The Quality of WorkLife Index and Smart Tailoring

Quality of WorkLife Index (QWLI). A simplified single number that represents a consolidation of ten elements (see UHS) depicting an organization's cultural capacity. The scale used is a 0 to 9 scale. There are five "Bands" within the scale that characterize "cultural capacity" and assist in formulating "Smart Tailoring" strategies needed to optimize individual and organizational performance.

The QWLI provides an accurate means of comparison between operating elements of the same organization, and between organizations. It is often used as one important indicator when setting organization development priorities. The QWLI is also a finite answer to questions concerning an organization's potential. The ideal QWLI is between 6.5 and 7.5.

Smart Tailoring
Organization Development Banding Technology

A. Overview. Smart Tailoring is a system used by organization developers to identify individuals and groups and match them with an optimally effective strategy tailored to their needs that will allow continuous improvement. Placing people in Band groups for this purpose saves money dedicated to capacity building interventions because misplacement and/or mismatching would not produce the desired impact or return-on-investment. Individuals or groups at the fringe of a Band may be equally well or potentially better served by the next closest Band, or by a reasonable hybrid of both the current Band and the next closest Band.

The use of this Banding Technology is integrated with CapacityWare, the ODI software and literature package that assists with organization culture and capacity improvement efforts.

B. Band Descriptions.

1. Band A - Detached (Scale/Rings 7.6 to 9.0). People in Band A are often unnecessarily "protected" from the bad news that would enable them to be more effective. Some people in organizations seem to be detached from the implications of the culture normally found deeply in the organization structure and normally close to the front-line work. All to often, senior management will register Band A results. The danger in Band A, especially as it relates to senior decision-makers, is that these individuals will likely not invest the time, attention, or other organizational resources to solve problems they do not believe exit.

2. Band B - Ideal (Scale/Rings 6.5 to 7.5). Band B includes people who are approachable and inclusive. Individuals in Band B are afforded plenty of challenges for improvement by those around them. They acknowledge that problems exist and have a sense of priority about the problems they tackle. There is always something to learn, normally about what is going on at or close to the front-line. Decision-makers in Band B are quick to invest an organizations resources in order to achieve close-to-the-customer solutions because they know improved performance strengthens capacity.

3. Band C - Hopeful (Scale/Rings 5.0 to 6.4). People in Band C are willing and reasonably committed to participation in processes that will make improvements possible. In this hopeful range, people are more easily converted upward to Band B if their talents and skills are efficiently and effectively directed toward solving "real" organizational problems. Engaging people in this Band with insignificant tasks that do not contribute to improving the organization's capacity to fulfill its purpose will likely do more damage than good.

4. Band D - Fragmented (Scale/Rings 4.0 to 4.9). People in Band D lack unity of purpose and tend to focus on their immediate responsibilities rather than a holistic perspective. Band D "polarized camps" form from an "in group and out group" fracture in the organization that rarely follows specific boundaries. Fragmented groups will number at least two, but may be more. The unity surrounding organization purpose becomes blurred. Severe capacity deterioration begins to show at Band D.

5. Band E - Disenfranchised (Scale/Rings 0.0 to 3.9). Band 5 people tend to isolate themselves from both knowing about problems, and participating in a solution-oriented process. Isolation is often a retreat to the easier work required by the guidelines of their job description, and away from the more difficult and abstract organizational problem-solving required to move up the scale from Band E. It is common for long-time Band E'ers to be covert and overt program saboteurs as well as individuals who frequently engage in intimidation, harassment, or even those involved in acts of violence in the workplace.

C. Remediation Implications. The foremost implication of Smart Tailoring is that a one-size-fits-all strategy is doomed to failure unless everyone in an organization is in the Band for which the strategy is developed - a highly unlikely condition. More likely will be the application of convergent strategy sets - strategies designed to converge at Band B - Ideal.

Every indication suggests that an investment in training or education below Band C will be largely ineffective. Typically, Band D and E cultures are loaded with barriers to learning. People are too concerned with maneuvering around or preventing pain emanating from destructive relationships to be concerned with the application of traditional institutional learning. The counterproductive learning techniques that enable them to cope or survive are far more important than traditional skill development.

Often the first strategy to engage is at Band A when senior decision-makers are clearly in this Band. Getting the resources or support to tackle more difficult organizational problems is difficult if Band A is loaded with top management. "Job one" becomes broadening the sense of reality for the whole organization range within the top ranks. If you can't do this, with credibility, it may be impossible to provide help to those who work deep in the organization structure who need it most.

Without the ability to accurately track participation in a full range of intervention events, change agents might never know if their efforts are well directed until it is too late. With an appropriate tracking system like CapacityWare, change agents know precisely if participants are actually attending events that are tailored for them. This will require some mandatory attendance, since the hardest group to change is also likely to be in Band E and therefore most resistant to any change efforts at all.

Smart Tailoring also implies that the traditional organization development event may not cover the broad spectrum required of the new "strategy set" concept. Smart Tailoring demands that organization development continually reinvent dynamic new techniques.

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