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04/13/2012

Organizational Alignment Exercise - Whirlpool Corporation


Introduction

Whirlpool Corporation is headquartered in Benton Harbor, Michigan. The company is considered to be the world's largest manufacturer and marketer of home appliances. The company experienced a number of difficult challenges including unforeseen currency devaluations in Europe, raw materials price increases, a refrigeration new-product launch that took more capital than expected, and the continuation of losing more money than planned in the Asian start-up (Duarte & Snyder, 2003). The pressures from these challenges resulted in problematic behavior patterns that highlighted the fact that the company had lost one of its most important assets: the integrative culture it had developed. The company’s culture had provided clear norms and operating values to guide people in times of difficulty or uncertainty. But by 1995 it was becoming clear that the integrative benefits of the traditional Whirlpool culture were disappearing. Two events particularly seemed to signify this. The first was the adoption of an unrealistic planning process in which the executive committee stretched the organization too far by setting unrealistic targets and by saturating the action agenda with an escalation of global initiatives, both of which weighed down local operations. The second and narrower event had to do with eliminating eight marketing employees. Uncharacteristic to Whirlpool's norms, the departing employees were treated most poorly. The termination of one occurred on his twenty-fifth anniversary with the company; all eight were escorted to their cars by security. This story circulated the globe in twenty-four hours and was retold frequently for several months (Conger, Lawler III & Spreitzer, 1999). This paper will use the organizational alignment exercise on Whirlpool Corporation.

Key success factors and task for the organization’s strategy

Shared values

Whirlpool Corporation believes that it should take care of its personnel. Whirlpool Corporation’s culture stands on the notion that organizations should treat the personnel with respect and with regards to one’s dignity. Although there were some past instances of issues with personnel, the company does the best it can to solve the problem.

Strategy

Whirlpool Corporation’s strategy centers on innovation of its products. The company makes sure that all products came from innovative thinking and was a product of an intense brainstorming and market analysis. For Whirlpool Corporation, they cannot succeed if they will not be innovative and adaptive to changes in the environment. Another strategy for the firm involves building a good relationship with its personnel. The company makes sure that the personnel are treated well.

Structure

The company has a top down organizational structure. The leaders and management are on the top of the organizational structure while the supervisor and personnel are on a lower part of the organizational structure.  Currently it is led by Jeff M. Fettig, the company's Chairman & CEO.

System

Whirlpool Corporation makes use of diversity networks. The company makes use of seven employee run diversity networks that are involved with business, employee, and community projects to address the needs of the groups they represent. The diversity networks aims to give the needs of an employee according to the diversity group he/she represent.

Staff

Whirlpool Corporation has over 70,000 employees all over the world. The staff of Whirlpool corporation is trained to think globally wherein all actions should be focused on achieving global notoriety. Whirlpool Corporation makes sure that they develop a global mind-set in which people have the ability to exchange ideas and implement activities easily across cultural and personal boundaries, to accept other cultural perspectives, and to break down natural provincial ways of thinking was essential (Briscoe & Schuler, 2004).

Style

The company has a democratic style of management wherein everyone is given the chance to express their opinions about policies and producers. Regular meetings are held to discuss issues that affect the firm and the issues that cause dissension.

Skills

The company makes sure that the personnel are well trained to create the innovative products. It allows for researches and development procedures to make sure that the personnel will create only the most innovative products. The company also trains the sales department to make sure all the products will be sold.  Different methods of sale are explained to the personnel before they engage in conversation with the clients.

Key success factor

The key success factor of the firm lies in their good relationship with the personnel and their strategy of making sure that the personnel will perform according to standards and according to the needs of the environment.

The organization’s alignment to the strategy and KSF

The main gap in the alignment to the strategy and KSF involves instances of miscommunication within Whirlpool Corporation. There are times wherein the management and the personnel have miscommunication issues wherein the goals, priorities and philosophies of the organization are not explained well to the personnel. This creates a different priority, strategy philosophy and overall goals. Miscommunication alters the effect of the firm’s planned actions. Communication has been discussed so far mostly in terms of what it isn't. This is because a sizable number of English speakers appear to believe that communication works in a way that, objectively, it really doesn’t like a conduit or pipeline. And the difference that it makes, whether one subscribes to the assumptions of the conduit metaphor. Definitions shape actions, and the assumptions of the conduit metaphor can lead to corollary beliefs and actions that are anything but benign in furthering the purposes of human communication (Axley, 1996). Consequently, people who are socially distant from one another might experience frustration and misunderstanding through miscommunication. Conversation proceeds on the basis of shared assumptions, and miscommunication can take place when those common assumptions are not shared. Minor stylistic differences, such as whether a speaker uses a rising inflection with a question, can influence whether the speaker is perceived as hostile or polite and friendly. (Bull, 2002).

Teams in dynamic organizations may suffer from miscommunication, misunderstanding and conflict; These problems arise in part from diversity among team members, who often have different backgrounds, diverse areas of expertise, and incongruent values Team members may also be less motivated to work out such problems if the teams are temporary, workers belong to many other teams, and the teams generate little commitment. The fact that many of the teams in dynamic organizations are self-managed might be a factor as well. Traditionally, a manager's duties included handling problems involving miscommunication, misunderstanding, and conflict among team members. The characteristics of dynamic organizations seem likely to weaken transactive memory at the level of teams. Changes in team membership may be especially problematic in this regard, because the departure of team members removes from transactive memory systems knowledge that others may not possess and to which they might have no other access (Mannix & Peterson, 2003). The arrival of team members can cause problems as well their knowledge must be evaluated, others must learn what knowledge they possess, and they must learn what knowledge others possess. Other aspects of life in dynamic organizations may also threaten transactive memory in teams. For example, shared experience is constrained when a team works on a single project for a limited amount of time, which makes it difficult for workers to learn much about who knows what. And if workers do not expect to work together often in the future, after their team has been disbanded, then they might not be motivated to learn much about each other anyway. Dynamic organizations may endanger teams in several other ways, aside from weakening their transactive systems. These dangers include stress, decreased member commitment and team cohesion, increased stereotyping among team members, and greater miscommunication, misunderstandings, and conflict. These Effects are likely to produce poorer team performance, just as damage to transactive memory can do (Cloke & Goldsmith, 2002).

Strategically aligned organizational model for the organization

To solve the issue, communication systems would be used by Whirlpool Corporations. The company would make use of online communication systems to make sure that miscommunication between members of the firm would be prevented. Corporate communications has many roles. Participants express consent to be part of an organization. Managers provide and maintain a focus and sense of purpose. Organizations form communication subgroups, divisions, departments and teams. Businesses communicate to coordinate purchasing, production, distribution, sales, consumption and wealth creation (Hoctor & Thierauf, 2003). The worlds outside and inside the organization express agreement or disagreement with goods, services and policies. The worlds outside and inside the organization also communicate social concerns into the business. There is one-on-one communication; small- and large-group communication; communication to owners, managers and employees; supplier and customer communication; communication to communities and governments; and communication systems. There is communication security and communication direction downward, upward, horizontal, inward and outward. There are formal and informal communication networks, communication media and distance (Horton, 1995).

The challenge of corporate communication is its ubiquity. It is the flux in organization or the flow that keeps business together and profitable. Because it permeates every organizational action, it is often buried within the task itself and overlooked until something goes wrong. Managers learn quickly that communication failure is often at the root of business disaster whereas strong communication lies at the root of business success. The manager's challenge is to monitor all key participants in an economic transaction. In large and multi location companies, this is impossible to do. Managers depend on communication systems to tell them what is going on, but they can never be sure about what they are told. Systems are limited in two ways: they depend on humans and they are selective in observation. communication systems can reach every employee everywhere in the world at the same time, but these systems still have gaps. They do not translate internal corporate messages into the idioms of the individuals receiving them. They cannot guarantee change in an individual's perception. Thus, they cannot guarantee behavior change, and they can create as much noise as insight. Simple corporate communication accepts uncertainty, risk and the lack of precise rules by which employees, customers and others make decisions about messages (Burke & Morrison, 2001). Corporate communication does not engineer consent by manipulating inanimate and unthinking materials. Individuals cannot be constrained to interpret evidence or restrained from accepting facts that are declared out of bounds. There need not be facts, only hearsay, and there need not be rational consideration, only perception. Anyone can vilify an organization fairly or unfairly. No judge will intervene. Change complicates simplicity. A simple process implies stability, which change upsets. Corporate communication is like a vascular system, starting with the heart and aortas and then splitting into arteries, which shrink to less than threads before returning the blood, by way of the veins, to the heart. Within this pipeline is constant change and response to change as blood nourishes the tissue and carries away substances that can harm the body. The vascular and corporate communication systems are simple structures with complex tasks (Estabrooks, 1995).

Change plan

Objectives of the system

The system would be online communication software that would be installed in all the branches of the firm. It would be interconnected with the main branch and other branches of the firm The system would make sure that miscommunication would be a lesser concern for the firm,

Creation and implementation of the system

Before creating the system it would be planned and analyzed for its effectivity. The firm will contact the system and software developers and discuss how the project would look like. The web based system will feature a chat feature wherein the members of the firm can communicate with each other by textual discussion. The web based system would include an online call conference function wherein members of the organization can engage in conferencing while online. The firm will narrate to the developers their requirement for the system, how they want the system to function and what should be the features of the system. The developers will give their own idea of the system and their comments on the requirements of the firm. The web based system should have an option of changing the language so that the personnel from other countries can understand the content of the site.   

The web based system should enable the user to just click a part of the site and wait for it to transform to a desired language and text.  The planned system should be easy to use because of its simple design and understandable contents. It should be free from complicated signs and symbols that can confuse the personnel. The web based system should make use of graphics and pictures that gives assistance to the user on what to click if they need certain information. This requirement of the web based system has a technical restriction. The restriction is longer uploading times due to the graphics and pictures. As more pictures are placed additional minutes will be needed to complete the uploading of the system and its contents. The planned system should feature a support and help section which can guide the user in navigating the website.  The page layout of web based system should be simple yet informative wherein all the needed information and related information can be a few clicks away. The planned system should have obvious section names wherein the user doesn’t have to use a dictionary to know what a certain section means.  The planned system should provide the needed information on each of the company’s product. Once the project is ready for implementation, the firm would discuss its use to the personnel. The firm would let the personnel try the system and learn how it works. The firm would let the personnel check for errors or problems in the system. The personnel will be given two to three weeks to adjust to the system.

Costs of the system

The creation of the project would entail various costs. The cost would include the payment for the developers of the system, the cost of publishing the system on the internet and the cost of upgrading the company computers according to the requirements of the system. For the costs the system would need considerable funding from the firm. The web based system will be a success if the proper financing would be acquired. It is vital for the firm to achieve all the necessary finances so that it can be completed at the earliest time possible

The role in managing the change

The primary role in managing change would be to observe the effects of the new system and make necessary comments. Any problems with the system would be immediately reported to the management.  An organization might be viewed as a fictional construct, built up in the minds of at least three groups: people who work in the organization; people who belong to the society in which the organization operates; and managers who seek to be well paid for managing the organization. It is as though in each person's head there is a cinema projector. Out of their eyes they project on to the screen of their outer world an image that is based on their inner world thinking about outer world events. When many such images are projected by different people on to the same outer world screen and they roughly coincide, then some sort of consensual picture of reality can emerge. If there is little coincidence amongst the projected images, then the collective picture of the organization is fuzzy and unfocused. This might account for the difficulties of managing change within it (Loan & Marquardt, 2006). Managers will require the same core competencies that managers have always needed competencies in managing activities, managing people, managing resources, managing information, managing change and managing personal development. These are the competencies which internationally recognized management qualifications have always aimed to develop. Managers at all levels will need to think reflectively about information, think predictively about imagined futures, think creatively about innovative developments, think empathetically about the consequences for others, and think critically in evaluating options for change. When managers implement changes, they need the thinking skills of the conversational manager (Doherty & Horne, 2002).

References

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communication-intensive organization. Westport, CT: Quorum

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Burke, D. & Morrison, A. (2001). Business at the speed of

stupid: Building smarter companies after the technology

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Cloke, K. & Goldsmith, J. (2002). The end of management and the

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Duarte, D.L. & Snyder, N. (2003). Strategic innovation:

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Estabrooks, M. (1995). Electronic technology, corporate strategy

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Hoctor, J.J. Thierauf, R.J. (2003).  Smart business systems for

     the optimized organization. Westport, CT: Praeger.

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Mannix, E.A. & Peterson, R.S. (Eds.). (2003). Leading and

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Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

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