Week 12

Week 12

Rylatt, A 2003, Winning the knowledge game, McGraw Hill,Sydney: ch. 15 Measuring your know-how.

Synopsis:

This chapter discusses the new paradigm of measuring an organisation’s intangible wealth performance as a key measure that may become more important than the traditional accounting measurement of the book value of the fixed assets. The measurement of intangible wealth refers to the worth of an organisation’s people, systems and processes. The chapter gives examples of organisations such as Ford, Oracle, and Coca Cola to demonstrate that their market value is now worth vastly more than their book value due to their intangible wealth. The chapter also discusses the issue of finding common measures in order to accurately determine the worth of these intangible assets and that there are many accounting bodies, such as the International Accounting Standards Board, and industry groups researching how to measure this. The chapter then offers and describes five key areas that currently exist on reporting intangible value: 1. Customer Capital; 2. Human Capital; 3. Intellectual Capital; 4. Relationship Capital; 5. Systems Performance. Finally the Chapter concludes with the acknowledgement that businesses can no longer rely on traditional financial reports alone as a performance indicator.

Critique:

The chapter raises some very good points such as a need to find common ground on the measurement of intangible assets across industry in general. Although the chapter discussed five key areas currently used in reporting on intangible value and associated measures, it would have been even better to delve deeper into these and discuss or show how the measurement examples categorically tied into what it was trying to measure with worked or specific industry examples. It would also have been good to see an analysis and discussion around which of these measures worked best and why this was so. Although I understand (and agree to a significant extent) with the need quantify the worth of human capital and the end product of it, the concern I have remains that this needs to be done more from an organisational perspective of understanding itself and its own worth rather than undertaking the exercise primarily for the estimation of external organisational worth (such as listing on the stock market).

Reflection:

This chapter has helped me to understand that an organisation’s worth is not only the value of its physical assets, but also of its people, processes and systems. The chapter has also helped me to understand that there is a great difficulty in trying to measure intangible assets such as innovation and creativity, and we struggle with trying to capture these as a tangible item. It has also helped me to understand that a particular measure or set of measures for one organisation may not be appropriate for another organisation and a great deal of thought and detail need to be undertaken before applying any of these measures.

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Week 11

Week 11

Visscher, K & Rip, A 2003, ‘Coping with chaos in change processes’, Creativity and Innovation Management, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 121-128.

Synopsis:

This article discusses and challenges the modernist views of control over the change process. The article centres on the role of consultants in the change and change management process and explores the paradigms of attempting to control chaos and thereby enhancing the illusion of control within the change process, or to embrace chaos and help managers find a different way to make changes to an organisation. The article separates consultants into three distinct classifications: Enlightened Modernists; Ironists; and Postmodernists. Enlightened Modernists are defined as reinforce the view of the change process as rational and logical and that their actions are directly attributable to results within the process. Ironists move within a different paradigm, one that does not centre on moving toward an outcome as a result of change but moving away from an undesirable current situation, while focusing on learning within the process itself. Postmodernists attempt to reframe the chaos and assist the organisation by acting as a reflector or provocateur within the change process. The article concludes by discussing the benefits of matching consultancy style with a complementary management style to gain the best outcomes.

Critique:

 Although the article challenged the agency of control by managers during the change process, and the setting and achievement of outcomes prior to and at the end of the change process, I was a little lost as to the purpose of the article beyond challenging these paradigms. The classification and description of the types of consultant were quite good and the article was quite defined about these descriptions but then went on to discuss chameleonic behaviors and some new theories in the conclusion that left me without closure for the article. I would also challenge the data base for the exercise given the article admitted that it only interviewed seven consultants. This is also an extremely small population sample to justify a basis for a theory. In conjunction with this the authors admitted to the bias of the consultants interviewed by stating that they were selected because they had featured in publications as already being aligned with the paradigm of the illusion of agency of control regarding the change process.

Reflection:

 This article has helped me to understand that there is a multitude of ways to cope with the chaos or uncertainty of the change process. The difficulty associated with coping with the change process, its effects on the organisation, and the people directly involved, is the ability to understand the frame of reference before selecting the style or type of coping strategy that will be used throughout the change implementation. It is also critical that an organisation or manager understands his or her own frame of reference on change prior to selecting an appropriate consultant if required.

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Week 10

Week 10

Graetz, F, Rimmer, M, Lawrence, A Smith, A 2002,  Managing organisational change, John Wiley & Sons Australia Ltd: Ch. 9 Measuring and evaluating change.

Synopsis:

This paper deals with the question of measurement and evaluation of change versus the measurement and evaluation of change programs. The paper examines conventional change measurements such as financial, strategy and benchmarking measures along with what some of the shortfalls are in using this methodology when trying to measure the change process. The paper then discusses means of measuring and evaluating the success levels of change programs using alternative measures. These alternative methodologies differentiate between positivist and phenomenological approaches to researching and measuring change programs via high-performance work systems; TQM; the HR scorecard; and action research.

Critique:

The paper discusses the nature of measurement systems on change and change programs. I thought the paper clearly articulated the differentiation between these measurement systems and demonstrated how the measurement of the change result itself did not measure the effectiveness of the change program. Although the paper did articulate this well I felt that the discussions and conclusions around the change program measurement were very abstract and didn’t really give any conclusive indication that these were robust systems. The paper also used two test cases to validate the discussion around these measurement systems (result of the change and change program). However, I thought that both case studies could have been far more in detailed than what they were as I found both lacked the depth to support the discussion.

Reflection:

This paper has helped me to understand the importance of being able to measure the effectiveness of change programs and not just the measurement of change or the results of the change itself. The paper also helped me to understand that although there are a multitude of measurement systems available it is essential to first understand what is required to be measured prior to selecting the most appropriate measurement system and to also understand that within each measurement systems there are not only flaws, but that by virtue of the measurement of change itself there may well be a causal effect on the change.

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Week 9

Week 9

Bommer, WH, Rich, GA& Rubin, RS 2005, ‘Changing attitudes about change: longitudinal effects of transformational leader behavior on employee cynicism about organizational change’, Journal of Organizational Behaviour, vol. 26, no. 7, pp. 733-53.

Synopsis:

This article explores the relationship between transformational leadership behaviors (TLB) and their effects on employee’s cynicism about organisational change (CAOC). The article tests two hypotheses (H1 and H2) the first being that transformational leadership behaviors will reduce employee’s cynicism about organisational change. While the second hypothesis is that the initial hypothesis will have a statistically stronger effect than that of employee’s cynicism about organisational change will have on transformational leadership behaviors. The research involved three unrelated companies with two separate data collection waves, nine months apart. The results of the analysed data supported both hypotheses. That is that in the case of H1 TLB’s did have a positive effect on employee’s CAOC and in the case of H2 there was a statistically stronger correlation to H1 than to reverse.

Critique:

The article attempts to close the gap between existing leadership theory on change management and the lack of empirical data that exists in this area. The article did have some good discussion around both transformational leadership and employee cynicism. Although I understood the empirical results published in support of the hypotheses I believe that that article became a little lost with its stated intent of an empirical study by discussing alternate views and theories of employee cynicism. While enjoying the discussion around the opposing views and theories of employee cynicism often viewed a negative behavior trait on the behalf of an employee versus the theory that cynics actually care deeply about their workplace and they may serve well as devil’s advocates for the proposed organisational change, I was left a little confused by the purpose of the study overall.

Reflection:

This article has helped me to understand the potential impact that leadership and its associated positive behaviors can have on employee attitudes to change. It has also helped me to understand that managing organisational change is more than relating the need to change on employees, but rather individualising the change and its impact on each and every employee affected.  The article also helped me to understand that to be a successful leader and change manager their must be more than a superficial relationship with employees to affect change.

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Week 8

Week 8

 

Goodman, J & Truss, C 2004, ‘The medium and the message: communicating effectively during a major change initiative’, Journal of Change Management, vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 217-28.

Synopsis:

This journal article discusses the use of appropriate communication strategies and mediums to assist in the success of change programs. The authors cite several sources in discussing the how appropriate communication of change has been identified in lowering resistance to change. Appropriate communication was also identified as being the key to preparing employees for change, helping them understand the need for change, and how that change will affect them on a personal level. The article then presents two case studies that were conducted after change implementation where the methodology of change communication for each organisation is examined. In the case of OilCo, there was a strategic approach to communication with a semi formal communication plan in developed and in the case of PubCo an ad hoc approach was used. The combination of document review, unstructured and semi structured interviews, and a questionnaire were used to determine results. Results of the research indicated that the organisation that used a clear communication plan (OilCo) had more employee satisfaction than that of an ad hoc approach (PubCo).

Critique:

The article highlighted the advantages of a clear communication plan prior to implementing, and during, any change program. The article also linked the models discussed, such as Lewin’s unfreeze-move-refreeze/sustain phase model. The article also provided a model, in the form of the change communication wheel, developed from the studies undertaken and ties this in well with the general discussion around the results. I would suggest though, that while the model may be a useful tool, implementation of a model developed only on the basis of two case studies may well be fraught with danger. I would also question the validity of the data given the response was voluntary and the response rate in both cases was under 50% (even the author’s admit it was experimental). I would also liked to have seen the research tools as appendices. What I did like about the research approach was that it explored both sides of the change and communication plans by approaching both management and front line employees.

Reflection:

This article has helped to understand that there is a dynamic and tangible link between a sound communication plan and the successful implementation of any change process. I have also learnt that communication plans are very much contextual to the organisation and the impact of the change. That is, what may work in one organisation or situation may not work in another.  I am currently managing a proposed major change program in my own workplace and will work to apply some of the models from this article into my own communication plan.

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Week 7

Week 7

Loewe, P & Dominiquini, J 2006, ‘Overcoming the Barriers to Effective Innovation,’ Strategy & Leadership, vol. 34, no. 1, pp. 24-31.

Synopsis:

This article discusses how to identify and overcome barriers to effective innovation. The paper utilises the experience of the authors, within the field of strategic innovation consulting, to highlight the common organisational barriers to innovation. The paper lists the top six obstacles as: Short term focus; Lack of time, resources or staff; Leadership expectations for pay off sooner than is realistic; Management incentives are not structured to reward innovation; and belief that innovation is inherently risky. The authors’ also pinpoint three key areas to become successful innovators: 1. Not just treating the symptoms but being aware that there are root causes found in the following areas: leadership behaviour; management processes; people and skills; and culture and values; 2. Not only acting on one root cause but to act, potentially, on multiple root causes at once; 3. Not to blindly copy best practices as the copied practice(s) may not fit your organisation and an individual diagnostic is required to ascertain what practice, or variation, will best fit the needs of the organisation.

Critique:

What I particularly enjoyed about this article was that it was written from a practitioner’s point of view rather than a theorist’s point of view. I thought that the way the paper was set out and explained the underpinning rationale for each of the key areas to look for root causes in was very good. The article also gave some good examples of where some of the root causes had been found in other organisations long with what the organisation did to fix the issues, and what the outcome was. I also appreciated the combination of a top down and bottom up analysis by the innovation consultants of what the organisation believed were the issues and provided a sample of one of the questionnaires used.

Reflection:

This article has helped me to understand that in order to become a successful innovation organisation the first key to unlocking the door is leadership and leadership behaviour. If leadership as individuals or as a group does not understand what it takes to be innovative, and display this in their behaviour, innovation will not happen. The article has also helped me to understand that there is no “silver bullet” that can be used to develop innovative competence. Rather, it is a journey of unknown length that will take hard work and an understanding that by empowering individuals at all levels of the organisation, a large portion of the resistance to change is alleviated by making these individuals partners in the transformation at the very least.

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Week 6

Week 6

Carnall, C 2007, Managing change in organisations, Prentice Hall, Harlow: Ch 5 Theories of change: critical perspectives.

Synopsis:

This paper examines and challenges the application and effectiveness of models in managing organisational change. The paper challenges the traditional models of organisational change in terms of being too simplistic given that traditional organisational structures are no longer the norm, while also challenging the permanency of market dominance theory. The paper then goes on to discuss multiple alternate models of organisational change theories: Critical theory, where an understanding of where knowledge is derived from is sought; Post modernisation, although similar to critical theory, places language and discussion at the centre of the model with multiple outcomes a probability; and Complexity theory where there is no single line of change, but is achieved via multiple change agents working in parallel through constant evolution and learning. The paper also discusses experience based design, where the users of the change system are co-designers of that system. The paper also discusses the similarities between organisational change and the large scale change achieved through social movements.

Critique:

While the paper is brief in its attempt to describe each of the organisational development models of Critical Theory; Post Modernisation; and Complexity Theory, I felt that there was sufficient context given to grasp a base understanding of each. A listing of resources or references where some concrete examples of how each of these theories had been practically applied and, in turn, what the results were and in what industries these were done in would have been beneficial. I also felt that the paper could have expanded on the social and cultural context of organisational development and potentially what skills a change agent would need in this context.

Reflection:

This article has helped me to understand some of the theory that sits behind managing change in the organisational development context. The article has also helped me understand that although there are a multitude of theories and models available to manage change within an organisation, the selection tool is just as vital and personalized as the required change in the organisation. It has also helped me to understand that although we focus on change in the organisational context as a whole, perhaps a large portion of the ability for an organisation to change lies within each individual’s ability understand the need for change and to respond to it appropriately.

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Week 5

Week 5

Argyris, C 1998, ‘Teaching smart people how to learn’, in Harvard Business Review on Knowledge Management, Harvard Business School Press, Boston.

Synopsis:

This paper examines the ability of an organisation to become a learning organisation by understanding that most people do not know how to learn, in particular those professionals that occupy key leadership positions, and how to create an environment to improve this. The author explores human behaviour patterns in the organisational context and discusses traditional single-loop learning strategies employed within organisations that place a barrier to organisational learning when things go wrong.  In particular, the author focuses on the individuals’ propensity to ‘defensively reason’ when confronted with a situation that is outside their behavioral experience or comfort zone. The paper then discusses the need for organisations to focus improvement programs, using examples from the author’s own experience, aimed at changing the way that managers and employees reason, and analyse how their own behaviour has impacted on the outcome of a situation and what that behaviour has done to block learning.

Critique:

The paper attempts to address organisational learning on an individual basis. The author addresses several key points in this discussion, one of which is how an individual’s belief system either enhances or reduces an organisations’ ability to learn, coupled with a need for individuals to move from a sphere of externalisation to one of internalisation. I must admit I was eagerly anticipating a more intense examination here and was greeted by theories and generalisations that had little or no supportive data or evidence. The paper could have given some real data driven examples of the author’s research rather than some of the dialogue given as examples to highlight double-loop learning strategies as this had the potential to seem rather condescending. Nor did the material give any real models for double-loop learning strategies that could be applied apart from a top down approach of managers’ learning to internalise prior to the organisation being able to reason productively. The discussion around behaviors was limited to a very narrow professional field, and whilst I agree that there needs to be a top down approach if this model was to be applied, again there is an underlying assumption that this will be all that’s needed for success.

Reflection:

This paper has helped me to understand organisations do not learn – the individuals that make up the organisation learn and it is how they apply that learning in the work context that makes the organisation a learning organisation or not. The paper has also helped me to better understand Senge’s five discrete five discrete processes of a learning organisation, in particular the process of personal mastery and mental models. The article enabled a better understanding of the mental models aspect through the explanation of defensive reasoning and how our personal belief systems encourage this behaviour. The article helped explain the personal mastery aspect by the need for the individual to focus on internalisation rather than externalisation in order to better understand the opportunities of a situation.

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Week 4

Week 4

Searle, RH & Ball, KS 2003    , ‘Supporting innovation through HR policy: evidence from the UK’, Creativity and Innovation Management, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 50-62 (online Blackwell-Synergy)

Synopsis:

This paper examines the application and effectiveness of human resource policies in supporting an organisations innovation performance. These policies include: recruitment; training; and performance management. The paper aims to address, via the research methodology of a questionnaire, four key propositions regarding the assumptions and HR policies used by organisations to promote innovation. In the course of conducting this research and analysing the data the paper presents three main implications for organisations: although innovation is important to most organisations surveyed, attention is focused on the lower levels of the organisation; the hierarchical nature of HR policies regarding innovation as a means of empowering employees were only focused at clerical level and may well lead to a lack of support and understanding at all other levels of the organisation; this research along with other works, reveals that is an over- reliance on individuals and innovation where a team approach is required to at least implement ideas. The paper concludes with a discussion around the limited range of HR tools to identify and support innovation and a failure to translate and apply these policies along with the potential to bury innovation through a lack of understanding of middle management as a result of the stratification of these HR policies.

Critiques:

 Although the propositions explored in the paper were valid it must be asked if a questionnaire, no matter how comprehensive, could do justice or provide valid data for such a complex investigation. For me, the paper may have carried more weight if the questionnaire was included as an Appendix. A voluntary response rate of 30% should also give rise to questioning the validity of the data set as a representative population sample. Also, the range of industry sectors surveyed appears to be quite eclectic and may lead to misrepresentation of response results given that most individual industry sectors will have their own unique processes and goals. The very nature of the differences would lead to an assumption that organisational culture and attitude towards innovation for a financial sector organisation would be very different to that of an engineering sector organisation.

Reflection:

 This paper has helped me to understand that the chosen HR strategies to supports innovation are critical to achieving that. While many organisations hold innovation in high regard and strive to have employees at all levels involved, recognised and rewarded for innovation, the very nature of the organisations HR policies may in fact be creating barriers to this outcome. That is, if stratification of the innovation concept is created by the recognition and reward systems implemented by HR, a disconnect between organisational layers may well have the effect of burying innovative ideas through a lack of understanding or a dichotomy in how or what each organisational layer may wish to achieve.

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Week 3

Week 3

Chapter 2, ‘Creativity: The Slumbering Giant of Organisational Studies’ in T Rickards 1999, Creativity and the management of change, Blackwell, Oxford.

Synopsis

The main thrust of this chapter is for the author to discuss the possibility of creativity becoming a legitimate area of study within business, as a contrast to traditional business models and orthodoxy. The author begins by establishing a platform of understanding by discussing their own research of practitioners of creative thinking. The practitioner themes are then described by the author as fitting into four major themes: Something Special; Personal Transformation; Mysterious and Magical; and beyond rationality.

The author then gives an historical synopsis of many models of creativity that have been developed by researchers over the years. This discussion details a chronological shift in perspective from structured creativity models to the work of Amabile’s intrinsic motivation theory.

Critiques

Although the author seeks legitimacy for creativity as a formal area of business studies, there seems to be an underlying theme of in-definability around this concept. Although a number of models are discussed there does not seem to be any particular route towards achieving this legitimacy. Each model discussed endeavors to put a fence around the unknown of creativity but appears to fall well short of any universally applicable model likely to be adopted in the form of business studies.

Reflection

This article has helped me to understand that a number of models associated with creativity exist, from structured explanations to those that have very little detail. The article has also helped me to understand that as much as we like to label and model concepts and processes in order to feel more comfortable with them, creativity may well be something that could remain indefinable as it appears to be as individual as personality. The article also helped me to understand that organisations may well inhibit individual creativity by virtue of its culture and or structure and has encouraged me to reflect further about my own workplace in this context.

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