Reflection Blog Post #3: Fostering an Innovative Organization Using Systems Thinking

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In order for an organization to stay current and viable in the changing economic and global landscape, it is important to self-assess. First off, my company needs to look at two things: how it encourages innovation in its products and processes and what types of resources it will provide. In a way this mirrors the concept of the systems approach in that a “disconnected set of parts” as opposed to a “collection of parts which work together”. The whole objective of the systems approach is a how a company can become fully functional and be the “sum” of the parts” as Buckley (1967) eloquently coined (Eisenberg, Goodall, and Tretheway, 2014, p. 96). Below are three strategies that are derived from specific aspects of the systems approach; specifically Senge’s concept of the learning organization and Weick’s sense-model with the combination of pioneering organizational problem-solving models such as “out of the box” thinking. Below are three strong strategies that my company can employ to gain the competitive edge.

Strategy 1: With Senge’s theory of the “learning organization” there are five important characteristics: systems thinking, personal mastery, flexible mental models, shared vision and team learning. Of those five characteristics the three that would best serve a close focus would be systems thinking, shared vision and team learning (Eisenberg, Goodall and Tretheway, 2014, p. 109). Coupled with the concept that learning is achieved through experience, it is through the characteristics of team learning and shared vision that experience is shared and applied (Kim & Senge, 1994, p. 277). More specifically, it is imperative that organizations gain new competencies in learning if they are to remain sustainable in the ever-shifting global market (Kim & Senge, 1994, p. 278).

Strategy 2: Incorporate “out of the box” thinking in HR policies and hiring strategies. If this approach is used the company will attract those candidates who possess the characteristics capable and fostering and engaging in the generation of un-conventional avenues of approaching and solving organizational problems and meeting needs of the organization that are hard to achieve with a normal course of action (Nica, Popescu, and Mironescu, 2012, p. 490). Therefore, it would fall into the HR spectrum that would ensure the “human resource” is being adequately used, but the obvious draw-backs relate to limited available of adequate “human resources” and organizational factors such as decreased productivity, failing recruiting efforts among other deficiencies.

 Strategy 3: Apply Weick’s sense-making model as contingent on the concept of organizational communication, which essentially means making “sense” of the communication message within the organization. Weick describes it as a process for uncovering hidden meaning behind an event or idea (Eisenberg, Goodall and Tretheway, 2014, p. 110). For example, the application of “out of the box” thinking and the communication messages sent from HR may at first seem foreign to other divisions within the organization, but with a modifications to the message being prepared by HR that will address how the implications will directly affect the processes of each division in the organization will garner more buy-in and support from the whole, thus illustrating the earlier assertion of the “sum of the parts”.

The preceding strategies integrate key facets of the systems approach along with “out of the box” thinking, will enable the organization to explore new avenues of revenue-generation, recruiting practices, which will involve four specific areas of performance metrics, integration and retention, utilization of multiple channels, and diagnostic assessment that will ensure sustainable growth for the organization (Nica, Popescu, and Mironescu, 2012, p. 491-492).

Do you think that “out of the box” thinking is a valid approach for promoting and fostering innovation from employees in an organization or just a buzz word to motivate employees into finding unique solutions to organizational issues?

References:

Eisenberg, E.M., & Goodall, H.L. & Tretheway, A. (2014). Organizational communication: balancing creativity and constraint. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s Press.

Kim, D. H., & Senge, P. M. (1994). Putting systems thinking into practice. System Dynamics Review (Wiley), 10(2/3), 277-290.

Nica, E., Popescu, G. H., & Mironescu, A. (2012). Working paper concerning the out-of-thebox thinking upon hr policies and procedures evaluation. Global Conference on Business & Finance Proceedings, 7(2), 490-495.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Textual Analysis Blog Post

Former AT&T CEO Robert Greenleaf said it best with his statement: “servant leadership begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve—to serve first” (Dolan, 2013). The problem with leadership in organizations today is the lack of focus; or the lack of focus on serving, not just customers but the employees who are more than just the labor force but a partner in meeting organizational objectives. As the concept of servant leadership gains popularity among organizational leaders, it is important to note that Servant Leadership is not a new idea and though it may be “new” to the corporate organizational structure, there is one organizational structure which has always operated on this principle and that is non-profits, service organizations such as Boy Scout of America and academic institutions. It is important to expound that Servant Leadership is not just the simple act of serving but incorporating servitude into goals and objectives of organizational activities and procedures.

The goal of this study is to present how an organization’s mission statement or core values and vision statement plays a part in that organization’s practice and application of the principles of the organization’s mission and values as shown in its interaction with its employees, clients or customers, and stake-holders. The organization which will be the focus of this study, is my present employer, the University of Arkansas Community College-Hope in Hope, Arkansas. An ideological analysis will be conducted on the college’s mission statement to infer if the organization’s true core values and beliefs are reflected in the statement. Clues which will reveal the sincerity of the statement will be found in key words located in the statement, verbal evidence which will gleaned from personal interviews and testimonials from faculty, staff, administration and alumni. Using Likert’s principle of supportive relationships, it will a secondary goal to use the mission statement and evidence gathered from interviews and testimonials to deduce how the organization truly practices “participation” as classified by System IV, from the members and stakeholders of the organization (Eisenberg, Goodall and Tretheway, 2014).

Among the literature to support the thesis of this project, it is evident that many academic and non-profit organization’s use the principles of the Boy Scouts of America’s three pronged approach of service to “service to God, country, and community” (Rhom & Osula, 2013). It is an expectation that the manner in which the academic organization demonstrates true Servant Leadership will provide a framework for the corporate world to follow suit. The “bottom of the pyramid approach” taken by big corporations, which operated on ideal of raising poverty-stricken sectors of society by direct marketing tactics. Interestingly, academic institutions; especially community colleges have been operating on this ideal for many years by marketing the upgrading of skills to the under-served sector of the population (Gupta, 2013).

A non-academic source that I found particularly intriguing as I researched the topic of servant leadership is the book called The Servant by James C. Hunter and its application as a wake-up call for distant and faltering leaders. The book offers a haunting commentary on importance of serving and that the term serving means more than just giving but engaging, molding and shaping: http://www.jameshunter.com/books.htm.

References

Dolan, T. C. (2013). Aspirations of a servant leader. Healthcare Executive, 28(6), 30-38.

Eisenberg, E.M., & Goodall, H.L. & Tretheway, A. (2014). Organizational
communication:balancing creativity and constraint. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s Press.

Gupta, S. (2013). Serving the “Bottom of Pyramid” – A Servant Leadership Perspective. Journal
Of Leadership, Accountability & Ethics, 10(3), 98-106.

Rohm Jr., F. W., & Osula, B. (2013). Scouting and Servant Leadership in Cross-cultural
Perspective: An Exploratory Study. Journal Of Virtues & Leadership, 3(1), 26-42.

Reflection Blog Post 2

iStock_Business HR

THE HUMAN RESOURCES FUNCTION

A Human Resources department is important to the functions of an organization where employee relations and resources are concerned. Simply defined, Human Resources are: “The department or support systems responsible for personnel sourcing and hiring, applicant tracking, skills development and tracking, benefits administration and compliance with associated government regulations” (Entrepreneur, 2014). The Human Resources Function of an organization is directly rooted in the concept of the human relations perspective and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The importance of the Human Resource approach deals primarily with the organizational environment and how the organization can cultivate employee participation that will lead to innovation and creativity. As a result, advancement of organizational goals and position in the global marketplace will occur (Eisenberg, Goodall, and Tretheway, 2014, p. 82).

DEFINED
Human Resources as a title or most importantly as a concept, is the arm of the organization in charge with finding, selecting and training talent to carry out the functions of an organization as well as the gatekeeper of employee benefits. A deeper definition also refers to the aspect “job design” to human resources and providing guidance to management in attracting and keeping top talent in order to remain competitive in the global market (Investopedia, 2014).

WHY HUMAN RESOURCES?
Why would an organization need a Human Resources Department? The reason lies in the fact that the “human resource” is a very fragile and variable resource that changes with social and economic conditions. Maslow’s research showed that a human’s need for self- actualization leads toward an individual reaching his or her full potential. Human Resources is the branch that is concerned with the on-going development and enhancement of that variable and valuable resource as described in the Functions section of this post (Eisenberg, Goodall, and Tretheway, 2014, p. 82).

FUNCTIONS
In my views, the essential functions of a human resources division are static across organizations and do not vary: (1) Recruitment (2) Employee Relations, (3) Compensation and Benefits, (4) Compliance (5) Training and Development and (6) Safety (Mayhew, 2014). All six functions are the foundation for the operation of the organization. Without human resources, does an organization really exist? That question may seem irrational but it actually is a valid point. The movement of the 60s and 70s ushered in these six functions and because of this as Miller (2009) found, the human resources function of an organization is seen as the answer to the classical management approach which treated employees as life-less components of the well-oiled machine of an organization. When in fact, it is the employee who is the incentive for which company decisions are reliant upon (p. 51).

COMPLEXITIES AND REAL-LIFE APPLICATION
If the past ignorance by management regarding the true essence of the value of the organization’s human resources, it seems now the new-found appreciation of the human resource is backfiring on management. It is as if the role of management is becoming secondary and that is due to the powerful purchasing influence possessed by the consumer and that leads to the view that an employee is no longer hired because he or she can take directions well to build a product, but rather how well the employee is able to perform job tasks which produce products which match consumer expectations. A “real-life application” can be found in many companies throughout the world. Today, organizations are zeroed in on the following: self-sufficiency, goal feedback and revision, hands-on management style, direct access, shared culture/mission. These aspects are found among many organizations such as Aramark, Whole Foods, and IBM, UPS and even Facebook). Therefore, the physical assembly line approach is no longer applicable to the efficiency of organization, it is now taking on a deeper, more conceptualized arrangement of job goals and functions and tasks which will meet those goals (Bersin, 2012).

THE FUTURE
Sadly, it seems the true concept of human resources division of an organization is slowly fading into the past, as human resources is becoming more of an endless cycle of changes due to laws and legislative actions. The “human” in human resources is still emphasized but the need for leadership (i.e. management) seems to be waning. If HR and management is focused on structuring employee and organizational functions, then the HR approach at the organization is truly outdated in an ineffective (Bersin, 2012).

Resources
Bersin, J. (2012, March 26). Have traditional human resources practices become out of date. Retreived from: http://www.bersin.com/blog/post/Have-Traditional-Human-Resources-Practices-Become-Out-of-Date.aspx

Eisenberg, E.M., & Goodall, H.L. & Tretheway, A. (2014). Organizational communication: balancing creativity and constraint. Boston, MA: Bedford/St. Martin’s Press.

Human Resources. (n.d.) In Entrepreneurship, Retrieved November 2, 2014 from http://www.entrepreneur.com/encyclopedia/printthis/human-resources

Human Resources (HR). (n.d.) In Investopedia, Retrieved November 2, 2014, from http://www.entrepreneur.com/encyclopedia/human-resources

Mayhew, R. (2014). Six main functions of a human resources department. Small Business Chron. Retrieved from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/six-main-functions-human-resource-department-60693.html.

Miller, K. (2009). Organizational communication: Approaches & processes. (5th ed.). NY: Wadsworth. Chapter 3.

Reflection Blog Post 1

Does Classic Management Still Have a Place in Today’s Organizations?

The organizational landscape is varied like the physical landscape; eroded and weathered due to shifts caused by elements of globalization and economic change. If any industry can identify with this analogy it’s the manufacturing sector; more specifically, U.S. auto manufacturers. With government bail-outs, sales fluctuations, and down revenues; the automobile manufacturing industry has experienced shifts and re-structuring. Historically, auto manufacturing is the poster-child for classical management; the industry where it began. However, if a company can remain competitive and viable in a changing global market; it will provide the proof that the classical management still belongs in the organizational landscape.

Ford Motor Company is an excellent example of a classical management approach to operations. When founder, Henry Ford designed and developed his assembly line system, the principles of the system were based on Frederick Taylor’s to-down management approach. Top-down management consists of decision-making at the top and then labor performed on the floor. In the early century the approach was revolutionary until globalization. As with many industries, auto makers had to incorporate a global center to business operations in order to stay competitive.  Presently, Ford’s business model operates as a “whole” unit model instead of in divisions. The goal is to offer all product lines globally and not as segments (Keegan, 2011).  Through the economic recovery period in the country, Ford revealed market projections predicting plans to increase the production rate to 200,000 trucks over the next year (Miller & Matthews, 2013).

Global and economic demands call for a competitive company with employee buy-in and a lean management approach. Home Depot adopted lean management with a literal army training approach to even minute details from inventory control to store management (Grow, Brady, & Ardnt, 2006). Classical management served the Ford Company well, for many years; however, the approach treated the labor force as machines and management was free to make decision with minimal employee consideration. A viable company will be “thinking” and “investigating”, employees will be highly skilled and trained in innovation, not just labor. Such a company will draw in customers and foster loyalty to the brand (Shook, 2008).

References:

Grow, B., Brady, D., and Arndt, M. (2006). Renovating home depot. Bloomburg Businessweek. Retrieved        from http://www.businessweek.com/stories/2006-03-05/renovating-home-depot

Keegan, M.C. (2011). What is the Ford Motor Company business model? Houston Chronicle.Retrieved from http://www.smallbusiness.chron.com.

Miller, R., & Matthews, S. (2013). The long, slow, but still-going recovery. Bloomberg Businessweek. (4334), 14-17.

Shook, J. (2008). What is lean management? In Lean Enterprise Institute. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from http://www.lean.org/shook/displayobject.cfm?o=1447.