Disorientating Dilemmas - Harley-Davidson vs. Marquette University's Student Safety Programs
According to the Living Systems Theory, organizations (like organisms) want to remain in a state of homeostasis or balance.  When an organization or an organism is not balanced, decisions are made based on how to relieve strain or disequilibrium in the system.  Behaviors within an organization are directed to reduce strain and increase balance and mobility.  

Department of Public Safety and Student Safety Programs

For a little background information on the Department of Public Safety and the safety resources available around the Marquette campus, please watch the video below.

As you might not already know, when Marquette students came back to campus for fall semester, they had already received numerous emails from Public Safety informing them of the numerous armed robberies that had occurred.  The semester began and the robberies still were occurring, at numerous rates.  Marquette’s Department of Public Safety (DPS) was under a lot of heat to stop these robberies, protect the students and get the people that were robbing students.  During the first week of class, the chief of the Department of Public Safety mandated that Student Safety Programs (SSP), DPS’s partner in crime, have 8 vans on the road at all times.  The SSP supervisors had to fill in to ensure that there were at least 8 vans on the road at all times.  In addition, Public Safety Officers (PSOs) were held after the shift to assist with other shifts and were given incentives to come in on their days off so there were also extra officers on the road.  The crimes continued to occur and the LIMO Scout was created.  The chief created the LIMO Scout to help the PSOs patrol areas of campus were the LIMOs either could not go or were not regularly patrolling.  The LIMO Scout patrolled the alleyways as well as the outskirts of campus.  If the driver of the LIMO Scout came across any student (s) walking home at night, they were to roll down the window and ask them if they wanted a ride home.  The LIMO Scout had a strobe on top of it and had the SSP crest on it so students would know it was part of SSP. 

The above is an example of a disorientating dilemma that effective the entire Marquette community.  The homeostasis of the Marquette community was interrupted by the robberies that were occurring on or around campus.  The numerous robberies caused a strain on the system and it required a response from the Department of Public Safety and Student Safety Programs.  The chief of the Department of Public Safety made sense of the situation.  He then decided that officers would be given incentives to come in on their days off to help out and that SSP would have to have at least 8 vans on the road at all times.  After deciding this, the chief then had to make meaning of what had happened and then learn from the experience.  Finally, termination and closure occurred. 

All organizations, doesn’t matter what industry they are in or if they are a non-profit or for profit organization, face disorientating dilemmas.  Harley-Davidson also faced a disorientating dilemma and as a result laid off a huge part of their labor force.  In the 1980s, Harley-Davidson was thriving.  They were making so much money.  They were the only American motorcycle producer at the time.  The 1990s still brought profits to Harley-Davidson however if they did not start attracting a new customer base and improve their processes, they were not going to make it.  Harley-Davidson executives realized that if they did not make some kind of change, Harley-Davidson would not make it in the motorcycle industry.  Harley-Davidson then decided that they would slim down their production.  For example, at the Harley-Davidson York, PA. production plant, Harley-Davidson laid off approximately half of its labor force.   In addition, they also tried to streamline their processes.  At the time, each of Harley’s different plants were running on different operating systems.  For example, one plant would be operating a Windows 98 platform while another one was running a Windows Vista platform.  With the different operating systems throughout the organization, streaming production was basically impossible.  Harley upgraded all their plant facilities so they were all running on the same operating system.  Finally, Harley made a big push to improve quality on their motorcycles.  Harley-Davidson took some lessons on Japanese motorcycle producer, Suzuki, on quality.  Harley-Davidson then made meaning of what had happened.  They saw that they needed to have organization wide processes.  They also found that they were being beat in the quality of their motorcycles.  They then had to learn from the experience. Harley-Davidson finally learned how to be competitive in the motorcycle industry.  Finally, they terminated the situation.  

Writing of Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze
Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze start off their article with the following quote: "the world doesn’t change one person at a time.  It changes as networks of relationships form among people who share a common cause and vision of what’s possible."  At both Harley-Davidson and Marquette's DPS/SSP, changes were made so the organizations would run more efficiently and to meet their goals.  The changes that were made at both Harley-Davidson and DPS/SSP could not have occurred if it weren't for the networks of relationships that formed among people who shared a common goal.   Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze then continue and say "they [networks] need to evolve into intentional working relationships where new knowledge, practices, courage, and commitment can develop .   From these relationships, emergence becomes possible.  Emergence is the process by which all large-scale change happens on this planet.   Separate, local efforts connect and strengthen their interactions and interdependencies.  What emerges as these become stronger is a system of influence,  a powerful cultural shift that then greatly influences behaviors and defines accepted practices. "  
For Harley-Davidson, they used their partnership with Enterforce Inc., a managed service provider, to help humanely lay off quite a few employees, contigent workers, etc.,  to be more effective in the market and ensure the continued success of the company.    Harley-Davidson is currently in the stage that Margaret Wheatley and Deborah Frieze talk about where a "powerful cultural shift occurs that greatly influences behaviors and defines accepted practices."  When Angie Ziegler came to speak, 

As for DPS and SSP, the LIMO Scout was a product of a relationship that was formed among people who shared a common goal (safety).  I am not quite sure that emergence has happened yet for SSP or DPS.  Because the LIMO Scout was a product of a crisis (too many robberies), I don't think the relationships of people have evolved enough that new knowledge, practices, courage or commitment have been developed.  I think that both departments still have a lot to improve upon before they both can work in unison and be truly successful.   

Make sure to check out my next post about organizational culture!
"Harley-Davidson History." Harley-Davidson. Harley-Davidson, 2012. Web. 30 Apr. 2012. <http://www.harley-davidson.com/en_US/Content/Pages/H-D_History/history.html?locale=en_US&bmLocale=en_US>. 

Menck, Jessica Claire. "Week 2, Lesson A Lecture Notes." 23 Jan. 2012. Lecture.  

Wheatley, Margaret, and Deborah Frieze. "How Large-Scale Change Really Happens - Working with Emergence." The School Administrator (2007). Web. <http://d2l.mu.edu/d2l/lms/content/viewer/main_frame.d2l?ou=189630&tId=1006574>. 

Ziegler, Angie. "Harley-Davidson Leadership." 4 Apr. 2012. Lecture. 

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    I am a Junior at Marquette University enrolled in the College of Business Administration's Organization and Behavior (MANA 3001) class.  This blog is a way of applying concepts I am learning in class to the outside world.


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