Characteristics of Analysis


Analysis uses scientific methodology: a systematic, rational, critical appraisal of the phenomenon under investigation based on emperical facts. Analysis in the social sciences is different in some respects from analysis in the natural sciences, which take a much narrower view of what can be measured and known. However, the basic motivation—to understand and to establish control over the environment—is the same, as are the essential methods. The distinction between analysis in the natural and social sciences lies in the kinds of questions explored.

The intellectual activities of analysis are directed toward practice issues and practical application. Assessment of the data and the search for relevant research and theoratical constructs are part of a progression toward action. The goal is to enable the change agent to make informed choices.

In addition, analysis is carried out within a social context and involves subjective judgments, preferences, and values. Naturality and disinterested inquiry are not characteristics of social science analysis. Ideologies, beliefs, and assumptions affect both the perception and the interpretation of imperical data.

The purpose of analysis in the planned change process is to facilitate decision-making. Analysis clarifies the nature and dynamics of the change opportunity and the relevance of possible responses. However, it is not realistic to expect analysis to provide “the answer.”

Different planners can assess the same situation and produce quite different analyses insofar as each shapes the problem in terms of his background, training, experience, and values. The reality of competing views of human service conditions, problems, needs, issues, and change opportunities in no way lessens the importance of analysis.

Analysis, then, may be expected to clarify options, trace implications, and provide grounding for judgments. Useful analysis will be critical, thorough, and systematic and will be oriented toward practical application.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

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Policy Structures


One of the major purposes of organizations is to relate and coordinate individuals and groups separated by task and space. The authority structure helps accomplish this by defining, at least partially, who can tell whom to do what, and who has the authority to make what kinds of decisions and to take what actions. This authority structure is supplemented with a structure of explicit and implicit policies, procedures, methods, and rules, which channel and direct many decisions and actions.

A policy is a statement of intent that is made to guide others in their decision making without being so specific as to specify decisions. Theoratically, the top executives of any company, but especially the larger ones, necessarily determine policies that help guide the behavior of people within the organization. However, in fact, people at lower levels often have an important hand in fashioning policy. This happens in two ways. First, people at lower levels make recommendations to those at upper levels. Second, people in upper levels sometimes formalize policies to fit behavior patterns that have already emerged at lower levels. In the latter case, policy follows practice.

A frequent characteristic of policy statements is that they are vague enough to permit managers to select among specific decesions, depending upon the managers’ view of the specific conditions surrounding the decision.

In addition to policies, certain procedures and methods are usually designed to facilitate work. For example, there may be eight discrete steps in a particular work process, and a sequence established for each step. Step three might involve notifying two departments that the first two steps are completed. Such a suggested process is called a procedure. It tells people when they should do something. How they do it is the method they use. The method is formally prescribed in some cases and is left to the operant’s discretion in others. Anyone who fails to follow the prescribed procedures and methods is usually open to censure if problems result. Yet much of life in organizations involves evading required procedures and methods, or redesigning them, and again the reasons are usually people-problems rather than errors in the logic of the design of the procedures and methods.

Most organizations have rules and regulations to supplement policies, procedures, and methods. Rules and regulations say what one must do or not do and often specify penalties for infractions. “No one is to punch another’s third card” is an example. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. It says “no one,” period.

So there is a sliding scale from guides (policies) to suggestions (procedures) to requirements (rules and regulations). Nearly all organizations include the entire svcale, but different companies may vary widely in their relative emphasis upon various parts of the scale. At the less specific end of the scale, there is more freedom but less certainty, and the reverse is true of the more specific end. Knowing where a particular organization stands on the scale is thus important in understanding how it functions.

Furthermore, there is wide variability between organizational units (eg., research division versus accounting department) in the reliance placed upon or the attention paid to the policy structure.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Carrying out Change


Solutions to an organization’s problems cannot be found outside the organization. An organization possesses the potential and the capability to solve its own problems. This assumption is also a value, in that it asserts that change is most successful and effective when people in an organization act collectively to generate solutions and implement actions. In other words, solutions that are imposed on an organization from outside have little chance of success. The role of leadership in change is to expose the organization to challenges and problems faced, to mobilize support for change and to create the right conditions for people inside the organization to generate ideas for improvement.

 

Organizational change, in its essence, is about bringing a change in an organization’s routines. The term routine refers to the ways in which people perform their activities in an organization. It includes rules, procedures, policies and conventions. It includes both the formal (written) aspects of an organization’s architecture and its informal (unwritten, tacit) aspects. An organization’s policy for recruiting staff is a routine. Its procedure for evaluating quality is a routine. The way in which employees in an organization actually respond to customer complaints is another routine. For a specific behavior to be an organizational routine, it must be both repetitive and widely shared.

 

The second assumption is based on both empirical and theoretical ideas in organization studies. Activities that are performed to carry out day to day tasks of an organization are also referred to as operational routines. Some organizations also develop special kinds of routines, developed with the explicit objective of modifying existing operational routines in order to enhance the organization’s effectiveness. These are referred to as dynamic capabilities. If an organization already has well-defined dynamic capabilities, there is little need for anyone to manage change. However, the need for change arises because many organizations lack such dynamic capabilities.

 

Organizations can change their routines in three ways: first, they can modify an existing routine. A modified routine is different but not fundamentally different from original routine. Second, they can discard or eliminate an existing routine. Here, the organization stops performing a particular task or activity. Third, they can establish a new routine. This may take the form of introducing a new policy, procedure or task to perform a new set of activities.

 

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Defining Behavior


Behavior is what people do. It is any measurable or observable movement, task, or activity of a human being, whether this is covert or overt. This definition includes a wide variety of human activities, among which should be a sufficiently broad range of behaviors to suit practitioners from just about every theoretical orientation.

Thus behavior includes those activities which are readily observable to an outside observer. But it also includes the range of covert activities, such as thoughts, which many people have not thought of as behaviors. Thus it enwraps measurability and countability.

To be considered a behavior, an activity must be observable and countable by someone. Covert behaviors are also measurable and countable, especially by the individual himself or herself.

It might be somewhat more desirable to have as a target for intervention behaviors that are observable by others, since this potentially would allow for more reliable measurement. As long as they can be measured or observed somehow, any behavior can be considered a potential focal point for intervention.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Cost Productivity Allocation


Most organizations pay close attention only to costs. They track them, control them, and keep them at rock-bottom levels. This could be a mistake for two reasons: First, cost should not be detached from performance. Driving costs down for its own sake inevitably drives performance down. This causes productivity to drop in the long run. Second, there are many times when costs must be allowed to go up in order to achieve an important performance target.

 

The key question is where the money will come from if budgets are tight. Cost-productivity allocation is a technique for the reallocation of money to improve productivity. It works against the traditional, across-the-board percentage cuts, which remove the good with the bad. The proposed technique permits the identification of cost items that are critical and finds the small outlay of money needed to improve productivity.

 

The theoretical background of this technique is the analysis and reallocation of the following four cost categories:

1)      Cost avoidance – removing or eliminating a cost item that is anticipated and budgeted for but not expended.

2)      Cost reduction – reducing or decreasing the amount of a cost item that has been budgeted for and is a process of expenditure.

3)      Cost control – spending, but keeping the amount of a cost item within the budget standard.

4)      Cost effectiveness – increasing the spending allocated in a budget because it will improve performance or reduce costs in the long run.

 

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please contact www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight