Essay: Human Potential "Nothing Endures

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[. . .] (Schein 2009).

Rapid technological change and globalization among markets and competition have led to organizations all around the world to form coalitions with other organizations as part of their strategy for change. Strategic partnerships enable organizations to increase their reach without having to add fixed capacity -- to gain a measure of stability in a bumpy environment by planning jointly with organizations on different points on the value chain, to reduce uncertainty or manage power dependencies. (Thompson 1967; Aldrich 1979; Kanter 2003). However, with these changes come issues concerning capital markets, currency rates, political shifts, tax policy, resource markets and technology; all of these issues shape organization fates.

The important thing to know about change when undergoing the smallest change to a merger with an organization across the world is that a leader has to know why they are going through this change and what powerful and convincing theories back up this change. Lacking new and creative theories and instead going with a familiar tactic may create more problems. Comprehensive understanding is therefore required. Kanter (2003) recalls a parable about change to illustrate the problems with understanding it. The parable was initially written by 19th century British writer Charles Lamb in an essay about how human's discovered cooking. Millions of years ago, Lamb suggests, people lived in quite large and extended families with domestic animals in simple houses built with wood and thatch. These homes were very simple and thus vulnerable to all of the elements of the environment. When everyone was away from the village one day, a house caught on fire. The good thing was that the only casualty was a pig in the neighborhood. When all the villagers returned, they saw smoke and ashes, but they smelled something delicious. Some of the villagers went digging around and they touched the carcass of the dead pig, which was still nice and hot. They burned their fingers, causing them to put them into their mouths to cool them. When they did this, they tasted something extraordinary. This is how Lamb suggests they discovered cooking. After that, when the villagers wanted to celebrate something, they picked out a house, put a pig inside it and then burned it down. Kanter suggests a moral to the story: "If you don't understand why the pig gets cooked, you are going to waste an awful lot of houses." (2003).

When dealing with change in an organization, understanding that language is full of ambiguity is another important detail to remember. (Kanter 2003). What one word means to one person often doesn't mean the exact same thing to another. Kanter (2003) suggests that this is especially common when people talk about "organizational change." Lewin had a model that was simple to use in understanding organizational change through three stages: unfreezing, changing, and refreezing. (Jones 1968; Kanter 2003). Kanter, while agreeing that this is a simple way of seeing organization change, hopes that it can give one an understanding of change, it shouldn't become so ingrained that one cannot see organizational change as something much richer after viewing it simplistically. Kanter, instead, believes that organizations are more fluid than frozen and they need to be thought of as having personalities of a sort. She also suggest that these "stages" in which Lewin spoke are not necessarily block type stages, they are more fluid, once again, in that they can and should overlap and interpenetrate each other in ways that are very important. (2003). They can be multidirectional and to change an organization deliberately, she suggests the image of grabbing some part of the "motion" and "steering" it into a particular direction that can be seen by leaders as a new method of operating or as a reason to reorient one's relationship and responsibility to the organization itself, while, at the same time, producing an environment and conditions that facilitate and assist that reorientation. (2003).

Like the Heraclitus quote at the top of this paper, "Nothing endures but change," it is important to think of change as a continuous flow. Organizations with its leaders and its employees are active entities with common elements that permit activities and people to be clumped together and then treated as an unit. While activities move, and new or different entities or people are included in activity groups, what is realized as the organization as a whole will also shift. That being said, it is important to understand that organizations are always moving and flowing. Kanter (2003) suggests that while there is some central thrust or directional push that comes from a mixture of the trajectory of past events, pushes arising from the environment, and pulls arising from the strategies embraced by the organization's character. All of the individual clusters are also moving and flowing and, at any given time, their direction may get off sync with the overall momentum or direction of everyone else. (2003).

After contemplating the effects of globalization and technological advances in this day and age, it is also necessary to consider the economic environment in which we are currently living as well. There have been dramatic changes in organizations in the last year because of financial issues. This is a scary time of change for senior leaders in an organization. There are many questions that an organization must contemplate when faced with higher expenses and a global turndown: Cutting prices to maintain market shares? How much should they be cut if they are? Are layoffs going to be necessary? How can our organization emerge relatively unscathed?

One of Donald Schon's greatest achievements was his innovation to delve into the extent to which companies (as well as social movements and governments) were learning systems and how those systems could be made better. Schon argues that the organization is the best example of a learning system and he noted that many organizations lose their stable base in the technologies of certain products and system that are constructed around them. This is especially interesting to look at today since there are great challenges in the nature of production and services. Today, organizations have to function in a globalized world and this has changed the way operations run.

Productivity and competitiveness are, by and large, a function of knowledge generation and information processing: firms and territories are organized in networks of production, management and distribution; the core economic activities are global -- that is they have the capacity to work as a unit in real time, or chosen time, on a planetary scale. (Castells 2001).

When looked at from this perspective, the lack of attending to the learning of people and groups inside organizations can cause major problems. Companies need to think about adding not just devices -- technological or machinery -- but they need to think about how they can make their production more efficient as a whole. This is an issue today. Organizations face the challenge of knowing how to generate knowledge, where to spend their money, and what products need to be developed and where.

Part II. Developing Human Development

Developing employees' potential is something that organizations need to embrace. According to David Gershon of the Empowerment Institute in New York, Gallup Research has shown that organizations use less than 20% of their employees' potential. In order for potential development to occur, organizations must inspire their employees to grow and push their potential. In a culture as such, innovations which require new behaviors to be adopted can take root. Employees decide to give more than 100% expending their discretionary energy for the sake of the organization. Employees will want to give more of themselves and invest themselves in their organization rather than be available to the highest bidder. For many organizations, developing their employees' potential is one of the most strategic moves that can give organizations a competitive advantage in the marketplace. A Gershon state that using the analogy of a garden is a good way to understand whether or not an organization supports learning and growing. Will new seeds take root because the soil is fertile or will they die due to unfertile soil? Gershon believes that where organizations fail is that they simply assume that an organization's learning and growing capacity is built-in, and all that they need to do is "train" the employees and they will soon exhibit the new behaviors.

An empowering organization assessment helps an organization to understand the current ability of its employee's to adopt new behaviors. Symptoms of disempowering organizational culture often include fear of making decisions; lack of participation when it comes to making… [END OF PREVIEW]

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