Saturday, February 21, 2009

Change of Stream - Research Limitiations

Due to extremely tight schedules for myself and Technology staff, I have not been able to arrange more than one personal interview. I finally opted to send a short questionnaire to the Technology Department Coordinator. I asked:

1. Could you describe the level of satisfaction you perceive the teachers and administration in your district to have with your services?

2. Do you feel there are any disconnects in communication between departmental organizations such as administration and the technology staff?

3. What changes (if any) would you like to see made within your organization regarding organizational development?

I have not received any response from this email. I spent two hours on two visits compiling information from an interview and observation of a staff meeting that will give me some valuable input, however, as I attempt to synthesize my notes, I am not comfortable with the depth of information I have accumulated. There are mostly descriptions of what people do and generalized policies, but no true insight is being brought to mind as I list basic facts and functions.

There is a way things are done, it is very straight forward, and the view I am seeing is strictly from a service-based operation with clear, well-defined goals. There is more of a set up and maintenance routine than interacting with teaching and administration routine (at least with the use of the technology). This may not be the staff that I should be asking about disconnects for teachers and admin. Asking the teachers and admin staff would probably be best but it is unlikely tracking down these individuals would be a chaotic process with time running out.

I feel I might be better served continuing forward with a study of the agency I did my original Ed 404 Pinata on regarding Drug and Alcohol Counseling and learning what is or is not occurring within the levels of organization and chain of command there. I have a much better understanding of the dynamics of that organization and have spent enough time in the organization to develop a more objective view of what is going on. I believe I have done enough information gathering and synthesis of information to introduce my most recent decision to jump ship on this project and follow through with my original where I have an equally strong start in research. Live and learn.

February 21, 2009 8:41 PM


Monday, February 16, 2009

Organizational Development and Unorganized Development

I have been reviewing the notes I have taken from the organizational observations and interviews. I was not really surprised by the disconnect I am witnessing between different subgroups within the same organization, which is a high school. The dissonance that seems to be present between subgroups appears in my place of employment and at the elementary schools I have taught at and done research in. There is a human tendency to isolate and settle into a routine that best suits the immediate needs being faced by members of the group. It is easy to lose sight of specific missions or goals and in the daily processes of getting priority issues taken care of. The members of the group I am presently observing appear to do a very efficient job of what they are asked. The disconnect occurs when services and communications are compromised and begin to break down at the individual, or classroom level.

I am not quite prepared to make a statement at this time for recommendation of actions to be taken. The reflection that I am becoming more concerned with is what part I can play in pulling the information out of players within the group I am studying. I have convinced myself that there will be a need to do another round of research. My preference is to arrange for several short personal interviews. If that is not a possibility, then I would be satisfied with an electronic interview through email. Specifically, I would like to know what problems different individuals perceive to exist. What I think I see and what I am truly seeing may be entirely different things.

I put the title of Unorganized Development up because of the evolution of organizations that is not of the intentional variety. There is development occurring at a personal level that certainly transcends specific authorities and becomes reality. I suppose this would be a form of tacit knowledge that morphs into explicit knowledge. When a leader recognizes the transformation of knowledge and directs the event into a tangible and specific direction, change occurs in a timely manner.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Learning With Empathy and Organizational Development

I can not imagine what makes some people do what they do. I want to understand but how do I reach into their heads? How do you become empathetic and walk in the shoes of another? This entire line of questioning is important for the growth and development of individuals and organizations. The organization is now more frequently being perceived to embody many of the characteristics of an individual and therefore must be approached and viewed as one would another single human being. This process complicates the already difficult task of being empathetic on a one-to-one situation.

I am due to observe tomorrow at a local high school from the viewpoint of a technology coordinator. I will ask some basic questions about chain of command and duties then work towards pinpointing deeper personal attitudes about how things work. I will hopefully spend ample time shadowing the individual while also devoting at least a couple of hours towards observation of the organization as a whole. I have been invited to attend a staff meeting and will undoubtedly be immersed in a short but intense preview of what the pulse of the organization is about.

It is difficult to not make assumptions and develop a mindset of what to expect. The term "entrenched bureaucracy" comes to mind any time I think of an organization. This bias is truly entrenched into my being as I have struggled through my own educational career as a teacher and student. I will make every effort to clear the slate and approach my observation in a somewhat ethnographic sense, observing the cultures and values of the people in the organization, while hopefully remaining objective. I am curious how these notes will look tomorrow after the observation.