Monday, January 26, 2009

Diagnosis of Organizational Development

This week's readings all had a different spin on how to diagnois organizational development and learning. The most intriguing article was about the concept of a "World Cafe". ACSA held several of these at their annual conferences and sad to say I never attended one of them. i imagined using this technique with a school or segments of a district staff. Pick a topic, set up a freindly environment, discussion a question to delve deeply into that question, encourage everyone to contrubute to the discussion, rotate participants at the tables, listen to each other for patterns on common threats, and share what the group has collectively discovered. Sometimes this raises additional questions or areas to be explored.
Equally interesting was the article on the diagnosis of an organizational system. The approach is pretty straightforward. Identify the system, focus on a members and communications, be sure to act as a researcher (objectively), enter the organization, collect data using a variety of approaches, and give feedback to the participants. Hopefully the researcher will find a healthy organization that has satisfied employees who have improved communications and a better awareness of their purpose and goals.
The next article took that concept a step further by looking at long term success by deep OD. This is as oppossed to easy answers andquick fixes. Typical problems (deep seated issues) include non meaningful communication, long standing friction, barriers (bureaucracy and culture), and distrust. Barriers can be impatience, simplicity, fear, lack of skill, vertical perspective, and hypercompetitive prssures. In the age of technology and growing global competetition, issues increase and become more complex there is less time to consider and understand the issues. To break this paradox managers need set ROI, provide time to problem solve, diagnose OD & provide insights, motivate employees, look for creativity and internalize the practice of constant diagnosis.
Lastly appreciative inquiry incorporates research of an organization that is appreciative, applicable, proactive and collaborative. The method of change includes discovery, understanding and amplifying. This method of inquiry should lead to a better understanding of leadership, facilitation, and the change process in school systems (i.e., schools).
I have experimented with the inquiry method with the hospital that my wife works with in Thousand Oaks. They could better serve their patients with an OD study. Without revealing any confidential information, the hospital does not systeamtically look at how communication is handled, and would benefit by using methods of inquiry that include a "world cafe" setting.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Organizational Learning and Culture

It sure is nice when a plan comes together! This class reminds of last semester's technology class. The learner gets tossed in the deep end of the pool and then starts swimming as fast as they can. The similarity is in the amount of reading that needs to be front-loaded in order for the course to make sense and establish a common vocabulary and reference point. What is organizational learning - brainwashing or corporate protocol? What is organizational culture and how would you recognize it?
The foundational reading before the first class meeting connected me to the giants of organizational learning. Schein, Lewin, Argyris and Schon had contributed so much to the field. Single and double-looped learning were new terms to me. Theories of action/Theories in use were also new concepts for me to digest. Lewin helped me analyze organizational learning from the perspective of force field analysis by looking at internal (want) and external (need) sources. Tuckerman's model of forming (orientation), storming (conflict), norming (group cohesion), performing (functional role-readiness), and adjourning (closure - terminating roles and tasks, and reducing dependency).
My reading of Argyris and Schon for another class solidified the concepts of how organizations learn. I made a connection with these authors and Tuckerman to a study on the Japanese model of knowlwdge creation and going from tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge. Top the reading off with a dash of organizational culture and the picture becomes clearer. Knowing how organizations learn, why they learn the way they do, and examining values. expectations, customs, rituals, stories, common vocabulary and metaphors was confirmed by Schein and Morgan.
More think about and more to digest!