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Changing organizational culture: A Case Study

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  1. Executive summary of the organization.
  2. Diagnosis of current challenge.
    1. The symptoms.
    2. The decision making process.
    3. The old structure and culture.
    4. Organizational culture.
  3. Strategy for changing the situation.
    1. A primary issue.
    2. Effective implementation and management of significant organizational change.
    3. Meeting and discussing their priorities and ground rules for communication.
    4. The potential benefits.
  4. Summary and next steps.
  5. References.

The leadership challenge to the organizational culture that is being examined is the transition from one store manager to another in a retail operation (bookstore) that is a store that is part of a larger corporate entity. A long-time leader of this particular store of the world's largest bookstore chain, Jean, has been replaced by Mark. Differences in management and leadership styles have resulted in varying degrees of team dysfunction. Coupled with economic challenges (such as decreased consumer spending which has lowered key variables like sales per hour, average amount per transaction and overall customer traffic, especially in the mornings) strategic leadership has not been occurring. Change for change's sake and a "putting out fires" aspect of crisis management has begun to predominate due to a lack of shared objectives. Collective effort is not fully rewarded and encouraged.

Tags: Types of organizational culture, Changing corporate culture, Changing organizational structure, Changing management, Changing organizational development

[...] This is, in part, because organizational change is not a foolproof solution and enough resistance will lead to further quitting or firings, which, it must be conceded, are both a potential outcome and might, in the long run of the enterprise, prove beneficial if, regardless of who was shifted from the situation, the result was a more consistent sense of purpose among the managers and the store. The potential benefits are far greater. While certain basic and everyday standards and tasks were placed into flux because of the uneven ways in which they were applied, the heightened awareness of merchandising and the frantic nature of the struggle had actually kept sales on track, was external factors were averaged out. [...]

[...] Application strategies in organizational culture often encounter the debate between culture being a built in aspect of social life (and therefore it is something that naturally emerges in groups, including work teams) and the idea that culture is something that arises in cultures as an unintended consequence of behavior. This second side of the debate sees organizational culture as a balance between languages, methods of problem-solving and implementing tools that teams use to bring change to their environment. This latter ideological construct is more valuable for this case study and is more applicable to analysis and evaluation of the attempts to change culture in the name of improving productivity, responsiveness, employee retention and overall big-picture store systems, such as the flow of product through the store. [...]

[...] Bearing in mind that: "Effective implementation and management of significant organizational change is an elusive process. The sheer complexity of organizational systems can often lead to unpredictable and detrimental outcomes," (Manz, Bastien & Hostager, 1991), an appropriate strategy for change is to try to back up (since multiple missteps have occurred) and simultaneously address the challenges that have surfaced. Due to the particular clashes, transparency of motives and intentions and ground rules for communication is in order. The team is transitioning from a situation where a "leader is not necessarily the one who occupies a superior position in a formal hierarchy; instead, a leader is simply defined as the individual who occupies a central position in the pattern of recurrent exchange relationships in an organization" (Manz, Bastien & Hostager, 1991) to "leadership within the general visionary perspective [that] assumes a leader-follower paradigm, in which the leader is the carrier and communicator of superior vision." (Manz, Bastien & Hostager, 1991). [...]

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