[cross posted from http://www.austin-pacific.com/2007/05/managing-organizational-change-in.html
I am attending a conference called LOEX. This is a group of library instructors and the theme “Uncharted Waters: Tapping the Depths of Our Community to Enhance Learning” was perfectly aligned with my interests in libraries and community engagement.
The 11:15 – 12:15 time slot on the LOEX Conference Schedule in San Diego posed a real challenge for me. First, it is tough to be inside for a workshop at a beachside resort.
Second, there were two excellent presentations that both apply to my interest area and research.
- The Role of the Library in Achieving Co-Curricular Activites in Civic Engagement on College Campuses, and
- Sailing off the Map: Managing Organizational Change in the Library
I teach Change Management for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, but I’m also researching civic engagement of libraries. Fortunately, they were both on board the William D. Evans Sternwheeler so I could bounce between the two and my colleague, Ann Bishop attended the civic engagement workshop. I introduced myself to Mary Reddick, CSU Sacramento and Susan Metcalf, University of S. Indiana who invited me to join them at the end of their presentation and collect e-mail addresses and introduce myself to their attendees.
So off to learn about Organizational Change from Wendy Holliday, University of Southern Utah and Kristen Bullard, University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
Wendy and Kristen used a conflicting values assessment tool to evaluate the organizational cultures at UTK and USU. This Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (free!) was developed by Kim S. Cameron and Robert E. Quinn in Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture. Through a series of questions, the tool measures organizations according to four quadrants or dominant characteristics with each quadrant given a numeric ranking for a total of 100 points:
- Clan Culture: very friendly place like an extended family where teamwork, participation and consensus are the dominant modes of decision-making.
- Adhocracy Cuture: places an emphasis on entrepreneurship and creativity. People are encouraged to stick their necks out and take risks. The organization encourages individual initiative and freedom.
- Market Culture: the focus is on results and getting the job done. Leaders are drivers, tough and demanding. The organizational style is hard-driving competitiveness.
- Hierarchy Culture: formal and structured, this culture emphasizes procedures and managers are good organizers who focus on efficiency.
They asked members of each organization to respond to the questions two times – first assessing what is and secondly responding with what they would like for the organization to be. Not surprisingly, both organizations leaned heavily toward the clan or adhocracy culture and the primary difference between the current state and the preferred state was less hierarchy even when hierarchy ranked lower than either clan or adhocracy.
But the real value of the tool is not the picture of the current culture or even the preferred culture, but the conversation that takes place about what factors of each culture speak to their core values for the organization and what they reject from each cultural characteristic. For example, a discussion at the workshop revealed a bias against the Market Culture because of the competitive nature, and yet everyone valued the idea of getting the job done and focus on achieving goals. Although the description provided by the workshop leaders did not include “response to the market demands” I can imagine this is an element of the Market Culture and one that library instructors who are concerned about meeting the information needs of students would certainly support.
So the value is not in where the lines get drawn, but in the conversation about why the lines are drawn such…what elements fall within the box of acceptable behaviors within our culture and what elements fall outside of what we are willing to tolerate.
I can imagine that the skills a moderator uses in deliberative forums would be extremely useful in moderating a group reflection of this tool and its results. Essentially, the four quadrants represent four different ways of managing an organization and conducting business. They are each driven by a different set of values that take priority. No one method is the right answer. Elements of each are appealing, but too much of one over another may lead to unintended consequences. These are all criteria used by National Issues Forums in framing an issue for deliberation. Here are some generic questions we use to train deliberative forum moderators that could be useful in leading a discussion of this organizational culture tool:
- Why does this particular approach appeal to you?
- What might be the consequence of following this approach completely?
- I know that you resist approach X, but what do you imagine is important to those who support it?
- Can you make the best case for the approach you like the least?
- What would it take to make this approach more palatable to you?
It would be interesting to use this tool and my experience in deliberation together! Perhaps I will find a way to integrate this tool into the course I teach at the University of Illinois Graduate LIbrary and Information Sciences program.
The presenters did an excellent job and I’m sorry I had to duck out early, but it was well worth it to connect with the civic engagement contingent on the top level of the William D. Evans Sternwheeler.