Thursday, December 18, 2008

Stages of Organisational Development?

Bill Torbet et al in Action Inquiry list 7 developmental stages for organisations – useful reading since we now have a CEO, a Board, Directors… and soon 35,000 students.

Is the fledgling Tasmanian Polytechnic about to enter Tolbert’s fourth stage: Experiments?

The stages are:

1: Conception – Dreams, visions and informal conversations about creating something new to fill a need not now adequately addressed. Critical issue: Timeliness.

2: Investments – Champions commit to creating the organisation; early relationship-building among future stakeholders. Critical issue: Authenticity and reliability of commitments.

3: Incorporation – Recognisable physical setting established; tasks and roles delineated; goals and operating staff chosen. Critical issue: Display of persistence in the face of threat.

4: Experiments – Alternative strategies are practiced, tested in operation, and reformed in rapid succession. Critical issue: Truly experimenting.

What happens next will be interesting because 4 more educational institutions join the organisation after 2009. Does this mean the organisation will remain at the Experiments stage longer than it would have otherwise? Or will it go back to the Incorporation stage as new staff join the organisation? Or will it move on to the next stages?

5: Systematic Productivity – Attention is focused only on systematic procedures for accomplishing predefined tasks; marketability or political viability measured in quantifiable terms is the overriding criterion of success.

6. Social Network – Strategic or mission-focused alliances formed among a portfolio of organisations.

7. Collaborative Inquiry – Explicit, shared reflection about mission; open interpersonal relations with disclosure, support and confrontation of apparent value differences; systematic personal and corporate performance appraisal on multiple indexes.

How quickly should the new organisation develop to the Collaborative Inquiry stage? 2010? 2011? 2012? Does the organisation need to move through these stages in strict sequence? Can stages overlap a little?

Should a large multi-site state-wide organisation like the Polytechnic operate concurrently at stages 4-7? Or even stages 1-7 with a focus that cycles through the stages depending on growth and environmental factors?

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