Performance Of The General Motors Hardware Management Essay

According to Kurt Lewin, the Field theory claimed that individual behavior is a function of the group environment. Therefore, the primary step is to improve the working environment around them. The new production management, firstly, try to alleviate the heated industrial relation. He established ongoing communication under an open door policy. The employees were encouraged to air their views and grievances. The second improvement of the general environment of the plant was repainted grey machines in bright colors and made the plant tidy,. Such an innovation has an influence on the attitude of the employee towards GM. They have a bigger hope for their future because of the favorable workplace .

During the process of changing, the staffs may not easy to adapt the mew environment because changing may pose the threat on their confront environment. How can make all roles be willing to accept the change? In this issue , among the work of Kurt Lewin (Field Theory, Group Dynamics and Action Research), the most key contribution of organization change that he made is 3-step Model. The change and innovation at General Motors is a suitable example to understand the 3 key steps for planning approach to change. These steps will be explained in detail. The first step is “Unfreezing”. In this step, Initially, Lewin (1947) argued that not all approaches are suitable for each situation. Therefore, he suggested that unfreezing the equilibrium, i.e. the obsoleted individual or group behavior should be discarded. The second step was called “Moving” or “change”. At this stage, reformist begins to take action to achieve the desired state and evaluate the performance of all the forces at work during the whole process of change. The Action Research from Lewin provide the method of assessment, which is the iterative approach of research, action , then finding the fact , and more researches. “Refreezing ” is the final step of planed change. Generally speaking, it means that the when new behavior or environment are formed, reformists need to keep them sustainable. This step is of significance for successful innovation. In organization terms, Cummings and Huse raised that organizational culture, norms , policies and practices are also required to refreeze as norms.

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It is clear to see that the Lewin’s 3 stage model provided much guidance to the change of poor situation in the plant of General Motors. In terms of the “unfreezing”stage, Schein (1996)argued that the change should be recognized for everyone in the plant, which will release the anxiety from unpredicted future. According to the group dynamics and field theory, change was useless by reforming single individual behavior but a collaborative network of relationship between multiple roles.Therefore, the new PM in plant established an open communication for hearing the views and grievances of employees. It is helpful for alleviating the heated relation and creating an awareness to multiple roles for informing the change. Before the changes taking place, PM spent much time on mobilizing the network of relation ,it is an initial step to establish a loyal group. Then, he seeks for support and commitment which is the fundamental requirement for membership in the team .And the knocker and blockers of the innovation plan had been weeded out , some were retired early with their pension. These are some essential unfreezing actions in General motors. Moreover, it is necessary that PM look for orchestrating support from other stakeholders before implementing change-setting up an experimental cell. It is a key rule in unfreezing step that make stakeholders know what benefit will bring after setting up of cells .Therefore, the management team spoke to the union people, VBU (vehicle Builders Union). PM guaranteed a full consultation in change programme, and there would be no job losses to members. Importantly, all senior shop stewards were qualified to discuss with plant managements to know the different situation or environment that they may face after the setting up of cells. Because of good behavior at unfreezing stage, VBU did not set barriers during the change process,although senior management did not fund this project. And this program gained external experts’ help. At the stage of Unfrezzing, the first thing PM do is create an awareness of urgent change to each role, then, communication is the most effective way to keep close relationships with stakeholders.

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After unfreezing stage, the real practice of change should take place, which is called “Moving” or “changing”. To restructure the plant, the technology support and is essential. Thus, PM seeked for the external expert assistance to raise a proposal of industrial collaboration under the condition of cost reduction , which is from DMT (Division of Manufacturing Technology) within the CSIRO. The employee from both parties work together to analyze data, and after a few months, the manufacturing system had been revised for the plant. PM encouraged employee taking part in production and problem-solving. Additionally, the required hardware are redesign and relocated. All of these actions are for implementing the new methods of work organization. During the period of restriction, there were regular meetings for monitoring the progress of continuous improvement ,which is the key step of Action Research from Levin. In order to achieve success of change, the PM needs to take whole stakeholder’s benefits into consideration, such as employees, local management, and the external change experts.Therefore, there are a large number of collaborative group discussions throughout the whole programme.Thus,PM weeded out some roles who might jeopardize progress for guaranteeing the loyalty of supporting the team. Moreover, CSIRO presented another blueprint once any amendment took place. Such an Action Research cycle ( research , action, evaluation, ) continued for nearly twelve months, it lays the foundation of the next stage for innovation-Refreezing.

After experiencing some initial changes, it is time for solidifying new change or behavior as a norm. The PM set five year plan for improving the work environment and allowed employees participating discussion. However, the projects need additional time to gain support from all roles of stakeholders (employees, management, union). The initial change of working environment for employees and employee involvement became the norm gradually. PM close off certain option towards certain forms of design in order to prevent opposing or diverging views for certain system.

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Apart from the 3-step model, we can see some newer views on change. Firstly, To survive, the organizations require to combine internal and external synergies. (Kanter, 1983). The PM in plant communicated with managers and VBU (internal), and collaborated with technical team-CASIRO (external).Secondly, Waston,1997 argued that it is significant to empower employees using their initiative on the base of shared values and culture. It is key to create an excellent common culture. In GM case, employees are encouraged to involve the change programme ,

In conclusion,the theories of Kurt Lewin make a great contribution to planned research, although there are still some defects . For example, the theories seem more not suitable for each any kinds of organizations, such as down-top organization. However, undoubtedly, the new plant manager using Lewin’s views to support its reform.Initially , Field theory and group dynamic indicated that individual behavior is closely related to the group environment. Moreover, the innovation of GM developed with the help of 3-step model although some practices cannot be clearly defined in specific stage. Specifically, PM established open communication with multiple roles of stakeholders, which created an awareness of change and analyze what are the benefits or changes after redesigning the cell. It is an unfreezing stage that can sustain the high morale in the plant. Then, the change took place, the PM asked for external assistants to implement industrial collaboration which can offer opportunities to stakeholders for learning and familiarizing new change . Finally, in order to prevent the situation of “one step forward, two steps back” , it is important to maintain an acceptable of new moves from stakeholders and solidify new behavior as a norm. PM created an environment in which employee involves in change programs, gradually, it became norm. Additionally, PM used the theory of Action Research to monitor the any problems when they arose.


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