Saturday, October 20, 2012


Management: Organizational Development By: Mr. Valerian B-K. Masao II

            The cultural change that Sticks is an article that was published by the Harvard Law Review, profiling the Organization Development (OD) that was responsible for change at Aetna. Aetna’s business model was under attack going through law-suits and its economy was declining. According to Katzenbach, Steffen & Kronley, (2012), most if not all, of Aetna’s problems were caused by its old corporate culture, “Mother Aetna”, that was in the making for approximately 150 years. They further that Aetna’s culture advocated for very risky and unprofessional practices tolerated by its management and leadership.
This cultural change that sticks phrase is the result of research that was carried out by Harvard Business Review studying Aetna Company after its merger with U.S. Healthcare. The theme of this article is the implementation of OD through cultural change that sticks by starting with what is already in place and working without bringing major drastic change that can overwhelm employees, complicate the process and for OD to become a problem within itself.
             As far as corporate culture and OD is concern, what got my full attention in this article is when Katzenbach, Steffen & Kronley, (2012), said that “cultural inclinations are well entrenched, for good or bad”. As OD professionals, we ought to be aware that since predispositions of culture are rooted for better or worse it will be wise to focus on the positive facets of the organization’s culture because it will enable it to win minds and hearts of its employees, while making transformation a little bit less painful process. Furthermore, in retro respect of OD, Brown, (2011), illustrated that a successful OD has to use a competent diagnostic process through identifying major diagnostic components, engaging in gathering relevant data, comprehend how to apply gathered data to solve problems and be able use such data to analyze scenarios that need attention and precautions to be taken.
            In the process of transformation, Aetna hired John W. Rowe, MD, as its fourth CEO and person charged for OD in five years. He surprised many when he did not introduce a new strategy or indicate to force change; however, he identified internal OD practitioner (Ron Williams) and tour the company in a Home-Town-Meeting style meeting all employees and at all levels (Katzenbach, Steffen & Kronley, 2012). This was some sort of listening and understanding the employees and corporate culture, while as a team of internal and external observers, put the puzzle together for a plan of action. This was a very clever move for OD professional to remember. Also, Morgan, (1998), said that “one of easiest ways of appreciating the nature of corporate culture and subculture is simply to observe the day-to-day functioning of group or organization to which one belongs as if one were an outsider” (122).  
            The research done by Peters and Waterman found that successful organizations retained confident cultural traits of superiority and were made up of convinced distinct environments,  something that gives strong indication that corporate culture have essence because it tends to boost employees’ morale, increase production/profit, promotes innovation and over-all wellbeing of the organization (Siourouni, Kastanioti, Tziallas & Niakas, 2012). It is imperative for OD process to start with the corporate/organizational culture because it is an important aspect that will make or break the organization. Brown, (2011), said that in this day and age organizations ought to be culturally malleable on change and adoptable to speedy transformations that are consistent to the changes and challenges brought by the environment.
            During the tour the organization Rowe and his OD team were able to unveil Aetna’s underlying problems and its cultural strengths, which were systematic by nature. This discovery helped the OD team to adopt a strategy of culture strengthening on the key elements discovered during Town-Hall-Meetings, i.e. great concern about providers, employers and patients; pride toward purpose and history of the organization; respect for peers; and devoted professional; and they called it “The New Aetna” (Katzenbach, Steffen & Kronley, 2012). Instead of resistance, as Aetna once resisted during its “Mother Aetna’s” era, this time team Rowe was well respected, in spite of possible job cuts in the future. Rowe was successful to make momentous cultural changes by simplifying small changes that offshoots production and growth; most important he did not use magic in this instance. This is to not to insult its staff and to be fair to both the old staff and the new team. His OD plan did not actively pursue culture change, he pursued strengthening the positive elements of culture instead; he understood the importance of perception because organizational culture is as sensitive as our own individual culture, whereby, morale is passively driven from our values (Fitz-Enz, 1997).
            Lastly, as student of this class and practitioner of OD at my work place, this article was well worth reading while pursuing this course. It was worth noting that OD is the daily progress whereby organizational culture evolves and that the best practitioner can do is to work with and within the culture and progress rather than fighting against them, this is also true to all the employees of the organization in a systemic way (Siourouni, Kastanioti, Tziallas & Niakas, 2012). Therefore, to achieve such progress Siourouni, Kastanioti, Tziallas & Niakas, (2012), gave five principles that are from their research findings i.e. OD practitioner must be able to matching strategy and culture, focusing on a few critical shifts in behaviors, honoring the strengths of his/her existing culture, integrating formal with informant interventions, and measure by monitoring cultural evolution.

Brown, D.  (2011). An experiential approach to organization development, 8th Ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Fitz-Enz, J. (1997). The 8 practices of exceptional companies: How great organizations make the most of their human assets. New York, AMACOM.
Katzenbach, J. R., Steffen, I., & Kronley, C. (2012). Culture change that sticks. Harvard Business Review, 90(7/8), 110-117.
Siourouni, E., Kastanioti, C. K., Tziallas, D., & Niakas, D. (2012). Health care provider's Organizational Culture Profile: a literature review. Health Science Journal, 6(2), 212-233.

The Fatherhood Life Reader(s) Signature and Disclaimer. Content of this Blog (The Fatherhood Life) is intended for reading use only and may contain privileged, confidential, or proprietary information that is exempt from disclosure under law. Reader(s) discretion is required of essence. If you have received this link in error, please close the window and inform us promptly by profile e-mail and or comment line. Content of this blog are protected under the privacy, 1st amendment and private property laws. Do not distribute, print, download and or copy content of this Blog without Blog Administrator’s permission or proper academic references to Fatherhood Life Blog. Also contents of this Blog are personal opinion, views, perception and private or Public observations of the Blogger(s). Thank you and may God bless you and The United States Of America. "In God we Trust" and "United We Stand".


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.