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Adrian Farley

2/20/2013 COM280

- Org Com
Department 8101 Case Study

Department 8101 was one of the most top producing areas in plant 8. Hank, who is supervisor

of dept 8101, is about to retire. Upper management has to decide who is going to replace Hank. It is

important that the supervisor fits well within department 8101 so they can continue their reign of top

producing department. What they got, was Rita. Rita came into dept 8101 and immediately there was

conflict. Problems upon problems kept occurring between the group and Rita. Eventually there was a

falling out between Rita and her employees. The group decided to revolt, by making mistakes to bring

their numbers down, and got Rita fired. Now, there is a problem. Department 8101 is without a

supervisor and their production has slowed. Upper management has no idea how to fix the problems

within the group and has hired an Organizational Consultant to help get department 8101 back on track.

Problems:

1. Conflict of management styles

2. No permeability

Background Info:

Hank

• Supervisor of Department 8101

• Laid Back, Laissez-Faire management style


• "As long as the job gets done."
• Well liked by employees, drinking buddies w/ Job Setters

Terry
5 years in department 8101 (Junior Job Setter)
Knew his job and would perform well when left alone
Distrusted managers, except Hank
"We're going to have to break the SOB in. (New Manager)
Drinks at bar a lot

Denny

8 years in department 8101 (Senior Job Setter)


Informal leader of department
Strong force in labor union & former plant committeeman
Respected by peers and managers, especially by Helen and Terry

Helen -

15 years in department 8101


Relief woman, extremely nice when you agree with her
Worked in hand w/ Denny on day to day operations
Dislikes female supervisors

Me -

2 Years in department 8101 General job title


Watches people and does his job
Overwhelmed with everything that happens within factory

Facts:

Rumors about Rita had been floating through the grapevine before employees met her
Rita is former Marine sergeant
Spent last 6 months as fill in supervisor
Followed the rules to the book
Rita didn't talk to any employees the first week she was hired in, just observed
• Start of second week - Rita calls meeting and says she doesn't like some things and things were
changing. Changes included:
o 24 minute lunch, rather than 30 min o 23 minute breaks, rather than 30 min o 5 minute wash up

time rather that 15 o Tardiness and Absenteeism will not be tolerated o Job rotation (on
experimental basis)
• Employees have lunch breaks at bar
• Group was upset with changes, but decided to give the ideas a chance before any 'radical'
measures were taken
• Days and weeks past and Rita stood tall with her strict rules
• Rita applied immense amount of pressure on employees to do things her way
• Employees were getting written up left and right for tardiness and absenteeism
o Jim, a popular person in the work group, got a one day suspension when he and Rita got into an

argument over packing labels o Helen was put on notice for failure to clean up her work area
o Terry was written up for drinking, tardiness and almost anything Rita could nail him with
• Rita took on more changeovers during the shift and wouldn't tell Denny or Terry till the last
minute
• Rita wouldn't let Denny or Terry see the intershift report to find out the days activities
• Rita told Terry and Denny what to do and made sure they knew she was in charge
• Terry got suspended
o Terry came back from lunch drunk, Rita gave him a direct order and he refused by saying "I'm not
doing a damn thing." Denny tried to calm the situation down but Rita told him to stay out of it. Rita
suspended Terry on spot.
• The night after the incident, the group met at the bar. Denny led the discussion and they came to
an overall consensus that they needed to get rid of Rita.
• They decided to make as many mistakes as they can. Mistake upon mistake, a group sabotage
• Each group member agreed but 'Me' was weary but he knew he couldn't oppose because he
would be excluded from the group
• A month into their plan and Rita had already lost it, she knew it and so did everyone else

The group was confronted by upper management every day for one reason or another
• Production numbers were reflected by their sabotage and they kept getting worse and worse
• Unceremoniously, Rita was removed from dept 8101 and she ended up leaving the company

Theory Application:

Obviously, there are many underlying problems intertwined within the chaos of Department
8101. Even with all the sub problems, the ultimate reasons that led to the demise of the department
were the conflicting management styles and permeability, both in the employees and Rita. Under Hank,
department 8101 was pretty close to perfect. They all were friends and they all respected each other.
They respected each other in accordance to their work ethic and styles, as well as each member's
individual self. From the interdependence and trust within the department, it makes sense they were
one of the top producing departments. When Rita stepped in and tried to establish a hierarchy the group
wasn't used to, problems started occurring. Rita has a military background, and is a very authoritative
Theory X type leader. She treated the group with little respect, and tried to control way too many
aspects within the group. This being said, I see a theory that can help solve some of the problems
department 8101 is having.
New Science - System Theory:

This theory is all about chaos, and well, that's the situation department 8101 is dealing with. As
soon as Rita took over department 8101, chaos was everywhere. Inside New Science theory, theorists
suggest that the chaotic nature of organizations can result in new innovative forms of organizational
processes and forms. There are 4 main ideas from organizational communication that derive from New
Science system theory and through those 4 main ideas we can see where the department is exceeding
and where it needs to improve.

1. The importance of relationships in organizations: This factor is derived from new science ideas
about the interconnectedness and interdependence of entities in quantum physics.
S This is an idea that department 8101 excels in. Throughout the group everyone is
connected and depended on to do their job. Before Rita, this is one of the main reasons
why the group was so successful. Under Hank, department 8101 thrived from the laid
back management style and excelled when Hank trusted and depended on them. Upper
management did a horrible job in hiring a replacement for Hank. As soon as Rita was
hired, the group already felt distant from their new leader. She didn't even
communicate with them for a whole week. Obviously, when relationships were
established inside and outside the organization, this group thrived. For their new leader
to come in and not even try to start a relationship until the second week, shows that her
management style did not flow with the cohesiveness of the group.
2. The importance of participation in organizational processes: This factor is emphasized because
of the participatory nature of the universe.
S Going along with Idea 1, this is another thought that department 8101 flourished on.
Participation was expected from every individual organizational member. A big part of
why I think department 8101 was so successful is that they knew what was expected of
them. Everyone within the department knew what their job was and how to execute
that job well. When Rita was instituted as their new supervisor, she didn't participate or
try to mix within the group. Instead of continuing the success of the participative
organization that department 8101 was, she decided to try and take an authoritative
leadership style and control certain members/jobs. For example, Terry is an extremely
hard worker and knows how to do his job well. Rita tried to control certain aspects of
Terry and his work ethic by writing him up for 'almost anything she could nail him with.'
When Rita explained that she was going to try and rotate jobs between organizational
members, the department started to be unsuccessful. I think they were unsuccessful
because before the rotation process, each group member knew there roll and jobs well.
When rotating between jobs, they didn't know what was expected of them and felt like
they were letting the group down. To add to her already long list of problems, Rita
would then establish pressure on the organizational member to do a certain job better,
which only frustrated the group more.
3. The appreciation of organizational change and instability: New Science theorists argue that
"organizational change, even in large systems, can be created by a small group of committed
individuals or champions."
S This is where I start to hold some responsibility with the group. Yes, Rita is bad and
ultimately caused the downfall of department 8101 but some responsibility falls on the
organizational members within the department. The individual group members have to
realize that when Hank retired, they were going to be getting a new supervisor. The
group as a whole should have been more open to the idea of a new supervisor rather
than automatically have a judgment before they even met their new leader. When the
organizational members first met Rita, they were already comparing her to what was
said through the 'grapevine.' Instead of making pre assessed judgments on your
potential supervisor, they should have had a more open mind. After things got bad, the
group should have approached the problems in a different way rather than immediately
thinking of 'group sabotage' and trying to get rid of Rita. That being said, something I
find interesting about this idea under New Science is that there can be arguments made
for both sides. You can look at it in the direction explained above, where the group
should have appreciated the fact that there will be organizational change and accept the
fact that some things will change within the organization that they cannot control. Or,
you could look it as a New Science theorist Wheatley sees it. "Organizational change,
even in large systems, can be created by a small group of committed individuals or
champions." Department 8101 is most definitely a "small group of committed individuals
or champions" and I think they could possibly change the way there organization runs.
They can present their department (8101) as like a guinea pig or trial run to the
organization. They can present a case study type presentation of department 8101
under Hank and a separate one under the supervision of Rita. This will show upper
management how well the group did and how the participative organization
management and leadership style works well with this organization. This could
potentially change the way upper management views their organization. Maybe they
would install a new business model or perhaps change the way they run the day to day
operations. Like Wheatley says, sometimes large companies are changed by a small
group of motivated individuals. After all this analysis, the gist of this 3rd idea in New
Science systems theory is that all organizational members including managers,
supervisors and all employees, have to understand that there will be organizational
change and instability at times. As analyzed, there a different views people can take on
the same theory, which is how many new ideas come into organizations.
4. The importance of being open to the information environment: As Wheatley states, "We need to
open the gates to more information, in more places, and seek out information that is ambiguous,
complex, and of no immediate values."
S This idea continues well piggy-backing off topic 3. Department 8101 organizational
members and Rita both have problems with receiving new ideas. This is a section where
dept 8101 is at a disadvantage. In analysis and application above we have stated that
department 8101 has such a cohesive strong group bond. In this idea about the New
Science system theory, theorists argue that in order for organizations to thrive new ideas
have to be circulated regularly. While it is great that dept 8101 is a strong group, but that
limits there openness to listen to outside members ideas. The department's permeability
is very low. They don't listen to 'outsider' ideas because of their strong-willed bond and
comfortableness within the group. Rita also has issues with permeability. She wouldn't
let anyone express their views, not even individuals inside the organizational
department. Rita has views on management styles as a hierarchy with power flowing
downward whereas the management style that positively works for the group is power
flowing up, down and side to side.

New Science systems theory correlates really well with department 8101. The ideas on which
New Science theory was founded, as explained above, department 8101 follows that path and your able
to see where the group faults. Before Rita, the group was following the New Science theory ideas
perfectly. Once you move down to the third and fourth ideas, based on the theory, we can see how the
organizational members are misguided and how they can improve individually and as a team. My favorite
part and why I chose to rely on New Science theory so heavily is because reading through the description
and processes of the theory I remember ideas from other theories that also fit within the boundaries of
New Science. Like how originally the group had a very Theory Y manager then changed to Theory X under
Rita's supervision. You're able to see how all the theories intermixed together can kick start different
ideas about the same problem.
Solution(s):

There are a lot of different problems and sub problems within the organization and department
8101 itself. The solution needs to start in the hiring process. In my mind you have 2 different options of
how to reinstate a supervisor to department 8101. 1) You hire from within or 2) You have a specific hiring
process. The solution that makes sense and would most definitely work within the department would be
to hire within. The most obvious choice would be to promote Denny. That being said, there is still going
to be a position open in the department, a position to replace Denny's. That is where a next possible
solution comes in. A specific hiring process, for this particular department the organizational members
who do the hiring need to set up a specific process to help find the person best for the job. They have to
keep in mind things like an applicant's background, they need to make sure the applicant's previous
management styles would work well with the department's successful style currently. Also,
organizational members above department 8101 need to address the group's issues with their low
permeability. No matter what, there are always going to be new people at an organization and the
employees need to understand how to interact and work with those new employees. In conclusion,
through application and analysis of department 8101 we have identified and addressed many different
problems. Through theory, we were able to see all of the organization's strengths as well as where the
organization can improve.