“What I’ve Learned about Organizational Change”

Dr. Carter has sparked my entrepreneur sprit!  Could it be possible to make money while watching others do all of the work by coming up with their own solutions? How is it possible for me not to be responsible for coming up with a solution for my client; they would have to find it themselves.  This sounds like a win-win situation.  I can just show up with a workbook, few flip charts pieces of paper, and a couple of containers filled with the latest arts and crafts.  This would be a dream come true.  I wouldn’t have to stay in one place too long.  It would be awesome to be able to stay engaged continuously.         

The techniques learned through this course will assist me in facilitating a change within my Dad’s established business as I will soon become the new leader.  While my Dad and I have very similar characteristics, he has a complete different perspective on how adults learn.  His opinion is adults must be told when, what, and how to learn.  Knowledge gained through my course work as given an entirely different viewpoint of the role adults play in an organization change.  I feel this course has equipped me with the skills to lead a change strategy.  I have learned through my readings and experience of Appreciative Inquiry (AI) to ensure that the whole system is involved.  I also support AI’s foundational belief that people have unique gifts to offer and skills to contribute.   

Burke states you cannot understand a system until you try to change it.  This is exactly what I am planning to do within my Dad’s company. Because my Dad has built a very strong business I will focus more on the AI process than any of the other change strategies.  I would like to focus on what is good while unbeknown to others the areas with issues will be discovered at the same time.  I am sure the process will have its hurdles.  However I will stay positive throughout the entire process so that I can lead by example and be the change agent that my Dad’s company desperately needs.

I feel Future Search would not be as effective as AI as this process is a little less structured and left to the participants to facilitate the change process themselves.  While I do like the fact it’s an open floor type strategy and anything is possible.  For me, it leaves too much room for external influences as individuals are encouraged to share information and draw their own conclusions.  Also I can see how participants could possibly focus more on what’s not working instead of what’s working.  Open space is even wider open as you only know the time of the meeting.  An issue is worked on with no formal agenda to follow.  This strategy would be extremely difficult for me as I would have to stay out of the room and let the employees come up with their own solutions. 

Up until recently I had no idea that I often played the role of a change agent.  Reflecting on my previous working experience and relationships in general I have always been the person asking questions to get a boarder view on processes.  My inquisitive nature oftentimes leads me to try to alter how people see certain issues.  The readings from the Marquardt book gave me a formal approach for changing conversations. I will not have structure to the madness. 

Even though my plan is to facilitate a change within my Dad’s business I will be sure not to change the course mid-stream just because I say it on the last episode of Law & Order.  The candid conversation we had in class with Tom led me to believe that too much change can be detrimental the moral of the company’s employees.  I will ensure that the change process is needed for the betterment of the whole and not just a whim on my part.

Change Crazy!! – Change Strategies 2010

Without it an organization can become stagnate and outdated.   Change is continuous, good, bad, and not easy.  With so many negatives why must we be faced with organizational change? 

Because change is a necessary evil!!!

For an organization to change, everyone in the system must become the change they want to see.  Therefore, change begins with self first.  I was elated to read that change was not just individual change but a practice of whole-system change.  Everyone within the organization must participate in the change for it to happen.  I feel that my department is focused on individual change and not a whole-system change.  This is our downfall as a department. 

Change needs to move from the responsibility of my manager to the whole department.  Everyone should share in the responsibility to ensure its success.  The bigger the buy-in the better it will be for the whole system.  There are many organizations that keep decisions at the upper levels and never get input from various levels within the organization.   This is the detriment to many organizations.  If individuals do not feel as they are a part of the decision process than they may not have a vested interest. 

The goal of every organization should be to ensure that each employee feels like their opinions matter.  From my readings, I have been able to put many of these key elements into practice within my own business.   Because my business is in its infancy stage change is always continuous, rapid, and critical to survival.  The key to its success is to keep my employees active in the process.

Is Continuous Change Good? – Change Strategies 1st Post

I enjoyed our candid conversation with Tom on last week.  However, it made me reflect on how much pain he must go through on a daily basis.  The text stated the ability to change rapidly and frequently seems to be a critical mechanism for survival.  I wonder how he is able to survive in a company that changes course of direction so frequently.  He seemed to be very energetic and happy with his position. 

My impression I got from him was he may not necessarily know his direction from day-to-day.  With his leader being a huge visionary, those visions filter down to him which can lead to an overwhelming amount of work for him. 

During the conversation, he mentioned that the owner wanted to change the world by coming up with a model for other businesses to follow.  I couldn’t help from day dreaming about how their staff meetings probably played out.  I imagined that when the owner called meetings they probably started to hold their breath because they knew “here we go again”.  I felt like once they were on course their leader would change it based on something as little as a commercial he may have seen or a neat billboard he past by on the way home the night before.  I am sure the picture in my head is probably not exactly what they experience on a daily basis. 

According to the text, Tom seemed to have experienced a learning curve.   In my opinion, change seemed to be more “matter of fact” to him.  According to the text, research has not proven individuals that experience change frequently become psychologically more ready for change.  However, I would argue that proof can be found inside Tom’s organization. 

The text asks the question, what are the long-term implications of constant change for individuals and organizations?  I wonder what kinds of implications Tom and the employees of the organization will face because of how rapid and frequently they must go through changes due to their leader wanting to change the world.  A study to research the implications individuals or the organization are facing due to the direct effects of constant change the organization has been through would give the company insight on if continuous change is good or not.

Is that development? – Consult Skills

Dixon, states the practice of dialogue depends upon the organization having a climate which is open and respectful of individuals and where information is shared, members are free from coercion, and everyone has equal opportunity to challenge the ideas of others. This is exactly the hopes behind the list of ground rules I posted in an earlier post on this blog. 

Recently, I spoke up in a meeting that I was engaged in.  While participating in the meeting, I tried to interject into the meeting my “own truth” in to the dialogue.  On both occasions, the ground rules were violated and I was not able to speak my truth.  Because our climate was suppose to be risk free I made everyone aware of my frustration.  Everyone in the meeting was silent for at least 60 seconds once I made my claim. 

In past meetings, this same scenario would take place and I would have never said a word.  However, we as a group have developed ground rules for the entire department to follow which created the environment for dialogue and I felt comfortable making my claim know by all.  I was acting in an authentic way.  I actually felt like I had developed if you will.  I behaved differently than I had ever behaved before.  Is that development?

How could an organization of this magnitude break all “rules”? – Org Learning

Schein states that it is essential that the outsider (the person inquiring about the culture) learn what is really going on.  He says that it requires real entry into and involvement with the organization beyond what questionnaires, surveys, or even individual interviews can provide.  Recently selected individuals were interviewed by a Human Resource Representative.  The interviews were organized for HR to get a better understanding of our culture.   

 This HR representative did not enter into our environment we were actually called away from our environment and taken offsite into another one to be questioned.  It’s funny how the text clearly states that the only way to really get a since of what is going on is to get involved and this is exactly the opposite of what my HR department did. 

 The text also states that the researcher must create a relationship with the organization that permits him or her to become a researcher/consultant to insure that reliable and valid data will be forthcoming.   The selected individuals were pulled away from their office and asked several questions that would hopefully shed light on the culture.  There have been several individuals that have made me aware of the “no tell” policy among the staff.  Employees before me have gone through several culture analysis and the outcomes always pin point certain individuals even though they are assured that the answers are kept secretly. 

 Needless to say I was one of the selected individuals to participate in the research.  I being the new kid on the block went over to give my honest opinions.   I honestly felt like I had something to gain by revealing what I really thought and felt.  Also I felt like if they were not naming names than how on earth could my boss know what I said in the interview.   

 To my disbelief all of my comments came back to bite me in the buttocks.  He was able to quote my comments verbatim.  This was a complete let down.  How could an organization of this magnitude break all “rules”?

Consult Skills – Where is the pain?

In my organization, outsiders to my department have been made aware of the pain which forced my manager to start to describe why the pain exists. Because my manager’s explanation of what was causing the pain was inaccurate, his attempt to solve the problem was unsuccessful. The higher ups called in the consultants because the moral within my department seems to be getting lower.   

My manager cannot seem to be able to pin point the cause of the pain so he and others are hoping the cause of the pain can be identified by the consultants. 

The consultant role within my organization seems to be different from the consultant’s role in the Block text.  The consultant has not redefined the presenting problem, they have only tried to help us deal with the problems we seem to have as a group.  We still have no clear picture of what is causing the difficulty.  In every meeting the air in the meeting seems to grower thicker with each new meeting.

Organizational Learning – Group Reformation, 4th Post

The group I am apart of within my corporation precedes my manager historically. Currently, my management is not succeeding in managing the external boundary management, survival, and growth. In the eyes of higher ups our group is not successful. On paper our group is achieving however there is no harmony within the group. Our leadership sees my immediate manager as a failure in leadership.

Because of these issues my entire department has been given a 360 survey to complete on my manager’s leadership style. This survey will assess my manager’s abilities in leadership.

For the most part there are two different groups within in my department. There is the production side of the house versus the instructors’ side of the house. Both groups are using different category systems. The entire group struggles to agree on what to do and the facts end up being twisted to benefit one group versus the other group. Both sides of the house feels like their side is more important and should be respected more that the other group.

Schien states that it is often the creators of groups who build the common category system, however in my organization the manager has left it up to the department to create common category systems. This is a problem because neither group can come to a consensus on common category systems. My department has been participating in several workshops to learn how to become a successful group. We are working on a common language and category system. In an attempt to develop a common language my department has come up with a set of group rules that must be read aloud before each meeting. This list of 18 ground rules was developed by the entire team during one of our first workshops. See list below:

1. Be here now – no computers, cell phones, etc.

2. Start on time

3. Stop on time

4. Have questioning attitude

5. Focus on session – no distractions

6. Respect each other- disagree, but be agreeable

7. Seek first to understand before being understood

8. Listen

9. One person speaking at a time

10. Seek equal participation, allow others to participate

11. Conflict – deal with directly; go to the source in a safe environment before group disclosure

12. Have objectives and meet them

13. Over 50% of staff, consisting of one individual per discipline needed for decision making

14. Determine how decisions will be made (majority, consensus or unanimity)

15. Provide an agenda in advance of meetings with built in breaks every hour

16. No retaliation

17. Tie back purpose of meeting to alignment with strategic plan

18. Recap and production of action items through meeting minutes

Consultant Skills – ORJI Cycle

In class tonight, our discussion was around the ORJI cycle.





Recently, I encounter a situation that involved the ORJI cycle with my counterpart at work.  In my opinion, my counterpart was of equal status even though; her title is “Senior Training Specialist. 

In a conversation with my counterpart, I was informed by her (Observation) that all of my vacations must go though her as she was not my supervisor.  Of course, this news came to a surprise for me, as this new position was never posted nor was it communicated to me from my management that she had been given such an opportunity.  At that point in time, I received the information and processed it as professional as I knew how and began to formulate how such a huge transition be possible in a well established organization.   

After returning to my desk, I started quickly on my research (Reaction) to see if, in fact, this was all true.  I first made a telephone call to my Human Resource Representative to see if there were any recent promotions within my department.  The outcome of that telephone call validated that there were no recent promotions.  My HR representative went onto encourage me to approach my manager to get clarification on the conversation I had with my counterpart.  (Judgment)

The next day I went into my manager’s office (Intervene) with my list of questions in hand along with a nice little notepad to take notes of the conversation.  My manager first appeared to be a little concern because of my disappointed face expression.  I felt let down by the manager I most admired.  How could he possibly let this chain of events happen in this way?  I have read enough books to know that good management skills were lacking from these chain of events.  I knew that any changes in my reporting structure should have been communicated by him and not from my counterpart.  My manager began to apologize for the confusion around my observation of the news my counterpart shared with me.  He assured me that she was in no way my new supervisor and that her role was to only “coordinator” vacation time.  She was not given the authority to approve or disapprove of anyone’s time away from work.  The question here is…who screwed up the ORJI cycle first?

Third Reflection (Org Behav) – Reorganization of Self

To develop is to internally reorganize you.  Learning is different from development.  Learning is learning new techniques in your existing framework and development is to move from one framework to another.     Framework is a set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality. To stay within your framework of thinking while trying new techniques is learning.  To move from your framework of thinking into a new framework of thought is development.  This way of looking at these two different concepts are very different for me.  I have never looked at learning as new techniques.  If you keep trying different techniques with no results at some point in time you have to move on to development.  You can not stay in your existing framework with no results, you may have to drastically change your way of thought through development to see results.

In order to develop it must be done over time.  If you look at most management development programs they are done in a day or throughout any given week.  This is clearly not enough time to develop managers within their existing framework.  Most times they are canned programs and do not allow for custom building.  Every framework is different therefore it would make sense for the framework to match up with the techniques being learned.  Surely managers can learn new techniques in a couple of days however; it is not enough time to test out the new techniques to see if they work.  This is true with regards to internally reorganizing your self. 

To develop your self requires time to reflect.  The act of blogging for class allows us to develop ourselves through reflecting.  Mirroring was added as an additional requirement of blogging.  Reflection is most effective when other individuals can provide their perspective.  We all provide that perspective through mirroring each other’s blog post.  In my opinion, it is so refreshing to be practicing what the book preaches.     There are so many times in the working world when your hands are tied with regards to practicing what the book preaches and/or your personal philosophy.

Session Four(ConsulSkills) – Common Sense

Up until now I took for granted that the client was the person receiving the service. It was my opinion that knowing who the client “really” was, was a matter of common sense. I sure was wrong in my assumptions according to Chapter Four in the Schein book. There are so many variables in accessing who the client is that must be considered.

I have been in many situations where I was requested to help individuals with their training needs and never really took the time to figure out the client’s needs. I have also gone out and took it upon myself to figure the issues out without even considering the concerns, suggestions, or ideas of the individuals that were affected by the intervention.

On many occasions I have interviewed the primary and unwitting clients by “accident”. I refer it as an accident because I really didn’t ensure that this was done for every intervention. In the past, if I was charged with providing a service with no background information than I would seek input from my primary and unwitting clients. However, contrary to that scenario if background information was provided up front than there have been times where my clients were not involved in the planning of my intervention. The readings this week has given me a broader view of “who the client really is”.