Day 8

by Jan Yuill

I will refrain from weighing in with my opinion on the current transit strike in the city of Ottawa. As one who is intrigued by organization behaviour, I’d much rather notice the dynamics. Enter the Organizations Alive! Model … 

Anything that concerns employees takes us to the Membership Potential quadrant. They are unhappy. They want something changed. Improved.

As far as I can make out this strike is about bus drivers’ control over scheduling and route assignments, which is clearly about Resource Management – i.e. the way the work is done. 

Strikes are always at the Resource Management and Membership Potential interface. In this case, employees feel negatively impacted by the way the work and workplace are managed, and want to influence it for the better. This is one of the two most difficult interfaces. What organization does not struggle with this dynamic. Wanting motivated people to do their best, and to keep the bottom line in sight!

City councillor, Clive Doucet, has called for an end to the dispute through arbitration. I listened to his interview on CBC yesterday morning, and his passion has been fuelled by how residents of the city are being impacted – everything from home-bound people not receiving their daily care, retailers losing business, parking and nightmares downtown, traffic congestion everywhere … and on. “Citizens are pleading,” he says. This is the Customer Service quadrant.

And what is the Strategic Vision? The fourth quadrant must be clear in order to balance the picture. What is the goal? Is it to not be ‘again the laughingstock of the nation?’ Is it to ‘look at anything that could end this?’ Is it to ‘to give them [the union] what they want?’ Is it to compromise? Is it to improve morale? Cut pay? Avoid inefficiencies? Chop payroll by 2 percent? It sounds like it’s all on the table.

All of the factors – employees, resources, customers, vision – must get full attention for a successful outcome.