Strategic Organizational Behavior

Each week we’ll be covering a lecture to supplement what you’ve reviewed in the text.  We’ll use “laser focus” to further elaborate on one or more topics from the assigned reading.  The goal of this particular lecture is to clearly understand how to think about Organizational Behavior, also known in academic circles as “OB”, from a strategic perspective.

Let’s start by discussing the difference between strategy and tactics.  A good organizational strategy can only be achieved with targeted, well-developed tactics.  As an example, let’s take the raid to capture and/or kill Bin Laden. The US military strategy was to go in unannounced at night with a small, surgical force of special operators.  The tactics included flying helicopters in low to the ground, dropping off special ops soldiers, and a myriad of secret maneuvers to neutralize the opposition.  The result — mission accomplished.  Here’s another example you can relate to if you’ve had teenagers.  When my girls were teenagers, their strategy was usually to stay out past normal curfew on the weekends.  A couple of tactics they implemented…1) ask to stay out to some ridiculous hour knowing it would be negotiated down but to the time they really wanted, 2) ask to stay all night at a friend’s house who had a more generous curfew.  While this is an elementary example and one most parents have experienced, it shows that we learn at a young age that well-developed tactics are a key ingredient to achieving an overarching strategy.

How might you bring the strategy/tactics thought process back into the course from a strategic OB perspective?

Let’s think about the tactics as the dimensions of high-involvement management as listed below and in the text on page twenty-two by Hitt, Miller, & Collella:

  • Selective Hiring – large applicant pools, rigorous evaluation techniques, must be good fit for organization from both a culture and mission perspective.
  • Extensive Training – dedicated, formal training as well as on-the-job training with peers, organizational culture and mission tied into training, rotation into various positions to further hone capabilities
  • Decision Power – associates are empowered at the lowest levels to be decisive, also provide feedback to managers on higher level decisions.
  • Information Sharing – associates are “in the loop” and are saturated with company information from various avenues such as meetings, email, bulletin boards, etc.
  • Incentive Compensation – performance-based pay is paramount; can be based on individual, team, division, or company performance.

So, a cutting-edge organization will use these dimensions (tactics) to implement a company’s strategy and gain a competitive advantage…the literal definition of strategic OB.

A practical and often discussed example is Google, the search engine that has dominated the internet for the last decade.  “Googling” has become a phenomenon that most if not all of us use each and every day at some point. From googling a recipe to fact checking something you heard on television to looking up the latest info on your favorite celebrity, we have all accepted googling as a way of life…it’s part of our culture now!  From 2010-2014, Google was ranked by Fortune Magazine as the “Best Company to Work For”.  Google takes care of its people and in return, the people take care of Google.

I encourage you to read about Google at https://www.google.com/about/ to gain an understanding of what makes them unique.  I submit to you that what makes Google successful, unique, and innovative is its people, also known as “human capital” within our reading this week in Chapter 1.  From selective hiring to decision power, Google is a shining example of a company that lives by strategic organizational behavior principles.  Start by reading Google’s “Ten things we know to be true”.  

For convenience, I have listed those ten things below:

  • “Focus on the user and all else will follow.”
  • “It’s best to do one thing really, really well.”
  • “Fast is better than slow.”
  • “Democracy on the web works.”
  • “You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer.”
  • “You can make money without doing evil.”
  • “There’s always more information out there.”
  • “The need for information crosses all borders.”
  • “You can be serious without a suit.”
  • “Great just isn’t good enough.”

These “ten things” are the strategic backdrop for Google.  How does Google execute this strategy?  Google effectively executes this strategy by implementing the dimensions of high-involvement management…from finding folks who are a perfect fit for the organization’s mission and culture to training, empowering, and rewarding them for a job well done!

Keep in mind that “Googlesque” organizations exist not only in private industry but also in public service and volunteer organizations.  Working for a company such as that makes going to work effortless and exciting!  I hope you find a Googlesque organization to work for with a cause that you are passionate about!  If you haven’t yet found such an organization, you’ll get the opportunity to develop an intervention for an organization that you care about within the class project.
References

  • About Google. (2014). Retrieved December 27, 2014, from https://www.google.com/about/.
  • Fortune’s Best Companies. (2014). Retrieved December 27, 2014, from http://fortune.com/best-companies/.
  • Hitt, M. A., Miller, C. C., & Colella, A. (2015). Organizational Behavior (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

 

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