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A new dean was hired to manage a division on a college campus and
supervise thirty-two program managers, faculty and staff, two centers and ten
special programs. He inherited a talented and diverse, yet polarized staff
and an organization with a leadership vacuum and a high degree of
fragmentation. Two OD consultants, one internal and one external, joined
together to respond to these challenges.
Using an affirmative inquiry approach, they held personal meetings
and interviews with all staff. The data gathered confirmed needs for team-
building, clarity of direction, in-service training, accountability and better
communication within the division and with the rest of the campus. The data
also pointed to the polarities in the staff having ethnic undercurrents and to
challenges resulting from a leadership revolving door and a history of
We held two day-long offsite retreats. The first data feedback session
surfaced both the strengths of the division and the issues needing to be
addressed and provided a forum to discuss the issues for the first time as a
whole group and generate action agreements. The second was a team-
building day followed by a series of monthly team development process
sessions, a revamped business meeting format that encouraged
collegial sharing, and staff trainings.
Over an eight-month period, these interventions were both welcomed and
resisted. Yet they resulted in:
individual faculty and program managers.
Feedback from managers and faculty expressed these outcomes:
our division: establishing communication, fairness, etc.”
“I felt very good about this session because we looked at our whole
program and thoroughly analyzed it. I don’t believe that we have ever
done such an in-depth self-analysis. The great part was we came up with
specific ways to make our program better.
result of the processes that we did.”
seeded some good groundwork.”
in our group more clearly – good to . . . feel together, freed much energy
for me. We have so much potential in our group.”
open and more willing to share their thoughts and feelings. The goal was
to pull the group together, and I think we achieved that.”
feelings → leading to better understanding of others. We are showing more
consideration for – and a willingness to get along with – each other than
|Organizational Consulting Case Study
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