The Reduction of Forces in the US Army
The case study of organization behavior that attracted me to investigate on is the “Reduction of Forces in the US Army”. The problem statement I want to specify is that the financial cost of US army has upsurged. The managerial issues are primarily being identified as the cause of this situation. While we want to cut off the military budget, we cannot ignore that the army is a cornerstone of one country that cannot be bargained. Therefore, it comes to strategically analyze the organizational problems in its leadership style, culture, communication and organizational structure. In order to provide concrete advice, the theory of Kolb’s experiential learning styles is adopted in this case study in order to recommend on effectively utilizing personal perspective, organizational value and communication (Kolb, 1976). Kolb’s introduce the model of circular learning that involves four different abilities, which yield and form into four distinct learning styles. The circular model of Kolb’s can be visualized as a form of compass, one dimension ranges from north (the concrete experiences of events) to south (abstract conceptualization of ideas). The other dimension extends from west (active experimentation or testing) to east (reflective observations). I recommend that the military should effectively and efficiently utilize its labor force on several aspects of military studies, such as engineer and biomedical science that can advance both the army knowledge base and the community system when they devoted their knowledge into the society. Secondly, the e-learning system should be adopted in order to increase interaction in small-scale activities such as lectures and extracurricular studies. Most importantly, either managerial level or soldier level in the military should understand their styles of learning through Kolb’s learning style model in order to improve their learning capability. After identify the strength and weakness in their own learning styles, learners can identify which stage of learning model they fall at and further undergo the whole process in order to create the most effective communication in the organization.
- Concrete Experience
If I am the manager or the leader of the military, my learning style would be most readily from direct experience I had in the past and by actively testing the implications of concepts with my new situations. As a leader of the organization, I am aware that the changes of the military policy, either on a financial budget or the managerial adjustments, are a long-term process that requires multi-dimensional conversations. Military has consumed large portion of government’s budget due to the ineffective management. Also, the maintenance of the military is very costly in the respect of training intelligence, facilities and events. Even if the time when no involvement in any military mission, the government still need obligation to pay their salary and grant the militants their monthly allowances. On the other aspect, it is also time-consuming to conduct the practice. When on the duty or a practice, it normally takes up more than 12 hours per day from the starting preparation to completion. Even for a normal military theoretical lecture follows the same schedule which will increase the cost and possibly exhaust the militants.
- Reflective Observation
The military training is important to the army itself. However, different individuals might have different kinds of learning styles that require different methods in delivering the messages or lecture to them. As a group commander, the team member would prefer a more open communication between the hierarchy, which can allow feedback during the practice or lecture. In the organization like military, making changes such as policy adjustment and financial amendment, it would normally take up a long term process. Therefore, mild amendment in the organization would have higher possibility to be considered by the public or the government. Moreover, when it comes to teaching or giving orders and lectures in the military, we need to take into account that every individual adopt different styles in learning. When encounter learning, according to Kolb (1976), some people will start processing the message depends on how they “feel” about the things; on the other hand, some people will start processing the message depends on how they “think” about the things. This two kinds of persons require different learning styles or teaching styles in order to create positive learning process.
- Abstract Conceptualization
In this part, I would like to draw some attention on the organizational behavior theories about “two hemisphere of learning” by Ornstein (1973), Mintzberg (1976), and Allport et al. (1960) the features of e-learning in organization. According to Ornstein theory of “two hemispheres of learning”, the author suggests that our dominant brain hemisphere may play a significant role in how we learn. The brain’s left hemisphere assimilates information in ordered, systematic ways, which the process of analysis and planning is linear in structure (Ornstein, 1973). The left hemisphere of the brain handles quantification and written language. Many organizational activities are well served by predictability and logic. In stable organizational structure, planned behavior is likely to be effective. As Mintzberg (1976) suggests that when it comes to running organization, planning occurs on the left side of the brain, managing on the right. The world of the right-hemisphere-dominant manager of team members involves holistic, simultaneous, and creative learning. In addition, it is emphasized that learning from face-to face verbal exchanges rather act simultaneously on real-time data. Also, it is important to respect the militants’ value of their task and organization. According to Allport, Vernon, and Lindzey (1960), the value of employees can be classified included theoretical, economic, aesthetic, social, political and religious. In the military, people might value power, position and influence, and emphasizes competition and winning. It would be most helpful if the military held regular competition such as survival run or shooting competition in order to enhance the individual value towards the organization, which can better create an effective training. In addition, Rosenberg (2001) propose that e-learning can contribute to organization objective by collaboration and sharing of information, links to further resources, learner control and instant feedback.
- Active Experimentation
The e-learning can be an effective tool in lecturing and training the militants of theoretical knowledge. Not only it can facilitate the convenience and effectiveness of the organization, but also save up the budget for holding indoor training. Most importantly, the individuals get to explore their interested topics of study according to their own learning styles. For example, according to Kolb’s learning style model, if the learners are “diverging” style, which means the learners mostly learn things from “feel” and “watch” the item. Therefore, the ultimate goal for them to improve their learning capability is to adopt “converging” style, which means the learners should undergo more “think” and “do” process while learning. It can be said that a “thinking” style person normally learn best when they study or read textbook or brochure. Learning from group work will benefit less in educating those “thinking” style learners. Contrarily, learners who prefer “feeling” the items or message in absorbing knowledge, a group work learning style would benefit them more than reading textbooks or brochures. Once we can gain full understanding of the different ways of learning, it can be noticed that the theory does not always applies in all the situations. Applied behavior modification principles, for example, are best used in situations in which reinforcing environmental consequences can be structured. Those who learn best through direct experience in the organization are not likely to become reflective or conceptual learners. Each approach and style should be attentively adopted in its essential place, in the military organizations. From here, it is highly recommended that the military can help the militants in identifying their own learning styles in order to make them understand their best ways of learning. The inventory list of Kolb’s learning style model can be adapted in evaluating the militants themselves.
Allport, G. W., Vernon, P. E., & Lindzey, G. (1960). Study of values. Retrieved from http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1960-06747-000
Kolb, D. A. (1976). Management and the Learning Process. California Management Review, 18(3). Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&profile=ehost&scope=site&authtype=crawler&jrnl=00081256&AN=6412409&h=OLjtXdzreU0BFV9zS0TwYLtw6CshN5dRyCFGDJcxZxlG6OM%2BUStV0WBtxYBOB8x%2FD3pRjEqLzVNG4gU%2F%2BP4y1Q%3D%3D&crl=c
Mintzberg, H. (1976). Planning on the left side and managing on the right side. Harvard Business Review, 54(4), 49–58.
Ornstein, R. E. (1973). The nature of human consciousness: A book of readings. WH Freeman. Retrieved from http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1974-00266-000
Rosenberg, M. J. (2001). E-learning: Strategies for delivering knowledge in the digital age (Vol. 3). McGraw-Hill New York. Retrieved from http://www.ifets.info/journals/6_3/11.html