The situation at Phoenix is a perfect example of the challenges that arise in running a business with varied interests and competition. Phoenix Sporting Goods is a small company that specializes in the production and sale of sporting equipment. Initially, Phoenix was running as a profitable business before the challenges of the free-market economy and competition from more innovative competitors caused problems. Additionally, the desire to cut production costs and maximize profits caused friction between different departments, leading to a situation in which the organization was no longer working as a unit. With this background, the General Manager, Sheila, decides to approach a professional team-building firm to make the employees at the organization work more closely. The problematic situation at Phoenix lends itself to an organizational development approach.
Organization development approach entails a structured way in which a business seeks to bring about the desired change in an organization. The management at Phoenix, led by Sheila, made a deliberate attempt to create more cohesion in the company and reduce the tension and disagreements, threatening to completely collapse the organization. Also, an organizational development process involves several steps that were followed at Phoenix. This structured process further proves that the Phoenix case is a perfect example of an organizational development process. The first approach in an organizational development process is the initial consultation. Sheila initiates this first process when she consults Dun Guimond, a manager at a local country club, who refers her to Beaconsfield Consulting. The second stage of organizational development is data collection. Before initiating the process of team building at Phoenix, Sharon, and Ron, employees of Beaconsfield consulting, which Sheila has requested to organize the team-building process, spend some hours talking to the management and employees from different departments to gain inside information on the actual causes of the friction at the firm.
The third stage of the organizational development process is data and feedback confrontation. After collecting data from Phoenix Sporting Goods, Ron and Sharon compiled a report presented to Phoenix Sporting Goods and Beaconsfield Consulting management. They identify the types and causes of conflict in the company, which is a form of direct confrontation of the problems. The fourth approach in organizational development is action planning and problem-solving. In the case of Phoenix, this stage happens when Ron and Sharon approach Sheila and discuss with her whether it is more practical to approach the team as a collective unit or whether the design and production departments need to separate sessions of team building. Finally, there is agreement on how to approach the team-building process at Phoenix Sporting goods. Therefore, it is apparent that the problems at Phoenix evolved in stages and followed the structured method of the organizational development process.
Secondly, the situation at Phoenix fits in the organizational development structure because there are conflicting ideas on the causes of problems in the organization. While the design team insists that the problems with the organization are outdated designs and that they can only succeed by creating more attractive products that compete for the market, the production team refuses to approve these designs because, in their opinion, they and too expensive and would be sold at very high prices to meet the expenses involved in coming up with these expensive designs. Additionally, there is the leadership problem in which Sheila faces the dilemma of relocating the firm to a more productive place, yet she has a lot of personal detachment to the Brockton city and feels moving the firm will harm the town in a major way. Therefore, the people running the firms are becoming a problem because there is no agreement on how they should approach the challenges they face. There is a need for an organizational development process so that the people can agree and have a common approach towards solving the problems they face at the firm. This confusion means that the firm requires a problem identification and diagnosis by experts who will look at the varied views of different players and harmonize them into a coherent problem statement. With these conflicts in mind, it is also apparent that problems identification is required, as different departments have a different opinions on the actual problem that needs to be addressed at the firm.
Additionally, an organizational development approach requires a planning strategy for change. At Phoenix, this strategy is primarily driven by the general manager, Sheila, who has much attachment to the firm and comes up with a team-building idea. Since she is aware that she is not an expert in the team-building process, Sheila brings in a professional team building firm, Beaconsfield Consulting, which is a good strategy in addressing the problems at the company. From the systematic approach of Beaconsfield Consulting in data collection, diagnosis, and consultation with different players in the firm, the outcome is expected to be based on factual and accurate information on the organization’s operations, which will yield the desired results in solving the problem.
Finally, aspects of the systems theory, an integral part of the organizational development process, can be seen in the Phoenix Sporting Goods case. The systems theory shows the relationships between group members and how such correlations intertwine to make the entire unit work well. How the different departments at Phoenix sporting goods fail to work in harmony is a classic example of how a system, or a unit, can fail to work in harmony and therefore fail the rest of the sections. The systems theory can explain the conflicts between the designs and the productions departments. Similarly, the systems theory explains that the conflicts and the relationships between the various parts can be natural or manmade in a system. As explained above, most of the conflicts and Phoenix are artificial. With proper team building and empathetic listening, it is easy to come up with solutions that will resolve the outstanding issues that have made it difficult for the employees to function in a system. Thus, the conflict at Phoenix can be approached from an organizational development perspective.
Phoenix faces major problems which need immediate resolutions if the company is to become competitive again. The main problem arises from the failure of different departments to appreciate the others’ points of view. Therefore, there has been a blame game with each department seeking to explain why the other’s ideas are not practical. The organizational development approach presents the case at Phoenix well. The general manager appreciates the problems and is making efforts to bring the desired change to the organization. The professional team-building firm hired to resolve the issue takes systematic and professional steps in understanding the problem and seeking a practical solution. Finally, the systems theory and the importance of all parts working in harmony can be explained by the case at Phoenix. Therefore, the Phoenix case is a perfect example of an organizational development approach to resolving workplace-related conflicts.
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