Week 12 Online Reflective Blog

May 21, 2009

WEEK 12: Lessons learned – how to better manage the next step?

Synopsis

The excerpt by Rylatt (2003) addresses the question of how to ‘measure know-how’, a question that has been addressed by others such as Guthrie (2001) and Swart (2006). Rylatt’s answer is that measuring know-how requires: (a) creating forward-looking financial statements; (b) tracking performance over time; (c) undertaking a deeper analysis of how talent generates business value; (d) discovering the best measures of knowledge and innovation; and (e) having a desire to generate a more enlightened approach.

In respect of measures of ‘know-how’, the author refers to measurements of ‘customer capital’, ‘human capital’, ‘intellectual capital’, ‘relationship capital’, and ‘systems performance’. He gives several examples of each. For example, in the measurement of ‘customer capital’, he gives the examples of measures like: agreements, contracts and permits; average response rate to customers; customer acquisition cost; customer churn rates; customer satisfaction; customer yield; listings and numbers of customers; market share; on-line sales per day; ratio of sales contacts to sales closed; revenue percentage per customer; repeat orders; service awards; and share of new customers (Rylatt, 2003, p. 221). The author also makes the point (Rylatt, 2003, p. 219), that “no one approach can meet all needs”.

Critique

The worth of Rylatt’s chapter is that it recognises that while it may be difficult to measure ‘know-how’ using financial measures, it is not impossible. There is also great usefulness in the lists of measures of ‘know-how’ under the different heads like customer capital and systems performance for people wanting to know how to apply theory in practice.

Reflection

The excerpt has assisted me in understanding the weekly course topic. The most important thing I learned from the article was that it is possible to measure ‘know-how’, and that by using measures, it is easier to determine how innovative the business is. I believe that I could use my learning to improve practice by generating actual measures of different types of ‘know-how’. The article has confirmed the following about my current knowledge regarding innovation and change: that while knowledge is an intangible asset, it is nevertheless an asset.

References

Guthrie, J. (2001). ‘The management, measurement and the reporting of intellectual capital.’ Journal of Intellectual Capital, 2 (1): 27-41.

Rylatt, A. (2003). ‘Measuring your know-how: a smarter strategy for better business in Australia & New Zealand’. In Winning the Knowledge Game, Sydney: McGraw Hill.

Swart, J. (2006). ‘Intellectual capital: disentangling an enigmatic concept.’ Journal of Intellectual Capital, 7 (2): 136-159.

Advertisements

WEEK 11 Online Reflective Blog

May 14, 2009

WEEK 11: Experiencing and Sustaining Innovation and Change

    Synopsis

Lines (2004) sets out to test the hypothesis that participation in strategic change processes has positive outcomes for things such as quality of decisions, affective responses to change, and the successful implementation of change. He tests the hypothesis in relation to strategic change that occurred at a ‘national telecommunications firm’. His finding is that there is indeed a ‘strong positive relationship’ between participation in strategic change processes and (i) goal achievement; and (ii) organisational commitment. He also finds that participation in strategic change processes is negatively correlated with ‘resistance’. He also offers the interpretation of his test findings that, “the effects of participation are moderated by the changes’ compatibility with organizational culture and the personal goals of change recipients” (Lines, 2004, p. 193).

    Critique

The author has addressed the topic well, and the issue of participation is an important one (Glew, O’Leary-Kelly, and Griffin, 1995). It is important to test hypotheses about management theories wherever possible, and while it seems somewhat evident or obvious (cf. Dooley, Fryxell, and Judge, 2002) that Lines would find the results that he did, it is good to see empirical testing of such hypotheses. It perhaps would have been good if Lines had broadened the scope of the study to include several organisations, thus making his findings more robust. It is hard to extrapolate from Line’s results to other organisations because it is not entirely clear how the findings may have been different had a different type of organisation or even a different type of change been studied.

    Reflection

Despite its limitations, the article has assisted me in understanding the weekly course topic. There was a useful discussion of the literature about participation and change, but the most important thing I learned from the article was that is is reasonable to expect that participation in strategic change processes is something that will have desirable outcomes. I believe that I could use my learning to better implement change. The article has confirmed my current knowledge regarding innovation and change in that resistance to change is something that should be avoided if possible.

    References

Dooley, R. S., Fryxell, G. E. and Judge, W. Q. (2002). ‘Belaboring the not-so-obvious: consensus, commitment and strategy implementation speed and success’. Journal of Management 26: 1237-1257.

Glew, D. J., O’Leary-Kelly, A. M., Griffin, R. W., and Van Fleet, D. D. (1995). ‘Participation in organizations: a preview of the issues and proposed framework for analysis’. Journal of Management, 21 (3): 395-421.

Lines, R. (2004). ‘Influence of participation in strategic change: resistance, organizational commitment and change goal achievement’. Journal of Change Management, 4 (3): 193-215.

WEEK 10: Effective Measurement of the Innovation and Change Project

May 8, 2009

Synopsis

Chenhall & Langfield-Smith (2003) discuss, amongst other things, the use of performance measures by a manufacturing company which implemented a gain-sharing reward system and then later a system of team-based structures. Their study was conducted over a 15-year period.

This is mainly a paper about how organisational trust is essential to the success of strategic change initiatives (building on work by authors such as Sako, 1998; Luhmann, 1979; and Barney & Hansen, 1994). However, there is extensive information throughout the paper about measures of change, which Chenhall & Langfield-Smith (2003, p.124) describe as “performance measurement”. Change measures mentioned in the study included: (a) material productivity indicators; (b) labour productivity indicators; (c) worker strikes; (d) absenteeism rates; (e) staff turnover; (f) return on funds; (g) inventory indicators; (h) average monthly staff bonuses; (i) customer satisfaction measures; (j) organisational climate surveys; (k) team maturity indices; (l) product quality; (m) production lead time; and (n) benchmarking figures.

The paper also highlights, albeit indirectly, the problem of measuring change as compared with evaluating change. An example is given (p. 126), for example, of how, half-way through the study period, the manufacturing company questioned whether the observed productivity gains were attributable to enhanced employee efforts (as a result of the gain-sharing scheme) or from improved production equipment.

Critique

This is an interesting paper, mainly for its inclusion of so many measures of change, with examples from conventional financial measures, strategic targets and indicators, and benchmarks of ‘best practice’. It is also an interesting paper in terms of its application of theory to a real-world case study. There was less information about the evaluation of change than the measurement of change.

Reflection

This reading was helpful in giving me some more examples of how to measure change in addition to the information provided in the lecture. From this reading, and from the Lecture Slides and Study Notes, I gained the understanding that there are many ways to measure change, but that it is also important to differentiate measuring change and evaluating the effects of change programs.

References

Barney, J. B., and Hansen, M. H. (1994). ‘Trustworthiness as a source of competitive advantage.’ Strategic Management Journal, 15: 175-190.

Chenhall, R. H., and Langfield-Smith, K. (2003). ‘Performance measurement and reward systems, trust, and strategic change.’ Journal of Management Accounting Research, 15: 117-143.

Luhmann, N. (1979). Trust and Power. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons.

Sako, M. (1998). ‘Does trust improve business performance?’ In C. Lane, and R. Bachmann (eds), Trust Within and Between Organizations. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 88-117.

Week 9 Online Reflective Blog

April 28, 2009

WEEK 9: Managing Leadership and the Change Initiative

Synopsis

The article by Bommer, Rich & Rubin (2005) discusses the concept of ‘transformational’ leader behaviour. The authors’ research found support for their hypothesis that transformational leader behaviour was associated with lower employee cynicism about organisational change. Their study was based on their examination of employees’ responses, and was an empirical study.

Critique

Transformational leadership has been studied extensively in the literature. Bommer, Rich & Rubin (2005) add to the understanding of the importance of transformational leadership behaviour, by showing empirically that it can help reduce employee cynicism, and it is a useful study in this respect. Other studies have demonstrated that employee cynicism can be a major frustration for the successful implementation of organisational change, and have supported the findings of this article (see, for example, Avey, Hughes, Norman & Luthans, 2008). The idea that transformational leadership is beneficial in bringing about positive organisational effects, however, is not new, and can be found throughout the literature (e.g., Burns, 1978; Bass, 1985; Bass & Avolio, 1993). Similarly, the idea that employee cynicism can be blamed, in part, on poor leadership, has been noted by other researchers. For example, Wanous, Reichers & Austin (2000) found that, “cynicism is spawned in an environment of ineffective leadership and lack of involvement or participation in decision making” (Avey, Hughes, Norman & Luthans, 2008, p. 115). Bommer, Rich & Rubin’s (2005) paper is important because it examines the situation from the perspective of employees, which makes it a credible source of information about transformational leadership. It is also important because it is an empirical test of a theoretical idea about transformational leadership.

Reflection

The article has assisted me in understanding the weekly course topic of managing leadership and the change initiative. The most important thing I learned from the article was that cynicism on the part of employees can frustrate desired change outcomes. I believe that I could use my learning to improve practice by attempting to learn more about transformational leadership behaviours as a way of reducing employee cynicism. The article has confirmed about my current knowledge regarding innovation and change the idea that change must be managed carefully.

References

Avey, J. B., Hughes, L. W., Norman, S. M., and Luthans, K. W. (2008). ‘Using positivity, transformational leadership and empowerment to combat employee negativity.’ Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 29 (2): 110-126.

Bass, B. M. (1985). Leadership and Performance beyond Expectations. New York: Free Press.

Bass, B. M., and Avolio, B. J. (1993). ‘Transformational leadership: a response to critiques.’ In M. M. Chemmers, and R. Ayman (eds), Leadership Theory and Research: Perspective and Directions, San Diego, CA: Academic Press, pp. 49-58.

Bommer, W. H., Rich, G. A., Rubin, R. S. (2005). ‘Changing attitudes about change: longitudinal effects of transformational leader behavior on employee cynicism about organizational change.’ Journal of Organisational Behaviour, 26 (7): 733-753.

Burns, J. M. (1978). Leadership. New York: Free Press.

Wanous, J. P., Reichers, A. E., and Austin, J. T. (2000). ‘Cynicism about organizational change: measurement, antecedents, and correlates.’ Group and Organization Management, 25: 132-53.

Week 8 Online Reflective Blog

April 28, 2009

WEEK 8: Implementing Innovation and Change
Synopsis

Waldersee & Griffiths (2004) argue that depending on the type of organisational change proposed, a different approach to change implementation should be adopted. For organisational changes that can be described as “technical” and “structural”, they argue that a “unilateral” approach to change implementation is warranted, but that for organisational changes that can be described as “behavioral” and “social”, a “participative” approach to change implementation is preferable. They explain that a “unilateral” approach involves implementing change “without the prior support of the workforce” (p. 425), whereas a “participative” approach involves generating “support for the change among the workforce” (p. 424).

Critique

Waldersee & Griffiths (2004) find support for their conclusions in a study of 300 “large organizations” in “the highest ranked corporations within the industry sectors contained in the major lists of top 500 and top 1,000 Australian companies” and information was “obtained from senior managers who played a significant role in change” (p. 428). An obvious flaw, therefore, in their work, is a potential for bias, as only managers’ responses were measured, not those of the workforce. Different results may have been found if the workforce were consulted. Similarly, the study focused only on large organisations, and its findings cannot necessarily be extended to, for example, small to medium firms. Finally, the study’s findings are probably ethnocentric, and different results may have been found by studying non-Australian organisations.

Reflection

The article has assisted me in understanding the weekly course topic. The most important thing I learned was that: (a) different theorists have proposed different ways to implement change; and (b) two broadly different schools of thought on change implementation are the participative (e.g., Dunphy & Griffiths, 2002) and unilateral (e.g., Beer, Eisenstat & Spector, 1990) schools. Although I did not feel that the article’s findings could be universally applied, I believe that I could use my learning to improve practice by understanding that there is not necessarily one best way to implement change. The article has confirmed the following about my current knowledge: that there are different proposed approaches to change implementation.

References

Beer, M., Eisenstat, R., and Spector, B. (1990). ‘Why change programs don’t produce change.’ Harvard Business Review, 68 (6): 158-166.

Dunphy, D., and Griffiths, A. (2002). ‘Corporate strategic change.’ In M. Warner (ed.), International Encyclopedia of Business and Management, 2nd ed., London: Thompson Learning.

Waldersee, R., and Griffiths, A. (2004). ‘Implementing change: matching implementation methods and change type.’ Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 25 (5/6): 424-434.

Week 7 Online Reflective Blog

April 21, 2009

WEEK 7: Organisational Power and Politics, Barriers and Enablers to Change

Synopsis 

 

Weisenfeld (2003) argues it is possible to devise ways of engaging with parties involved in the process of the development of technologies (and the innovations based on these technologies) if one first understands the nature of the parties’ interests and perceptions. To support this, she argues that there are two necessary aspects. The first is that information must be provided to the various parties, and the second is that it will be necessary to negotiate with the parties to accommodate their various interests. Weisenfeld (2003) supports her argument with examples from the biotechnology industry. She also develops a framework for analysing new situations. Her main focus is on the management of stakeholders and their perceptions of change. A useful model is presented, in which it is suggested that depending on whether there is convergence or divergence in perceptions and interests, four different strategies of engagement are suitable. Weisenfeld (2003, p. 213) cites Faber (2001) in support of the view that innovation processes are “collaborative projects” and Tidd, Bessant, and Pavitt (1997) that, “interaction is … the critical element of the innovation process.” 

 

Critique 

 

The author has addressed the article topic of managing barriers to change very well by focusing on how one may go about dealing with resistance to change from key stakeholders, depending on whether they have similar or dissimilar interests and also depending on whether they have similar or dissimilar perceptions about the nature of the change. Although applied in this study to the biotechnology industry, Weisenfeld’s model would have general application. 

 

Reflection 

 

The article has assisted me in understanding the weekly course topic. The most important thing I learned from the article was that: (a) it is possible to manage resistance to change; and (b) strategies vary in how best to manage resistance to change. I believe that I could use my learning to improve practice by giving me strategies for consulting with stakeholders about proposed changes. The article has confirmed the following things about my current knowledge: (a) that change can be resisted by some people; and (b) that leadership is required to manage change.

 

References

 

Faber, E. C. C. (2001). Managing Collaborative New Product Development. Enschede: Twente University Press.

 

Tidd, J., Bessant, J., and Pavitt, K. (1997). Managing Innovation: Integrating Technological, Market and Organisational Change. Chichester, UK: John Wiley & Sons.

 

Weisenfeld, U. (2003). ‘Engagement in innovation management: perceptions and interests in the GM debate.’ Creativity & Innovation Management, 12 (4): 211-220.

Week 6 Online Reflective Blog

April 21, 2009

WEEK 6: Change Management

Synopsis

Mento, Jones, and Dirnforfer (2002) is an attempt to extend the models proposed by Kotter, Jick, and General Electric for the transformation of organisations. Kotter’s model is the strategic eight-step model for transforming organisations (Kotter, 1995), Jick’s model is the tactical ten-step model for implementing change (Jick, 1991a; Jick, 1991b), and General Electric’s model is the seven-step change acceleration process model (Garvin, 2000). The advantage, according to Mento, et al. (2002), of their model is that not only does it draw from these three preceding models, but that it is also supported by a real case, namely, a Fortune 500 defense industry firm. The authors also claim that their model provides practical guidance on the management of organisational change. Mento, et al. (2002) develop a twelve-step process, which is: (a) the idea and its context; (b) define the change initiative; (c) evaluate the climate for change; (d) develop a change plan; (e) find and cultivate a sponsor; (d) prepare your target audience, the recipients of change; (e) create the cultural fit – making the change last; (f) develop and choose a change leader team; (g) create small wins for motivation; (h) constantly and strategically communicate the change; (i) measure progress of the change effort; and (j) integrate lessons learned.

Critique

The authors have addressed the article topic well, by offering a more detailed model for change management than previous theorists such as Kotter (1995), Jick (1991a; 1991b), and Garvan (2000). A limitation was failure to consider other change models (e.g., Anderson, and Ackerman Anderson, 2001).

Reflection

The article has assisted me in understanding the weekly course topic. The most important thing I learned from the article was that: (a) change can be managed; and (b) there are models for managing change. I believe I could use my learning to improve practice in the following ways: (a) learning how to manage change strategically; and (b). The article has confirmed the following things about my current knowledge: (a) that change is a process that can be managed; and (b) there are various approaches to managing change.

References

Anderson, D., and Ackerman Anderson, L. (2001). Identifying the Drivers of Your Change, referenced in Module 6 Study Notes, HRMT20019, p. 6-6.

Garvin, (2000). Learning in Action: A Guide to Putting the Learning Organization to Work, Harvard Business School Press, Boston.

Jick, T. (1991a). Implementing Change, Note 9-191-114, Harvard Business School Press, Boston.

Jick, T. (1991b). Note on the Recipients of Change, Note 9-491-039, Harvard Business School Press, Boston.

Kotter, J. P. (1995). ‘Leading change: why transformation efforts fail.’ Harvard Business Review, 73 (2): 59-67.

Mento, A. J., Jones, R. M., and Dirnforfer, W. (2002). ‘A change management process: grounded in both theory and practice.’ Journal of Change Management, 3 (1): 45-59.

Week 5 Online Reflective Blog

April 21, 2009

WEEK 5: Innovation and the Knowledge Organisation

Synopsis

Miller (1995, p. 46) puts forward the core argument that, “sustainable, long-term improvement requires both incremental and breakthrough improvements” in a company’s total quality improvement (TQM) processes. He goes on to explain that, on his observation, people tend to approach innovation and change in four, quite distinct ways. The first of these is what he calls the ‘visioning’ style, the second the ‘modifying’ style, the third the ‘experimenting’ style, and the last the ‘exploring style’. If these styles are understood, he suggests, it is more likely that collaborations will be successful in leading to innovations. The reason Miller notes these different styles is also because, in his view, there tends to be a bias towards the ‘modifying’ and ‘experimenting’ styles at the expense of the ‘visioning’ and ‘exploring’ styles.

Critique

The author has addressed the article topic well. It is a clear exposition of the various approaches to approaching innovation. Miller’s paper reinforces the idea that learning organisations are, in part, those which change their range of potential behaviours (Huber, 1991, p. 89, cited in Tsang, 1997, p. 76). Miller’s paper also supports the idea that innovation is a product, in part, of organisational culture, which may explain a bias towards modifying and experimenting, rather than visioning and exploring. If Miller is right, he in turn supports a role for HRD practitioners in fostering innovation – e.g., by teaching these styles (see, for example, Zaccaro & Banks, 2004 on the role of HR practitioners in change management training).

Reflection

The article has assisted me in understanding the weekly course topic. The most important thing I learned from the article was firstly, that there are different styles in innovation, and secondly, that it is important to incorporate all these styles if possible. I believe that I could use my learning to improve practice by generating better TQM processes, for example, through HRD programs. The article has confirmed the following things about my current knowledge regarding innovation and change. The first is that innovation is important to TQM. The second is that organisations need to consider how they manage the innovation process.

References

Miller, W. C. (1995). ‘Is innovation built into your improvement processes?’ The Journal for Quality and Participation, 18 (1): 46-48.

Tsang, E. W. K. (1997). ‘Organizational learning and the learning organization: a dichotomy between descriptive and prescriptive research.’ Human Relations, 50 (1): 73-89.

Zaccaro, S. J., and Banks, D. (2004). ‘Leader visioning and adaptability: bridging the gap between research and practice on developing the ability to manage change.’ Human Resource Management, 43 (4): 367-380.

WEEK FOUR ONLINE REFLECTIVE BLOG

April 10, 2009

WEEK 4:

Karami et al. (2008) is a research paper that is designed to consider the question of whether firm performance, in particular the performance of small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) is affected by the firm’s ‘human resource capabilities and involvement’. Their research is confined to high technology firms in the electronics industry in the United Kingdom. They posit two hypotheses (p. 9): (a) that, “increasing HR capacities of the firm will positively correlate with the increasing performance of the firm”; and (b) that ‘in the high performance firms, human resources have been more involved in the process of formulating strategy than in low performance ones.” They conclude that their research results, “support the claim that performance of the SMEs is positively related to their HR competencies” (p. 15).

The research by Karami et al (2008) is grounded in theoretical models of that posit a link between a firm’s human resources and its success (or competitive advantage), such as the resource-based model of HRM (Boxall, 1996), and the resource-based approach to strategic management (Lorange & Murphy, 1984; Lundy, 1994; Storey, 1998).

Research such as Karami et al. (2008) and the theoretical models suggests that there is a relationship between HR capabilities and firm performance. The link could be through innovation. If so, then this supports the Study Notes (Week 4, p. 4-5), which state that, “an organisation’s ability to learn, and to enable the learning of its workforce is essential if it is to successfully innovate and change.” This makes sense, as in many modern organisations, the most important resource in are its people. People innovate, and therefore, if a firm wants to be innovative, it needs to consider how it manages its people.

This reading was helpful in extending my knowledge about why there might be a link between HR and firm performance. From this reading, and from the Lecture Slides and Study Notes, I gained the understanding that it is possible and very desirable for organisations to have HR strategies for innovation. I also gained more understanding of the importance of organisational learning and how this fits into the relationships between HR strategy and innovation.

References

Boxall, P. (1996). ‘The strategic HRM debate and the resource-based view of the firm.’ Human Resource Management Journal, 6 (3): 59-75.

HRMT20019 Study Notes, Week 4.

Karami, A., Jones, B. M., and Kakabadse, N. (2008). “Does strategic human resource management matter in high-tech sector? Some learning points for SME managers.” Corporate Governance, 8 (1): 7-17.

Lorange, P., and Murphy, D. (1984). ‘Bringing human resource strategy into strategic planning: systems design considerations.’ In C. J. Fornbrun, N. M. Tichy, and M. A. Devanna (eds.) Strategic Human Resource Management, New York, NY: Wiley.

Lundy, O. (1994). ‘From personnel management to strategic human resource management.’ International Journal of Human Resource Management, 5 (3): 687-717.

Storey, J. (1998). ‘Do human resources really have a role in strategy?’ Financial Times Mastering Management, 9: 14-18.

Week 3 Online Reflective Blog

April 3, 2009

Synopsis

Chapter 2 of the book by King and Anderson (2002), ‘Enhancing creativity at work’, attempts to: (1) provide a definition of creativity; (2) demonstrate different ways of measuring creativity; (3) outline methods for enhancing creativity and the generation of ideas; and (4) present how there can be advantages and disadvantages in attempting to select employees for their creativity. Their section on defining creativity shows well that creativity is a complex and difficult-to-define concept, but there are ways to understand it.

Critique

The discussion of measuring creativity was very good, especially the way in which it divided measures into person-based (e.g., personality measures, biographical inventories, tests of creative ability), product-based, and process-based measures, because this showed that there are many different ways of perceiving creativity. The chapter is highly practical and relevant for a manager wanting to understand more about how to harness the power of creativity in his or her organisation, and extremely helpful in developing an understanding of creativity.

Possibly the most useful and interesting section of the chapter was that discussing ways to enhance creativity and idea generation. In lectures, three broad methods were introduced – recruitment, idea elicitation techniques, and training. The authors deepened the nature of these, particularly the detailed discussion of idea elicitation techniques (e.g., brainstorming, synectics, checklists, attribute listing, and forced relationships), which was very helpful. Finally, the section on selecting for creativity was relevant in showing that though it can be difficult to select employees on the basis of their creativity, there are ways to achieve this, e.g., through personality tests, biographical inventories, specific tests of innovation, creative thinking tests, and assessing creative products.

Reflection

This reading was helpful in helping me understand the weekly course topic. From this reading, the most important thing I learned was that innovation is a function of creativity in individuals belonging to an organisation. This was also a confirmation of my existing understanding. I also learned that it is possible to harness creativity, and this is something that will be relevant to my practice as a manager.

References

King, N., and Anderson, N. (2002). Managing innovation and change: a critical guide for organizations. London: Thomson.