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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
    perceived favoritism.  

    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:

  • Building upon the strengths already existing within the
    organization by encouraging the creativity and empowerment of
    individual faculty and program managers.  
  • Establishing a new, inclusive tone with an emphasis on teamwork.
  • Opening up and expanding communication, understanding and
    cooperation.
  • Providing a point of reference that inspired a sense of hope and
    possibility.
  • Introducing a leadership style that modeled integrity, fairness
    and accountability.  

    Feedback from managers and faculty expressed these outcomes:

  • Progress on dealing with issues openly

    “I was happy to see that we are DOING SOMETHING to correct the flaws in
    our division:  establishing communication, fairness, etc.”

  • Team problem-solving

    “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.

  • Enhanced teamwork, healing and cohesion
           
    “I have a greater feeling of cohesiveness with colleagues already as a
    result of the processes that we did.”

  • Improved motivation

    “I feel MUCH more inspired and motivated and also hope that we've
    seeded some good groundwork.”

  • Greater understanding of group dynamics and potential

    “The experience and models presented helped me understand behaviors
    in our group more clearly – good to . . . feel together, freed much energy
    for me.  We have so much potential in our group.”

  • Increased individual investment in team

    “The programs were valuable because people are less distracted, more
    open and more willing to share their thoughts and feelings.  The goal was
    to pull the group together, and I think we achieved that.”

  • Enhanced relationships and more conducive environment
    for team development

    “Most valuable was the feeling of camaraderie.  The personal expression of
    feelings → leading to better understanding of others.  We are showing more
    consideration for – and a willingness to get along with – each other than
    previously.”

Organizational Consulting Case Study