Organizational Behavior: A Model for Cultural Change
Ahls, Bill, Industrial Management
An organization's success depends on the people who populate it Individual development, employee empowerment, and socialization are important topics related to organizational behavior and the speed at which a company can use personnel for maximum effectiveness.
Competition is a method by which opposing elements bid for resources and power. From victories earned at the Olympic Games of centuries ago through which men gained status and riches, to contemporary trade shows at which manufacturing companies compete for emerging markets, competition leads to winners and losers. What separates the winners from the losers in corporate America is the ability to provide customers exactly what they want in a manner that is profitable.
More then ever, staying competitive means maintaining a constant focus on market demands and rival forces. Increased pressures due to globalization and participants once foreign to U.S. markets have necessitated a re-evaluation of the key behaviors in an enterprise that can lead to success.
There are three elements crucial to staying competitive: maximum quality, minimum cost, and on-time delivery. This triumvirate of quality, cost, and delivery, often referred to as QCD, is what allows companies to thrive, whether they are service industries or manufacturers. The key organizational behaviors that affect QCD are abundant and offer an endless supply of opportunities for improvement. Some of these behaviors include:
Incremental continuous improvement and innovation
Unification of the culture
Managing critical variables
Individual development, employee empowerment, and socialization
Forming, developing, and optimizing teams
Innovation isn't everything Since the 1970s in the United States, innovation has been viewed as the answer to staying competitive. Large-scale improvement of existing processes, such as the rollout of an ERP system or the acquisition of new equipment, provided management with returns on investment that were difficult to ignore. It is a safe bet that, without innovation, companies will eventually be left behind or even eliminated.
The Japanese believe that innovation alone leaves a company unstable. Although innovation offers a one-shot, largescale improvement, a company is destined for a steady decline in performance until the next innovation arrives, which may never happen. Reliance on innovation alone has inherent risks (Figure 1).
For years, the Japanese have believed in complementing innovation with continuous improvement. Indeed, many U.S. companies are seeing the value of that strategy today Continuous improvement in Japan is referred to as kaizen and is believed to offer a stable source of improvement, with or without innovation. A company does not have to rely on innovation for success and job security since kaizen, as depicted in Figure 2, keeps profitability steadily on the rise.
Continuous improvement activities range from quality control circles and short-term, focused activities to incentive suggestion programs and the regular use of statistical process control charts. All of these can and should be incorporated into the business model and made an integral part of company culture.
Effective change management is vital to any organization. Typically, vast amounts of resources are expended to adjust employees to a new way of achieving the corporate mission. Frustration can abound when a manager is not prepared to deal with the inevitable resistance to change. Many different models for change attempt to provide a path for facilitating change and affording a company the opportunity to go quickly from idea generation to implementation.
John Kotter, the Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership at the Harvard Business School, has a contemporary model for effecting change that involves an eight-stage process: