The Double A Model of Organization Analysis

By Joan
43

This may have been my favorite assignment of all semester. To me there is nothing I like more than layering ideas on top of one another and seeing what new insights are revealed. It is very much a visual exercise and so a white board and markers have been my constant companions this week. The result is the graphic below, which was supposed to look more like a culvert or a wind tunnel, but it more closely resembles a battery, which is why I’ve named it the “Double A” Model of Organizational Analysis. Ah well, the point is that inputs go in one end, get filtered and transformed inside, and then come out as outputs. In other words, an open systems model.

As we’ve explored the various assessment models over the last three lessons, I’ve been dissatisfied that not enough attention has been paid to external market and customer forces on an organization. An organization only exists because of some demand in the market, whether it is a market demand for a tax collection agency (the IRS), or the demand for a place to donate your old furniture (Salvation Army), or the demand for organization development advanced degrees (Go Nittany Lions!). And so the Double A Model depicts market demand as the starting point for an organization’s analysis. This market demand then presents itself to the organization via customers and their requirements, market conditions (e.g. bull or bear), and through the influence of important stakeholders such as boards or investors. The Burke-Litwin Model of Organizational Performance and Change (1992) also presents these elements as driving forces, though it bundles them as “external factors.” Similar to the Burke-Litwin Model, the Nadler-Tushman congruence model (1980) places external factors as inputs and recognizes how environmental factors are interwoven throughout all elements of an organization.

In the Double A model, the leadership of an organization then interprets the customer requirements, market conditions, and stakeholder influence into an organizational strategy. This organizational strategy directs how the organization will combine its resources (people, process, and structure) and leverage its influences (political, cultural, and technical) to create ouputs. This merges elements from the Rothwell (2015) model with Tichy’s political-cultural-technical framework into a grid, which can be used to organize analysis into nine categories as follows:

People – PoliticalPeople – CulturalPeople – Technical
Process – PoliticalProcess – CulturalProcess – Technical
Structure – PoliticalStructure – CulturalStructure – Technical

This layering of analyses is useful because it compels the organization development practitioner to consider the impact of various influences on the organization’s resources. In Tichy’s model, change is managed when technical, cultural, and political aspects are considered and adapted. But the technical, cultural, and political aspects of what? By combining this with the Rothwell model, you are answering this question and evaluating the technical, cultural, and political aspects of the people, process, and structure of an organization. Here are example questions to ask in this sort of assessment:

  1. Do people have the technical resources and tools to do their jobs (people – technical)?
  2. How will the organization’s culture support or prevent a new process from being adopted (process – cultural)?
  3. If teams are organized by functional area, will we be creating competition between teams (structure – political)?

The Double A model regards outputs as effectiveness outcomes. Examples of effectiveness outcomes, in addition to products or services that meet the customer’s requirement and fulfills the market demand, also are produced on the individual and group levels. Well-being and job satisfaction, for instance, are ouputs in the Harrison model (Harrison, 2005).

There are a few weaknesses of this model. First, for it to be a useful analytic tool, you’d have to very carefully define the transformational elements. Rothwell defines ‘structure’ similarly to the way that Tichy defines ‘technical.’ This overlap may reduce clarity of the model. Second, the model does not depict the continuous influence of external forces during the transformation process. In a well-functioning organization, customer requirements and market forces are intertwined in the process of creating an output. We’re not able to assess this constant influence using the Double A model.

The third weakness of the Double A model is that it depicts the organization and its assessment in a linear manner. Real life is much messier and much more iterative. The other models, especially Weisbord’s Six-Box Model, Nadler-Tushman’s model, and the Burke Litwin model, show this bi-directional relationship among all of an organization’s elements. And while they may not be as pretty as the Double A model, they represent the complex nature of an organization.

References:

  • Harrison, M. I. (2005). Diagnosing Organizations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  • Rothwell, W. J., Stavros, J. M., & Sullivan, R. (2016). Practicing organization development: Leading transformation and change. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Penn State University. (n.d.). Organizational Diagnosis Model 6: Congruence Model for Organization Analysis (1980). In WFED 582: Assessing data: Organizational diagnosis: Summer 2020 [Course module page]. Retrieved from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/2053171/modules/items/28909269
  • Tichy, N. (1982). The essentials of strategic change managementJournal of Business Strategy3(4), 55–67. doi:10.1108/eb038990

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