Sunday, January 25, 2009

An Investigation

I am in the process of gathering some data to find out what inconsistencies exist in the organization I am studying.  I will call this organization ABC Early Learning Center.  I have handed out a survey with questions about values, culture, and work structure.  I will get these back this week and begin to look for problems to address in my OD plan.

I am using Weisbord's Organizational Diagnosis workbook to guide my outline.  According to Weisbord, organizations have a "transformation process" which includes the interaction of six areas:  1)purpose, 2)structure, 3)rewards, 4)helpful mechanisms, 5)relationships, 6)leadership. These six areas make up the culture of the organization which interact with the outside environment with its' demands and constraints it places on the organization.

The feedback loop is:  Inputs from outside environment impact the transformational process, which in turn results in Outputs.  The Outputs then inform the new Inputs which impact the transformational process and loop continues.

Some guiding questions to understand the "transformational process:"
1.  What "business" are we in?
2.  How do we divide up the work in this organization?
3.  Are there incentives for doing the work that needs to be done to accomplish our goals?
4.  Do we have adequate coordinating technologies?
5.  How do the people in the organization manage conflict among the technologies?
6.  Is there leadership within the organization that keeps the "transformational process" in balance?  
7.  How does that leader accomplish this?

Monday, January 19, 2009

Defining Culture

"Culture is comprised of the assumptions, values, norms, and tangible signs (artifacts) of organization members and their behavior"  (

Some believe that culture is the personality of the organization which can be felt as well as seen.  As I read through Marvin Ross Weisbord's, Organizational Diagnosis, I found that the six areas of inquiry helped me organize my thoughts as I develop my OD plan.

My first step is to collect some data on our PURPOSE ("What business are we in?").  At a first glance, this seems easy enough to answer, but after reading through the description, I realize that I must gather some data first to see if there are gaps between "what is" and "what ought to be."  I am going to start by asking a series of questions about our culture (assumptions, values, norms and tangible signs) to see if I can gain some insight into how these answers might/might not confirm our purpose.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Where am I?

"How do you know WHERE to go, unless you know where you ARE?" 

I may be fusing both Organization classes together here, but this idea struck me as the heart of organizational change.  I realize that organizations are built on beliefs, values and goals and that those key elements need to be communicated and sustained in order for the organization to survive, evolve, and fulfill its' purpose. The part that keeps circling back for me is the role of the effective leader. 

It seems to me that, in order for the organization to succeed, it is essential that: 1) the leader knows him/her self very well, 2) he/she understands the beliefs/values/goals of the individuals of the organization, 3) he/she can evaluate the current state of the organization in light of the above, and 4) the leader can then communicate (verbally & non-verbally) the direction the organization must follow in order to fulfill it's mission.  What an intimidating role for anyone!

I can see how a leader must function in communicating explicit and tacit knowledge as well as have the ability to LISTEN for both within the organization.  A leader must balance process and people.  We have a saying in our school:  "People over policy."  This saying helps remind everyone who works at our school that we must think "outside the box" (policy) many times in order to hear what our students/parents (customers) really need from us.  Policies are followed and there needs to be fairness and consistency within those policies.  We are fortunate to be in a smaller school community (175 families) in which parents have enrolled their students in our programs because of similar values/beliefs/goals AND staff have been hired largely based on those common values/beliefs/goals.  

It will be interesting to dig deeper into those ideals as I write an OD plan, try to diagnose and put into action the changes that are needed!