Organizational Development – A Plan
The following suggested plan for organizational development is a guide for senior leadership to help develop their organization. This proposed plan will cover varying concerns, including developing people, systems, processes, teamwork, and institutional foresight and knowledge.
The Potential Problems
Before one can appreciate the guide, the potential problems must first be addressed. There are varying degrees to each problem, and the scope of each issue cannot be addressed to its fullest extent within this article. However, approaching each from a general point of view will aid significantly in helping to identify some of the critical components that make up some of the overall issues at hand.
The first area of concern is regarding developing your people. From a cost/benefit point of view, massive profit hemorrhaging can occur when an organization does not make an effort to develop its people. Turnover costs, missed promotion opportunities, and missed opportunities for employee contribution can completely undermine the organization at its roots. These and many other potential issues are self-evident. Retention is lost, motivation is lost, performance is lost, and engagement is lost. This type of environment also hinders the ability to attract qualified candidates for future employment. Be it through reputation or observation, this can and often does equate to a reduction in profitability or general worth.
Organizational systems are a critical element to analyze. Organizational systems are specified and deliberate ways of doing things within your organization. These systems can and often do apply to each layer or section of your organization. When a system is broken, incomplete, or not there, the potential for a further breakdown in processes becomes greater. But more importantly, a system allows the organization’s leadership to be absent from time to time without having the organization come to a complete halt.
Often these systems revolve around repetitive actions. From answering the phone a certain way, stocking the shelves a certain way, to building an actual product a certain way, systems allow the organization to work like a machine. Without solid and effective organizational strategies, you have a greater opportunity for chaos and breakdown.
Organizational processes are the many activities that must be linked together or flow together to achieve the ultimate mission. For instance, let us pretend your organization produces canned beverages. Your organization has three steps; 1) brew the beverage, 2) pour the beverage into the can, and 3) seal the can. If your processes are not solidified, and someone seals the can before pouring in the beverage, you have made a mess and lost profitability. Organizational processes seek to correct such problems before they arise while pinpointing potential training needs and increasing accountability.
The systems are the map of your organization. They are the standard operating procedures that keep your entire workforce on the same page. If the S.O.P. is not good or the workers cannot access it, your organizational processes may need some attention.
Organizational teamwork is a vital piece of the organizational development puzzle. This cohesiveness across the organization does more than foster an organizational culture of quality improvement, product development, or customer service; it creates an environment that allows co-workers to become teammates. Employees will look out for one another and the company when this type of environment is achieved. Imagine a worker cracked her wrist in her car door coming into work. The injury has made it difficult for her to use her wrist much. However, her job function requires quite a bit of wrist movement. At this point, a teammate might be willing to step in and help. This type of environment aids the company’s ultimate production mission and creates a caring and nurturing environment for the workers.
Workers can become cold to one another when this environment does not exist, and such assistance will be missing. Hence, the ultimate mission of the company is hindered. This also equates to a reduction in quality improvement, product development, or customer service, which ultimately impedes the company’s overall reputation.
Institutional foresight and knowledge are critical components to analyze. Essentially this is the strategy, planning, forecasting, and analysis of the things that will impact your organization and how you will plan to overcome them. This can mean many different things for many different organizations. It will undoubtedly involve the evaluation of competitors, emerging technologies, economic or global factors, etc.
This part requires practicing and rationalizing the cause-and-effect scenarios that could or would impact your organization. If your organization is not dedicating a good slice of the time pie to this particular piece, you could be setting your organization up for failure. The reason is rather fundamental but can be summed up by comparing Commodore International versus Macintosh (Apple).
Now that we have identified some of the more pressing areas of concern, a plan needs to be created and initiated in your organization to achieve the ultimate success you seek. Again, these solutions should be fine-tuned to your organization following the principle or “spirit” of the provided suggestion. It should also be noted that such systems are neither “quick fixes” nor “overnight successes.” Instead, these are steps that should be taken with precision and forethought and fostered over time.
Developing your people is always step number one. By developing your people, you will be able to eventually shift your attention to other areas of concern or even potential growth in areas that have been lacking thus far. It comes down to coaching your direct reports. It would be best if you fostered an environment that encourages the process of mentorship (Campbell, 2013). While you may mentor a direct report, your direct report should be mentoring their report, and so on.
This type of education can often be priceless. Your direct report has something you like. If they mentor another, they help pass that “special something” on to another. This creates promote-ability within the organization and creates a pool of better-qualified candidates when turnover occurs while simultaneously strengthening employee commitment and loyalty because they can see that personal development is a critical part of your organization’s culture (Anderson, 2012).
It is essential to share operational details with your team openly and honestly. Allow employees to participate in the discussion and encourage their questions, thinking, and suggestions (Valcour, 2014). Some organizations find that some of their best idea generators are their employees (Flamholtz & Randle, 2011).
Encourage cooperation between different divisions as well as networking opportunities. The more the workers know about your organization, the better off you will be (Flamholtz & Randle, 2011). This will also reduce turnover. Suppose a worker decides to try a different role in the company or transfer to a different division. In that case, it should be encouraged if an opening is available and the worker can fulfill the job function. This way, you will not lose an employee. Instead, you have gained a cross-trained employee and fostered loyalty.
Performance reviews should be more frequent. Workers should know where they stand and where they can improve. This is especially true for those workers who are looking to promote. Even if the conversations are short, they should remain goal-oriented and have the mission of refining and solidifying long-term goals within the organization. This demonstrates interest on your part and increases loyalty and job performance on theirs (Anderson, 2012).
It is also essential to gain the input of your workers regarding their job functions. As mentioned earlier, sometimes those doing the work are your best idea generators. They may have a better way of going about doing their job function. They may also let you know what they would like to learn. The organization should embrace this, as cross-trained workers reduce the likelihood of operational stops if a worker is either sick or decides to leave. Finally, if a worker is highly skilled at a particular task, encourage them to demonstrate their ability and teach others their methods. This creates on-the-job training for those learning and eases the worker into leadership functions.
Operational or organizational systems are a fundamental aspect of your organization. Standard Operating Procedures must be created (if you do not already have them) or continually refined if they already exist. However, this does not mean that you should arbitrarily change things within the procedures. Instead, when a better way of doing something is discovered, it should be tested, solidified, and updated in the S.O.P. If you find out that there is a task being completed that does not have a Standard Procedure associated with it; one should be created and implemented. Having systems in place, regardless of the task, and having that S.O.P. carefully recorded in an operations manual will make your business more operationally sound and valuable in the long run.
These processes should also be solidified. This should be the road map of how your organization operates “on the floor.” By mapping out the system, it will be easier to discover inefficiencies and correct them to increase profitability. An example might be as follows: Your process is roughly eight steps. Each step already has its S.O.P.s and is functioning nicely. However, there is always a hang-up between steps 4 and 5. By mapping this out, you discover that the hang-up would be eliminated if their reception position within the building were altered or switched.
Your system has now been improved because you have moved a division, an office, or a person to ease the flow within the system. Commit the process to paper and scrutinize whether it makes strategic sense where it is currently in your system. Scrutinize each piece’s structure, the people involved, and the S.O.P.s.
Organizational teamwork can be difficult to achieve sometimes. However, a strong head start in the right direction revolves around a few basic ideas that start with you. To begin with, workers need to clearly understand the direction in which leadership wishes to go, and they need clarification of responsibilities both task-oriented and within the organization as a whole (Anderson, 2012). This gives everyone a sense of ownership and reduces (in part) the individual feeling. Group meetings, encouraging the use of a co-worker instead of a manager, and encouraging team-oriented tasks, will all build camaraderie among workers.
Boosting the morale within the organization is critical as well. This can be done in numerous ways, but ensuring the basics are met is step one. It is essential to ensure workers have the necessary tools to do their job when needed. Having these will help to create an environment of accomplishment instead of frustration. Following up with workers in a timely fashion is critical. They will appreciate the swift answers even if the answer is not the one they wanted.
Arguably the most challenging part of this guide revolves around organizational foresight and knowledge. This requires a proactive effort to strategize, plan, forecast, and analyze aspects that impact your organization down the road and how your organization plans to overcome them (Bishop, 2010).
Of course, this part begins with organizational vision. This vision derives from the leadership itself. The leader(s) must know what they want and where they are going. This should be clearly outlined in the organization’s vision statement. This vision statement should ultimately guide the overall objectives of the organization (Kim & Robert K. Greenleaf Center, 2002). From there, plans or “plans of action” should be made to help guide the many different operations within the organization.
Evidence suggests that making plans that include stakeholder input regularly equates to organizational survival in competitive markets when the plan does not cost too much or is rigidly followed (Mintzberg & Ghoshal, 2002). In other words, your organization could see the opportunity for a dollar collapse in the coming months or years. Your organization could make a plan to change to an alternate currency, such as the Yuan, when the event occurs. However, economic factors could suggest that such a collapse will be avoided, or perhaps the Yuan collapsed alongside the dollar. The plan should be flexible, feasible, and reachable but should focus on issues coming down the road.
We could utilize a different analogy to ensure the delivery of the point. Say your organization is a retail business. Easter is almost a year away, but you already know that your Easter sales were down significantly this year. In this phase, you would take the data you know about this year, cross-reference data that you can come across on other successful retailers, gain some stakeholder input, and then make a tentative plan for the following year. Doing this eliminates having to scramble at the last minute to come up with solutions, and you gain a particular advantage over those not planning as well as you are. This part should always include the evaluation of competitors, emerging technologies, economic or global factors, etc. It should also be reiterated that this requires practicing and rationalizing the cause-and-effect scenarios that could or would impact your organization.
As demonstrated, the suggested plan for organizational development is a guide for senior leadership to help develop their organization. This proposed plan covers varying areas of concern, including developing people, systems, processes, teamwork, and institutional foresight and knowledge. By utilizing the plan provided, an organization should be able to fine-tune the many different aspects of its operations and create greater profitability and efficiencies.
- Anderson, D. L. (2012). Organization development: The process of leading organizational change. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Publications.
- Bishop, P. (2010, January 1). Organizational Foresight – Strategy and Terms. Organizational Foresight – Strategy and Terms. Retrieved from http://www.accelerating.org/orgforesight.html
- Campbell, M. (2013, January 29). 3 Ways to Develop Your People Without Overwhelming Yourself. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/ccl/2013/01/29/3-ways-to-develop-your-people-without-overwhelming-yourself/
- Flamholtz, E., & Randle, Y. (2011). Corporate culture: The ultimate strategic asset. Stanford, Calif: Stanford Business Books.
- Kim, D. H., & Robert K. Greenleaf Center. (2002). Foresight as the central ethic of leadership. Indianapolis, Ind: Greenleaf Center for Servant-Leadership.
- Mintzberg, H., & Ghoshal, S. (2002). The strategy process. Harlow: Financial Times Prentice Hall.
- Valcour, M. (2014, January 23). If You’re Not Helping People Develop, You’re Not Management Material. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from http://blogs.hbr.org/2014/01/if-youre-not-helping-people-develop-youre-not-management-material/