OD is concerned with managing planned change in organisations – a process where organisations move from their present state to some desired future state so as to increase organisational effectiveness. This process of planned change can only be realised when both in depth scientific inquiry and effective social action are carried out in tandem with the help of professional OD practitioners. It should be noted however that OD differs greatly from many other planned change and improvement efforts widely used today, such as those on offer from management consultants, innovation experts and operations management theory. The latter offers programmatic and expert driven approaches to change. OD provides a more adaptive and flexible approach. Indeed traditional OD can be seen as a form of process consultation, where rather than OD practitioners “prescribing” solutions to help solve specific issues - their job is more centred around helping organisational members identify their organisational problems and developing solutions together, through both scientific inquiry methods and social action techniques. Both processes of scientific inquiry and social action are of a collaborative nature and we hope to show this further in our essay. Indeed the term social action refers to the idea of acting together instead of being acted upon by experts. Just exactly how this change process is carried out can be seen through the “General Model” of planned change - a framework which describes four basic activities which practitioners and organisational members jointly carry out when engaged in OD. These activities include Entering and Contracting, Diagnosing, Planning and Implementing change and Evaluating and Institutionalising change. Throughout this essay we hope to delve deeper into each of the four stages of change and show how they are intrinsically linked to the ideas of scientific inquiry and social action. We will draw from the Da Vita and B.R Richardson cases in order to give examples of this change process and will also look to provide solutions in the form of interventions that we feel would be appropriate to the given situations.
Entering and contracting
The initial set of activities in planned change concerns entering into a relationship with the client and contracting. This usually begins when a manager or administrator approaches an OD consultant with a problem (or as an OD practitioner, we would say “positive opportunity”) within their organisation, either specific or general. In the Richardson Timbers Case, Bowman, the head of industrial relations, expressed his belief that a motivational course was needed as morale was low in the plant after a fatality, and also that the manager was slightly authoritative. In the DaVita case, Mr Thiry has presented us with several problems facing the company. They include the following * Integrating Gambro into the “DaVita” way of managing and its culture * How will Mr Thiry personally touch and impact teammates as he had done previously with the increase in size and growth of the firm * How will the company manage their employees increasing expectations regarding wages and working conditions? * How will management be able to continue and drive productivity improvement and create new ways to fundamentally reengineer the firm?
As OD practitioners, we would first have to clarify the organizational issues presented to us by our clients in the above cases – to see if they did exist. It is important that this is done early in the OD process so that consequential diagnosis and interventions are focused correctly. This can achieved be through collecting preliminary data, examining company records and interviewing a few key members to gain a deeper understanding of the issues and the positive opportunities for inquiry. This investigation is the very beginning of a scientific inquiry into the context and nature of the presenting problem and begins the process...
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