This case study discusses the history of WSSC and its operations, organizational structure, and culture. It also assesses how the management implements the large-scale change within the organization.
Amy C. Edmondson and Corey Hajim
Harvard Business Review (603056-PDF-ENG)
February 25, 2003
Case questions answered:
- Discuss the history of WSSC and its operations, organizational structure, and culture.
- Assess how the management implements the large-scale change within the organization.
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Large-scale Change at the WSSC Case Answers
Large-scale Change at the WSSC Case Study
The purpose of the following discussion is to examine a large-scale change at the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission or the WSSC. Reorganizing a company is similar to restructuring a small state. It is an intensive process that needs proper planning to achieve the desired objectives. A successful reorganization has to be performed through sensitivity, strategy, and foresight. The management that aims to shake up the work and processes of an organization is required to have effective communication and planning for the plans to be successful (Schein, 2017).
In the following discussion, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) has not been effective in meeting the needs of its customers. The problem has been contributed by the monopoly of the company, leading to inefficiencies in service delivery. Numerous complaints have threatened the existence of the WSSC as a government entity as some stakeholders advocate for its privatization.
Part 1: Setting the Stage
The General Assembly of Maryland established WSSC 1918 (Amy, 2003). The purpose of the organization was to manage the sewer and water systems of the residents of Prince George and Maryland’s Montgomery counties.
By 2002, the company was serving an area of a thousand square miles and reaching out to more than 1.6 million people (Amy, 2003). It became among the top ten biggest wastewater entities in the US, where it operated a budget and a capital of $ 650 million. The company has 1500 employees and oversees the operations of three water storage facilities. It also has 14 stations for pumping water, 63 storage facilities of clean water (Amy, 2003). WSSC also boasts 167 million gallons of water for household consumption each day that is generated by two filtration plants.
Another significant contribution of the company is the addition of 90 miles of sewer mains and 10,200 miles of clean water (Amy, 2003). The organization also tests more than half a million samples per year in its lab to guarantee the safety and quality of water.
Part 2: Assessing the Management of Large-Scale Change at WSSC
Introduction to Change
Change management involves the application of the necessary processes and the use of the required set of tools to lead people in achieving the desired outcomes (Schein, 2017). It is competency, as well as a process. As a competency, change management is considered as a collection of skills that facilitate the creation of a strategic capability for maximizing effectiveness. As a process, it follows a recurrent process and utilizes a holistic approach of tools that drive successful change.
Kotter’s 8 Step (Model)
Creating a Sense of Urgency
This stage forms the foundation for a change process. It involves creating awareness to the stakeholders, including employees, on the need for a change to help them support the initiative. The approach needs open, convincing, and honest dialogues with all the stakeholders, who are convinced of the necessity of taking a specific direction. It can be accomplished by examining the status of an organization and the course that it aspires to follow to achieve the set objectives (Schein, 2017).
This process can also be in the form of analyzing the potential threats and opportunities of the expected change. WSSC has been consistent with this step by alerting the stakeholders about the desired change to address the growing resentment from the community. Through the legislature, a task force has been formed to initiate the dialogue on privatization, which explores the threats and opportunities of taking this approach (Amy, 2003).
Griffin first established that the organization overpriced its services, and had a lot of employees that resulted in the redundancy of work (Amy, 2003). The manager was effective in assessing these potential threats and determining the risks that they possessed in the future of WSSC.
A recommendation is that the manager should have considered dialogue with other stakeholders. Although he reached out to some employees on a one-on-one basis, he could have engaged them on a round table discussion to evaluate the future of the company. This action could have minimized the complaints that they had concerning the security of their jobs and early retirements.
Forming a Powerful Guiding Coalition
This step involves establishing teams that can steer ahead of the changes that the organization seeks to implement. The teams manage all the tasks and encourage other employees to cooperate in constructive approaches. Building the coalition is a powerful message to other stakeholders on the management to change, which facilitates their participation (Schein, 2017). Griffin could not achieve the changes alone. He started by creating a team of senior leaders that helped him in turning the organization around, and as a result, they achieved to reduce the workforce by 30% (Amy, 2003).
This was not the only change that was required, and he proceeded ahead in creating a steering committee that was made up of between 12 and 15 members from all hierarchical levels. This alliance was required to examine and certify, where possible, the adoption of best practices in the industry. The production and customer care departments were also organized into different teams, each with specific obligations for ensuring the success of the change process in the organization (Amy, 2003).
The possible recommendation for Griffin in this step is assessing the weaknesses of each coalition. This approach can be effective in ensuring that each team adheres to its expectations and promote the success of the change management. The teams should also be diversified to help in the distribution of their strengths across the entire organization.
Creating a Vision
The approach entails formulating a roadmap that helps all the involved people become aware of the direction that a company aims to follow. It is necessary for making the change process factual and attracting the support of the stakeholders since some of their ideas can be incorporated into the vision. Such an approach to change increases collaboration that hastens the achievement of success (Kotter& Cohen, 2002).
WSSC has been…
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