Organizational development is one of the key areas in management. For managers who want to increase performance and efficiency of their companies, organizational development is essential and necessary time after time. In the scholarly literature you would find that different authors refer to organizational development as “a response to change, a complex educational strategy intended to change the beliefs, attitudes, values, and structure of organization so that they can better adapt to new technologies, marketing and challenges, and the dizzying rate of change itself” (Beckhard, 1969).
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One of the keys to success for organizational development is organizational change. Change is necessary in many sectors of society with the passing of time. This is certainly true for the business world but even for other governmental agencies, nonprofit organizations, or other forms which people organize themselves. As Beckhard puts it:
“Significant organizational change occurs, for example, when an organization changes its overall strategy for success, adds or removes a major section or practice, and/or wants to change the very nature by which it operates. It also occurs when an organization evolves through various life cycles, just like people must successfully evolve through life cycles. For organizations to develop, they often must undergo significant change at various points in their development. That’s why the topic of organizational change and development has become widespread in communications about business, organizations, leadership and management.” (1969)
In reality many leaders and managers, in a timely manner, try to implement successful strategies in order to achieve significant positive change in their organizations.
Well, to be sincere, this is their job. Some of them are very good in turning their efforts into reality and bring significant change to their organizations. Many of us do not notice their daily work and perhaps do not fully appreciate their job. It is also true that there are many others who continuously struggle and fail with their organizations.
That’s often the difference between people who thrive in their roles and those that get shuttled around from job to job, ultimately settling into a role where they’re frustrated and ineffective” (Beckhard, 1969).
I have worked for a business consulting company for many years now. When I arrived it was a successful one. It had a good, reputable, brand name in the market. Consumers responded positively to its brand and customer satisfaction was above average. But, as the financial conditions of the market began to change, negative effects began to show up. At the beginning they seemed to be not worthy of attention and effects that will pass without causing much harm to the company. But, during last year, after the explosion of the subprime crisis, the financial crisis began to hit the business world. Our company began to feel serious negative backlashes. This situation persisted and seemed unstoppable. The Board of Directors had a series of special meetings with all the management staff and we discussed how to surpass this situation. It was clearly the need for a radical organizational change if we wanted to become leaders in this market sector. One of the decisions made was the re-organizing of the structure of the company. It was evaluated that the existing one had become too bureaucratic and slow in reacting to market shocks like the one we were experiencing.
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The existing structure had ‘blocked’ the interactions of managers with clients. Their problems and situations were not given proper attention. Since we were in the consulting business, the financial crisis changed radically the requests of the customers. They tended to become more in need of assistance and needed it faster than before. The problem was that the company continued to treat the customer requests with the same timing and importance as in previous market situations, not being able to understand that emergency situations need radical responses. The needs and problems of the customers, along with their complaints, either never made it to the managers and faded into the bureaucratic machinery of customer support assistants, or arrived too late on our tables. They arrived so late that our helping strategies were of no use anymore. The Board of Directors decided to change this situation. Managers were now obliged to select personally a number of orders and not wait for the assistance staff select them. Also, they were encouraged to personally contact clients and be interested how they were doing in their businesses. The structural reorganization included the formation of a special management team that would make market research in order to foresee future market shocks and problems and make the company prepare for those shocks. The results of the market researches would also be used as an insight in consulting various key clients.
This new situation made the organization much more efficient. First of all it cut down significantly the time of response to customers’ needs. It also made clients feel that someone was working along with them for their business not to fail. This built up trust which resulted in customer satisfaction.
Beckhard, R. (1969). Organization development: strategies and models. Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley.