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  • Chapter 1 ? Review the Key Lessons from Chapter 1 ? Explain the five key lessons and note the importance of each key lesson from chapter 1.? Also, note why is it important to understand these basic concepts. Attached with this email (Word File)
  • Chapter 2 ? Note why the IT organizational structure is an important concept to understand.? Also, note the role of IT in the overall business strategy.

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Key Lessons

The experience of the reorganization of the IT department at Ravell can teach us some key lessons with respect to the cultural transforma- tion and change of marginalized technical departments, generally.

Defining Reflection and Learning for an Organization

IT personnel tend to view learning as a vocational event. They gener- ally look to increase their own ?technical? knowledge by attending special training sessions and programs. However, as Kegan (1998) reminds us, there must be more: ?Training is really insufficient as a sole diet of education?it is, in reality a subset of education.? True education involves transformation, and transformation, according to Kegan, is the willingness to take risks, to ?get out of the bedroom of our comfortable world.? In my work at Ravell, I tried to augment this ?diet? by embarking on a project that delivered both vocational train- ing and education through reflection. Each IT staff person was given

one week of technical training per year to provide vocational develop- ment. But beyond this, I instituted weekly learning sessions in which IT personnel would meet without me and produce a weekly memo of ?reflection.? The goal of this practice was to promote dialogue, in the hope that IT would develop a way to deal with its fears and mistakes on its own. Without knowing it, I had begun the process of creating a discursive community in which social interactions could act as insti- gators of reflective behavior leading to change.

Working toward a Clear Goal

The presence of clearly defined, measurable, short-term objectives can greatly accelerate the process of developing a ?learning organiza- tion? through reflective practice. At Ravell, the move into new physi- cal quarters provided a common organizational goal toward which all participants could work. This goal fostered cooperation among IT and non-IT employees and provided an incentive for everyone to work and, consequently, learn together. Like an athletic team before an important game, or even an army before battle, the IT staff at Ravell rallied around a cause and were able to use reflective practices to help meet their goals. The move also represented what has been termed an ?eye-opening event,? one that can trigger a better understanding of a culture whose differences challenge one?s presuppositions (Mezirow, 1990). It is important to note, though, that while the move accelerated the development of the learning organization as such, the move itself would not have been enough to guarantee the successes that followed it. Simply setting a deadline is no substitute for undergoing the kind of transformation necessary for a consummately reflective process. Only as the culmination of a process of analysis, socialization, and trust building, can an event like this speed the growth of a learning organization.

Commitment to Quality

Apart from the social challenges it faced in merging into the core business, the IT group also had problems with the quality of its out- put. Often, work was not performed in a professional manner. IT organizations often suffer from an inability to deliver on schedule,

and Ravell was no exception. The first step in addressing the qual- ity problem, was to develop IT?s awareness of the importance of the problem, not only in my estimation but in that of the entire company. The IT staff needed to understand how technology affected the day- to-day operations of the entire company. One way to start the dia- logue on quality is to first initiate one about failures. If something was late, for instance, I asked why. Rather than addressing the problems from a destructive perspective (Argyris &Scho?n, 1996; Schein, 1992; Senge, 1990), the focus was on encouraging IT personnel to under- stand the impact of their actions?or lack of action?on the company. Through self-reflection and recognition of their important role in the organization, the IT staff became more motivated than before to per- form higher quality work.

Teaching Staff ?Not to Know?

One of the most important factors that developed out of the process of integrating IT was the willingness of the IT staff ?not to know.? The phenomenology of ?not knowing? or ?knowing less? became the facilitator of listening; that is, by listening, we as individuals are better able to reflect. This sense of not knowing also ?allows the individual to learn an important lesson: the acceptance of what is, without our attempts to control, manipulate, or judge? (Halifax, 1999, p. 177). The IT staff improved their learning abilities by suggesting and adopting new solutions to problems. An example of this was the creation of a two-shift help desk that provided user support during both day and evening. The learning process allowed IT to contribute new ideas to the community. More important, their contributions did not dramat- ically change the community; instead, they created gradual adjust- ments that led to the growth of a new hybrid culture. The key to this new culture was its ability to share ideas, accept error as a reality (Marsick, 1998), and admit to knowing less (Halifax, 1999).

Transformation of Culture

Cultural changes are often slow to develop, and they occur in small intervals. Furthermore, small cultural changes may even go unnoticed or may be attributed to factors other than their actual causes. This raises the issue of the importance of cultural awareness and our ability to measure individual and group performance. The history of the IT problems at Ravell made it easy for me to make management aware of what we were newly attempting to accomplish and of our reasons for creating dialogues about our successes and failures. Measurement and evaluation of IT performance are challenging because of the intrica- cies involved in determining what represents success. I feel that one form of measurement can be found in the behavioral patterns of an organization. When it came time for employee evaluations, reviews were held with each IT staff member. Discussions at evaluation reviews focused on the individuals? perceptions of their role, and how they felt about their job as a whole. The feedback from these review meetings suggested that the IT staff had become more devoted, and more willing to reflect on their role in the organization, and, gen- erally, seemed happier at their jobs than ever before. Interestingly, and significantly, they also appeared to be having fun at their jobs. This happiness propagated into the community and influenced other supporting departments to create similar infrastructures that could reproduce our type of successes. This interest was made evident by frequent inquiries I received from other departments about how the transformation of IT was accomplished, and how it might be trans- lated to create similar changes in staff behavior elsewhere in the com- pany. I also noticed that there were fewer complaints and a renewed ability for the staff to work with our consultants.

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