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.

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