultant and the management to design a more viable strategy and intervention.

HN Motors is a large manufacturer of both cars and motorcycles. However, neither the car department nor the motorcycle department wants to take the lead and the project keeps getting stalled

Missing action research/ organizational development step. The identified missed step is the intervening in the system step. It is crucial to point out that the said step was missed due to the influence of the management of the company. According to the case study provided, the management requested the consultant to stop the process after the writing of both the report and the recommendation. Whereas the management agreed with the suggested intervention strategy, they did not feel the need to continue interacting with the consultant. The missed step would have, however, allowed the expert to make the intervention strategy better, and to customize it according to the operations and functions of the different departments in HN Motors. The consultant would have also been able to train the employees on various aspects that would have helped with the implementation of the proposed intervention. For instance, one of the identified problems was the lack of communication between the motorcycle department and the car department. The issue was only identified after the consultant had done the action research. During the intervention in the system step, the expert would have pinpointed the importance of open and flexible communication channels, thereby, equipping the employees with communication skills for future use.

Why missing steps led to failure. The discussed missed step, the intervention of the system, led to the failure of the intervention through missed training. As mentioned, the training would have helped the employees and management embrace the different changes that the intervention would have created. One of the key issues identified through the case study, in the company, is poor communication. The motorcycle and car departments failed to communicate with each other and did not give their reasons for stalling the development of the high mileage vehicle.

Dr. Joseph Hotshot is a leading management consultant who charges huge fees for his Extra Special Action Research System

Missing action research/ organizational development step. The chosen missed step is the initial diagnosis of the problem. It can be argued that the company, Ace Carpet Cleaning, did not know why the employees were not motivated. From the provided case study, there is no mention of a partnership with the consultant. In fact, it can be argued that the consultant did not involve the management in the process, and only spoke with the employees. By doing so, the consultant did not get accurate information that affected the company as a whole. In the same breath, it can be argued that the consultant only focused on the personal issues each employee had. In turn, the consultant failed to come up with viable solutions for the company as a whole. The definition of an organization comes into play in this scenario. An organization can be defined as the sum of its parts, which have to work together for the benefit of the whole. The consultant appears to have perceived the organization as its individual parts.

Why missing steps led to failure. As stated, the identified step led to the failure of the intervention that was proposed by the consultant. The initial diagnosis of the problem, as said, did not involve the management, therefore, took an individual approach. The individual approach, whereas critical in identifying the personal issues, is not recommended for organizational development. The first problem that arises from the approach is that it separates the individual from other employees, and from the organization.

Kooltrendy wants the merger to go through as smoothly as possible with minimal conflicts between employees of the two companies, so they have hired an organizational development consultant to look at ways to help ease this transition for all employees

Missing action research/ organizational development step. The company did not have any form of data feedback and confrontation. The missed step, as stated, is important as it allows the consultant and the management to figure out whether the data that was collected goes hand in hand with what is on the ground. Lurey and Griffin (2013) explain that the data feedback and confrontation stage also allows for the consultant to make a viable intervention strategy. The consultant would also have been in a position to gather additional information on the problems that the employees face, and propose changes to be made to make the merger successful. It is also important to note that the step would have given feedback, which would have worked as a source of evaluation of the process so far.

Why missing steps led to failure. One of the reasons why the intervention failed was the skipping of the identified step. The consultant was not able to reconcile the data or resolve any dispute that the data might have had, thereby, was not able to solve the problem at hand. Indeed, even though the consultant was able to identify the biggest problem the organization faced, the intervention that was put in place did not attempt to solve all other issues that had been noted during the data collection process.

Large Group Interventions

The XYZ Corporation has been growing rapidly for the past 10 years but recently has hit a plateau and is not growing much anymore

The CEO of the organization should use Future Search to encourage the heads of departments to make up their minds on the departments that need the proposed changes. There are several reasons why Future Search is best suited for the scenario given. The first reason is the number of people that are involved. Norum (2005) explains that Future Search is best suited for groups of 40 to 80 individuals. Based on the case study provided, the heads of department involved in the process are 50, which makes the number perfect for Future Search.

Secondly, Norum (2005) explains that Future Search allows the involved to use their personal experiences to elaborate on their reasons. The premise is important for the case study as each head of department will not want changes effected in their departments. Change is not wanted. Each head of department will be asked to give their personal experiences, and then the rest of the team will give opinions and reasons why the department needs change, or why it does not, allowing for easier decision making. The process is very inclusive, therefore, making it easier for the heads of departments to make the necessary decisions without being biased.

Thirdly, it can be argued that Future Search is best suited for the scenario as it leads to four primary outcomes, shared values, viable goals, a way forward and a strategy to be used (Nixon, 1998). The stated outcomes are desirable as they provide a plan on implementation of the changes that are about to be experienced in the departments that will be chosen.

The new CEO of a large and successful Internet company has just been hired. This CEO is highly experienced, but being new to this company he really wants to get everyone’s opinion about a large range of issues

The new CEO should use Open Space Technology. Nixon (1998) explains that Open Space Technology revolves around purpose-driven leadership. The approach has been chosen due to several reasons. The first reason is that it allows the employees to be properly introduced to the new CEO. Being new, the CEO has to be careful not to disrupt systems that he is yet to understand. Open Space Technology gives the CEO the opportunity to learn more about the employees, and the systems in place. At the same time, Open Space Technology creates a platform for change management.

Secondly, Open Space Technology has been suggested as the best option as it allows for large numbers of participants. According to the case study, the company has 500 employees. Thus, it would not be appropriate to use Future Search, as it can only apply to 80 people at the maximum, and 40 people at the minimum. Rogers (2010) confirms that Open Space Technology can accommodate a maximum of 500 people, making it perfect for the approach selected.

Thirdly, Open Space Technology has been suggested as it allows for meetings to be held without an initial agenda. It is clear that the CEO wants to hear the opinions of the employees. However, there is no specific agenda and the CEO did not state the desired outcomes of the meeting. The CEO will be in a better place to encourage the employees to talk about everything they deem important. In so doing, the CEO will gather as much information as possible to develop viable strategies for the organization.

An accounting company has three main divisions: tax, auditing, and accounting information systems. The CEO would like employee input on what major strategic initiatives to take and would like input from a wide range of employees and managers

The CEO should use Open Space Technology to get the opinion of the employees. One of the reasons why Open Space Technology is best suited for the scenario is that the company has a lot of employees. The 300 employees, plus the 40 senior managers can send in their opinions without necessarily speaking in front of the rest. Due to the large numbers, it is impossible to get all the staff to speak their minds. Nixon (1998) confirms that Open Space Technology allows for the quiet employees to give their opinions, through a representative. The approach chosen will also ensure that no employee feels victimized. The company will be victimizing employees if they force them to speak against their will.

It is also important to note that the meeting does not have a particular agenda. Whereas the CEO wants to get different opinions on the strategic initiatives to take, he also intends to create an environment where all employees feel they can give their views on various factors and strategies that management employs. Suffices to state, getting opinions on the strategic initiatives to take, is not an agenda, but a theme. Rogers (2010) clarifies that Open Space Technology allows for such a general theme, without any formal plan.

It will be challenging, however, to make the employees speak their minds, especially in the presence of the senior managers. However, as stated, the employees can pick representatives who can speak on their behalf. It is also important to mention that Open Space Technology will allow the senior managers to interact with the other employees, thereby, creating a platform of inclusivity.

A CEO initiates an Open Space Technology conference. At the start of the conference, the CEO provides a list of topics he wants covered and also gives his opinion on what kind of outcomes he wants from the conference. He also makes attendance at the conference mandatory

First, the CEO did not fully understand the concept of Open Space Technology. According to Leith (1996), Open Space Technology should have an agenda. By giving the meeting the agendas of the day and the desired outcomes of the conference, the CEO violated the guidelines of Open Space Technology. Leith (1996) explains that there are several guiding principles of Open Space Technology. The first principle violated by the CEO in the case study given is that the people who make it to the meeting are all the people who are needed to make a change (Rogers, 2010). The principle suggests that the attending of the meeting does not need the CEO or senior managers, and at the same time, suggests that the meeting is not mandatory. The CEO made it clear to the employees that the meeting was mandatory, therefore, violating the said principle.

The CEO also violated the fourth principle that encourages surprise (Leith, 1996). There was no form of surprise, for both the CEO and the employees, as the CEO had already stated the desired outcomes. It can be argued that the participants wrote the report, and gave recommendations based on what they thought the CEO wanted to hear, and not on what mattered. Therefore, the exercise was a complete waste of time. In the same breath, the CEO violated the said principle by also giving the agenda of the conference. As stated, the CEO would have given a general theme of the conference and prepared to be surprised by the outcome and the agenda that would have been created during the conference.

Job Redesign

The ABC Corporation has a team of telemarketers. While the telemarketing team is performing well, the company is concerned about high turnover among telemarketers and wants to do some job enrichment

It can be argued that out of the five core job dimensions, the management should revise the ‘Autonomy’ element during the job re-design to allow for less turnover. The case study states that the employees are free to work within their timelines as long as they deliver desired outcomes at the end of every month. It can be argued that the employees of the organization have too much freedom. Griffin (2007) explains that autonomy is the degree to which an individual has the freedom, discretion, and independence to schedule their work. Whereas autonomy is good and has been embraced by the newer generations, it has to have a limit. Since ABC Corporation does not have a cap on the freedom the telemarketers have, they do not feel valued in the company, thus, willingly change jobs frequently. It can also be argued that the freedom accorded the telemarketers is too much such that they feel highly skilled and look for more challenging jobs.

The other four core job dimensions can be left as they are, as they have no direct impact on the turnover. The four stated dimensions are skills, task identity, task significance and feedback (Griffin, 2007). It is important to stress that the intense feedback that the company encourages is essential for the success of the enterprise, and for understanding the high employee turnover. The company can modify the feedback tool to also include job satisfaction as a way of determining the reasons for high employee turnover. It is crucial to point out that the company should not reduce the frequent feedback reports that are shared with the employees as it also allows the employees to grow and perform better.

At the Grand Valley Medical Clinic there are four high-ranking employees. They have all been working at the clinic for a long time and have strong performance records, but management is worried they are becoming bored and dissatisfied with their jobs and there is concern they might all leave unless their jobs change

Management should take up a job redesign approach. Hartzell (2015) explains that job redesign involves expanding a job position to allow for more challenging activities, on top of the day to day events that surround the job. According to the case study, the specialists are bored of doing the same job day in and day out. To motivate them, and make them more interested in their jobs, management has to expand their mandate to give them more challenging options. Hartzell (2015) explains that there are three things that can be done in regard to job redesign. The three options are job enrichment, job enlargement, and job rotation. Out of the three, the management can use job enrichment to motivate the identified specialists.

Hartzell (2015) argues that job enrichment allows the specialists to use the skills they already have, in other capacities. It is crucial to appreciate the skills the said experts have, as they have taken years to develop them. Therefore, expanding their jobs to also include other areas where such skills are needed will be beneficial both to the health care professionals and to the health facility.

For example, for Dr. Roberts, the pediatrician, the management can also add maternal services in his routine. Therefore, the doctor will also attend to pregnant mothers, and not just the children. The doctor can attend to the pregnant women due to the skills and knowledge acquired as a pediatrician. In the same note, the nurse, who does patient check-ups, can be tasked with administrative responsibilities as she is used to dealing with patients, the family of the patients, and the other health care professionals in the facility. The eye specialist can be added in the ENT department to also take care of patients with throat and nose problems as they are all related through the ENT body structure.

Transwest Airlines has decided to hire you as a job crafting consultant for two groups of their employees. Before arriving at the airline to do interviews and make recommendations, you first need to do some reading on what general approach you will use

According to Wrzesniewski (2015), there are three ways in which job crafting can be achieved. The three ways are task crafting, relational crafting, and cognitive crafting. According to the case study provided, there are two groups of employees to think about when designing the job crafting strategy. The two groups are the pilots, who have one main job description, and the marketers, who have several items in their job description. It is arguable that the two groups will need different approaches to job crafting.

As mentioned, the pilots have one main job description, which is to fly the plane. Therefore, they are best suited to use cognitive crafting to enjoy their tasks more. Whereas the job remains the same, the pilots, on an individual basis, will have the power to creatively “perceive” their tasks as different. For example, the pilots can see their jobs as a way of communicating and interacting with people from other cultures. They can sharpen their people skills by also acting as tour guides and pointing out the different landmarks that passengers can see during their flight. There are two advantages of this approach for the pilots. First, it goes hand in hand with their job description. They are still pilots, and they use the knowledge they already have (of the different routes) to their advantage. Secondly, the pilots get to learn more about customer service. Because they rarely meet with the passengers, pilots tend to lack skills in dealing with people. On the other hand, the marketers will benefit greatly by adopting task crafting. Due to the numerous items in their job description, it only makes sense for the marketers to drop some of their tasks and make their workload lighter. In turn, they will have time to do other things they are interested in, and motivate themselves further.

Discussion

Similarities and differences between job redesigning and job crafting. One of the similarities between job redesigning and job crafting is that they both aim at motivating the employee in question. They are both used to change routine and make day to day activities more engaging for employees. On the same breath, a difference between the two is that job crafting is more permanent than job redesigning (Hartzell, 2015). For instance, if the marketers in Scenario 3 drop some of the items in their job description, they cannot add them back later. However, in job redesigning, the involved have the option to go back to their routine if they so wish, without causing a lot of changes.

Advantages and disadvantages of job redesign and job crafting. One advantage of both job redesigning and job crafting is that they motivate the employees. They offer new and challenging activities for the involved (Wrzesniewski, 2015). On the other hand, one of the disadvantages of both job crafting and job redesigning is that they can affect the organizational processes and systems. Therefore, after every job redesign and crafting, the whole organization has to be trained on the changes that would have been initiated.

References

Hartzell, S. (2015). [Video File]. Web.

Lurey, J., & Griffin, M. (2013). Action research: The anchor of OD practice. In Vogelsang, J. (ed). Handbook for Strategic HR: Best Practices in Organization Development from the OD Network (pp. 46 – 52). Saranac Lake, NY: AMACOM Books.

Leith, M. (1996). Organizational change and large group interventions. Career Development International, 1(4), 19-23.

McLean, G. N. (2006). Organization development: Principles, processes, performance. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Nixon, B. (1998). Creating the futures we desire – getting the whole system into the room: Part I. Industrial and Commercial Training, 30(1), 4-11.

Norum, K. E. (2005). Future Search conversation. In Dialogue as a Means of Collective Communication (pp.323 – 333). New York, NY: Springer Science & Business Media B.V.

Rogers, J. (2010). Large group interventions: Facilitating groups. Maidenhead: McGraw-Hill Education.

Wrzesniewski, A. (2015). Job crafting – Amy Wrzesniewski on creating meaning in your own work [Video File]. Web.

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