What our Alumni Say...
Campbell Soup Company
Senior Leadership Development Advisor,
HR Development Specialist,
Sr. Change MGMT Consultant,
I find that it is always easier and more interesting to learn my school material when I can immediately apply it to a practical purpose. That’s why I was excited to work with an organization as part of a recent assignment in my ORGD 6040- Diagnosing Organizational course, and I’m pretty happy about the outcome. The assignment required me to diagnose a troubled organization; analyzing information acquired directly from the client using a theoretical organizational model. The intent of the approach was to objectively evaluate the situation, keep the client involved, and work toward the underlying causes of the problem. Based on feedback from the client, I think we are headed in the right direction.
It was almost serendipitous that I was able to combine the course assignment with a request I had recently received to help this organization – one of my former employers. The company is family owned and one hundred fifteen years old, but had appointed the first “non-family” CEO in company history four years ago. I had maintained a low level of contact with the new CEO for some months, but he had recently increased his enthusiasm for finding a way for us to work together. He shared with me a concern that the varied divisions of the company lacked cohesiveness, and operated in “silos.” He felt that this was holding the company back, but he didn’t have an approach to tackle the problem. When I suggested that we apply some of the methods I was learning in the BGSU Executive Masters in Organizational Development (EMOD) program, he eagerly agreed.
I developed an approach to analyze the problem based on what I learned in classwork and the requirements of the assignment. After structuring the problem using an organizational model, I developed a hypothesis for the basic problem, and then conducted a survey with each of the division leaders and the CEO to gather data. I followed up after an initial review of the survey results by interviewing each of the leaders one on one. The survey and interview results were pulled together into a “content analysis,” which provided a comprehensive summary of the results, organized into categories. The exciting part came from drawing the leadership team together to share the content analysis and encouraging the team to interpret the feedback and give it meaning. This brainstorming session allowed the company’s leaders to create major themes and prioritize the areas needing the most attention. In addition, the team created tentative next steps to maintain momentum. It was really thrilling to see them formulate their own plans after I set the stage. The process encouraged the leadership to view the problem in a fresh way, but the results made sense to them. As an extra bonus, the CEO was so happy with the results of the initial process that he wants me to continue to work with the team to implement the plan. We have our next meeting scheduled in January, 2015.
It was really a pleasure to watch and participate as the team worked together, developing common themes and realizing how similar their challenges are. I could feel the energy increase as the session evolved. Some of the feedback and comments I received after the leadership planning meeting included the following:
“I think it was extremely valuable for the senior leadership to spend time together to help develop and strengthen the relationships that will be necessary to drive the business toward the success that we all envision. It was also beneficial to see the commonality of the issues that we all face and work together to begin to solve them and hold each other accountable for achieving our shared outcomes.”
“Meeting with my peers and discussing how to move our business forward.”
“Hearing the feedback from the surveys and everyone coming up with a few issues that we could all agree upon that needed to be addressed.”
I am so thankful that I decided to pursue the EMOD Program at BGSU. Not only have the courses and the professors of the program been instrumental in my personal development but I am inspired to use what I have learned to make a positive impact on the health of organizations I work with. The example I shared here is just one illustration of how critical the Organization Development role is to the business world today.