ALEXANDERS is over dependant on outside help, which sometimes leads to failure. In 2005 outside consultants suggested a project called "three- sixty". It was a suite of IT systems that could join together two or more different types of systems, which could communicate to each other. If the system was successful the consultants were supposed to get 10% of the savings and continue consulting the organisation. The company spent a considerable amount of money in two years but the project failed. The organisational members trusted and relied on outside consultants too heavily.
To avoid such situations organisations need to be confident that their consultants are realistic in what they seek to achieve and that they do not promise unrealistic outcomes (French & Bell, 1999:281, 285). Despite the problems with the bank people in the organisation have a "can do" attitude that contributes to the organisational development. Culture has the most positive effect on OD in ALEXANDERS. It helps to optimise market opportunities and meet the aspirations of the workforce and stakeholders, which according to Lambert (1993:213) is a description for an excellent culture.
ALEXANDERS's top management team has created a brand positioning, which communicates the company's values and beliefs through the organisation. This engagement defines ALEXANDERS's culture and helps to improve the functioning of individuals, teams and the total organisation. Both the top management and the key communicators meet once a month and the whole company gets together twice a year, which helps to follow-up on both organisational and individual level progression (French & Bell, 1999:199). Individual objectives and development plans are reviewed every six months with each individual and their line manager.
ALEXANDERS is an entrepreneurial organisation. Although quite successful it is not a continually learning organisation. In order to change that, according to Swieringa & Wierdsman (1992:49, 74), it has to move from "one sidedly" to collectively learning, where learning takes place in and between groups, different levels, departments and divisions. The current development process of ALEXANDERS is connected to the proposed acquisition of another local investment company by the parent organisation Bulbank.
After the acquiring process, the two investment companies will be faced with a few options. The managerial board of Bulbank will decide if they should: (1) Sell one of the investment companies; (2) Merge them together; or (3) Apply best of breed. Looking at options two and three ALEXANDERS will be faced with the need to cope with the merger, to motivate the workforce and to plan carefully their business strategies. Mergers are seen as large-scale organisational change that brings changes in managerial style, systems, procedures and symbols (Cartwright & Cooper, 1992:4).
In large-scale system changes merging several divisions, selling few, eliminating layers of management, lying off some of the workforce are likely to occur (French & Bell, 1999:252). To cope with the problem of merger and motivation of workforce the top leadership have to plan the change very carefully. Interventions such as problem definition, alternatives generation and decision-making can be applied (Swieringa & Wierdsma, 1992:116). To avoid any failure, the management system and the planned change have to be very effective (Cartwright & Cooper, 1992:6-7).
In order for the organisation to cope with the transformational change, called and caused by the merger, multiple OD interventions are to be applied, such as: team building and development, including role clarification and negotiation; downsizing of the workforce; top management commitment and involvement; parallel learning structure; intensive leadership training; quality circles; cultural analysis; visioning; planning and goal-setting activities; and strategic management activities (French & Bell, 1999, p152, 252-255). Interventions used in transformational/ second-order change cause transformation in an
organisation's culture, mission and strategy, and its leadership. In addition this causes changes in individual and organisational performance (French & Bell, 1999:78). Merging the two companies or applying best of breed will result in role duplications, which will bring a need for redundancies. According to Harrison, in such a case, it is useful to apply learning and development (L&D) activity for the managerial staff before the changes take place; L&D support and opportunities for those leaving the organisation; and L&D initiatives to equip those staying in the organisation to handle new roles and tasks (Harrison, 2002:375).
To make the OD a continual process and improve its effectiveness the organisation has to become a learning one. All three interventions, such as, single, double and triple loop learning can be used to improve, renew and develop the organisation (Swieringa & Wierdsman, 1992:37-44). It is essential to apply action learning and feedback interventions in order to appraise the organisation's development process. It has been shown that OD is a planned change effort that involves the total system. The environment is a changing place where organisations like ALEXANDERS need to keep developing in order to survive.
They need to become "constantly learning" organisations and they need to lead the change instead of being led by it. As it was made clear interventions play major importance in increasing organisational effectiveness and health. Mergers are big, risky business. However, having a vision and mission, followed by a long-range planning, identifying and prioritising risks, using the right interventions for the right situations, applying action learning and becoming a learning organisation will help the new combined organisation to deal with any desired or undesired organisational change, brought by the merger.