Ben & Jerry’s Organizational Development Case Study Questions And Answers

The Facts Surrounding Ben & Jerry Inc

            Founded in 1978 by Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, Ben & Jerry Homemade Inc. is an independent producer of ice cream in Vermont (Cummings, & Worley, 2013). Over the years, the company has witnessed unprecedented growth against the industry competition. The major success stories behind the company owes mainly towards the company’s mission statements. At the core of the company success are its operating principles and its three specific mission statements, which are inclined to the product, financial and social courses. Through its premises of financial integrity, social corporate responsibility and finest quality ice cream, the company has grown to be the company of choice both for consumers and workers.

            As the company grew, the owners felt the need for expansion and drew up stock prospectus that led to sell of company shares to the locals to raise capital (Cummings, & Worley, 2013). The expansion strategy has seen the company grow and currently employs over 350 employees of different shapes and sizes, working in different capacities. The owners have often lived to their linked prosperity principle of social responsibility and funky orientation and have tried to tie with the company mission and policies.

The Key Issues in the Company

            The Ben & Jerry Homemade Inc possess a well established market research and the demand for the products is high (Cummings, & Worley, 2013). Most of the employees work on jobs that are beyond their levels of experience. This together with the high product demand has seen the workers perform their tasks at a frenetic pace. As a result, the company production room is awash in ice cream, with freezer crew working in chilly conditions. In addition, there is lack of communication between franchise and sales managers, with both paying no attention to the marketing director. In 1987, it became quite evident that the company’s external image of fun, funk and love were not in alignment with the internal company atmosphere. There was a general increase in problems and pressure, with workload increase as workers worked for long hours and ice cream demand soured which could not be met by the production department.

Ben & Jerry Inc Organizational Diagnosis

            The questions about organizations often relate to the process optimizations. According to (Baldegger, 2012, p. 218) more activities and tasks continue to evolve, emerging irregularly and less frequently in same form. As a result, the author asserts that organizational design has become a concept of regular seeking, while coordination with organizational strategy. For an organization to be considered as having achieved optimal organization, its regular and similar processes must be decided and executed within the generally applicable rules. However, owing to regular changes that occur within organizations, the optimum situation does not last. Depending on the prevailing situations, an organization can be categorized as either over- organized or under-organized.

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Factors to Consider in Determining Whether A Company is Over/Under-organized

            The over-organized systems are characterized by a top-down management style, with extremely bureaucratic, highly defined roles and an orientation of tasks, which are associated with apathy from employees and poor work relations among the senior management (Cummings, & Worley, 2013). In contrast, the under-organized organizational system are characterized by the failures of the management to fulfill its mandate of coordination of integration, the implementation of solutions in an ad hoc manner and/or unclarified employee roles within the organization, which can result in a hostile workplace environment.

            More often, the organizational diagnosis using organizational development strategy involves the use of team building (Cummings, & Worley, 2013). The strategy is used in loosening the rigid and bureaucratic structure in over-organized systems. In Ben & Jerry’s case, team building was employed to provide structure to an under-organized system. While performing diagnosis, the over-organized or under-organized system can be determined using a number of factors. According to (Wardale, 2013), the degree of organization can be determined by examining various dimensions such as the job designs, leadership styles, procedures; policies and organization structure are defined.

Implications for Planning OD Intervention

            An organizational development sequence is a set of activities or events that are designed to help align the organizational activities to the required levels for effective performance. The careful diagnosis of an organization paves way for planning of appropriate organizational development intervention. According to (Wardale, 2013), the effective implementation of an OD intervention, there is need for a proper plan or strategy, proper structuring of activities, proper selection and initiation of interventions and creation of awareness of the dynamics of various intervention strategies. The planning of an OD intervention is an important process in planned change and provides a number of implications.

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            The planning of an OD intervention provides an opportunity after entry, contracting, diagnosis and feedback where the OD consultant can enter into consensus about the changes needed. According to (Wardale, 2013) planning an OD intervention provides a series of options for planning, design and allocation of the roles of staff. The information obtained through feedback is employed during the OD planning phase to determine the best strategy for OD implementation. Sometimes an OD intervention may not align with the management desires and this can be rectified during the intervention planning.

            Moreover, intervention planning helps in defining of the planned change vision. The OD planning phase provides an opportunity where the OD practitioner can ask several questions regarding what should be accomplished, the set of activities that can bring the organization closer to the set objectives and the duration and the appropriate way in which the intervention should unfold. This acts as a source of direction in guiding the change process and ensuring successful OD implementation.  

            The organizational diagnosis provides an opportunity in which the OD practitioner can understand the change barriers and obstacles, the change desires and the sources of energy. Utilizing the diagnostic information, the OD intervention planning can design of appropriate change mechanisms for overcoming the barriers or obstacles, thus ensuring that resistance to the OD interventions is minimized or controlled. In addition, intervention planning helps in defining how sources of energy for the intervention can be utilized to achieve effective implementation of the change process.

Approaches to the OD Efforts in Ben & Jerry Inc

Team building was not the appropriate method to launch OD in the Ben & Jerry Incl case. Team building is appropriate to over-organized systems as a way of creating an open atmosphere to foster performance. However, the levels of organization in Ben & Jerry Incl under-organized, as the company employees exercise freedom and fun in their workplace. There are no clear work designs, with no clearly defined structure where employees in each department could report. According to (Cummings, & Worley, 2013) there is lack of communication between the franchise and sales managers, while both paid no attention to the marketing director, which depicts that jobs were being done in an ad hoc manner. Moreover, the fact that the production floor was awash with ice cream mean no one owned any responsibility and was not held accountable to no one. 

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Other OD Intervention Approaches for Ben & Jerry Inc

There are many approaches that can be employed to group employees so as to enhance work performance (Visscher, & Visscher-Voerman, 2010). This includes grouping based on team structure, functional, divisional and matrix structures. The groups (teams) and not individuals are the basic building blocks of organization. Therefore, for an effective change process, the group forms the basic unit of change. A variety of OD operation interventions are available. They include strategic, technostructural, human resource management interventions and human process interventions. The human process interventions consists of coaching, counseling, delegating, leading, conflict management, dialoguing, mentoring, motivating, group facilitation, morale boosting, group learning, virtual teams and self directed work teams.

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However, the above approaches are unique to specific organized systems. While some of the approaches are best suited for over-organized systems, some are effective for under-organized systems (Visscher, & Visscher-Voerman, 2010). For instance, virtual teams are effective for launching OD efforts among employees working areas with different cultural backgrounds and aimed at enhancing communication through creation of an understanding of cultural diversity and their impact on communication. In an under-organized system like the one in Ben & Jerry Incl case, coaching, leading, dialoguing, inter-group problem solving and group facilitation can be used to launch OD efforts in the company.


There is need for effective communication of the change process.

The success of an OD process change dependents on the effectiveness of communication of the change process. According to (Kotter, 2007), after planning of the change process, there is need for the communication of change before its introduction. Effective communication of change ensures that all the organizational employees develop a clear understanding of new OD initiatives. This is important as it eliminates uncertainty and the likelihood of resistance to the change process.

Align employee pay to match individual roles and performance.

There is a fixed 5:1 ratio between the managerial and entry level roles in Ben & Jerry Company (Cummings, & Worley, 2013). However, the new OD process change will create more responsibilities for employees as the management relinquishes more (power) roles to create an open system that enhances team work. In order to motivate employees in the new OD process, there is need for reward systems, which include the creation of salary program that is based on employee output rather than the duration of job. As more employees relinquish their well-paying jobs to join the company, there is need for improvement in salaries to match the industry standards or even surpass them.

Increase power equalization

The management wields more power in Ben & Jerry Company and this is evident in the mistrust from the founders towards Chico the company manager. There is need to increase power among all organization members, not only the board and the senior management. Increasing power ensures that whole organization has power, thus creating a win-win situation.

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