Bob Rouda is a consultant on human resource development and process engineering, and is a research associate and student of organization development and change management at the University of St. Thomas. He has practiced education and training in the paper industry for 20 years.

Mitch Kusy is professor of organizational learning and development at the University of St. Thomas, and is a practicing organization development consultant.

Part 1

a perspective on improving organizations
and people in the paper industry

To be successful in the current rapidly-changing world, we need to maximize the productivity of all of our resources -- physical, financial, information, and human. How are we doing?

  • Physical resources: We've made major investments in updating our physical equipment, so we can compete with state-of-the-art production tools and facilities.
  • Financial resources: Sure, we're really capital intensive. But that's the nature of our production businesses. The money will follow our ideas, our successes, and our productivity.
  • Information and knowledge resources: That's one of our success stories. The paper industry is more open and cooperative than other manufacturing industries. Tappi has been right at the center of this. But we have our work cut out for us -- to continue attracting capital in competition with other industries, we need to be as good as they are in accessing the new world of information. It's time to join the Internet. But that's another story for another time.
  • Human resources: This is the leverage point! Here's where we can make significant differences in our lives, our careers, and our organizations.

The authors of this series of articles are part of a rapidly-growing profession called HRD. It's actually been around for some time under many different names. It's a broad field, encompassing many subject areas. But it's never been more important, more necessary.

A definition of HRD is "organized learning activities arranged within an organization in order to improve performance and/or personal growth for the purpose of improving the job, the individual, and/or the organization"1. HRD includes the areas of training and development, career development, and organization development. This is related to Human Resource Management -- a field which includes HR research and information systems, union/labor relations, employee assistance, compensation/benefits, selection and staffing, performance management systems, HR planning, and organization/job design2.

Are they ever! And our organizations and jobs will never be the same. Changes are based on the global economy, on changing technology, on our changing work force, on cultural and demographic changes, and on the changing nature of work itself. The changes are different this time. They are permanent, and will permanently affect the way our work and our lives are structured.

We need to learn new skills and develop new abilities, to respond to these changes in our lives, our careers, and our organizations. We can deal with these constructively, using change for our competitive advantage and as opportunities for personal and organizational growth, or we can be overwhelmed by them.

Who is affected by change -- you are! With all the downsizing, outsourcing and team building, responsibility and accountability are being downloaded to individuals. So everyone is now a manager. Everyone will need to acquire and/or increase their skills, knowledge and abilities to perform their jobs (and now, to perform other people's jobs too!)

The goal of HRD is to improve the performance of our organizations by maximizing the efficiency and performance of our people. We are going to develop our knowledge and skills, our actions and standards, our motivation, incentives, attitudes and work environment.

Is training the answer? Yes, partly, sometimes, but certainly not always. In the paper industry, training has been big with capital projects but often is not continued into operational improvement. We have often thought training was what was needed (or not needed). But there are other answers too -- the solution may lie with organization development, career development, or a combination of these or other strategies.

We plan a series of articles to address the broad scope of HRD, to introduce methods to address the development of individuals and organizations. Here's what we will discuss in future issues:

  • ASSESSMENT OF NEEDS -- the first step. This sounds simple, but we are often in too much of a hurry. We implement a solution, sometimes the correct intervention but not always. But we plan, very carefully and cautiously, before making most other investments in process changes and in capital and operating expenditures. We need to do the same for HRD -- implement the appropriate planning. This needs assessment and planning will lead to several possible ways to improve performance. (Of course, one of these is to do nothing! -- we may decide to focus on other activities with greater impact and greater value.)
  • PROGRAM DESIGN, DEVELOPMENT & EVALUATION. We need to consider the benefits of any HRD intervention before we just go and do it: What learning will be accomplished? What changes in behavior and performance are expected? Will we get them? And of prime importance -- what is the expected economic cost/benefit of any projected solutions?
  • TRAINING & DEVELOPMENT -- acquiring knowledge, developing competencies and skills, and adopting behaviors that improve performance in current jobs, including: adult learning theory and applications, instructional systems design, train-the-trainer programs, and instructional strategies and methods.
  • ORGANIZATION DEVELOPMENT -- the diagnosis and design of systems to assist an organization with planning change. OD activities include: change management, team building, learning organizations, management development, quality of work life, management by objectives, strategic planning, participative management. organizational restructuring, job redesign, job enrichment, centralization vs. decentralization, changes in the organization's reward structure, process consultation, executive development, action research, third party interventions, and more. We will discuss these in future articles.
  • CAREER DEVELOPMENT -- activities and processes for mutual career planning and management between employees and organizations. Changes in our organizations (including downsizing, restructuring, and outsourcing) are resulting in more empowerment for employees. The responsibility for our own career development is downloaded to us. (Translation: career ladders are gone; career development is now the responsibility of the individual.) Later in this series we will explore strategies and tactics to survive and prosper in this new workplace environment.
  • ORGANIZATION RESEARCH & PROGRAM EVALUATION -- an exploration of methods to evaluate, justify, and improve on HRD offerings.
  • THE HRD PROFESSION(S) AND PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS -- we plan to list and briefly describe the principal HRD organizations, their missions and goals, and their addresses and contacts.

HRD can give you the tools you need to manage and operate your organizations. Everything -- production, management, marketing, sales, research & development, you-name-it -- everything may be more productive IF your people are sufficiently motivated, trained, informed, managed, utilized and empowered. In future articles in this series, we're going to tell you how to do it. Stay tuned.

Tappi has a Training and Development Subcommittee (of the Board's Education Committee.) Its current tasks include developing a getting-started guide for people newly assigned to training responsibilities in the pulp and paper industry. Join us -- contact Clare Reagan at Tappi if you would like to get involved.


  1. Gilley, J.W. & Eggland, S.A., Principles of Human Resource Development, Addison-Wesley, NY, 1989, p. 5.
  2. McLagan, Patricia A., "Models for HRD Practice." Training and Development Journal, September 1989, pages 49-59.

Part 2
the first step

A Needs Assessment is a systematic exploration of the way things are and the way they should be. These "things" are usually associated with organizational and/or individual performance1.

WHY design and conduct a Needs Assessment? We need to consider the benefits of any Human Resource Development (HRD) intervention before we just go and do it:
· What learning will be accomplished?

· What changes in behavior and performance are expected?

· Will we get them?

· What are the expected economic costs and benefits of any projected solutions?

We are often in too much of a hurry. We implement a solution, sometimes but not always the correct intervention. But we plan, very carefully and cautiously, before making most other investments in process changes and in capital and operating expenditures. We need to do the same for Human Resource Development.

The largest expense for HRD programs, by far, is attributable to the time spent by the participants in training programs, career development, and/or organization development activities. In training, costs due to lost production and travel time can be as much as 90-95% of the total program costs. Direct and indirect costs for the delivery of training are about 6% of the total cost, and design and development count for only about 1-2% of the total2. Realistically, it makes sense to invest in an assessment of needs to make sure we are making wise investments in training and other possible interventions.

The first step is to check the actual performance of our organizations and our people against existing standards, or to set new standards. There are two parts to this:

· Current situation: We must determine the current state of skills, knowledge, and abilities of our current and/or future employees. This analysis also should examine our organizational goals, climate, and internal and external constraints.

· Desired or necessary situation: We must identify the desired or necessary conditions for organizational and personal success. This analysis focuses on the necessary job tasks/standards, as well as the skills, knowledge, and abilities needed to accomplish these successfully. It is important that we identify the critical tasks necessary, and not just observe our current practices. We also must distinguish our actual needs from our perceived needs, our wants.

The difference the "gap" between the current and the necessary will identify our needs, purposes, and objectives.

What are we looking for? Here are some questions to ask, to determine where HRD may be useful in providing solutions:3
· Problems or deficits. Are there problems in the organization which might be solved by training or other HRD activities?

· Impending change. Are there problems which do not currently exist but are foreseen due to changes, such as new processes and equipment, outside competition, and/or changes in staffing?

· Opportunities. Could we gain a competitive edge by taking advantage of new technologies, training programs, consultants or suppliers?

· Strengths. How can we take advantage of our organizational strengths, as opposed to reacting to our weaknesses? Are there opportunities to apply HRD to these areas?

· New directions. Could we take a proactive approach, applying HRD to move our organizations to new levels of performance? For example, could team building and related activities help improve our productivity?

· Mandated training. Are there internal or external forces dictating that training and/or organization development will take place? Are there policies or management decisions which might dictate the implementation of some program? Are there governmental mandates to which we must comply?


The first step should have produced a large list of needs for training and development, career development, organization development, and/or other interventions. Now we must examine these in view of their importance to our organizational goals, realities, and constraints. We must determine if the identified needs are real, if they are worth addressing, and specify their importance and urgency in view of our organizational needs and requirements4. For example5:

· Cost-effectiveness: How does the cost of the problem compare to the cost of implementing a solution? In other words, we perform a cost-benefit analysis.

· Legal mandates: Are there laws requiring a solution? (For example, safety or regulatory compliance.)

· Executive pressure: Does top management expect a solution?

· Population: Are many people or key people involved?

· Customers: What influence is generated by customer specifications and expectations?

If some of our needs are of relatively low importance, we would do better to devote our energies to addressing other human performance problems with greater impact and greater value.


Now that we have prioritized and focused on critical organizational and personal needs, we will next identify specific problem areas and opportunities in our organization. We must know what our performance requirements are, if appropriate solutions are to be applied. We should ask two questions for every identified need:6

· Are our people doing their jobs effectively?

· Do they know how to do their jobs?

This will require detailed investigation and analysis of our people, their jobs, and our organizations -- both for the current situation and in preparation for the future.


If people are doing their jobs effectively, perhaps we should leave well enough alone. ("If it ain't broke, don't fix it.") However, some training and/or other interventions might be called for if sufficient importance is attached to moving our people and their performance into new directions.

But if our people ARE NOT doing their jobs effectively:
· Training may be the solution, IF there is a knowledge problem.

· Organization development activities may provide solutions when the problem is not based on a lack of knowledge and is primarily associated with systematic change. These interventions might include strategic planning, organization restructuring, performance management and/or effective team building.

We will look at these solutions including training & development and organization development, in future articles in this series.


Use multiple methods of Needs Assessment. To get a true picture, don't rely on one method. It is important to get a complete picture from many sources and viewpoints. Don't take some manager's word for what is needed.

There are several basic Needs Assessment techniques. Use a combination of some of these, as appropriate:
· direct observation

· questionnaires

· consultation with persons in key positions, and/or with specific knowledge

· review of relevant literature

· interviews

· focus groups

· tests

· records & report studies

· work samples

An excellent comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of each of these methods can be found in the Training and Development Journal.7

Remember that actual needs are not always the same as perceived needs, or "wants". Look for what the organization and people really need they may not know what they need, but may have strong opinions about what they want.

Use your collected data in proposing HRD solutions:
· Use your data to make your points. This avoids confronting management since your conclusions will follow from your Needs Assessment activities.

· Everybody should share the data collected. It is important to provide feedback to everyone who was solicited for information. This is necessary if everyone is to "buy into" any proposed training or organization development plan.

Having identified the problems and performance deficiencies, we must lay out the difference between the cost of any proposed solutions against the cost of not implementing the solution. Here's an economic "gap analysis":

· What are the costs if no solution is applied?

· What are the costs of conducting programs to change the situation?

The difference determines if intervention activities will be cost-effective, and therefore if it makes sense to design, develop, and implement the proposed HRD solutions.


· Perform a "gap" analysis to identify the current skills, knowledge, and abilities of your people, and the organizational and personal needs for HRD activities

· Identify your priorities and importance of possible activities

· Identify the causes of your performance problems and/or opportunities Identify possible solutions and growth opportunities.

and finally:

· Compare the consequences if the program is or is not implemented

· Generate and communicate your recommendations for training and development, organization development, career development, and/or other interventions

1. Stout, D., "Performance Analysis for Training", Niagara Paper Company, Niagara, WI,1995.

2. Gilbert, T., "Performance Engineering", in What Works at Work: Lessons from the Masters, Lakewood Books, Minneapolis, 1988, p. 20.

3. Brinkerhoff, R.O., Achieving Results from Training, Jossey-Bass Inc., San Francisco, 1987, pp. 40-47.

4. Brinkerhoff, R.O., Achieving Results from Training, Jossey-Bass Inc., San Francisco, 1987, p. 39.

5. Zemke, R., & Gunkler, J., "Using Small Group Techniques for Needs Assessment, Data Gathering, and other Heinous Acts", seminar notes, American Society for Training and Development Southern Minnesota Chapter, Minneapolis, July 9, 1985.

6. Margolis, F.H., and Bell, C.R., Understanding Training: Perspectives & Practices, University Associates, San Diego, 1989, pp 13-15.

7. Steadham, S.V., "Learning to Select a Needs Assessment Strategy", Training & Development Journal 30, Jan. 1980, American Society for Training and Development, pp. 56-61.

Part 3

the management of change

Beckhard1 defines Organization Development (OD) as "an effort, planned, organization-wide, and managed from the top, to increase organization effectiveness and health through planned interventions in the organization's processes, using behavioral-science knowledge." In essence, OD is a planned system of change.

  • Planned. OD takes a long-range approach to improving organizational performance and efficiency. It avoids the (usual) "quick-fix".
  • Organization-wide. OD focuses on the total system.
  • Managed from the top. To be effective, OD must have the support of top-management. They have to model it, not just espouse it. The OD process also needs the buy-in and ownership of workers throughout the organization.
  • Increase organization effectiveness and health. OD is tied to the bottom-line. Its goal is to improve the organization, to make it more efficient and more competitive by aligning the organization's systems with its people.
  • Planned interventions. After proper preparation, OD uses activities called interventions to make systemwide, permanent changes in the organization.
  • Using behavioral-science knowledge. OD is a discipline that combines research and experience to understanding people, business systems, and their interactions.

We usually think of OD only in terms of the interventions themselves. This article seeks to emphasize that these activities are only the most visible part of a complex process, and to put some perspective and unity into the myriad of OD tools that are used in business today. These activities include Total Quality Management (an evolutionary approach to improving an organization) and Reengineering (a more revolutionary approach). And there are dozens of other interventions, such as strategic planning and team building. It is critical to select the correct intervention(s), and this can only be done with proper preparation.


  • Human resources -- our people -- may be a large fraction of our costs of doing business. They certainly can make the difference between organizational success and failure. We better know how to manage them.
  • Changing nature of the workplace. Our workers today want feedback on their performance, a sense of accomplishment, feelings of value and worth, and commitment to social responsibility. They need to be more efficient, to improve their time management. And, of course, if we are to continue doing more work with less people, we need to make our processes more efficient.
  • Global markets. Our environments are changing, and our organizations must also change to survive and prosper. We need to be more responsible to and develop closer partnerships with our customers. We must change to survive, and we argue that we should attack the problems, not the symptoms, in a systematic, planned, humane manner.
  • Accelerated rate of change. Taking an open-systems approach, we can easily identify the competitions on an international scale for people, capital, physical resources, and information.

To be successful, OD must have the buy-in, ownership, and involvement of all stakeholders, not just of the employees throughout the organization. OD is usually facilitated by change agents -- people or teams that have the responsibility for initiating and managing the change effort. These change agents may be either employees of the organization (internal consultants) or people from outside the organization (external consultants.)

Effective change requires leadership with knowledge, and experience in change management. We strongly recommend that external or internal consultants be used, preferably a combination of both. ("These people are professionals; don't try this at home.")

Bennis2 notes that "external consultants can manage to affect ... the power structure in a way that most internal change agents cannot." Since experts from outside are less subject to the politics and motivations found within the organization, they can be more effective in facilitating significant and meaningful changes.

There is a formula, attributed to David Gleicher3, 4, which we can use to decide if an organization is ready for change:

Dissatisfaction x Vision x First Steps > Resistance to Change

This means that three components must all be present to overcome the resistance to change in an organization: Dissatisfaction with the present situation, a vision of what is possible in the future, and achievable first steps towards reaching this vision. If any of the three is zero or near zero, the product will also be zero or near zero and the resistance to change will dominate.

We use this model as an easy, quick diagnostic aid to decide if change is possible. OD can bring approaches to the organization that will enable these three components to surface, so we can begin the process of change.

Action Research is a process which serves as a model for most OD interventions. French and Bell5 describe Action Research as a "process of systematically collecting research data about an ongoing system relative to some objective, goal, or need of that system; feeding these data back into the system; taking actions by altering selected variables within the system based both on the data and on hypotheses; and evaluating the results of actions by collecting more data." The steps in Action Research are6, 7:

  1. Entry. This phase consists of marketing, i.e. finding needs for change within an organization. It is also the time to quickly grasp the nature of the organization, identify the appropriate decision maker, and build a trusting relationship.
  2. Start-up and contracting. In this step, we identify critical success factors and the real issues, link into the organization's culture and processes, and clarify roles for the consultant(s) and employees. This is also the time to deal with resistance within the organization. A formal or informal contract will define the change process.
  3. Assessment and diagnosis. Here we collect data in order to find the opportunities and problems in the organization (refer to DxVxF>R above.) For suggestions about what to look for, see the previous article in this series, on needs assessment8. This is also the time for the consultant to make a diagnosis, in order to recommend appropriate interventions.
  4. Feedback. This two-way process serves to tell those what we found out, based on an analysis of the data. Everyone who contributed information should have an opportunity to learn about the findings of the assessment process (provided there is no apparent breach of anyone's confidentiality.) This provides an opportunity for the organization's people to become involved in the change process, to learn about how different parts of the organization affect each other, and to participate in selecting appropriate change interventions.
  5. Action planning. In this step we will distill recommendations from the assessment and feedback, consider alternative actions and focus our intervention(s) on activities that have the most leverage to effect positive change in the organization. An implementation plan will be developed that is based on the assessment data, is logically organized, results- oriented, measurable and rewarded. We must plan for a participative decision-making process for the intervention.
  6. Intervention. Now, and only now, do we actually carry out the change process. It is important to follow the action plan, yet remain flexible enough to modify the process as the organization changes and as new information emerges.
  7. Evaluation. Successful OD must have made meaningful changes in the performance and efficiency of the people and their organization. We need to have an evaluation procedure to verify this success, identify needs for new or continuing OD activities, and improve the OD process itself to help make future interventions more successful.
  8. Adoption. After steps have been made to change the organization and plans have been formulated, we follow-up by implementing processes to insure that this remains an ongoing activity within the organization, that commitments for action have been obtained, and that they will be carried out.
  9. Separation. We must recognize when it is more productive for the client and consultant to undertake other activities, and when continued consultation is counterproductive. We also should plan for future contacts, to monitor the success of this change and possibly to plan for future change activities.

It would be nice if real OD followed these steps sequentially. This rarely happens. Instead, the consultants must be flexible and be ready to change their strategy when necessary. Often they will have to move back and repeat previous steps in light of new information, new influences, or because of the changes that have already been made.

But for successful OD to take place, all of these steps must be followed. It works best if they are taken in the order described. And, since learning is really an iterative, not a sequential process, we must be prepared to re-enter this process when and where appropriate.

If you would like to know more about OD, we highly recommend the books by Cummings and Worley9, and by Rothwell, Sullivan and McLean10.

In future articles in this series, we plan to discuss some of the major OD interventions in common use today, and to classify these into systematic categories.


  • TAPPI has a Training and Development Subcommittee (of the Board's Education Committee.) Its current tasks include developing a getting-started guide for people newly assigned to training responsibilities in the pulp and paper industry. Join us -- contact Clare Reagan at Tappi if you would like to get involved.
  • TAPPI in 1997. We are in the preliminary stages of planning for events at future TAPPI conferences. These events will focus on education and Human Resource Development, and may include a workshops on Organization Development. We invite your participation.
  • Case studies. In future articles, we plan to include some case histories of the successes (and failures) of applying OD practices in the paper industry. If you are involved in OD and would like to join us in this effort, please contact us.


  1. Beckhard, R., Organization development: Strategies and models. Reading, MA: Addison- Wesley, Reading, MA, 1969, p. 9.
  2. Bennis, W., Organization development: Its nature, origin and prospects. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA, 1969, p. 12.
  3. Beckhard, R. & Harris, R. Organizational Transitions. Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA, 1987.
  4. Jacobs, R., Real Time Strategic Change. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc., San Francisco, 1994, p.122.
  5. French, W., & Bell, C., Jr., Organization development: Behavioral science interventions for organization improvement (4th ed), Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1990, p. 99.
  6. Burke, W., Organization development: Principles and practices. Boston: Little, Brown & Co., Boston, 1982.
  7. Rothwell, W., Sullivan, R., & McLean, G., "Models for Change and Steps in Action Research", in Practicing OD: A Guide for Consultants, Pfeiffer, San Diego, 1995, pp. 51-69.
  8. Rouda, R. & Kusy, M., Jr., "Needs assessment - the first step", Tappi Journal 78 (6): 255 (1995).
  9. Cummings, T.G., & Worley, C.G., Organization Development and Change, 5th edition, West Publishing, St. Paul, 1993.
  10. Rothwell, W., Sullivan, R., & McLean, G., Practicing OD: A Guide for Consultants, Pfeiffer, San Diego, 1995.

Part 4

personal career management and planning

There is an increasing need for individuals to take charge of the development of their own learning and careers for a variety of reasons: There is increasing rate of change of our organizations and in the knowledge and skills we need to perform our jobs. Career ladders are rapidly shrinking or disappearing as reorganizations lead to flatter structures. There is an ever-increasing need for us to keep learning to keep up with the rapid growth in knowledge and the rate of change of our workplace environments. And, involvement in one's own development fosters greater commitment to the process than other-directed activities.

Career development (CD) is now the primary responsibility of individuals in organizations. A recent survey of Human Resource Development Directors1 indicates that they consider CD to be their least important function. This correlates with recent trends of disappearing corporate career paths and job security. Just as the responsibility for employee retirement planning is no longer a corporate function, the responsibility for learning and for the development of career paths has been downloaded to the individual employees.

Personal learning project management is a new skill for most people, one for which they have not been adequately prepared. The good news is that this responsibility also brings increased control over one's learning and career development, and the opportunity for a more stimulating and motivating work life.

The purpose of this article is to help you develop plans for individual career development for yourself and for other employees in your organizations. This process results in a document that has been referred to by such terms as an individual development plan, a learning contract, MBO (management-by-objectives) for personal learning, a personal "curriculum" for learning, and a plan for personal career advancement. The results may also be applied to the "development" section of most performance appraisal forms.

These methods have been used recently in a variety of university and industrial settings:

  • Industrial environments. At the Niagara Division of Consolidated Papers2, employees draft individual development plans, both individually and in consultation with the Training Manager. This process occurs annually, much like a performance review. The individual development planning process is focused on personal development and career growth, and is kept separate from other HR management functions such as reviews for salary, promotion, and retention purposes.

Individual development plans can, and often should, include formal training programs, but the focus is on the learning and the individual, not on the organization's curriculum and courses. If used correctly, a compilation of the learning needs from these individual learning plans (coupled with studies of organizational needs) can lead to more efficient planning of training efforts by the organization.

  • University teaching and learning. At leading universities that focus on quality learning, education and training, learning contracts are often used in courses to shift the responsibility for learning from the instructor to the students3. Individuals design, develop and implement their own plans for learning in their courses, in a process similar to the use of the industrial individual development plans previously referred to. This works especially well with adult learners who bring a variety of skills, knowledge and experiences to their studies, and who also have a variety of needs for learning and development because of the diversity of their working environments. It also benefits more traditional students who learn "how to learn", and who need project management skills and experiences.
  • Pulp and paper education. This process has been used very successfully in a senior course in pulp and paper process operations at the University of Minnesota4. The students felt that their learning was more interesting and exciting because they had the ability to choose (actually, to propose and contract-for) their learning projects. They also assigned themselves more work, and therefore learned more, than with traditional methods of instruction. As a bonus, they developed their skills in engineering project management as applied to projects of direct interest and importance to themselves.
  • Industrial and corporate internships. This works especially well for individualized learning experiences such as on-campus student research and development projects, and for off-campus learning such as for corporate internships.

We use standard forms to help the learners follow a systematic process to prepare their learning contracts, individual development plans, or learning project management strategies. Here is what should be included in a personal learning plan:

  • Assessment. First, identify your current skills, knowledge, abilities, and interests. A previous article in this series5 describes the needs assessment process.
  • Goals. Identify the new skills, knowledge, and experiences you would like to acquire and have. Do these goals match your personal and career interests? Are your goals in agreement with your organization's goals, mission and vision?
  • Learning purpose. Identify the gap between the current situation and the desired outcome. This will produce a statement of purpose that should clarify why you want to learn something, and what specific skills, knowledge and abilities you wish to develop.
  • Learning objective(s). Identify what skills, knowledge, and abilities are to be acquired or enhanced. Remember that this is only a plan, not a rigid promise; your plan can and should be revised as your goals change and as learning occurs.

For each objective, identify the following:

  • Target date. Identify when you plan to complete the work for this part of your learning plan.
  • Learning strategies. Describe how you plan to do it, and what process you plan to follow to accomplish your objective. For example, strategies could include: reading and study, interviews and discussions with appropriate people, mill trials, networking and communication, reflecting on your own experiences, classroom study, literature review, synthesizing and writing.
  • Learning resources. Identify what resources you plan to use to help you with this learning process. These resources might include, for example: literature, mentors, co- workers, other professionals for networking, vendors or suppliers, classes, technical conferences, professional association involvement, equipment manuals, laboratory trials, production workers, teachers and instructors, field experience, your supervisors, and a variety of learning technologies including computers, the Internet, and perhaps even your mill's DCS (digital control system).
  • Outcomes and products. List the evidence you will develop to show the accomplishment of your objectives. What deliverables will you have produced by this process? What objects can be used to validate your learning experience? This could include, for example, a log or journal of your studies or observations, a literature review and bibliography, written and oral reports, lists of questions, obtaining specific career objectives, and more.
  • Evaluation plan. Describe the method you will use to validate your deliverables and to evaluate the success of your learning project. In other words, what criteria and means will you use to determine if you were successful in reaching your learning goals?
  • Initial feedback and revision. Before starting to carry-out your individual development plan, confer with your supervisor (instructor, mentor, or HRD-manager if available) for feedback, for another view of your learning needs and strategies. This will help insure that your learning will not only be based on your personal needs but will also be relevant to your organization's goals, results, and profitability. The more independent sources you can use, the better -- seek additional feedback from your co-workers, colleagues, family and friends.
  • Summary of results. After completing the projects in your individual plan, you should evaluate the success of these activities. What insights have you gained? What new understandings do you have? What new skills, abilities and knowledge have you acquired? What experiences did you have, and what did you learn from them? How do you feel about this process?
  • Next steps. You should review the accomplishments and successes of this project with your supervisor (and others, as appropriate). Then update your learning plan for the next cycle. Remember that learning and growth are processes that may, and should, continue indefinitely.


  1. Johansen, K., Kusy, M., Jr., & Rouda, R., "The Business Focus of HRD Leaders: a picture of current practice", 1996 Academy of Human Resource Development Conference, Minneapolis, February 1996.
  2. Stout, D., "Performance Analysis for Training", Niagara Division of Consolidated Papers Inc., 1995.
  3. Kusy, M., Jr., Introduction to Human Resource Development -- class notes, University of St. Thomas, 1994.
  4. Rouda, R., "Pulp and Paper Process Operations: class notes for learning contracts", University of Minnesota, 1995 (unpublished work).
  5. Rouda, R. & Kusy, M., Jr., "Needs assessment - the first step", Tappi Journal 78 (6): 255 (1995).

Part 5


Most of us have been involved in activities designed to bring change and strategic planning into our organizations. We've been to training courses, to numerous meetings, and sometimes taken time off for strategic planning retreats. We talked a lot, made some plans, went back to work. But we know that little was really accomplished; that these activities had no follow-up. We felt that it was a waste of our time. (It probably was.)

It can be different. Meaningful change can happen in organizations. Organization development -- the management of change in organizations -- was introduced in a previous article in this series, and is being applied in a new way to make these changes actually happen. Here are the major features of methods of large-scale, real-time change:

  • Large-scale -- The change involves the entire organization, meeting and working together in one place, at the same time.
  • Real-time -- What was formerly a slow "waterfall" process (i.e. originated at the top, flowing down through the organization) is now a fast, quick response which results in immediate action taking place.
  • Learning is no longer just for the individual or unit, but also applies to the entire organization.
  • Responsibility and accountability moves from senior management to a mixture of senior management plus the whole system.
  • The change process moves from incremental change to fundamental, organization-wide change.
  • Dissatisfaction is allowed and encouraged to emerge, to develop a common database of information and an open sharing of ideas.
  • Vision -- A common vision of the future is created with the buy-in and ownership by everyone throughout the organization.
  • Action planning -- First steps are taken to be sure that there is follow-up, commitment, and accountability -- that change really will happen.
  • Participation -- Everyone throughout the organization actively participates in designing the change event, and in the event itself.
  • Strategic -- This process makes permanent changes in the organization and addresses the real problems. It is NOT a quick fix. Paradigm shift -- For major changes to occur, it may be necessary to change the culture of the organization. This is especially true for major changes, as for example to bring about employee empowerment, to change to a team management approach, and for organizational redesign.
  • Systems approach -- Meaningful change must involve the entire organization and its environment.
  • Open-systems approach -- All stakeholders (that is, all individuals and groups having an interest in the changes) must be included in the planning and implementation. This especially includes the suppliers (inputs) and customers (outputs) of our production processes.
  • Open information -- Knowledge is power, so empowered employees need information. The organization's database, which formerly had limited availability, is now widely shared throughout the organization.
  • Highly-adaptive process -- The change event is specifically tailored and designed by the organization to fit their culture, employees, organizational norms, management style, vision, markets, and customers and other stakeholders.

The large-scale change process is unique for every organization. It has been used and has worked very successfully for many Fortune 500 companies (including Ford, Boeing, Marriott), as well as for much smaller groups. Here's a typical case history of what it might look like for a paper mill or similarly-sized organization:

Senior management realized that, for the long-term survival and prosperity of the company, it would be necessary to have empowered workers who were capable of, and responsible for, making their own decisions. They also felt that some type of team environment would be desirable.

Knowing that effective change requires leadership with knowledge and experience in change management, they brought in external consultants with experience in designing and managing large-scale change events for organizations outside the paper industry. A Planning Team was created, which included management representatives, and internal and external consultants.

This Planning Team, in turn, created a Design Team where a representative sample of the entire organization would be involved in designing the organization development intervention meeting itself. This Design Team met several times before the event. It had representation vertically among all levels of the management and workers, and also had horizontal representation across the entire organization. They produced a plan for a meeting that was highly-adaptive and tailored specifically to fit their needs, their wants, and their situation. They did not use any one specific model or consultant's approach. The team created a list of specific outcomes that they wanted from the process, and circulated it for comment throughout the organization.

They created a highly structured design for a future off-site meeting of the entire organization. This was centered on the use of modern adult learning techniques with an emphasis on involvement and interaction -- not on information and visions presented from the top. The Design Team created detailed written instructions and worksheets, and appointed a Logistics Team to work out and manage the details for the change event.
It took almost a year from the initial decision to begin the process until the actual change event occurred. But when it did, it was held off-site over a consecutive 3-day period. To allow everyone to participate, they shut down production for three days!

All of the 800 people (just about everyone) were assigned to specific tables, with 8 people at each of 100 total tables in one large room! There was a "max-mix" seating arrangement, to ensure a maximum-mixing of people both vertically and horizontally throughout the company. Nobody sat with anyone in their own functional group or at their own level of management. Vice presidents were mixed right in with production people, engineers, secretaries, sales and marketing personnel.

The day was spent developing a common database of the current reality. Views were presented by customers, management, representative workers throughout the corporation, and outside companies that had successfully completed this process in their own industry.

A process of structured listening was imposed. Working at their tables, the participants proceeded to learn about each other -- about their environments, constraints, daily work routines, pressures, problems, successes, values, and outside activities.

Participants were required to discuss what they heard, how they felt about it, and what meaning it had for their own situation. It was important for everyone to see the information generated by themselves and by everyone else in the organization.

The entire company heard from their leaders, from their customers, from organizations outside the industry that have had successes with this large-scale change process, and from themselves.

This day was devoted to defining and moving towards a preferred future for the organization by finding common ground among the diverse participants. The Design Team presented a working draft of a vision statement as a starting point for discussion. This was then subjected to open criticism and revision.

Reality was brought in by having the participants work to analyze their strengths and weaknesses, as well as opportunities and threats. They then proceeded to a process of organizational diagnosis -- of identifying the problems that are impeding change and progress.

A discussion and clarification of the mission identified what business the company was in, and what business they should be in, considering their stakeholders' needs, their resources, and their competitive environment. This reinforced some existing operational practices, and suggested some new ones to be added and others to be eliminated.

The "max-mix" seating arrangement was then reconfigured to group people together by functional groups (i.e. engineering, management, technical, production, marketing.) These groups each prepared and sent messages to the other groups, covering what they appreciate about each other, and what they need from the others to help them to do their own jobs in a more productive way.

If this is to be more than an informative exercise, the words must be converted into actions. The last day was devoted to setting strategy, gathering and processing feedback on this strategy, and especially on action planning to secure commitments to make the proposed strategy develop into reality.

Written commitments were made for the entire organization, for the functional groups, and by the individuals. A combination of individual, table-group, and plenary work was used to insure that the commitments were heard, relevant, and agreed on. These objectives were specific, measurable, realistic, and achievable.


  • Understanding -- People left with a better understanding of the roles, responsibilities, and realities of others throughout the organization. Cooperation -- With this new understanding, the organization became a unified team. Much of the internal competition and complaining was reduced or eliminated.
  • Simultaneous change -- Everything moved forward at once, because of the coordination and implementation of changes throughout the organization. Groups no longer postponed their own changes while waiting for others to make the first moves.
  • Empowerment -- People now had knowledge of the complete organization which would allow them to make decisions on their own, reflecting their understanding of the big picture.
  • Implementation Team -- A team (again, "max-mix", representative of the entire organization) was created to continue the change process and motivate everyone to follow up on their commitments.
  • Actions -- Changes actually took place, because of the specific commitments which were prepared to include assignments of "who", "what", and "when".
  • Buy-in and ownership -- Everyone in the organization supported the change efforts, because they had been actively involved in the action planning and goal-setting, and because they felt that their viewpoints and ideas had been listened to. This would not have happened with change managed from the top of the organization.
  • Creativity -- Individuals and teams now were able to apply their own original, creative ideas, with less interference from organizational politics and managerial restraints, and with less fear of reprisals for failure.
  • Spirit -- People now enjoyed their working environment more, with the feelings that they were important, that their ideas counted, and that they would be listened to.
  • Paradigm shift -- The organization was never the same again. A new spirit of cooperation and individual responsibility permeated the organization.

The above scenario is only one possible implementation of large-scale, real-time change management. An actual process would be designed by the organization to fit its staff, stakeholders, and situation.

These large-group, real-time strategic change processes have worked, and worked very well, in other industries. There is no reason they can't work in the paper industry. Who will be the first to try it?


  • Bunker, B. & Alban, B., What Makes Large Group Interventions Effective?, Journal of Applied Behavioral Science 28(4), 1992.
  • Jacobs, R.W., Real Time Strategic Change. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 1994.
  • Rouda, R. & Kusy, M., Jr., "Organization Development - the management of change", Tappi Journal 78(8): 253(1995).
  • Senge, P., The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of The Learning Organization. New York: Currency-Doubleday, 1994.
  • Weisbord, M. & Janoff, S., Future Search -- An Action Guide to Finding Common Ground in Organizations & Communities. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 1995.

Part 6


The education and training of the workforce in the pulp and paper industry now requires the involvement of the entire organization, not just a training department, if training is to be effective in improving the performance and profitability of our organizations. Effective training uses an instructional systems design process and operates as a high performance work team in partnership with the rest of the organization.

Learning is a process of gaining knowledge, skills, or attitudes through formal or informal means. Education is a process involving others as facilitators of learning. These others may be subject matter experts, instructional designers, or deliverers of instruction. Training is a learning process directly tied to specific situational results. In the case of training, the focus is usually based on improving individual and group behavior and performance, and on results to the organization.

Beginning with the end in mind, let's examine the results desired from training. Kirkpatrick1 classifies these outcomes into four categories:
1. Reaction -- evaluates the training program itself (are the trainees satisfied?).

2. Learning -- focuses on changes in the participants as a result of the training (have skills, knowledge, or attitudes changed as a result of the training?).

3. Behavior or performance -- deals with the transfer of the learning to the job or organization (are the results of the training being applied?).

4. Outcomes or results -- is the impact of the training on the productivity and profitability of the organization. While education tends to focus on the first two of these, training should be evaluated by the last two -- on the transfer of learning to the success of the organization.

To insure that training is delivered effectively and efficiently, a process of instructional systems design (ISD) should be implemented as a planned process for the assessment, design, development, implementation and evaluation of training. ISD starts with an assessment of the needs of the organization, which may include surveying, identifying and prioritizing mill training needs, analyzing the causes of performance problems and opportunities, and identifying possible solutions2. It is imperative to determine if training is the appropriate solution, and if it will be cost-effective.

Developing training should include analyses of the characteristics of the learners, the setting in which the work will be performed, and the tasks and duties which the trainees will be expected to perform. A complete review of the subject matter (and subject matter experts) is also necessary. Goals and performance objectives must be set, and a plan to evaluate the training should be developed. Instructional materials and strategies must be acquired, prepared, and pre-tested.

The implementation of training includes the preparation of mill workers and others to be trainers and subject matter experts. The training process itself must be managed and evaluated.

There are two approaches to implementing the training function. Most companies and instructional designers use a reactive approach. ISD is used as an intervention to solve problems involving employees, with a focus on performance and organizational results. In this sense training is often applied, like quality control, as corrections to problems. This type of training function usually operates somewhat externally to the organization's manufacturing, management and other processes.

A proactive approach is taking place in some pulp and paper companies where training and ISD are part of a continuous improvement process, not viewed as interventions3. This is more like TQM (total quality management) than QC (quality control), in that the training function is fully integrated with the regular process of organizational improvement.

The processes of reactive and proactive training are very similar. The differences are of time-scale, degree of overlap of activities, and distribution of the training function throughout the organization. Performing needs assessments and task/duty analyses have usually been triggered by new technologies, equipment, or people. Shouldn't these be continuous, on-going functions?

We have heard much about the benefits (and problems) with implementing team approaches to improve organizational effectiveness and to empower individuals and teams with the information and authority to make decisions on the front lines. Business success today mandates the use of these high performance work teams throughout our organizations. But making the transition to teams is not easy. Training can be useful in many ways to help people function more effectively in team environments, including:
· Communication. People must learn how to communicate effectively in teams and between teams across the entire organization. Employees must use communication to resolve and manage conflicts, and to air and resolve grievances and complaints.

· Team management and functioning. Managing projects, setting goals, clarifying roles, and solving problems in teams are skills that must be developed. New organizational skills must be developed if teams are to operate effectively and efficiently.

· Leadership development. Team leaders and upper management need to learn how to act as role models for team operation, and how to promote the active building, leadership and management of teams.

· Personal development. Employees need help in overcoming fears about the loss of job security and independence, and to learn how to continue to make individual contributions within team structures. Interpersonal skills need to be developed, especially with respect to group problem solving.

As discussed above, training needs to be more fully integrated with, and responsive to, the business of the organization. A recent survey also substantiates this new business focus for human resource development directors4. Distributed management and team environments are ways for the organization to become more effective. It is logical, then, that the training function itself is a good place to start implementing high performance work teams.

Moving from a reactive to a proactive implementation of training will require a restructuring of the training function. (Notice that we did not say "Training Department", as training is everyone's job.) What better opportunity to bring the team concept into practice in the organization? This would give trainers the tools to be of value to the organization, of being directly connected to the success of the business. Trainers can most successfully understand, teach and promote that which they have experienced and model themselves.

By reorganizing the ISD process into cross-organizational teams to improve the success of the business, trainers and instructional designers will become valuable resources to transfer their experiences, knowledge and skills of high performance work teams to others throughout the rest of the organization.

State of the art equipment is being purchased and operated by more and more organizations in the pulp and paper industry. Today, it is the preparation of the workforce for optimum performance that gives the competitive advantage. A more relevant, business-focused training function -- distributed and integrated appropriately throughout the organization -- will not only be more in line with organizational performance and profitability, but will help to bring the rest of the organization along towards reaching the goal of using effective, efficient, and performing teams.

Let's get started.
1. Kirkpatrick, D., A Practical Guide for Supervisory Training and Development (2nd ed.) Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1983.

2. Rouda, R. & Kusy, M., Jr., "Needs assessment - the first step", Tappi Journal 78 (6): 255 (1995).

3. Gossett, J., Developing Effective Learning Materials for the Workplace -- A Practical Guide for Ensuring Learner Competence. Atlanta, GA: TAPPI Press (in press).

4. Johansen, K., Kusy, M., Jr., & Rouda, R., "The Business Focus of HRD Leaders: a picture of current practice", 1996 Academy of Human Resource Development Conference, Minneapolis, February 1996.