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Kenneth D. Mackenzie, Ph.D., President
WHAT DO WE DO FOR YOU
Basically, we help you find and define organizational issues that may be hampering your success. We perform a thorough diagnosis of your organization and its leadership practices. We reach conclusions about your organization and use them to derive recommendations. We do this by working with you and deploying our web-based Organizational Diagnostic Survey – On Line.
We evaluate the state of 29 Leadership Practices, the alignment of your organization with its environments, itself, and its personnel. We examine your organizational intelligence. We perform an assessment of 12 major processes of adaptation and change and six desired organizational characteristics. We provide results about your organizational culture. We can perform data “splits” to examine how different units vary and “drill downs” to perform more detailed analyses.
Our ODS-OL is utterly objective, non-political, comprehensive, cost effective, swift, minimally disruptive, and helpful. It helps you gain consensus.
We ask the following questions: What is the ideal organization? We believe that it is helpful to define what an improvement might mean by describing the ideal. None of us attain this but it is a great target. Ask yourself if this ideal is compatible with what you have in mind.
AN IDEAL ORGANIZATION
Although recorded history, rulers, generals, bosses, executives, and administrators have had serious interest in ruling and governance. In many cases, their lives depended on it! Organizations are used to implement our policies and to achieve our goals. It stands to reason that better organizations improve our chances of success.
This raises the interesting question: If there is a better, then is there a best organization? And if so, what does it look like? What are its properties? Can we make it happen?
The root concept behind our Organizational Diagnostic System-On Line services is our concept of the ideal organization. The ODS-OL is a tool for determining how close an organization is to reaching this goal. The embedded theories and methods provide the intellectual and practical means to help our clients succeed. It turns out that the best organization resembles a hologram more than a bureaucracy because organizations are continually changing. The best organization is not a machine or a thing, rather it is an on-going process of evolution and change. Consequently, any notion of best organization needs to center on its internal processes of change.
Here are the ten properties of anideal organization:
1. It has essential characteristics and supporting management processes as a whole which are also present in each of its units. Wherever one goes in the organization, one can always find the same characteristics and processes.
2. It requires minimum effort to direct, control, and coordinate its units. Given that it has the same characteristics and supporting processes everywhere, there is unity and consistency throughout which become even more self-controlling and which is also much more acceptable to the participants.
3. It can store information about itself efficiently. It can do this because of its inherent unity and wholeness. It does not need all of the centralized controls, procedures, and records because the information is widely dispersed throughout the whole organization.
4. It is resistant to uncertainty and “noise” in the maintenance of its essential properties. However, it is constantly and evolutionarily adapting to change in its environments. Its very consistency, based on adherence to its basic philosophy and principles allow it to ride out the winds of change.
5. It is very flexible as it adapts to change. Anchored in a common set of principles, and preserving its key characteristics and processes, it adapts to change by allowing flexible responses to change in the context of preserving its essential characteristics and processes.
6. It can lose units and yet maintain its essential characteristics. Because each part contains the essential characteristics of the whole, losing one of them does not, by itself, change the whole.
7. The organization is highly responsive to strong leadership which is based on its principles and consistent application of its supporting processes. Strong leaders who personify these essential characteristics and adhere to them even in adversity will find an organization that is responsive to its challenges.
8. The organization is intolerant of leaders who are not able to live according to its principles. Leaders, who by their personal behavior, fail to ensure the persistent and consistent application of these principles and processes will reap a whirlwind of resistance and opposition leading to rapid personal failure.
9. It is efficiently adaptable to change. That is, it is not only responsive to change, it is actually efficient about adapting as well.
10. It is maximally productive. This means that given its strategic direction, there is no better way to convert inputs into outputs under conditions of rapid change.
This sounds idealistic, doesn’t it? Funny thing though, this idealistic view is also practical and doable in any organization. The only organizational form that has these ten properties is the organizational hologram. Our ODS-OL is the only technology for assessing the extent to which an organization is holonomic and integrates this with a detailed assessment of the organization’s leadership practices. Our ODS Reports, based on the client’s own data, provides the vision and recommendations for a different way to think about organizations. They also point the way for how they should manage their leadership practices in order to become simultaneously, maximally productive, adaptable, and efficiently adaptable.
This theory of organizations grew directly out of consulting with organizations. The full theory can be found in the book, The Organizational Hologram: The Effective Management of Organizational Change. Evolutions and extensions of this work can be found in the many papers and books listed in Publications on this website. You will discover that this is a reasonably mature theory with proven methods.
Bottom line: A good organization is worth more as a whole than the sum of its parts. An organizational hologram is always good.
Next, consider the three types of information that we gather when we perform an organizational assessment using our ODS-OL technology.
WE GATHER THREE TYPES OF INFORMATION AND TRIANGULARIZE THEM
There are three distinct sources of information used in the Organizational Diagnostic System-On Line (ODS-OL). Each source provides a unique perspective on the culture, leadership practices, and operations of the organization. The ability to collect, integrate, and analyze these sources help provide a more comprehensive view of an organization. The three sources, taken together, are more robust than any of them taken separately. If the same general conclusions can be reached by different sources of information, then the emerging consensus is stronger. Consensus on the organizational diagnosis favors coordinated action to make improvements.
Specialized Employee Survey (SES) Items
The first source of information comes from the Specialized Employee Survey (SES) Items at the very beginning of the ODS-OL experience. These items, usually less than 30, ask respondents the extent to which they agree with statements such as: “I am satisfied with my overall compensation.” This type of items allow one to obtain a composite view of the culture and properties of an organization. These items are called knobless in the ODS-OL because there is nothing in the question that, by itself, offers a remedy for improvement. For example, suppose that if the scale is:
5 Strongly Agree
1 Strongly Disagree.
Let the average score be 3.2. That tells us that the average person in the organization was neutral towards the statement that “I am satisfied with my overall compensation.” Is that a desirable result? If so, what should one do to increase satisfaction with total compensation? One solution might be to simply raise everyone’s pay and benefits. However, is there something else driving these opinions? If so, what is it and if we find it, can we do it? Is it less expensive? The inherent difficulty in determining of cause of the responses to an SES item is the defect of the knobless survey items. The numbers are plain but what to do about them is not. Still, these knobless SES items provide a useful view of an aspect of an organization.
Organizational Diagnostic System (ODS) Items
The second source of information for the ODS-OL comes from the 96 ODS items. These items are called knobby (as opposed to the knobless SES items) because of the way in which they are constructed. The typical knobby ODS item is a statement about some management process. Such as“Our organizational rewards system and human resources policies and procedures foster and ensure compatible interests among the employees” or “Our organization makes Best Decisions on all major decisions facing it.”
The knobby scale is the extent towhich the item processes in the description of the item is done. The scale is:
So, if the average score is 3.2 on a knobby scale, then the method for improving it are obvious: Simply do the process more!
The 96 ODS items are combined to determine the 29 Leadership Practices, the 12 holonomic processes of adaptation and change, and the six desired organizational characteristics. In addition, they are used to calculate the Organizational I.Q. and analyze its learning processes, to calculate the dynamic congruency and to calculate the effectiveness of proposed interventions. That each item is knobby and the 96 items are ordered into levels (Leadership Practices, HPs, DOCs) allows one to employ these relationships using powerful decision making tools of greater power and sophistication than the usual statistical analyses. Knobless items cannot do this.
Furthermore, one can use the ODS results (LPs, HPs, DOCs) and the SES data to investigate which ODS results are statistically significant “causes” of the SES results. For example, satisfaction with overall compensation (shown in several studies) is “explained” more by the decision making processes than the amount of pay. Making pay compatible also is a strong“driver” of satisfaction with total compensation. Thus, one can use the knobby ODS items to explain the variance in the knobless SES items. This is a unique advantage of the ODS-OL.
The third source of information is taken at the end of the ODS-OL process. At the end, each respondent is asked to make open-ended responses to these items:
1. What do you see as the three more important problems facing your organization?
2. What do you see as the three most important problems facing you as an employee within your organization?
3. What do you see as the three main strengths of your organization?
The comments are merely tabulated and listed verbatim. These open-ended responses provide color and drama to the “cooler” SES and ODS results. But, they should make sense and be compatible with the other, harder-edged results. For example, if the organization lacks Clarity of Direction, has a low degree for the processes of Establishing and Maintaining Clear Strategic Direction, then one should expect Open-Ended Responses about this. Reading the open-ended responses report is sobering.
The Open-Ended Responses provide the third view of the organization that helps depersonalize the recommendations for change and helps build consensus for taking action. Thus, the three independent sources of information can be integrated into a more comprehensive and convincing analysis of the organization. This triangularization improves the truth and value of the organizational diagnosis provided by the ODS-OL.
BACKGROUND TO THE ODS-OL
The Organizational Diagnostic System – On Line (ODS-OL) is the brainchild of Dr. Kenneth D. Mackenzie. Dr. Mackenzie has published over 110 articles in competitive scientific journals and reference books. He has written and/or edited 19 books. He is Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a biographee of the on-line encyclopedia, Wikipedia, Who’s Who in America, and Who’s Who in Finance and Commerce. He has served on the editorial boards of many prestigious journals including Management Science and Organization Science. He is one of the few scholars who supports his research by providing consulting services. He has met a payroll for over 30 years. These experiences has made him a strong advocate of the importance of the necessity of theory and practice to co-evolve.
He believes that any theory has these fates: (1) It is ignored, (2) it is proven wrong, or (3) it is shown to be defective and deficient. This holds for his theories as well. The same fates await new and established practices. The best way to improve theory and practice is to anticipate possible failures and then correct them. This cycle of problem finding, problem formulating, solution generating, testing, and assessment never ends. He believes in strong inference: if a theory’s predictions are incorrect or if a practice fails, then the theory or practice is, as written, needs remedy, not excuses. If it predicts accurately and works as intended, then it is not yet wrong and still needs improvement and practice. Mackenzie’s long career of continually seeking improvements, finding them, and then working to make the necessary corrections, reformulations, and inventions has resulted in the outpouring of better theory and more relevant methods and technology that are incorporated into the Organizational Diagnostic System – On Line.
It might be useful to bear in mind what motivated the development of the ODS-OL: Avoiding the dreaded Type III error of working on the wrong problem. He learned that in every consulting engagement, the most challenging problem was defining the problem to be solved. In no case, in over 34 years of consulting, has the organizational problem presented to him by management turned out to be the core problem facing the organization. In fact, different members of the organization usually hold different views of the core problems. Symptoms of many organizational problems are obvious such as decreasing profitability, slowing growth, inadequate systems, poor leadership, too much politics, etc. But, always, there is the 800 pound gorilla in the room: What is the cause of these problems? The ODS-OL grew out of the intense, sustained effort, over a long period of time to keep improving how we identify and formulate an organization’s core problems. These efforts produced a long sequence of incremental improvements that resulted in better theory, improved practices, and more reliable practices.
The ODS-OL provides in an honest, utterly objective, non-political, and comprehensive organizational diagnosis that can be done in a period of a couple of weeks with minimal disruptions to operations. It systematically gathers data from the client’s own people using our Organizational Diagnostic Survey – On Line. It then performs careful and comprehensive analyses of these data, derives recommendations for improvements and shares the findings in our ODS Reports.
IS THE ODS-OL TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE?
The ODS-OL is a system for diagnosing organizations and their leadership practices using novel on-line surveys. The methods and theories behind it have been evolving since 1976 when Mackenzie first began consulting with organizations in order to improve his theories and methods. The ODS-OL offers a wide range of analyses to diagnose organizational challenges. It has many useful properties. It has been applied in a wide variety of organizations ranging from high tech electronics to a lower tech megachurch, from manufacturing to wholesaling, from wholesale to retail enterprises, from educational institutions to pharmaceuticals, and from large to small organizations.
A reasonable person who reads the features offered by the ODS-OL might conclude that perhaps it is too good to be true. Surely, there are yet unknown problems left to be recognized, formulated, solved, and implemented. Right now, however, while it is not perfect, it is demonstrably better than any known alternatives for diagnosing organizations and their leadership practices. We believe that the ODS-OL is simply the best available system for this.
Every type of analysis, method,and theory contained within the ODS-OL has been tested by both scientific research and applications. The documentation of its features is made available on the website. It offers no miracle cures. It provides no “magic bullet.” It is what it is: a comprehensive, experienced web-based technology for conducting organizational assessments and their leadership practices.
So, is the ODS-OL too good to be true? The answer may depend upon your standards. If they are low, you might think so because it performs analyses and delivers results that are beyond your current capabilities. But, if you have followed our developments, you must conclude that we can do what we claim. It is not too good to be true! However, that does not mean that we cannot make it better. You must decide if it is worth your time, resources, and reputation to give it a try. That’s why this website is so crammed with useable information. We want you to make an informed decision. Its costs are low and the benefits can be enormous. A good organization is a tremendous comparative competitive advantage.