Organisational development in the context of Zim’s business climate

Robert Mandeya

GIVEN the intricately complex business environment currently obtaining in the Zimbabwean economic space, organisations are in a continuous state of flux where they have to constantly evaluate, review and adjust their strategies.

There is so much uncertainty in the business environment which requires greater agility in organisational leadership. This environment calls for a leadership which provides clear direction, and establishes values and purpose to the workplace teams. Without this capability to respond to the continuous and turbulent change demands by customers, market upheavals, politics, regulatory mandates and the digital disruptions, many an organisation will find the going tough and will soon become fatigued and dissipated. Today’s organisational leadership must be attuned to these demands and they must be prepared to respond accordingly.

What is organisational development in this environment?

This is a deliberate organisation-wide planning which is managed from the top and is aimed at increasing organisational effectiveness and health through well-thought-out planned interventions in the organisation’s processes. It is a response to a complex business environment. The organisational development strategy in this environment must be intended to change the benefits, attitudes, values and structure of organisations so that they can better adapt to new technologies, markets, challenges and the fast rate of change itself. The current challenges such as those experienced in Zimbabwe today requires organisations to re-evaluate their strategies, structure, policies, operations, processes, and culture.

Sustained organisational success in such a highly turbulent business environment is a function of intense proactive abilities of everyone in the organisation to aspects of change, combined with conceptual comprehension of organisational issues and goals. Organisations insensitive to changes in political, economic, social and technological environment will lack the grit and determination to cope with internal and external change factors when required and hence will lack sustenance and longevity.

Planning for change

It is very important for organisational leadership to understand the nature of change required in this sort of environment. Change basically means a new state of things different from the old. The intricate nature of change means it has different facets, for example it can be deliberate or accidental. Its magnitude can be large or small. It can affect many elements of the organisation or only a few. It can be fast or slow. The new state of things can have an entirely different nature from the old state of things or the new state of things can have the same nature modifications. Therefore, planning for change in this environment would require developing models which will help everyone in the organisation from top, middle and lower levels to cope with the change demands. The models must inculcate skills for successful handling of both the internal and external environmental factors. For this to happen, there must be a full consciousness of both the external and internal environmental forces at play.

Behavioural science approach

Understanding of people’s attitudes is very important. Attitudes reflect a person’s tendency to feel, think or behave in a positive or negative manner towards the object of the attitude. For instance, the general attitude of people in Zimbabwe, both in and out of the workplaces, is that of despair, capitulation and despondency. What it means is people in this state of attitude virtually cease to think creatively, innovatively and or in a problem-solving manner, yet change practices which must evolve in the organisation should have the objective of enhancing organisational efficiency by solving the problems and enabling the organisation to face challenges. Under such circumstances, it requires leadership to adopt a change model which cultivates positive attitudes and behaviours of employees. It is a model that fosters a realisation of the need for action by everyone in the organisation. Therefore, exploration of the factors supporting development of positive attitude and behaviour among everyone for organisational change must be a top priority in the formulation of the change strategy.

The imperatives

In the context of this instalment, organisational development should enable organisations to sustain, internally and externally in an unstable environment by its planned change efforts. Organisational development is a field of applied behavioural science focussed on understanding and managing organisational change. This can be best understood through the knowledge of sociology, psychology, and theories of motivation, learning, and personality. It is therefore important for leadership to understand that employees in organisations are blessed with a great degree of expertise, experience, penchant for learning and problem solving.

Its importance

Organisational development is the use of organisational resources to improve efficiency and expand productivity. It can be used to solve problems within the organisation or as a way to analyse a process and find a more efficient way of doing it. Implementing organisational development requires an investment of time and money.

But when you understand its importance, you can justify the costs. The process of organisational development identifies areas of company operations where change is needed. Each need is analysed, and the potential effects are projected into a change management plan.
The plan outlines the specific ways in which the change will improve company operations, which will be affected by the change and how it can be rolled out efficiently to employees. Without organisational development as part of change management, a company would have a difficult time developing effective change management programmes.

Mandeya is an executive leadership coach, trainer in human capital development and corporate education, a certified leadership and professional development practitioner and founder of the Institute of Leadership, Research and Development (LiRD). — robert@lird.co.zw/www.lird.co.zw.

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