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Work Design
Part 1 of 4


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From an operational standpoint, Fleming has some inter­esting characteristics. As a government sponsored institu­tion it has not traditionally seen itself as a profit oriented enterprise and has concerned itself more with obtaining the funding necessary to carry out the operating plan. The primary expenditure is payroll for three major groups: management, support and administration, and faculty. The latter two groups are unionized but are not part of the same bargaining unit. The collective agreements are nego­tiated at the provincial level and cover 23 separate colleges The Starting Point in the Ontario system.

About the Site

Sir Sandford Fleming College in Ontario, Canada, consists of several campuses situated throughout a four-county region. The two major campuses, where most of the post-secondary activity takes place, are the Sutherland campus in Peterborough, 125 kilometres (80 miles) northeast of Toronto, and the Frost campus in Lindsay, 45 kilometres west of Peterborough. Three Schools make up the Sutherland campus, including the School of Business, the School of Applied Arts and Health, and the School of Technology and Law. The School of Natural Resources is at the Frost campus. Two satellite campuses provide a variety of community-based, continuous learning and aca­demic upgrading programs for residents of those communi­ties. Through these facilities, Fleming offers access to over 70 programs in the fields of arts, health, technology, business, law, natural resources, and environmental science.

Background to Work Design

In these times of rapid change, organizations have greatly improved productivity and customer satisfaction by assist­ing staff to cope with the stress of greater workplace demands and limited resources through the process of Work Design (or Redesign). Work Design is a process of rethinking and changing the way work is done; the way work is organized; the way organization operate—in order to improve effectiveness and provide a satisfying work­place. It examines processes, how the organization oper­ates to produce results. It involves all stakeholders from all levels and functions, especially those doing the work, rather than only "experts" and managers, or strictly by job or department.

Work Design uses education and empowerment that tends to shift an organization from the traditional "Control" model to an innovative "Commitment" model, allowing people to achieve and grow. This differs from other "consultative' models in that everyone participates in the decision rather than just providing a decision making group with information. Using this process, it becomes the responsibility of all those affected by the work process (stakeholders) to decide what changes are needed, what is to be done, and how it is to be implemented. For each process being studied, a Work Design Team is created consisting of key stakeholders with cross-functional repre­sentation, typically, six to ten people.

How Fleming Came to Work Design

During April and May of 1992, Fleming conducted a Work Climate study in an attempt to quantify what was per­ceived to be a degradation of the work environment. The study consisted of a widely distributed survey covering a broad range of topics. The participation rate of 55% among 514 full time employees in itself indicated a strong desire on the part of employees to make their views known. In general, administrators had a much more positive view of their work situations than did support staff or faculty.

The greatest dissatisfaction appeared to relate to interper­sonal relations and communications among members of the organizational hierarchy. This attitude reached its lowest levels among support staff and especially faculty. There was the suggestion that administrators were a self contained group forming a closed loop for communications. The result was a perception that decisions were being made with little or no input from the people who had to imple­ment those decisions. It was this perception that led Fleming to seek a model that would allow direct participa­tion in the decision making process. This in turn resulted in a rethinking of how decisions were made and by whom.

To Be Continued

For balance of this article, click on the below link:

Lean Manufacturing Articles and go to Series 01


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