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OD Pitfall: Internet Model of Organizational Change

Office of State Personnel, North Carolina

March 05, 2008

This model presents the perils of attempting sporadic organizational change. Unfortunately this model is used very often in organizations and the resulting failure gives the impression that change cannot be successfully conducted.

1. The process begins with the executive surfing the Internet around midnight. There are some really good ideas out there. Another organization’s success story really excites the exec. He thinks how nice it would be if that could be done in his organization.

2. The executive enters the next management staff meeting and tells everybody about this wonderful new idea that Hot Shot Industries has used, and he wants to implement it here. Things are not discussed or planned, but the exec is still really excited. The management staff leaves the meeting with a sense of dread and impending doom, and hope that this will pass without too much of a stir.

3. The next thing anybody knows the consultants from Know How, Inc., arrive and are announced at the next management staff meeting. The exec tells the managers that the consultants are in charge of implementing the new idea that Hot Shot Industries implemented and for them not to worry too much about it.

4. The management staff is taken on a retreat by the consultants. This is the first step in this really big and exciting change effort. Fun and games are shared. People are forced to tell some interesting things about themselves that no one else at work knows. The consultants state that they will begin working with staff next week. The retreat ends with no meaningful discussion about the change effort and with no plans made for it.

5. The consultants start to work with different groups in the organization. They explain the idea to them. Word begins to get back to the management group through the grapevine that this thing is not going to work here. At the next management staff meeting, members begin to share some of the problems surfaced by the intervention so far. The water in the lake has been drained just enough so that things long hidden begin to surface: programs that haven’t worked in the past; bad decisions that continue to lock up and squander valuable resources; goals that haven’t been reached; smoldering, unresolved conflicts; and so on. The management staff explains that there would have to be significant changes in some fundamental components and their linkages before the organization could really operate at its best.

6. At this point the exec begins to lose interest in the idea that worked at Hot Shot Industries. He quietly lets it drop. The consultants leave. Things get back to normal.

1. The executive surfs the Internet for a new idea….


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