Read the three descriptions below of organizational change projects. Use any of the models of or approaches to organizational change described in this chapter to analyze the situations.
Example 1 The director of the training department decided to implement an online system for tracking different projects that trainers were working on. Management wanted to use reports from the system for two reasons: first, to prove to senior executives that more trainers were needed, and second, to measure the productivity of thetrainers. Trainers were asked to log in to the system every week to describe the project, estimate how long it was anticipated to take, and update current progress on the project. Many employees were angry at having their work monitored so closely, and many believed that it was an attempt by management to determine which trainers were unproductive and could be laid off. Trainers responded by dividing projects into subprojects, and they began adding those subprojects into the system to demonstrate that they had more work to do than their colleagues. When three or four colleagues would collaborate on a project, each entered the work separately, making it appear that multiple projects were being worked on even though all entries referred to the same project. Eventually the system was shut down because it was not providing accurate information about the status of the department’s workload. Example 2
Committed to a “strengths-based” approach to education, one middle school principal announced that all students should have an opportunity to learn in a way that reflected their own learning styles. In an unprecedented move, she asked that all teachers reexamine their curricula to find ways to implement the new philosophy. This took teachers by surprise in a school that generally had a traditional and conservative approach to instruction. Many teachers at the school were unfamiliar with this approach, and no training was provided except for a brief overview given by the principal herself. Some teachers were reluctant to try what they termed “fringe” and “untested” techniques, while others felt that the approach was inconsistent with their personal teaching philosophy. Still others felt that the investment of time to do curriculum revisions would not be worth it. No teacher brought these concerns out into the open for fear of engaging in conflict with the principal. Teachers who did adopt the new method found that students appreciated the changes. Parents who found out about the approach began to complain to the principal that not enough classic “reading, writing, and arithmetic” work was being done in the classroom.
Owners of a block of condominium units in a suburban city were struggling to find buyers for units in a building that had recently been completed. Market research from the owners, which was supported by statistics from the city planning department, indicated that new, younger residents to the city could not afford the sales price and that they preferred rental units as well. Owners petitioned the city to change one of the condominium buildings to an apartment building. In addition, to take advantage of government incentives, they wanted to make it the city’s first affordable housing complex. At the city council meeting, residents who lived close to the building complained that they did not want “low income” housing in the city. Some argued that rental units would eventually become “run down” by careless short-term residents. Other citizens supported the proposal’s attempt to bring a diverse energy to the city that would become popular with local artists and students. The city council decided to convene a task force to study the city’s policies and practices with respect to affordable housing. Current and prospective residents came together in a series of forums sponsored by the city to agree on a plan that had the support of both groups.