[Disclaimer: My viewpoint is fairly cynical or pragmatic, depending on which side of the coin you fall on.]
Natalie Morales has some really large challenges to overcome in order to help Chipex successfully implement a new certification process. Many of the challenges Chipex is facing has to do with corporate culture and leadership which is likely to have resulted in the inefficient certification program.
First, Chipex clearly suffers from a weak and fragmented organizational culture. There are some consistent trends in what comprises strengths and/or weaknesses within an organization’s culture. A cultural strength would be unity among the members. Specifically, the synchronicity among the members with regards to the organization’s cultural responses within and without. A weakness in organization culture would be illustrated by too much fragmentation or lack of cohesion among the organization departments or divisions. If everyone is working at cross-purposes this would be detrimental to the overarching goals or purpose of the organization and would eventually result in its demise (Beach, 2006). This situations seems to be exemplified in the Chipex case study as there are many different process areas, supervised by different managers, with different goals and objectives for each area. The company does not appear to have any unifying vision or mission, other than production of wafers. This vision is not in itself bad; however, lacks inclusion of the big picture. There is the impression of many ants scurrying about with no design or direction.
Second, Chipex also suffers from a lack of strong unifying leadership to provide the company with a solid foundation and vision for the future. In truth, without changing the foundational problems of the company, Natalie will probably have difficulty implementing any program, simply because the management, supervisors, trainers and employees are all so extremely subdivided. Rich Davis, the Human Resources Representative states that the technicians “are responsible for obtaining and maintaining their own certifications, but it’s come to our attention that the supervisors have been prioritizing the certifications differently and there’s not a standard process” (Ertmer & Quinn, 2007, p. 215). This is not a surprise in consideration of the subdivided corporate culture. Each supervisor is running their own divisions without a master plan because they have no idea what Chipex’ master plan is. To exacerbate the situation, the managers are shifted biyearly or yearly to other areas creating confusion about the technicians as yet another “manager” prioritizes things differently.
Third, the fundamental lack of explicit communication and vision within Chipex has resulted in an organizational culture that has each person making assumptions about what they are supposed to be doing, without any real understanding of the ultimate goals of Chipex. The technicians receive monetary rewards for completing level 1 certifications, in addition to being able to work with a peer trainer, as opposed to their actual “job.” This seems like a win-win for the new technicians. This is also advantageous for the supervisors in that their areas are stocked with technicians with many “certifications,” regardless of whether or not they have any advanced skills.
Unsurprisingly, even the peer trainers are not unified in their procedures and/or goals. They are shipped trainees, primarily based on their English fluency or lack thereof, rather than any particular goals for skill acquisition. The peer trainers assume that the supervisors have explained to the technicians what they need, while the supervisors assume that the technicians already know they have to “obtain and maintain their certifications.” The entire process is a huge mess.
Recommendations. [These recommendations are under the assumption that a new, strong leadership has replaced the previous management team. The new leadership has analyzed the organizational culture and is taking requisite steps to change the culture, create a vision, and develop a master plan for the future].
1. Natalie would need to speak with the new management regarding the future of Chipex. For instance, they process wafers. What industries are they processing them to be utilized in besides the generic concept of “technology,” (i.e., aerospace, automobile, computer, etc.) Further, what direction is the company intending to pursue?
2. With a clear vision of Chipex’ purpose and goals, Natalie can arrange to meet with the mid-level managers [who are also now aware of these same purposes and goals due to the change in leadership and management culture]. In meeting with the managers/supervisors, Natalie can begin to coordinate the big picture of where and how the wafers are processed. Working with the different area supervisors will provide Natalie with the requisite information to design the certification program to efficient, productive and to save Chipex money by ensuring each area has the strategic technicians with requisite certifications to properly do the work. Natalie should also bring in the peer trainers to ensure their participation and receive their perspective on the program.
3. During the development of the certification process “program” it would be wise for Natalie to address the various issues related to instituting a dramatic change in procedures: (1) the advantages of the new procedures (i.e., each technician will receive certifications in a variety of areas, in addition to advancing in skill level); (2) compatability with values, needs and experiences (i.e., the program will meet the technician’s needs for direction, training and skills. It will also meet the supervisors’ needs of having strategically staffed processing areas. It will also meet the corporation’s needs in saving time, money and improving efficiency); (3) complexity (i.e., there will be less confusion with a structured process in place, again to the benefit of all); (4) ability to try the innovation (i.e., the technicians will be immediately able to become certified in different areas; and (5) observability of results (i.e., within a matter of months, there will be significant improvement in work flow, as opposed to skill shortages) (Morrison, Ross, Kalman, & Kemp, 2011).
4. Fortunately, Natalie does have an advantage in that if she “sell” the peer trainers on the revised program, they should be able to disseminate the information well among their various peer groups and/or throughout the different social systems (Hispanic/Caucasian/Asian).
In summary, Chipex did not have an effective certification process to implement from the beginning, leaving the certifications up to the technicians, many of whom do not speak English very well and as a result, would certainly not understand the complexities of the certification processes. Chipex suffers from far more dire problems than simple implementation of a certification program. In fact, the problems with certification are largely a byproduct of the dysfunctional corporate culture and leadership. In order for Natalie to be successful, she will need to be an amazing transformational leader acting in the roles as a change agent, instructional designer, and liaison for communication within the company. This is a very tall order. I am unsure whether or not it is really even possible for an Instructional Designer to “fix” this type of problem. Although Natalie could design an appropriate program, and perhaps, even implement it, it is unlikely the problems will be resolved. It is far more likely that within a matter of months the process will revert to the status quo as if she had never been there.
Beach, L. R. (2006). Leadership and the Art of Change: A Practical Guide to Organizational Transformation. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.
Ertmer, P. A., & Quinn, J. (2007). The ID casebook: Case studies in instructional design (Third ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.
Morrison, G. R., Ross, S. M., Kalman, H. K., & Kemp, J. E. (2011). Designing effective instruction (6th Ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.