The Coastal County Clerk of Court’s challenge to integrate technology into their antiquated business function, streamlining processes, and controlling outsourced project cost to make their governing office more productive and efficient. Hence, one of the overwhelming obstacles in this change initiative is in the organizational cultural obstacles with the old leadership team with the court offices. The recent elections awarded a new business leader and strategy to tackle the change initiative with the county clerks office. However, inevitable conflict will establish a need for intervention, mediation, and possible arbitration to deal with the need to introduce the three strategic approaches to resolution.
“Pursuant to the Administration Dispute Resolution Act of 1996 and a recent White House Presidential Memorandum, federal agencies are implementing forms of alternative dispute resolution for discriminative complaints (Binghman, Chesmore, Moon, & Napoli, 2000. p.5).” A comparative analysis of in-house and outside neutral mediator models was conducted within the United States Postal Service to challenge the EEOC complaint process. Between 1994 to1998, a mediation pilot program was introduced in Florida to focus on the mediation program named REDRESS (Resolve Employment Disputes Reach Equitable Solutions Swiftly). REDRESS’ objective was to examine the immediate benefits of using outsourced neutral third party firms to resolve equal opportunity disputes. The end-result of USPS’ approach has proven very significant. Hence, “there has been substantial research on the use of outside neutral mediators to resolve grievances arising under a collective bargaining agreement (Binghman, Chesmore, Moon, & Napoli, 2000. p. 9).” The results of this testing module indicate that all participants in the outside model that were subject to outside mediation reported a significantly high-satisfactory score than those tested using inside mediation. “Process fairness, mediator impartiality, fairness, skill and performance, and satisfaction with the outcome, outcome relevant to expectations, and long term effects of the outcome were all measured with the results presented higher for outside neutral mediator processes (Binghman, Chesmore, Moon, & Napoli, 2000. p. 14).”
“The Lighter Amphibian Heavy-Lift (LAMP-H) Project was initiated by the U.S. Army to support ground troops during amphibian assault missions. This machine will function as a craft in moving supplies from large carrier ships to shore. Furthermore, moving over the surface of water and then transitioning to movement over land (Sutterfield, Friday-Stroud & Shivers-Blackwell, (2007. p.223).”
The need for this new technology will be introduced and received with mixed responses from the project management team, the acquisition strategy team, and the R&D centers. During the time of inception two significant leadership changes almost altered the viability of the project. The organizational changes meant that a new Project/Program Manager (PEO) would be responsible for sponsoring the acquisitions of LAMP-H. “As the new PEO accepted his new role, it became apparent that he neither understood the significance of the program not it’s Acquisition Strategy (Sutterfield, Friday-Stroud & Shivers-Blackwell, (2007. p. 228).” The second leadership change was the Product Manager. This promotion came directly from the Department of Defense with a respectable acquisition background. Last, the project manager for the LAMP-H was promoted to Deputy Product Manager (DPM), and has never slowed down his support for the new design.
Furthermore, “the new PEO’s lack of knowledge about the basic acquisition process prevented him from understanding any new innovations to the acquisition process. Additionally, the PEO preferred to abstain from conflict with disagreements that the department managers and workers had with the new PM and the DPM regarding the new approaches taken with respect to the project (Sutterfield, Friday-Stroud & Shivers-Blackwell, (2007. p. 228).”
Organizational Conflict Management has three main domains that would have contributed to the success of this project, which are Collaboration, Compromise, and Force. Hence, the program destruction was apparent when the PEO continually delayed and neglected the required acquisition strategies that needed his attention, and failed to understand or seek help in understanding the complexity of the R&D program. “More specifically, the attempts by the various types of organizational conflicts that occurred throughout the LAMP-H project led to costly people, plan, and process deviations. Moreover, the attempts by the various stakeholders to increase the expected performance of the LAMP-H without corresponding increased the budget and timelines to account for increased cost and scheduling, led to increased level of risk, and ultimately the demise of the LAMP-H project (Sutterfield, Friday-Stroud & Shivers-Blackwell, 2007. p. 230).”
“The traditional method for handling those disputes is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) administrative complaint process. In this process, an employee files an informal complaint alleging discrimination, and an equal employment opportunity counselor (a USPS employee) engages in informal efforts to resolve the dispute (Binghman, Chesmore, Moon, & Napoli, 2000. p. 6).” The inception of a third part neutral mediation program offers an option to alternative dispute resolution by allowing employees the right to choose. The primary conflict of unfair treatment, which is best suited for a third party mediator. Hence, “the key features of fairness of the process, impartiality and fairness of mediator are significantly higher in the outside model (Binghman, Chesmore, Moon, & Napoli, 2000. p. 17).”
“The Acquisition Strategy required that the R&D phase of the LAMP-H program be executed within 36 months. This was done in order to conform to the three years of R&D appropriation that had been programmed, and the guidelines of the Army Streamlined Acquisition Program (ASAP) (Sutterfield, Friday-Stroud & Shivers-Blackwell, (2007. p.230).” However, the newly appointed project/program manager lacked the necessary skills to use effective process-based conflict management skills to implement the three strategies to meet the required specification of the LAMP-H program. Collaboration is always detrimental in these instances where skill diversification leads to compromise and force to meet deadlines for acquisition, processing, and product scheduling.
In both synopsis’ and opportunity exist which an alternative conflict resolution approach should had led to a constructive organizational outcome. However, the USPS case proved to focus on process and procedures within the conflict that maintained an objective to improve the quality of work life for their employs. Therefore, the cost effectiveness of a third party mediator proved to be an efficient use of financial funds, time, and labor cost associated with the test module and the end-result processes. Unfortunately, the sudden process and procedural changes for Coastal County Clerk was not well received because the transition altered the organizational culture that was present. Cost effectiveness was a major concern, but at the liberty of losing loyal employees the conflict forced the emotional response because of the perception of unfair treatment. The transfer of organizational power, restructuring of current employee duties, and the use of third party firms to replace long-time employees led to formal complaints that would be heard by the EEOC. Similar to the USPS case, mediation should be introduced to confront internal concerns and to build the confidence and support of the firm as an alternative resolution approach to the newly appointed County Clerk of Courts.
The Department of Defense’s project/program manager and Stan Accord are in the same perdictiment. Training and support from professional mediators should strengthen their skills, and provide them with an ability to establish critical thinking skills. Creative-thinking abilities, communication skills, emotional capabilities, perception abilities, and orientation abilities are skills that are instrumental, and would have prevented the escalating process-based, and collaboration strategy techniques that are imperative in each case study.
Bingham, L., Chesmore, G., Moon, Y., & Napoli, L., (2000). Mediating Employment
Disputes at the United States Postal Service: A Comparison of In-house and Outside
Neutral Mediator Models. Indiana University. Retrieved from:http://rop.sagepub.com
at UOP Library
Sutterfield, J., Friday-Stroud, S., & Shivers-Blackwell, S., (2007). How NOT to Manage
A Project: Conflict Management Lessons Learned from a DOD Case Study. Institute
Of Behavior and Applied Management. Retrieved from www.pheonix.edu