15.317 | Summer 2009 | Graduate

Organizational Leadership and Change


The Three Perspectives on Organizational Processes

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Due: September, Year 2

This deliverable (max 5 pages) is an analysis of your internship project using the three different perspectives discussed in 15.311 for analyzing organizational processes: strategic design, political, and cultural. This should provide a basis for your recommendations relative to implementation and institutionalization of your project findings.

As a first step in your analysis, describe briefly the organizational and technical features of the project, its history, and the organizational context in which it is situated. Consider the following questions:

  • What is/are the ultimate goal/goals of the project?
  • Why was this project chosen, i.e., what problems, needs, and/or opportunities is it intended to address?
  • What are the technical requirements/specifications for the project and deliverables expected?
  • What is your role: team leader, team member, individual actor?

Then use the three lenses to more thoroughly understand the enablers and barriers you must address to make your project successful. Consider how looking at the project from the three perspectives influences the data you collect and how you interpret what is happening. Do the things you see through one lens change your view of the things you see through another lens? Consider how each perspective can inform the others.

STRATEGIC DESIGN: Consider the following questions to understand how the formal structure and strategy of the organization influence the project:

  • What is the strategy of the organization or work unit and how is it related to your project?
  • How does the project fit with the needs of the environment of the organization? What are the macro and micro challenges your project is designed to address?
  • Draw the formal structure or design of this organization or work unit in which the project is embedded. How does the formal design of the organization facilitate or hinder project efforts?
  • How does the way in which jobs are designed influence the project and your work on it?
  • Are coordinating systems in place to support the implementation process?
  • What, if any, changes in the structure will be needed to implement your findings/recommendations?

CULTURAL: Consider the following questions to understand how your project relates to, is affected by, or may affect the culture of the organization:

  • What symbolic meaning does your project have for the organization? Does it have different symbolic meaning for different people?
  • How is the project related to the norms, values, and basic assumptions of the organization? Will it change them or reinforce them?
  • What is formally being communicated to others about this project? How is it being packaged or framed?
  • How were you and your role introduced to other organizational participants, members of your project team, and/or work unit?
  • Are there different sub-cultural responses to this project and how are the people in these subcultures appropriating the initiative for their own use?
  • What cultural levers can you use to gain acceptance for and assure long-term success in implementation for your recommendations?

POLITICAL: Building off your stakeholder map (most likely, you will want to revise the one you created earlier), consider the following questions to understand the different interests and goals that guide individuals, groups, and departments both within and outside of the organization that have a stake in the project:

  • Are the interests of the various stakeholders compatible? Can they be changed to be better aligned?
  • What sources of power do the various parties bring to the initiative? How is power distributed among them? How might the outcomes change this?
  • Is the history of the relations among the different parties involved in the initiative amenable to effective conflict resolution and problem-solving?
  • Have there been conflicts or disputes about this initiative? How have they been resolved?
  • Are there any measures to allow the less powerful parties to voice their interests as they relate to the project?

CONCLUSIONS: What are your key take-aways for your internship based on this analysis? What action plans does it suggest?

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Course Info

As Taught In
Summer 2009
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes
Written Assignments