The changes in the four areas (i.e., environment, workplace, customer, and worker) have altered the work so dramatically that old ‘dinosaur-like’ organizations are no longer able to respond to these changes, to handle these new challenges.
Today, there are an increasing number of organizational people who are becoming increasingly aware that the strategies, knowledge, structures, and leadership of yesteryear are no longer effective in solving today’s problems. The more important thing today, is not only solving immediate problems related to knowledge, structures, or people, but a long-term insight of doing things for the mere survival of the organizations. It is the question of adaptation and evolution in the living organization, which determines the life span and effectiveness of the organizations in the human society.
The organization, which is able to capture all of these forces and systematically synergize them, will be the one able to make quantum leaps up the evolutionary ladder to the next stage of organizational life – the Learning Organization.
Definition of Learning Organization
A Learning organization is an organization that continuously adapts itself to changes. It sees changes as opportunity as it can envisage future trends and equip itself to face them. To manage changes this organization learns as a whole (Senge, 1990).
A Learning organization has to have five skills. Those are Systems Thinking, Personal Mastery, Team Learning, Mental Models, and Shared Vision.
Definition of Mental Models
The present study has attempted to explore the Mental Models of the Indian executives, particularly in large organizations. Mental Models can be defined as image or perspective of an event, situation, activity, or concept. It is a deeply ingrained assumption that influences how one understands the world and how one takes action. Mental models of what can or cannot be done in different situations vary tremendously from person to person, and are often deeply entrenched and difficult to change. Senge stresses that the discipline of working with Mental models starts with the individual and organization turning the mirror inward, of learning how to unearth internal pictures or images of the world and then to bring them to surface and hold them rigorously to scrutiny (Senge, 1990).
Objective of the Study
The objective of the study is to explore the Mental Models of Indian executives in changing environment.
Concept and Operationalization
It is assumed that the Mental Models of Indian executives depends on Control, Power Conflict, Bureaucratic Structure and Events Thought in Isolation.
o Control: Control is considered as one of the items of Mental Models as a Learning Organization requires a least control system (Arvedson 1993).
o Power Conflict: it is seen that power, as the key motivator for the successful executives, plays a major role in the mindset of the executives (Burke, 2002).
o Bureaucratic Structure: the presence of this item often hinders the growth of a Learning Organization. So it is taken as a component to see the degree of its presence in the executive Mental Models (Askensas, Ulrich, Jick, & Kerr, 2002).
o Events Thought in Isolation: a Learning Organization demands its executives to have the understanding of connectivity within the systems. So it is seen as the fourth item of Mental Models to see whether they have this understanding or not (Rolls, 1995).
Subjects and selection techniques
The population for the study: The population for the study has been taken as the top 500 companies in India. (Source: Dalal Street Investment Journal, June, 2005). A sample of 10% is drawn by using the Random Number Tables from such population. Thus the sample constitutes 50 organizations from the above list. Final data received from 10 organizations.
Result of the Study
The items were examined through a questionnaire and the items in the questionnaire with their significance level is given in the following table
Table 1: t-value of the items
Item no t-value * Item content
1 29.682 Working as a team is not always important. (Power Conflict)
2 18.336 Too much autonomy for implementing change leads to chaos and internal power conflict. (Power Conflict)
3 22.388 The nature of top management in case of application of employees’ knowledge while doing a non-routine/complex job. (Bureaucratic Structure)
4 2.968 People are not definite about their future in the organization. (Bureaucratic Structure)
5 12.719 People do not adequately understand why there is change and exactly what is changing. (Events Thought in Isolation)
6 12.389 There is a need for change of roles on a regular basis at all levels. (Control)
7 18.0952 Giving too much importance to the human factor is not possible and necessary. (Control)
8 27.073 You really think that the interests of certain groups usually affect the process of change. (Power Conflict)
*Significance level at 60 degrees of freedom at 0.01 is ?2.660
Table 2: Mental Models in Organizations
Mental Models and its items Mean S D
1 2.00 0.96
2 2.00 0.96
3 2.50 0.74
4 2.69 1.20
5 2.96 1.02
6 2.53 1.15
7 1.53 0.69
8 2.69 0.53
*p < 0.01; low score indicates favorable response. Maximum possible low score is 8 and maximum possible high score is 32.Table 3: Mental Models’ percentage frequency DistributionTotal score Frequency Valid Percent Cumulative Percent Valid 13.00 8 2.0 2.0 15.00 8 2.0 4.0 16.00 64 16.0 20.0 17.00 56 14.0 34.0 18.00 48 12.0 46.0 19.00 48 12.0 58.0 20.00 40 10.0 68.0 21.00 16 4.0 72.0 22.00 32 8.0 80.0 24.00 40 10.0 90.0 25.00 24 6.0 96.0 26.00 16 4.0 100.0 400 100.0Following are the pie charts of item-wise executive responses Item 1: Working as a team is not always important. (Power Conflict)Item 2: Too much autonomy for implementing change leads to chaos and internal power conflict. (Power Conflict)Item 3: The nature of top management in case of application of employees’ knowledge while doing a non-routine/complex job (Bureaucratic Structure)Item 4: People are not definite about their future in the organization. (Bureaucratic Structure)Item 5: People do not adequately understand why there is change and exactly what is changing. (Events Thought in Isolation)Item 6: There is a need for change of roles on a regular basis at all levels. (Control)Item 7: Giving too much importance to the human factor is not possible and necessary. (Control)Item 8: You really think that the interests of certain groups usually affect the process of change. (Power Conflict)Figure 1: Graphical Representation of Percentage Frequency Distribution of scores regarding Mental Models in Sample OrganizationsA percentage frequency distribution chart is given to show the pattern of responses of the executives in two broad categories of organization, service and manufacturing.FindingsPower Conflict Item 1 and item 2 reveal executives’ mental models regarding power conflict. Though item 1 shows team work is preferred, item 2 shows executives have a block in power sharing. Item 8 shows only 30% of the executives believe that interest of certain groups are not affected during a process of change, clearly revealing a conflict of power.Bureaucratic Structure Item 3 shows almost 77% of the sample executives believe in moderately to strictly high bureaucratic structure. Item 4 reveals only 20% believes in having a shared platform for every level of employees.Events Thought in Isolation Almost 65% of the sample executives believe that people should not interfere in a change process if it is not related with his/her job. Only 12% believes that everyone should know why there is a change irrespective of any criterion. 10% follows some definite mechanism to inform everybody about change.Control Item 6 show that executives feel an urge to share their roles irrespective of levels of the employees. Item 7 reveals that executives believe in human factor rather than strict control.The overall study shows that executives are having a mindset of loosening control but relies on bureaucratic structure, and power conflict is very much there. Events thought in isolation shows that executives are far behind holistic thinking.