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John Smithers at Sigtek - Organizational Behavior

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John Smithers at Sigtek Prepared for Professor Giuseppe Labianca Organizational Behavior Tulane University April 29, 1999 Analysis Implementing organizational change is typically a three-step process involving unfreezing, implementing change, and refreezing. Unfreezing refers to the idea of getting the organization to recognize the need for change, while refreezing refers to the solidification of new attitudes and practices put in place. At Sigtek, John Smithers and Telwork, the parent company, essentially attempted to implement change without undertaking the unfreezing process. In other words, Telwork and Smithers attempted to force change upon an organization that had not yet concluded that there was a need for change or that the old way of doing things was no longer acceptable. Since management did not support change, structural inertia and work group inertia continued the pre-existing formal and informal social structures. Thus, though Smithers was initially successful in involving low-level employees in the change effort, he failed to educate senior and middle management as to the need for change. In addition to failing to initiate the unfreezing process and establish a compelling business reason for change, Smithers and Telwork made several implementation errors. First, Smithers and Telwork failed to win the political support of senior management and did not use them to lead the change effort. Second, Telwork failed to give Smithers the power to change work structures and reward constructive behavior. Third, Smithers and Telwork failed to tailor the quality initiative to the specific needs of Sigtek. Fourth, Telwork imposed strict deadlines for implementing the quality initiative and failed to recognize that change is a slow process that requires flexibility. ...read more.


In addition, Smithers should have asked corporate to be allowed to tailor the quality initiative to Sigtek's specific needs in order to increase the program's relevance and utility to middle management. Not only would tailoring the quality initiative to Sigtek's needs ensure that they were solving the right problems, involving management in diagnosing Sigtek's specific strengths and weaknesses, and setting change goals would have achieved further management buy-in. Increase Smithers' own position power. In addition to the recommended implementation changes, Smithers should also have sought to increase his own position power in order to improve his ability to effect change. Expand his contact network. In particular, Smithers could have used his job as site quality instructor expand his contact network to enable him to talk with quality instructors in other divisions, as well as with other senior managers. Networking would offer increased information about how implementation was going at other facilities, what problems other instructors were facing, and how they dealt with them. In addition, this expanded network would give him potential allies in case Bradley or Patricof were to block his efforts. Perform more novel tasks. Smithers could also have increased his position power by performing more novel tasks, such as creating a quality index for the division or undertaking a comparative benchmarking study for the division. Increase the visibility of his position. Another way that Smithers could have increased his position power is by increasing the visibility of his position. Smithers could implement this by publishing a weekly "Quality Update" in the plant, sending copies of reports to corporate quality management, and volunteering for corporate level task forces. ...read more.


Rather, Patricof either fails to see the need for the program (cognitive conflict) or does not feel Smithers is implementing it appropriately (procedural conflict). Since the latter two forms of conflict can be resolved by increased communication, the option of working with Patricof actually the most potential of any option since it could lead to a win-win situation where Smithers is able to continue implementing TQ, perhaps in a more limited way, while Patricof can look good to management without having to fire a highly visible employee. Even taking into consideration a more modest outcome in which Smithers may have to manage a slimmed down TQ program, continued tenure at Sigtek and an improved relationship with Patricof will allow for the possibility of convincing Patricof of the merits of TQ later on. As a consequence, Smithers best option is to pursue a collaborative strategy with Patricof and improve communication with him in order to identify each party's true interests (as opposed to their perceived positions) and then work together to invent options for mutual gain. If the collaborative effort fails, Smithers should then initiate the overtly hostile strategy since he would have nothing to lose at this point. Pursuing the avoiding strategy would be useless since Patricof would have no incentive to retain Smithers and, therefore, it would only be a question of time until he was fired. Once collaborative negotiations have failed, Smithers has no choice but to pursue the overtly hostile strategy since Smithers will be unable to maintain the pretense of common interests if Patricof refuses to work with him. It is extremely unlikely that the overtly strategy would succeed, which is why the collaborative strategy is the primary recommendation. 5 10 ...read more.

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