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Quay International Convention Centre’s Organizational Change Case Study


Organizational development theory plays an important role in the management of change as it orientates towards such critical aspects of change as the expert knowledge of behavioral sciences, professional inquiry driven by social values, and practical action powered by systems thinking. The purpose of this report was to present a focused analysis of a case study combined with a detailed description of the theoretical framework of organizational development and change management.

The scope of this report included the overview of the concept of organizational development, its application to a specific case study, and the provision of a structural analysis of the management of change required in the case. This step involved several sub-themes and was followed by a discussion of the issues of resistance to change and tactics helping to cope with it. The conclusion for the report included recommendations as to the issues faced by the organization described in the case study.

Organizational Development Theory

One of the major characteristics of the field of organizational development (OD) is its complexity that is not only defined by the multitude of issues and aspects of this sphere of theoretical and practical knowledge but also by the definition and background of the subject itself. In particular, the theorists of OD still do not have a consensus as to where the boundaries of the field are and what kind of origins it has (Cheung-Judge & Holbeche, 2015).

Regardless of these persisting issues, it is known for sure that the definition of OD is tightly connected with the concept of organization. Practically, the purpose and main objective of OD is to use various practices in order to transform negative experiences in organization management into positive ones and, this way, increase the organization’s effectiveness and boost its performance (McLean, 2005).

Also, as noted by Cummings (2008), the definitions of OD differ depending on what aspect of it the theorists desire to emphasize – long-reaching improvement, management from the top, the use of behavioral science knowledge for organizational development, a planned change implemented via organizational culture (developed by Burke), versatile change processes (in the works of Beer and Beckhard), and the engagement of consultants for long-term results (proposed by French) among others. Each of these approaches is valuable in its own way and is applicable depending on the specific needs of an organization planning to employ OD for future change.

When it comes to change management, OD plays a significant role in it due to its orientation to such major aspects as scientific knowledge and inquiry combined with social values and action and powered by systems thinking (Haneberg, 2005). Practically, OD is valuable because it does generate not only change but also implements it. OD approaches change management internally, paying careful attention to its social aspects and processes, and views the entire system from a holistic perspective.

Lewin’s change model is comprised of three main phases – unfreezing, moving, and refreezing (Cummings & Worley, 2014). This model is highly practical as it serves as a detailed guide for the processes of planning, implementation, and maintenance of change in an organization. In particular, unfreezing refers to noticing the present challenges and planning the change; moving stands for the implementation of the plan: and refreezing represents the stages of assessment, evaluation, and maintenance of successful impacts of change (Sarayreh, Khudair, & Barakat, 2013).

The main criticisms of this theory target its basic and very brief nature that does not include the forces that oppose change or serve as barriers to change (Kritsonis, 2005). Additionally, the model was criticized for relying on top-down mechanisms and only being suitable for minor projects (Burnes, 2004).

Understanding the Change

The organization under analysis in this report is The Quay International Convention Centre (QICC); it is facing multiple problems related to the staff and leadership performance. In particular, the major issues include low employee satisfaction, low functioning teams affected by internal tension; the lack of communication between employees outside the pre-established social groups, strict, harsh, and over-organized top-down approach to hierarchy resulting in the limited autonomy of employees, public reprimanding, and minimal skill development and performance management leading to discipline and policy breaches.

The desired state would be something similar to the state QICC enjoyed a year prior to the emergence of the problems. In particular, the desired state would include a high level of employee’s satisfaction, improved communication between teams, individuals, and between managers and workers; additionally, the other desired characteristics would be a better organizational culture, a more careful adherence to workplace policies, and instructions, and a more sufficient on-the-job training and skill development. According to Cummings and Worley (2014), the interventions suitable for these organizational issues are to be aimed as human processes and human resource management.

These interventions target individual and group levels of an organization mainly. Moreover, some parts of the strategic intervention also could be used for this case; namely, they are the culture change and organizational learning and knowledge management – they operate at organizational and group levels (Cummings & Worley, 2014).

Managing the Change Process

The process of change management is usually comprised of multiple steps. In particular, using Lewin’s change model, it is possible to break down the three steps outlined by the theorist into several tasks of change management. In that way, unfreezing will include entry and contracting and diagnosis and feedback; moving will include planning and implementing change; and refreezing will involve the evaluation of change and the achieved progress.

Entering and Contracting

The stage of entry and contracting revolves around the inquiry about the existing issues and the desired change; this step is initial in the OD model designed for specific tasks (Grieves, 2010). This step assumes that a behavioral science expert serving as a consultant will play an active role in studying the present problems and their nature. Practically, this step outlines the first contact with the expert; further, the terms of a contract and the expected duties of the professional have to be specified in a contract (Anderson, 2016).

The major roles of the consultant, at this stage, will be to assess the current situation and notice the issues that require addressing; further, the consultant will be required to link the persisting problems to suitable OD interventions, design a change plan, its implementation, and then evaluate the results (Dyer & Preston, 2000). Additionally, for the change managers, it would be necessary to decide whether the hired consultant should come from the organization or be a representative of an external company (Wocher, 2012). The former consultant is likely to have a deeper knowledge of the organization, but the latter will be free from internal bias and pressure.

In relation to the organization under analysis – QICC, and its individual situation, the consultant would have to evaluate workplace communication and discipline. It may make sense to consider whether or not the evaluation process should be disclosed to the workers or carried out subtly. The transparent approach seems more ethical with all the stakeholders fully informed about of assessment processes and the upcoming change.

However, the delay of the disclosure is likely to result in a more effective stage of data collection and the easier problem identification. This is the case because the specific issues faced by QICC tend to persist on individual and group levels mainly affecting interpersonal and intragroup relationships and dynamics. In that way, non-disclosed observation of workplace activities and communication could provide more valid and realistic data.

Diagnosing and Feeding Back Diagnostic Information

The process of organizational diagnosing is the key to the formation of an appropriate intervention based on a list of precisely set goals targeting present issues and aiming at the desired outcome (McFillen, O’Neil, Balzer, & Varney, 2012). A thorough and careful organizational diagnosis can improve the internal dynamics of an organization, as well as create a significant competitive advantage for it (Saeed & Wang, 2014).

At the same time, a diagnostic process that is ill-planned and flawed can result in a failure of the entire effort to implement change (Saeed & Wang, 2014). Discussing diagnosing frameworks, Zhang, Schmidt, and Li (2016) mention that there exists a wide range of various theoretical approached such as Burke-Litwin model, McKinsey 7S framework, Leavitt model, force field analysis, open systems theory, Likert systems analysis, and Weisbord six-box model.

The latter is the main focus of the authors. It has a clear and easy to comprehend structure comprised of such elements as “what is” – the present state, and “what should be” – the desired state (Zhang et al., 2016). This model lies at the basis of the present analysis alongside the theory by Lewin as overviewing the issues faced by QICC, the critical approach distinguished between the present situation and the desired outcomes thus outlining the potential direction of the change strategy.

The activities that will be included in the stage of diagnostics will involve the collection of data concerning the identified organizational issues. Since the issues mainly come from the fields of communication and knowledge; the process of data collection could include the engagement of employees, groups, and managers in order to receive more detailed information with personal insights. Also, diagnostics can be oriented at the existing problems or target solutions.

Such instruments of data collection as questionnaires, interviews, and surveys could be very helpful alongside the organizational statistics and key performance indicators. Further, an essential part of diagnostics is feedback that follows the analysis of the collected data. Practically, feedback represents the communication of the collected and interpreted data to the change management team and authorities.

This activity requires maximum precision in order to avoid bias and misrepresentation of information that could mislead the entire project (Zhang et al., 2016). The data fed back to the team has to be relevant, descriptive, and verifiable (Waddell, Creed, Cummings, & Worley, 2014). The final step of the process of diagnostics is the follow-up that stands for the evaluation of the level of knowledge of the existing issues and the potential need to research some additional aspects and collect more data for the purpose of moving to the next stage – the planning and implementation of change.

Planning and Implementing Change

The stage of planning and implementation of change revolves around the concept of intervention. In turn, intervention is characterized as a set of mechanisms, instruments, and actions that are employed for the purpose of improving organizational performance (Naghibi & Baban, 2011). In organizational development, interventions can be grouped into cultural, technical, and political (Naghibi & Baban, 2011).

In the specific situation faced by QICC, intervention is to target the social aspect of operations in the workplace and aim at the behaviors of employees, groups, and managers. Despite the importance of research as an essential element of the design of a suitable intervention, the managers in charge of the change project in QICC are to remember that there is no universal solution to any organizational problem. This is the case because organizational dynamics differ significantly even in similar organizations, as a result, problems, as well as their nature and contributing factors differ as well. Consequently, solutions and interventions effective for each specific organization are to be carefully and thoroughly selected based on their individual needs and objectives.

Evaluating Change

There are two major types of change evaluation – implementation feedback and evaluation feedback (Waddell et al., 2014). The former type is designed to measure immediate effects and is majorly implemented as a source of guidance for the implementation that collects and interprets data in the process helping address challenges and flaws on the way. The latter type of evaluation is aimed at the long-term effects of change and is used to supply data as to the success and sustainability of change and whether or not it is viable and needs to be maintained or terminated.

Since the change desired in QICC is aimed mainly at the communication between workers, it would be possible to employ both types of evaluation and collect data about short- and long-term effects of change. Both approaches would present significant value to the project as the short-term effects will drive the process of change implementation and the long-term effects will show the overall efficiency and sustainability of the project.

Resistance to Change

Resistance to change is known as one of the major barriers preventing the successful implementation of a change plan in an organization (Boohene & Williams, 2012). Resistance to change may come from different sources (financial, political, structural, social), but most commonly, it is produced by people unwilling or unable to embrace the changing organizational environment (Ylmaz & Kılıçoğlu, 2013). Resistance to change is one of the few characteristics of planned change that remain there for each individual case.

As a result, planned change has to address the issues of readiness and resistance to change (Coetzee, Visagie, & Ukpere, 2012; Naghibi & Baban, 2011). In that way, the collection of data carried out prior to the stage of planning of change has to involve the aspects of readiness to change so that the further change plan could address the existing barriers or move past them ensuring a smooth transformation without conflicts.

In the case of QICC, resistance to change may come from the older employees who are used to the old ways and who would be likely to disagree with the new approaches limiting their ability to implement short cuts while fulfilling professional duties.

At the same time, such aspects as the opportunity of skills development and on-the-job self-improvement, as well as a well-built system of incentives could serve as effective motivators preparing the resisting groups to view change positively and embrace it. Such activities and goal setting, team building, rewards, appraisal, and career development opportunities are some of the techniques that could help QICC achieve their desired state (Lunenburg, 2010). In turn, the process of implementation of change would include such stages as motivation, communication of the set goals, earning the support of all the stakeholder groups, management of change, evaluation of outcomes, and maintenance of positive results (Cummings & Worley, 2014; Grieves, 2010).

Lewin’s model of change can be employed as one of the strategies for managing resistance to change. In particular, each of its three steps is required to involve people, communicate the objectives and benefits of change at each level, and study the causes of change and the reasons motivating people to resist it (Boohene & Williams, 2012). Practically, the collection of data about organizational issues (unfreezing) needs to include such tasks and informing the workers about the preparation for change and the reasons why data is collected; the planning and implementation of change (moving) have to be accompanied by thorough and clear communication of what is done, for what purpose, and what result is expected; finally, evaluation of change (refreezing) has to involve people in the provision of feedback as to the effects of change.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Since OD plays a significant role in change management, it is critical for the organizations that intend to implement change to adhere to the best practices of OD informed by strong theoretical frameworks. Even though it has been criticized, Lewin’s change model is a laconic framework that can guide change, as well as respond to its barriers. Also, it is broadly applicable to many types of organizations and change projects.

Aligned with Weisbord model, Lewin’s model allows seeing the current issues in the case of QICC and its desired state. Specifically, most problems experienced by the organizations dwell on the social aspects of its operations and involve individual, group, and top-down communication issues and organizational culture problems.

As a result, QICC authorities managing change are recommended to collect data about the present problems targeting individual workers and groups (using surveys, interviews, questionnaires, and observation as instruments), analyze the information engaging an impartial consultant and present it to the authorities. Further, the preparation of change should involve open communication with the staff as to the purpose and benefits of change and the existing problems and the challenges they create.

The stage of moving or implementation of change will have to engage workers in such activities as team-building, conflict mediation, communication management, team work, and leadership training. Finally, the evaluation stage should engage the staff in the provision of feedback as to the effects of the change project.


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