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Organizational Change and Development

This is an article on various aspects of change with special emphasis on the factors for change and subsequent OD activities. It has 11 sources.

Change is invariable in any management setting though it is concerned with the whole organization or only certain key management roles. Even though change in any form is one of the most contentious issues to deal with, it must be said that change is a very important as it drives an organization towards positive goals. Change must happen from time to time and may be termed as positive or negative depending on the tangible effects that it creates in the organization. For example computerization may be called as a progressive change when we consider the rise in efficiency of the whole organization. However, too much computerization will also reduce the human element in the company and may bear heavily on the firm, if it is involved in a business that requires the active role of efficient people. Hence it may be said that Organizational development refers to a change that is holistic, the net result of which is always beneficial to the company. A local change which does not have repercussions in the whole company cannot be called as organizational change in the true sense because it will not contribute to the mission and vision values of the whole company. Hence organizational change is an enterprise wide change that is designed, constructed, manipulated and ultimately implemented to effectively change the existing organizational structure/hierarchy to ensure that the organization meets its potential aims and objectives. OD is implemented with an eye on the future is not restricted to the present.

The dynamics of the business environment is a very important factor that compels an organization to change. An organization must update itself with the latest event in the business environment if it has to remain competitive. Only a firm that is responsive to change and implements the change process in a timely manner, can expect to provide formidable competition to its immediate business competitors. It would suffice to say that a static organization will ultimately destroy its chances in the market and will ultimately die out. Just as it is important for organizations to remain dynamic with regard to its external environment, it is also mandatory that an organization remains responsive to its internal challenges. Internal challenges may be many and they can be solved with adequate and timely change processes that create value and remove nonfunctional entities from the organization. Redundant departments may have to be dismissed and new roles may have to be developed to meet the challenges of the industry headlong. Often it is seen that an effective leadership can smoothen the change process in a firm and so many experts believe that the quality of the leaders make or break the change processes in the firm. However, in order for organizational change to happen smoothly, a lot of factors other than leadership also have to be considered.


Organizational Development

Organizational development is a consequence of the underlying need for an organization to change. If the organization does not feel compelled to change, then there would be no organizational development. Hence, a need for change either as an inherent policy to develop a firm's present capacities, or as a response to business threats from the external environment, causes organizational development. It follows that organizational development is either a progressive or reactionary response, which is a direct reaction to the threat perception in the firm. A cursory look at most of the business establishments of the twenty-first century will show that technology is the most important driving force that encourages organizational change and development [Harvey and Brown 2001]

According to Beckhard (1969) Organizational Development is "an effort, planned, organization-wide, and managed from the top, to increase organization effectiveness and health through planned interventions in the organization's processes, using behavioral-science knowledge." This throws light into the core concepts of organizational development. It shows that organizational development depends on the ability and vision of the leader whose constant attention and management is required to ensure that the OD phase is successful in the company. Organizational development is also a process that modifies the existing processes of the company, which means that it is an exercise that modifies both the human resources as well as the non-human resources of the firm. In short, OD causes a comprehensive change in the firm.

Organizational development is also defined as "long-term effort at continuous improvement supported at all levels of the organization, using interdisciplinary approaches and modern technologies" [Larsen et al., 1996]. According to this description OD is a continuous process that takes stock of the changes that are required in a firm from time to time.

The components of OD

According to Gleicher (Beckhard & Harris, 1987), the principle factors that make up OD is Dissatisfaction


First Steps and Resistance to Change

Any Organizational development process stems from dissatisfaction because dissatisfaction is the primary cause that initiates change (this is also ratified by behavioral approach to studying OD). A need for change can be appreciated and planned accordingly, only if there is a vision to implement that change. This has to be followed up with adequate concrete steps which are very important in the initial phases of the change implementation processes. Last but not least is the resistance to change, which prevents OD from happening. In fact Gleicher explains that OD will happen only when Dissatisfaction x Vision x First Steps > Resistance to Change. Hence Resistance to change is the single strong point that prevents OD from happening in an organization and it takes the combined power of Dissatisfaction, Vision and First Steps to overcome it

The characteristics of OD

It is planned, which means that the whole process of change development is meticulously followed and no short cuts are allowed.

It traverses through the whole organization and does not localize itself to one or two departments. This is because OD aims at the whole organization and is not content with maximizing productivity at one or two levels

The Organizational development is a top down approach, which means that the changes are initiated and supervised from the top. The top management lays down the rules and the framework for action, which the lower rungs of the management must meticulously follow.

It is holistic and considers the whole organization. It is not a process that targets a specific area or department in a firm. It enhances the total quality of the firm.

OD is characterized by what is called as 'planned intervention', which is essentially an assessment and feedback routine. The changes that are found acceptable are incorporated into the process cycle of the company after assessment and performance review.

One of the most important strengths of the OD process is that it takes into cognizance the potential of the people in a company. This is one aspect that keeps it distinct from other enterprise modification programmes that seeks to enhance the productivity of the organization. OD stresses on behavioral science and gives a lot of importance to the human responses of the employees in an organization. [Robert H. Rouda & Mitchell E. Kusy, Jr., 1996]

Importance of OD to a manager

As far as a manager is concerned, OD assumes significance primarily due to two main reasons.

1. OD is leader centric

2. OD puts strong emphasis on man management skills.

Harvey and Brown 2001]

Perhaps leadership is one of the most confused terms that are being used in the modern management circles. It can mean an individual, a group of individuals, or even the whole management team that governs an organization. According to Harold Koontz (1978), leadership is just influence. It is the art of influencing people to do what the management requires of them. It follows that the same influence can also cause people not to work properly. Leadership depends a lot on the character of the leader. The ideal leader must have a lot of qualities like authority, maturity, ethics, honesty etc. Essentially leadership is the capacity to motivate people to actualize the goals of the organization.

The need for a leader in the organization is very important since a leader is required to give sense and direction to the whole team. In an organizational setup, there are many leaders who work under other leaders, and together they for a network of administrators who give direction to the company's daily as well as long-term activities

In an organizational perspective, the leader is one who leads by example. The real leader is one who brings out the creativity in each of his team members and not just issue orders to his subordinates. Many organizations have suffered from the role of over zealous leaders who believe that any work in the organization will be done best when they personally look into these tasks. They do not believe in delegating work and would like to rule over every aspect in the office.…[continue]

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