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This paper is a case study on an organization called Trilogy. The paper aims at discussing ways in which new employees need to change for them to be productive in their new organizations.
Some of the issues which are discussed include how Trilogy University (T.U) prepares employees to join Trilogy, whether T.U has been effective in its role of preparing recruits to join Trilogy in the first five years and the current status of T.U as well as the changes which need to be effected for it to fit in the new organizational structure of Trilogy.
The discussion of the above issues is preceded by a discussion of key concepts in organizational development, such as organizational learning, the benefits of organizational learning, and how to create and sustain a learning organizational culture.
An organization is a group of people who work together with coordinated efforts to achieve certain objectives or goals. Organizational goals and objectives are of various categories, and it is this variation of the goals and objectives which classify organizations into three main categories, namely profit making; service based and social responsibility based organizations.
New employees often need to change in important ways to become productive members of their organizations. One way in which new employees need to change is by learning the skills and techniques which they can use in their work. They can learn either through training before they start the jobs (orientation) or learn while on the job.
Nature of Organizational Learning
Learning is the process of acquiring new knowledge and understanding regarding a particular subject. It can take various forms and may be acquired from various sources which may include imitation, observation, listening, brainstorming, learning through mistakes, training, seminars, and learning from cultural practices.
Organizational learning is one of the strategies in organizational development, which focuses on enabling organizations to place themselves in strategic positions to remain competitive and meet their objectives in a decisive manner. Globalization is one major reason for organizations to keep on learning.
Globalization has transformed the world into a global village where everything is changing, and the world is becoming smaller in terms of how individuals and organizations interact and communicate.
The concept of organizational learning has its origin from the works of Argyris and Schön, who in 1978 came out to express their view on the concept. Their view has been referred to as the technical classical approach to organizational learning. Their model of organizational learning comprises the single and double loop learning.
Single loop learning entails the detection and correction of mistakes or errors which make organizations not to embrace change. Double loop learning entails changing of strategies by organizations due to internal or external forces. Argyris and Schön’s model of change can be viewed as a technical approach to organizational learning because it involves the use of individuals and systems or strategies by the organization to meet their objectives.
Donald was another scholar who viewed organizational learning from a technical perspective where he argued that organizational learning is a product of tacit resources, meaning that it originates from individual employees who have the knowledge or seek and attain particular knowledge and expertise, then share it with the other employees.
The knowledge is then documented to form a database for organizations which may be used to inform organizational policies.
The other school of thought to organizational learning is known as the social perspective. This perspective views organizational learning as a cultural and political process and as a product of social construction. This perspective does not put more emphasis on tacit resources as a source of organizational learning like the technical perspective.
Instead, it views organizational learning as an on-going process which is characterized by the interaction between employees, mainly in group contexts. These interactions enable employees to share their stories, experiences, and knowledge which enable them to acquire new skills, techniques, and competencies to discharge their duties effectively.
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According to Lave and Wenger, organizations learn through communities of practice which involve people who are contextually and informally bound together by a common interest of learning and using a common practice when performing their duties.
These two perspectives to organizational learning have for long been characterized by the debate of whether organizations do learn or it is individual employees who learn. However, the dilemma can be solved through the use of a pragmatic approach to organizational learning.
This pragmatic approach reconciles the two perspectives and comes up with a single approach to organizational learning, which takes into account the views of the two perspectives.
The pragmatic approach is based on the argument that organizations do learn. But the learning by organizations is seen as an on-going process which is necessitated by the forces of change, which are either internal or external to the organizations.
Managers, therefore, come up with best practices to ensure that their organizations utilize their human resources effectively to generate knowledge, understanding, and expertise in various fields by various employees, which is documented and rewarded. The knowledge and expertise generated are, therefore, harmonized with the external environment or with the organizational goals and objectives.
The pragmatic approach also takes into consideration the importance of on-going training of employees both on the job and off the job so that the employees may be updated with the latest information or knowledge which is relevant to their areas of operation.
Technological advancement also necessitates the training of employees on the latest technology in their areas of operation. For example, a company which deals with public transport may adopt online booking of bus tickets instead of receipts. Such an organization would need to train the employees on that kind of technology to increase their effectiveness and reduce their workload. This, in turn, motivates the employees.
Importance of organizational learning
Before an organization can embark on organizational learning, it needs to identify the training needs. The training needs include the learning of skills to perform tasks, re-learning of skills as a result of changing jobs, enhancement of the performance at the current job, or as a result of organizational policy.
Training entails learning, which involves acquiring new patterns of behavior and incorporates four basic processes. These include the drive by the learners to learn, acquisition of responsible behavior as a result of learning, reinforcement of the learned behavior, and the application of the learned behavior in the work context.
Organizational learning enables organizations to prepare employees for any change, which may come as a result of organizational restructuring or mergers or due to the adoption of a certain technology. It also enables organizations to have in place very competent and reliable employees who are flexible and open-minded handling any assignment which may come along their way in their lines of duty.
Organizational learning keeps organizations in a strategic position for increasing their competitiveness as well as coming up with best practices which not only improve organizations’ productivity but also the popularity of organizations.
For example, an organization which deals with the provision of electricity may engage itself in what is referred to as corporate social responsibility by undertaking activities like conservation of the environment, fighting poverty through the provision of scholarships to needy students or training communities on entrepreneurship.
This may increase the competitiveness of the organization, among other electricity providing organizations, thereby increasing and maintaining its customers. In this organization, the employees need to learn skills for dealing with communities so that apart from providing electricity to them, they may also train the people on how to do business or sensitize them on behavior change.
In this sense, the organization would be engaging itself in a win-win situation in that it would be empowering its employees with new skills which would be a motivation for them while at the same time providing social services to the community using the same employees who perform the core business of the organization.
How to create and sustain a Learning Culture in Organizations
For an organization to create and sustain a learning culture, there is a need for it to, first of all, do an environmental analysis.
The environmental analysis should focus on where the organization is, where it wants to be in the future, what it has already done in an effort to reach there, what resources are available, what needs to be done to make the organization reach its destination, who are its customers or clients, what are its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats as well as its history.
After the environmental analysis, the organization should embark on a fact-finding mission, focusing on how to utilize its human resources effectively as a means of realizing its objectives.
This can be done through the formulation of a strategic plan with two main pillars namely the financial and the social pillars; with the financial pillar comprising the financial resources available for the organization and the social pillar comprising the creation of a good organizational culture which would make the employees motivated.
This university was started by the founder of Trilogy as a corporate training department. The aim of the university was to prepare recruits before they joined the organization.
It was also supposed to play a leading role in the invention of new ideas on computer software, incubation of the ideas and development of new products for the organization. It also played the role of indoctrinating the new employees with Trilogy culture so that once they joined the organization, they were able to take it to the next level of development and make it a company of choice for many customers.
The university was therefore very successful in the first five years in that it managed to increase the revenue of the organization, increase the number of products and also the number of employees. The other success was that it managed to make the organization very competitive, especially due to the brilliant ideas initiated and developed from the university.
Due to the excellent results of the university, Trilogy was at some point competing with other giants in the computer industry such as Microsoft. The university also made Trilogy the organization of choice for many young graduates; the key reason being that it offered a conducive environment for career growth and development.
As one of the recruits put it, “The culture of the company was fascinating. It’s a young upstart. It combines 100% work, 100% fun, and 100% play all at the same time”.
At the wake of the millennium, Trilogy was faced with stiff competition with competitors like SAP threatening to dislodge it from the industry. These new developments made the founder and the board of directors to change their strategy and shift from the production of a wide array of computer software to making industry-specific products to remain competitive in the industry.
These new developments also necessitated an internal restructuring of the organization, which saw the introduction of general managers, who were to be in charge of various business units.
In the new structure, each general manager for each business unit was to be in charge of the costs of recruiting and training new employees joining their respective business units. This was believed to enhance the effectiveness of the training and also make it customized to specific business units.
The new strategy was also believed to cut on the costs of running the university and therefore, the role played by the university was technically adopted by the business units thus rendering the university an idle corporate department, which according to senior managers was supposed to be disbanded since it was not featuring anywhere in the new organizational structure.
However, the founder of the organization was of the view that an agreement to disband the university was synonymous to killing the organization because all the developments witnessed in the organization were attributed to the university and therefore, he believed that they should find a way of aligning the university with the new structure of the organization.
Changes which need to be affected
Since it is not possible to disband the university, it just needs to be realigned so that it fits in the new structure of the organization. The best approach to this issue is for the organization to detach the university from itself and make it a university for computer software.
Instead of looking at the university as a luxurious project, the management should look at it as a way of generating extra income for the organization.
This is because for organizations to become competitive, they must diversify their investments such that if one industry becomes more competitive or generates low profits, the organizations can use the income from other investments and by so doing; they can survive economic challenges such as competition or recession.
The organization, therefore, needs to set aside or source for funds for revamping the university. Such funds should be used for the development of curriculum, employment of lecturers, and construction of hostels for the students.
Through this, the organization will be able to generate extra revenue for its expansion. It will also be able to increase their popularity since many of the students may become future customers or bring new customers to the organization.
This idea is possible and practicable considering the passion and confidence the founder of the organization had in the university. He only needs to convince the senior managers about it, and when everything is put in place, then the future of the university will be brighter than it is at present.