OD CASE STUDY
A classic example of how OD can change an organization for the better is the initiative undertaken by General Motors Corp. at its Tarry town, New York, auto assembly plant in the 1970s. By the late 1960s, Tarrytown had earned a reputation as one the least productive plants in the company. Labor relations and quality were at an all-time low, and absenteeism was rampant, when GM finally decided to take action.
Realizing the seriousness of the situation, plant managers tried something new—they sought direct input from laborers about all aspects of the plant operations. Then they began to implement the ideas with success, sparking interest in a more comprehensive OD effort. Thus, in the early 1970s, GM initiated a quality-of-work-life (QWL) program, an OD program that integrates several types of interventions. The goal of QWLs is to improve organizational efficiency through employee well-being and participative decision-making.
In 1973, the union leaders signed a "letter of agreement" with management in which both groups agreed to commit themselves to exploring specific OD initiatives that could improve the plant. The plant hired an outside consultant to oversee the change process. The initial research stage included a series of problem-solving training sessions, during which 34 workers from two shifts would meet for eight hours on Saturdays. Those meetings succeeded in helping plant managers to improve productivity. Therefore, in 1977 management increased the scope of the OD program by launching a plantwide effort that included 3,800 managers and laborers.
Although the OD program eventually cost GM more than $1.5 million, it paid off in the long run through greater productivity, higher quality, and improved labor relations. For example, the number of pending grievances plummeted from 2,000 in 1972 to only 32 by 1978. Absenteeism dropped as well, from more than seven percent to less than three percent. In fact, by the late 1970s the Tarry town plant was recognized as one of the most productive and best run in the entire GM organization.
[/b]Large Financial Services Firm Case Study
Financial ServicesClient Overview
As a large west coast based financial services firm with over 160,000 team members in 80+ businesses, this company routinely ranks highly among national and international firms in terms of revenue and innovation. Through almost 6,000 stores, the company provides banking, insurance, investments, mortgage and consumer finance services.
The company’s technology information group, a large internal division, had been restructured twice in the previous five years. After deciding on yet another restructuring intended to improve customer focus, management required a change management expert to inform middle managers and employees and ensure buy-in among all parties. For help, they turned to Clarity Consultants.Clarity's Role
Clarity’s consultant, a change management expert, designed four on-site sessions for approximately fifty middle managers in Minneapolis, Des Moines, Phoenix and San Francisco. Each session was four hours and included in person attendees as well as managers participating by telephone and videoconferencing. Because of the history of restructuring in the division, Clarity’s consultant included a high-ranking company executive at each session, over videophone, to “champion” the changes and explain their rationale.
Clarity’s consultant also facilitated fifteen real-time distance-learning sessions (telephone and Internet) with approximately 350 employees to explain the changes and help with the wide range of reactions. Each of these lasted an hour and a half.
The project was completed successfully, the restructuring took effect with positive results, and the consultant was later asked back by the company to work on another project.