Changing stone ??

Change Strategies – ADLT 625 – Post 1

It was interesting to have our guest, Tom,  in class who has had an OD role in an organization making a conscious effort to make a cultural change. It sounds like a huge effort and process to move from a production oriented culture to one based on values. What strikes me about the conversation we had with him??? Hmm… a few things. One is the role of leadership in bringing about change. It’s clear that without the vision and interest of CL4 the cultural change would not have happened, at least to the same degree. His vision clearly has brought about transformational change.

It seems like a large part of the transformation within the organization has occurred and now the effort is more on transactional aspects of change. Maybe even they are at an iterative stage where they have gone through Burke and Litwin’s model once and now they are cycling back through feedback and analysis. I would wonder if they have used some kind of survey instruments to assess the impact and effect of the change as they’ve gone along.

It was also interesting to hear the reaction of the exec team when the OD department introduced the concept of a planned organizational change when they saw the effect of the economic contraction 2 years ago. Even with an organization that had focused on leadership development they balked at implementing a planned that included such open communication about the big process coming down the pike. It seems that it was much more difficult at that point to stay with the principles/values that they espoused.

I can imagine it would have been a scary concept because they could not really foresee when bottom would be reached. Instead there seemed to be some denial and that unwillingness to have an open conversation about the changes coming. I guess that would have taken some extraordinary efforts and trust in the values espoused. Maybe their choice was the only option, I don’t know. However, despite the execs unwillingness to have an open dialogue about the cutbacks/changes, T said that the effects on the human side of the transition/change still were very real even though the organization did not address them in a planned way.

Another thing that struck me about the conversation with Tom was the org was trying to create a culture of personal development where learning and feedback are encouraged (it was one of the four means/goals/core values:  1- making business decisions using values, 2 – have effective relationships, 3 – working on self, 4 – integrity, those are the ones I caught). Even just the feedback piece seems significant to me. I know my own experience of learning how to give effective feedback that is constructive, supportive, and also creates an opportunity for dialogue has been a real learning process.

The values seem to indicate an organization aspiring to become a learning organization. It struck me that Tom did not consider his org a learning org. Just from what he told us and what I learned last semester in Org Learning and Culture, I would have thought that this could be considered a learning org. Maybe there is still a big gap between the espoused values and underlying assumptions that actually are at play from day-to-day.

So, I would say though working with such an inert commodity such as stone, an organization can make significant changes with a clear vision and continued and concerted effort from leadership.


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2 Responses to “Changing stone ??”


  1. 1 Suzanne 18 February 2010 at 1:54 pm

    Jonathan, when you bring up the reaction the executive team had to the OD team’s plan to educate the “stone haulers” on the company’s concept of planned organizational change, it made me think of our readings from the first week of class. Particularly what I struggled with the most was Bennis’ idea that the reciprocity between the academician and the manager is inevitable and natural. When it comes to survival, training and education are not what upper management will focus on. You stated, “Even with an organization that had focused on leadership development they balked and implementing a planned that included such open communication about the big process coming down the pike.” I think that sums it up very well. It was impossible for the company to stay the course of their newfound culture and they reverted to the old value system. Great blog.

  2. 2 poohbouncer 24 February 2010 at 12:20 am

    Jonathan,

    The same part of your blog struck me as spoke to Suzanne, but for a different reason. I thought about what might have happened if the leadership hadn’t have balked and had followed through. Would they be in the same place. It reminded me of our readings that talked about how organizations that refused to change the way they operate in the face of crisis suffer the consequences. Could Luck Stone have taken the risk and had a different outcome? I don’t know if it would have made a difference or if there was some other risk that could have been explored, maybe not considering the huge hit they took, but it is a questions the leadership will probably be asking themselves years down the road.


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