This blog is to express my own understanding of organizational and real-life phenomena that I find interesting. I was in the software industry as an engineer and a manager for nearly 15 years before I moved out to Organization Development (OD). I was attracted to OD because I realised if we got the people factor right, other things would fall into place. What I love doing apart from helping clients in their business, is to listen to music, play table tennis, cycling and reading non-fiction
When I was doing my executive PGD in TISS-CSOL on OD and change, we had credit courses on Complex Adaptive Systems and Human Interaction Labs (aka T-groups), two very essential topics to OD. We were also asked to write reflection papers on Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) and Human Interaction Labs. When I sat down to write them, I realised one is connected to the other and ended up writing about how Labs are in fact Complex Adaptive Systems. If you want to understand CAS, I think a good place to start with could be T-groups and probably the other way round too. Given the complexity of both the systems, the points I have presented here may be experienced differently by different people. And these are only my initial thoughts. Welcome your thoughts.
Many people are aware of the ‘Autonomy-Mastery-Purpose’ triad concept promoted by Daniel Pink in his hugely popular book ‘Drive’. Pink says for jobs to be intrinsically motivating, people need to have autonomy (to make decisions over what they do and need), mastery (continuously learning and improving oneself) and purpose (a guiding principle that is beyond profit and self-interest).
What many people may not be aware of is a closely related and equally interesting framework presented by Hackman and Oldham in the 1970s which is called the Job Characteristics Model (JCM). It describes 5 core characteristics of a job and how they lead to intrinsic motivation.
Below is the model representation :
The model describes 5 core dimensions of a job, 3 psychological states it achieves and the personal and work outcomes of such a job.
The core dimensions are : Skill Variety, Task Identity, Task Significance, Autonomy and Feedback. The first three contribute towards experienced meaningfulness of t…
“You cannot improve
what you don’t measure’"– Edward Deming
If I have to slightly tweak Deming’s words, I would say “you cannot
improve what you don’t get feedback on”.
It is that time of the year when most of the organizations
are working through their annual performance review rituals. Managers face a
challenging task of giving a satisfactory review, rating and raise. What was
once a purely annual performance review, has undergone some changes - many
organizations conduct periodic – quarterly or half-yearly reviews to ease the
process. Periodic review meetings help to avoid surprises and help individuals
improve their performance on a continuous basis. Most importantly they help in
improving the process of review itself.
One of the fundamental processes in the performance
appraisal cycle is the process of giving feedback – useful information for the
receiver to help him/her to make the necessary corrections in behaviour so that
performance improves. This is nevertheless a trick…
Definition. Shared Goals are goals or purpose held commonly by a group of people to which they are committed. A recent
engagement with participants of the TISS Winter School in OD for the social
sector brought a very interesting aspect of organisations to the fore – that of
having a common cause or a shared goal that will connect them together and
energize them. In almost
all the social enterprises where the OD students were involved in fieldwork,
they experienced the employees and volunteers of these enterprises as very
passionate about what they were doing. "We could literally see the spark and
passion in their eyes” were the words used by the OD students as they shared their
experiences. Most of the NGOs concerned here had minimal resources at their
disposal – funds, human resources, office space, etc. And they work with people who face poverty,
abuse, unemployment, domestic violence, and many such issues that could be
emotionally stressful and draining. In spite of the envi…
I was recently reminded of this quote by Maya Angelou when I
happened to watch Groundhog Day, a Hollywood movie that features a protagonist who
is very unhappy with his life.
In the movie, Phil is the protagonist and a weather reporter whose life carries a routine which
is exactly the same every day, aka, a time loop. He struggles as he tries to make sense of the events in his life
that are strikingly the same – it is not only the work he does, and the people
he works with that he sees every day. It is also the beggar on the street, the accidental
insurance agent, the pothole he happens to step into, etc. He soon starts
hating the environment, the town, the people and the celebrations around the
Groundhog Day and finds himself cheating others, getting into one-night stands
and reckless driving. He tries to get out of the time loop by committing
suicide multiple times, nevertheless wakes up to the same day, repeating his
Finally he comes out of the time loop by changing hi…
Agile (or Sprint)
retrospective is a useful mechanism for the scrum teams to implement continuous
improvement in their processes. The scrum master may facilitate the
retrospective meeting to help the team identify processes that worked well
and those that did not work so well. The team goes on to find ways to improve
the processes and try them out in the next sprint. Retrospectives are very
important for Agile teams to be successful because it brings in a continuous
‘inspect and adapt’ approach to the processes applied for making the product.
The Process of
retrospective While there are many
techniques to conduct the retrospective meeting, the general process followed
is to take the individual’s feedback, collate them and identify top priority
items to be implemented in the next sprint. It is fundamentally a process
to collect feedback and make corrections to the system. According to the
General Systems Theory, a system has inputs, outputs, transformation processes
that convert inputs to…
Tangible vs Intangible- where do you focus ?
When you are setting up a new team or business unit, or want to bring about change in an existing setup, what do you do ? create/modify structures and processes - those which are tangible and measurable. Intangibles like people's perceptions, feelings, assumptions and beliefs are difficult to work with. Quite often, these intangibles make or break change programs and business goals.
I found this excellent article on HBR that uses the tangible-intangible conundrum in explaining the execution-strategy gap - 'It is important to focus on what people think rather than what they do'