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Learn About The History Of Management Development

Sep 10, 2008
Management development is a major part of what is called organisation development. This is the process of examining a company infrastructure from a point of behavioural science and then affecting positive change within the organisation. There are many techniques used such as psychometric testing, surveys, competency frameworks and management development. The definition of organisation development is a contractual agreement between a sponsoring organisation and a change agent to improve organizational performance.

Pre World War II there was a man named Kurt Lewin who worked at the University of Michigan and experimented with a collaborative change process with training groups. These training groups were not like an actual company organisation, they were groups of people who met for experimental purposes without a set agenda. They would be given a hypothetical scenario and asked to respond in a natural way based on what was labelled as, the here and now.

Lewin died in 1947 however the department continued the work on based on the three stage process of implementing collaborative change; planning, taking action and measuring results. The training simulation would work by reviewing individual group member reactions to any given scenario and identifying the problems. These problems included leadership, self serving, communication, status and group structure.

The action stages were to train group members in listening, observing others, focussing on a common goal as opposed to personalities and other techniques that would lead to effective group functionality. The groups were based on strangers so certain difficulties were faced when trying to introduce the technique to an established organisation such as a family. The training groups were seen as relatively safe and controlled environments with group members having no history or feelings of any magnitude toward each other.

Management development is an important part of organisational development. A case study of a medical centre showed the three tier system in pointing toward the need for management development. The entire organisation was assessed by a consultant acting as a change agent who collected data from every member of the organisation. The data in the form of surveys and competency evaluations was then analysed and the results relayed.

The data showed three major problems with the route cause being a management issue. The manager was shying away from making large decisions leaving inaction and confusion between administrative staff causing them to blame and resent their fellow colleagues. Management development is not only the identification of this problem but to affect positive change on the individual.

This can come in the form of a psychometric test where an individual completes an assessment of their personality and the results are analysed to establish where their strengths lie. Also in a competency survey then positive change can be affected by retraining or sometimes just highlighting the issue in question. The three stages of management development are sometimes known as unfreezing, changing and refreezing.
About the Author
Dominic Donaldson is an expert on management development and regular contributor to trade publications on the subject.
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