Organizational Diagnosis:

The Heart of Ida

Project Description

Organization Development is the process through which organizations can successfully implement planned change. There are several approaches to consider for organization development, all guided by theory. An organizational diagnosis helps to pinpoint how an organization is currently functioning, so that a change intervention can be designed to fit their needs. This diagnosis includes data gathering and analysis that were used to create a set of prioritized recommendations to be implemented in the organization. The Action Research Cycle (below) was used to guide the consultants. 

Problem Identification & Consultation

The Heart of Ida (HOI) is a nonprofit organization who strives to preserve the independence of older adults by providing various services, such as dog walking and home repairs. As a nonprofit organization, the HOI relies on grants and the generosity of volunteers who donate their time and resources. Upon meeting the three of us at a service learning fair, the founders described their issues with volunteer recruitment and retention, as people do not often return. The Action Research Cycle was followed for this diagnosis, beginning with Problem Identification during which the founders recognized their needs. The consultation was a virtual meeting which allowed us to build rapport with the HOI and learn more about the organization and their needs.  

Data Gathering & Preliminary Diagnosis

We used a combination of data gathering methods including interviews and unobtrusive methods. The interviews were conducted with the founders of the HOI, and with the volunteers. We drafted the questions based on the Open Systems Model, which considers how an organization is influenced by external forces. The unobtrusive methods include reviewing the HOI's website, social media accounts, and magazine, Agewell Long Beach. The data was compiled and analyzed, and common themes were extracted. The following were the 4 most common themes: 

  • There is an unstandardized orientation process for volunteers

  • There is no formal feedback process for volunteers or clients

  • There is great positive regard for the organization 

  • The work is highly individualized

Feedback & Joint Diagnosis

The diagnostic data was shared with the client in a collaborative meeting, where they were able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the HOI. During the joint diagnosis, the founder agreed that the organization should address the issues discussed during the feedback phase. 

Joint Action Planning

During this stage, there was an agreement between us as the consultants, and the client regarding the actions to be taken. We presented the HOI with a prioritized list of recommendations (below). Unfortunately, due to the deadline constraints of this project, we were unable to participate in the Action and Data Gathering phases of the cycle. However, recommendations were given for implementation of new organizational processes and for implementing a feedback system.  

To view the recommendations, click through the presentation below

Retrospect

It was a great pleasure conducting this organizational diagnosis. While we were unable to assist with implementing our recommendations due to time restrictions, I reached out and asked if they have implemented any of our suggestions and am looking forward to hearing the response. In retrospect, I think it would have been helpful to our data collection if we would have been able to observe an orientation. Regardless, I feel confident in the recommendations that were made. I hope to work with the Heart of Ida again in the future.It was a truly rewarding experience to support the Heart of Ida's mission by helping them to discover ways to improve as an organization. Below are the top three competencies I feel I strengthened throughout this project. 

Communication

During the data gathering stage, I had to conduct semi-structured phone interviews with volunteers. Throughout the course of several interviews, I refined my verbal communication skills. Additionally, I also exercised my professional written communication by summarizing our preliminary findings and recommendations. Written and verbal communication are pivotal competencies to possess across all industries. 

Collaboration

In order to produce quality data from our interviews, my colleagues and I worked together to create a questionnaire which would meet our needs. This required a great deal of collaboration, as we edited each of the items several times After our interviews, we worked together to extract common themes. The ability to collaborate with others is essential, as the workforce is shifting towards more team-based work. 

Creative Thinking

After extracting the common themes from our data, we had to get creative with making our recommendations. We each had unique ideas to contribute, and we used our diverse perspectives to create the finalized list. The ability to think creatively will help me in my career because it will help me take novel approaches to organizational issues.