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Course : Z1867/Human Performance Technology

Intervention at the Workplace and Organization Level (1)

The Impact of
Organizational Development

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X-Press is a large software developer of operating systems and applications, located in the United States. The company
began as an aggressive entrepreneurial start-up populated by technical enthusiasts who were passionate about their
industry. Their culture and work environment reflected that aggressiveness; employees were given large goals and
were expected to deliver. Long hours were required to produce those deliverables, and people worked twelve,
fourteen, sixteen hours a day, seven days a week, to make them happen. The culture proclaimed that the company
hired only the smartest people in the world. Training was not necessary, the organization said, because smart people
could figure out what was needed. Training took time to locate, to attend, and to implement. Figuring out a better
way was faster.The company thrived; its products and reputation in the market wereextremely positive. Employee
attrition was very low, in comparison both with its industry and with other, nonsoftware industries. Employees
found the environment more motivating than previous jobs for two reasons:
1. They believed that the work that they were doing was making the world a better place.
2. The stock options that they received when hired, and additional options they received every year, looked to make them
wealthy beyond their expectations.
Today, X-Press has grown into a huge global organization with fifty-five thousand employees worldwide. However,
attrition is rising to historic highs, about 8 percent annualized, and climbing. Competitors who are developing niche
software applications have established office locations within the same geographicareas as X-Press and are
aggressively recruiting X-Press employees. In addition, X-Press stock leveled off about five years ago. Employees
who joined early and made millions have left. Subsequent employees, who expected to make millions and have not,
hide their disappointment by working harder, hoping to bring back the glory days of a hot stock. Last, the CEO is
worried about X-Press becoming a large, cumbersome company unable to provide the rapid responsiveness to the
market that allowed it to grab market share and excel as it did in the early days. To keep employees agile and
focused, he has implemented a program that identifies and terminates the bottom 10 percent of the employees for
performance each year. These bottom 10 percent are not counted in the attrition rate. Managers across X-Press are
rushing to the recruiting department inside the company’s human resources department. The managers are
complaining to the CEO that the recruiting people are not finding qualified candidates to fill the
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What is Organizational
Organizational development is an overarching
approach to identifying and removing obstacles in
the environment that are having a negative impact
on an organization’s ability to reach its

“OD is effort planned, organization-wide, and managed from the top to

increase organization effectiveness and health through planned
interventions in the organization’s processes, using behavioral
[Fitz-enz, 2002, p. 213].

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Defining Deliverables: external & internal
Defining Processes :
• Process tasks and steps,
• Owners of process tasks and steps,
• Handoffs between process steps and between owners
Defining Knowledge, Skills, and Attributes
Talent fit
Cultural fit
Defining Resources
1. Resources that constitute the deliverable, as flour is to bread
2. Resources that contribute to the building of the deliverable, as an oven is
to bread

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Case Scenario: X PRESS

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Performance Gaps

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Designing the Solutions

Deficiencies Design
Process 1. Process design
2. Process reengineering
KSA 1. Eliminate the need for the knowledge
2. Provide targeted training solution
Effort encouraged through reward to a high level of sustained
contribution and discouraged from executing short of that
level through consequences applied by the organization.

Resource 1. Internal
2. External
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Implementing the OD solution
At this point, the OD solution is managed as an
internal change project. The project requires a
team comprising the key project stakeholders
within the organization. OD identifies the
constituency team that necessitated the change and
assigns ownership responsibilities.
• Assigning Ownership of Deliverables
• Managing the Project
• Overcoming Resistance

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Measurement and Evaluation

Using leading and lagging indicators to measure

effectiveness of the intervention within two
organizational realms: business and culture.
Again, the timing of an audit varies by the
intervention and can occur immediately after
implementation, at thirty to ninety days, or even
one year later.

-see examples in page 586-587

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When well applied, both OD and HPT use results-

oriented approaches and both take a systems
view of organizations. OD and HPT use the same
or similar processes and problem-solving tools.
The major distinction is that OD applies these
principles and methodologies to a whole system,
while HPT more often deals with components of
the system

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James A. Pershing (editor). 2006. Handbook of human performance

technology : principles, practices, and potential. Pfeiffer. Market
Street, San Francisco. ISBN:0787965308

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