Organizational Change Skills
PRST 5800/6800/7800

3 Credit Hours

Course Information

Course Description:

This course examines concepts and techniques of organization development (OD) and the leadership skills required for organizational change. Based on behavioral science knowledge and methods, OD

interventions facilitate planned organizational change and renewal. Emphasis will be on under-standing and application of OD theory, skills and methods. The course consists of conceptual learning through text, readings and lectures and skill development. Each learner will develop some of the essential skills for leading organization change and practice these in actual organizational settings.

Course Objectives:

Upon completion of this course, each student should:

1. Understand theoretical foundations of organization development

2. Be able to recognize factors relating to the need for an OD intervention.

3. Understand principles and concepts of organizational development and change.

4. Be knowledgeable about a variety of organizational change skills, especially in regard to leading change.

5. Be able to relate insights and understanding obtained in this course to organizational experiences.

Prerequisites and Corequisites:

Bachelor's Degree from an accredited college or university.  Admission to the Master's in Professional Studies Program or departmental permission.

Course Topics:

  1. Overview of leading organizational change: A systems view, theory, research and implications
  2. The change process: How organizations define what is “real”, post modern organizations and socially constructed realities, reconstructing what is considered “real”
  3. Diagnosing current conditions: Gathering performance data, surveys and interviews
  4. Organizational transformation: Connecting the change to business strategy, planning the change, selling the change, getting buy-in
  5. Skills for understanding and leading through: Diagnosing socially constructed realities (SCRs) in organizations, constructing realities, working with organizational politics, dealing with resistance to change
  6. Skills for leading planned change: Pace before you lead, using leverage of constituent groups (the customers)

Specific Course Requirements:


Textbooks, Supplementary Materials, Hardware and Software Requirements

Required Textbooks:

Please visit the Virtual Bookstore to obtain textbook information for this course:

Supplementary Materials:

The following readings on post modern organizations and socially constructed realities which either be available at the on-line library or will be put on-line.

Examples: Bergquist, W. (1993). The Postmodern Organization: Mastering the art of irreversible change. Chapters 1-3, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1993.

Boje, David M. (1991) "Organizations as Storytelling Networks: A study of story performance in an office-supply firm," Administrative Science Quarterly, 36, 106-126.

Hassard, John (1993) "Postmodernism and organizational analysis: An overview." In J. Hassard & M. Parker Postmodernism and Organizations. Pp. 1-24. London: Sage

White, Judith (1999) "Reworking Authority, Leading and Following in the Post-Modern Organization." International Journal of Organizational Analysis. Volume 7 (2): 187-190.

The vision thing

Hardware Requirements:

The minimum requirements can be found at Specific hardware requirements for this course include... sound card and speakers.

Software Requirements:

The minimum requirements can be found at Specific software requirements for this course include…Macromedia Flash Player 7.0 or later: free download from, Microsoft PowerPoint 2002 or later.

Instructor Information

See instructor page inside course.

Assessment and Grading

Testing Procedures:

All exams are on-line containing 50 integrative knowledge questions to be answered in a 90 minute time limit. Questions can be revisited during the exam.

Exams – there are 2 exams over the book and the lectures. Each exam will be available for 2 hours on the night we agree on of the exam week. You must take the exam sometime during the 2 hour window. There is a practice exam available on Week 3 to make sure that you (and your computer/browser/other software) are able to take the exam on-line. There is no grade for the practice exam. Everyone should take the practice exam. There is nothing worse than finding out that your browser won’t let you take the on-line exam at the time of the exam (OK, maybe there are some worse things…).

OPTIONAL FINAL EXAM: Take this only if you missed a regular exam, or if you want to try to raise your test scores. The final can substitute for a low test score, it cannot make your grade go down.

Note: No makeup exams are given, if you miss an exam for any reason, you must take the final exam.

Grading Procedure:


This course is offered on-line, over the Internet. It is to some extent self-paced in that you can do the week’s work any time during the week assigned, so long as it is completed sometime during the class week. A class week is normally defined as the period of time between Monday and Saturday. The first week begins when you are officially enrolled and report that you have your textbook and are ready to begin. It ends midnight the following Saturday, unless we agree otherwise. Assignments scheduled for completion during a class week should be completed by the end of the week assigned. There are two types of assignments: Discussion questions which are due each week and 3 skill development projects. All assignments should be completed and successfully submitted by the due date. This applies to all assignments. NOTE: Because this is an online course designed to get feedback on assignments to you directly via Internet, you must make prior arrangements with me before submitting any assignment via fax or the postal service.

Ground Rules for Discussion

  1. Learners should use the main discussion board for posting discussion question (DQ) answers and replies to discussion questions. This is where the class discussions occur and where you will submit your answers to discussion questions. The discussion questions are your “homework.” This is an asynchronous discussion room – you can go there at any time during the week to submit your discussion questions and to reply to others. Note: to get credit for an assignment, you must submit it to the main discussion board during the week for that topic (Mon. – Sat). When you respond to a discussion question, use the thread provided.
  2. You must also respond at least once during each week to someone else’s posting. Your response should have substance and the best responses encourage even more discussion. Once of the best ways to do this is to ask a question or relate the previous person’s response to an event in an organization that brings the issue into even greater focus. This is also a good place to reference the texts, readings or lectures. Remember: the discussion questions are a learning place, we are all learning from each other there.
  3. When you do respond each week, please use the usual conventions of "on-line etiquette," which include courtesy and respect to all users. Be respectful of others; think before you hit that send button. It’s OK and encouraged to disagree and give your opinion, but do it respectfully and back up your opinion with some facts or references. Personal attacks are definitely off limits.
  4. Use e-mail for private messages to the instructor and other learners.
  5. Learners will submit their skills projects in Microsoft Word .doc files or PowerPoint .ppt files. They can be attached to your e-mail to me.
  6. Criteria for an "A" answer on the Discussion Questions:

· The main idea is to go beyond your own opinion - Reference the text where appropriate (page numbers are OK, so are quotes).

· Reference the lecture notes where appropriate - use terms and examples that demonstrate your understanding of the lecture.

· Bring in specific business examples as opposed to vague, generic ones.

· Bring in outside resources that bear on the questions e.g. "Google it", use other texts, journals, on-line library resources (Tennessee Virtual Library), etc.


Academic Honesty

All your work must be your own, or the work of your team. I’m sure that you want to express your own ideas, so, presenting as one's own the words, ideas, or expression of another in any form is cheating through plagiarism, and is not acceptable. Teamwork is assumed to be the original work of the team members; if it is not, proper credit must be given to the source.

Grading Scale:

90 - 100---A
80 - 89 ---B
70 – 79 ---C

60 – 69 ---D

Grade breakdown


% of Grade

Due Date


Homework assignments – consisting of 1 discussion question per week


Saturday of each week

Main discussion board – under communications in class website

Discussion participation – response to other’s discussion question answers at least once per week.


Saturday of each week

Main discussion board – respond to thead

Skills development plan (for all 3 skills)


Weeks 5, 9 & 13

Email to me

Two Exams (10% each)


Weeks 5 & 9

On line – under course content

Skill summary presentation


Week 14

Main discussion board post with attachment of Powerpoint presentation




Assignments and Participation

Assignments and Projects:

Skill development projects

We will begin with a master list of skills that you can choose from for your skill building projects. Anyone can suggest additions to the master list in the first 4 weeks of the course. Each learner will select three skills from the master list to take on as their skill development projects. Everyone will have to choose the 1st skill from the list “Diagnosing socially constructed realities (SCRs) in organizations”, then you can select two more skills from the master list of your own choosing.

Once you have chosen your 3 skills, the next step is to write a plan and set a goal for how you are going to develop and use each skill. The plans for skill development will be submitted at the end of week 10 starting with the Diagnosing SCRs skill by the date indicated in the syllabus. We will discuss these skills in class and there will be a discussion questions that include them. It is your responsibility to take the skill development from there by asking questions, increasing your understanding, seeking outside resources where necessary, developing a plan and setting a goal to use the skill. Once I have approved your skill development plan, you are ready to develop the skill and use it.

Master List of Skills

  1. Diagnosing socially constructed realities (SCRs) in organizations – this involves looking at how people in organizations construct own realities as a group phenomenon by the stories that they tell themselves and then act on those stories as if they were the “truth”, thus creating an organizational culture. The process for developing this skill may begin with how you do this yourself on a personal level and then take it to the organizational level.
  2. Constructing realities – this one takes the next step in dealing with SCRs by developing the skill to reconstruct them. Here you might take on a very small organization like a team or office staff. This is a complex skill that includes several sub skills such as creating a vision, telling the story, getting your point across, and getting buy-in.
  3. Working with organizational politics – this involves working within the everyday norms, language and habitual patterns of an organization to get things done so that the people in the organization don’t see what you are doing as introducing a foreign object.
  4. Dealing with resistance to change – this is a key part of leading change because it will always happen. The point is to plan for it and develop some skill in dealing with it. This involves understanding the why people resist change, refraining from making negative judgments about them, pacing the change method correctly, finding a WIFM “what’s in it for me”(them in this case) and making a case for why they should join in the change effort.
  5. Pace before you lead – this involves making sure the other person feels like you are with them (pacing) usually through active listening, checking to make sure they are convinced you are with them (another pace), then using your influence to lead them.
  6. Using leverage of constituent groups (the customers) - this involves bringing in the customer needs, usually through interviewing and injecting these customer needs into the change process. This is often combined with, or a part of skill #2, constructing realities, in the case of an organization that is disconnected from its customers (but may not think that it is).
  7. Using the power of alignment with strategy – This makes the business case for the change and involves a similar process to leveraging the customer perspective.

Course Sections by Week

  • Week 1: Overview of leading organizational change: A systems view, theory, research and implications
  • Weeks 2 & 3: The change process: How organizations define what is “real”, post modern organizations and socially constructed realities (SCRs), reconstructing what is considered “real”. Take practice exam.
  • Week 4 & 5: Diagnosing current conditions: Gathering performance data, surveys and interviews to diagnose SCRs. Exam 1 will be at the end of week 5. Submit development plan for Skill #1.
  • Week 5 & 6: Organizational transformation: Connecting the change to business strategy, planning the change, selling the change, getting buy-in.
  • Weeks 6 - 9: Skills for understanding and leading through: Diagnosing socially constructed realities (SCRs) in organizations, constructing realities, working with organizational politics, dealing with resistance to change. Exam 2 will be at the end of week 9. Submit plan for skill #2.
  • Weeks 10 -13: Skills for leading planned change: Pace before you lead, using leverage of constituent groups (the customers). Submit plan for skill #3.
  • Week 14: Use skills and submit summary presentation of results of each skill as they were used including how well the goal was met and what you learned from using the skill.
  • Week 15: Optional final

Class Participation:



Late Assignments: Assignments must be submitted not later than Saturday of the week assigned. Late homework will receive a grade penalty of 10% off for each day late. Homework not turned by the due date, but which is turned in by the end of the course, will receive a maximum of 50% off the score it would have received otherwise. No work received after the last Saturday (or other day as agreed) of the online term will be scored.

Course Ground Rules


Guidelines for Communications


  • Always include a subject line.
  • Remember without facial expressions some comments may be taken the wrong way. Be careful in wording your emails. Use of emoticons might be helpful in some cases.
  • Use standard fonts.
  • Do not send large attachments without permission.
  • Special formatting such as centering, audio messages, tables, html, etc. should be avoided unless necessary to complete an assignment or other communication.
  • Respect the privacy of other class members

Discussion Groups:

  • Review the discussion threads thoroughly before entering the discussion. Be a lurker then a discussant.
  • Try to maintain threads by using the "Reply" button rather starting a new topic.
  • Do not make insulting or inflammatory statements to other members of the discussion group. Be respectful of other’s ideas.
  • Be patient and read the comments of other group members thoroughly before entering your remarks.
  • Be positive and constructive in group discussions.
  • Respond in a thoughtful and timely manner.

Web Resources:


The Tennessee Virtual Library is available to all students enrolled in the Regents Degree Program. Links to library materials (such as electronic journals, databases, interlibrary loans, digital reserves, dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, and librarian support) and Internet resources needed by learners to complete online assignments and as background reading must be included in all courses.

Students With Disabilities

Qualified students with disabilities will be provided reasonable and necessary academic accommodations if determined eligible by the appropriate disability services staff at their home institution. Prior to granting disability accommodations in this course, the instructor must receive written verification of a student's eligibility for specific accommodations from the disability services staff at the home institution. It is the student's responsibility to initiate contact with their home institution's disability services staff and to follow the established procedures for having the accommodation notice sent to the instructor.

Syllabus Changes

The instructor reserves the right to make changes as necessary to this syllabus. If changes are necessitated during the term of the course, the instructor will immediately notify students of such changes both by individual email communication and posting both notification and nature of change(s) on the course bulletin board.

Technical Support

Telephone Support:

If you are having problems logging into your course,
timing out of your course, using your course web site tools, or other technical problems, please contact the AskRODP Help Desk by calling

1-866-550-7637 (toll free)

or go to the AskRODP website at: