Studying the Relevance of Larry Greiner’s Developmental Phases to the Future Stability of Maple Lodge Farms Maple Lodge Farms, a family-owned business awarded the prestige of being one of Canada’s 50 best managed companies, has attained success by employing a number of strategic organizational practices. Since the inception of Maple Lodge Farms, the founders’ commitment to providing various Canadian households with the highest quality chicken products has allowed it to become one of Canada’s leading poultry companies.
Initially, the business owners’ main priority was to launch Maple Lodge Farms as a highly recognizable brand capable of sustaining a loyal customer base. This goal was largely achieved through a variety of measures the founders implemented throughout the organization’s existence. Recently, a few of the methods used to promote Maple Lodge Farms consist of using an integrated organizational structure, ensuring the safety of the products through technological innovations and limiting the company’s environmental imprint on society.
In this research paper, I intend to analyze the current transitional stage of Maple Lodge Farms in Larry Greiner’s terms, evaluate the success of the organization’s human resources strategy – relating it to Larry Greiner’s developmental phases – and offer potential suggestions to boost its future growth. For the purpose of this analysis, a discussion of Larry Greiner’s article, Evolution and Revolution as Organizations Grow: A company’s past has clues for management, is necessary to provide insight into the growth phase Maple Lodge Farms is now in.
Larry Greiner, a professor at the Harvard Business School, believes the natural progression of a company from its initial stages to a more sophisticated business model is a consequence of its organizational structure. In other words, an organization’s current managerial framework influences its upcoming management decisions – hence the title of Greiner’s paper. He states that the future health of a business is dependent upon the way it is managed – i. e. its management style – in addition to how it reacts to challenges presented to the established managerial setup. Companies fail to see that many clues to their future success lie within their own organizations and their evolving states of development. Moreover, the inability of management to understand its organization development problems can result in a company becoming “frozen” in its present stage of evolution or, ultimately, in failure, regardless of market opportunities” (Greiner, 1998). Moreover, Greiner contends that a business undergoes five known developmental phases – each characterized by both an evolutionary and revolutionary stage. “1.
The term evolution is used to describe prolonged periods of growth where no major upheaval occurs in organization practices. 2. The term revolution is used to describe those periods of substantial turmoil in organization life. As a company progresses through developmental phases, each evolutionary period creates its own revolution” (Greiner, 1998). Therefore, a specific growth period is defined by a particular management style and a management crisis which results directly from it – i. e. the evolutionary and revolutionary aspects of each transitional phase respectively.
Furthermore, the age and size of the organization, in addition to the growth rate of the industry, all play roles in the construction of a progression model that accurately describes a business. Greiner’s assumptions are relevant to Maple Lodge Farms because not only do they enable an understanding of the organization’s present state of development, but they also offer implications for the future stability of the business – essentially by indicating which management style a company should adopt as it grows and changes.
Before I investigate the effectiveness of Maple Lodge Farms’ business plan – specifically its human resources approach – and forecast its growth capabilities, I must first identify the organization’s present developmental state. According to Greiner’s descriptions of the various stages a company undergoes, the history of Maple Lodge Farms shows that it is currently in the third phase of growth – specifically, the evolutionary part known as the delegation stage. The next era of growth evolves from the successful application of a decentralized organization structure. It exhibits these primary characteristics: 1. Much greater responsibility is given to the managers of plants and market territories. 2. Management often concentrates on making new acquisitions which can be lined up beside other decentralized units. 3. Communication from the top is infrequent, usually by correspondence, telephone, or brief visits to field locations” (Greiner, 1998).
The owners’ dedication to providing superior customer service has guided every facet of the way their business has been managed. In pursuit of this goal, the company has successfully implemented a decentralized management structure. “We are there every step of the way – we have established a unique integrated development team that includes senior representation from Sales, Marketing, Research and Development, Quality Assurance, and Supply Chain to ensure superior quality and customer-focused service” (“Maple lodge farms”, 2011).
This structural framework reflects Greiner’s organizational aspect of the delegation stage, as it offers managers greater responsibility in supervising the operations of their plants – fundamentally affording them the freedom to manage these plants as they see fit, with limited corporate intervention. The other traits Greiner prescribes to the delegation stage – besides the organizational arrangement –, confirms the notion that Maple Lodge Farms is in fact in this transitional phase. The delegation stage proves useful for gaining expansion through heightened motivation at lower levels. Decentralized managers with greater authority and incentive are able to penetrate larger markets, respond faster to customers, and develop new products” (Greiner, 1998). The organization’s foray into Halal poultry – especially with the prosperous Zabiha Halal line – not only demonstrates the effectiveness of the company’s branding system, but also that Maple Lodge Farms wants to breach the substantial Muslim market and thus attract a more ethnically diverse consumer base.
Moreover, the organization’s successful promotions of its newer items – such as the pre-cooked refrigerated foods, the chicken bacon and other innovative manufactured products –, suggests that Maple Lodge Farms is attempting to cater to different preferences; the firm does this to capture a larger market segment, beyond what they have attained so far. Furthermore, the company’s latest acquisition of plants in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, in addition to Ontario, is testament to their desire to infiltrate a broader market across provincial lines.
This action implies that Maple Lodge Farms is not only expanding its product lines to suit differentiated customer tastes, but also enlarging the organization nationwide – a claim supported by its recent obtainment of plants in New Brunswick, as well as Ontario, and its intention of partnering with Nova Scotia and P. E. I. growers to build primary operations in Berwick, Nova Scotia (“Grand river foods,” 2011). Since the characteristics that Maple Lodge Farms possesses are outlined in Greiner’s delegation stage, it thereby affirms that the organization is currently in this part of its evolution.
Although Maple Lodge Farms appears to be doing well in the delegation stage of Greiner’s model, I believe that the organization may be on the verge of entering the revolutionary component of the third growth phase – referred to as the control crisis. Essentially, this situation arises as a product of the management style introduced in the delegation stage – involving market expansion, decentralized organizational structure, delegative managerial style and so on.
Moreover, the control crisis occurs when “top executives sense that they are losing control over a highly diversified field operation. Autonomous field managers prefer to run their own shows without coordinating plans, money, technology, and manpower with the rest of the organization” (Greiner, 1998). Though this scenario may not be representative of the company quite yet, Greiner insinuates that at the end of an evolutionary period, all companies must enter a revolutionary period; it is merely the path that all organizations must follow in their progression models.
Therefore, it is more than likely that Maple Lodge Farms may soon be in a crisis control situation, as its lengthy evolutionary stage is poised to end. The firm should understand the pending reality of a control crisis and be willing to make changes regarding the managerial framework, so as to preserve the health of the company. In 2010, Maple Lodge Farms was given the honor of being named one of fifty organizations in Canada that earned the Best Managed Company award. The CEO of Maple Lodge Farms, Michael Burrows, attributes this success to the customer-oriented method the company whole-heartedly embraces. At Maple Lodge Farms, we speak with our customers on an ongoing basis to gain their insights and to identify the most significant opportunities that move us closer to realizing their success…Our sales team is actively engaged with our customers and in the marketplace as often as possible in order to remain abreast of new opportunities and challenges” (“Maple lodge farms,” 2011). Maple Lodge Farms has nurtured this customer service focus through the use of effective human resources management, which prioritizes the recruitment and training of individuals able to meet inflexible customer demands.
Consider the organization’s venture into the untapped Halal foods market. The company’s interest in realizing potential gains from Muslim buyers compelled Maple Lodge Farms to first launch its Halal product line in the 1990s – which has since been perfected over the organization’s existence. In adherence with strict Islamic procedures, the company employs several Muslim individuals to handle the slaughter of its chickens. “We have a team of several Muslim Blessers and a dedicated Muslim Product Manager…under oath to perform the duties assigned to them with honesty and integrity.
ISNA’s Halal auditor visits our plant on daily basis to ensure the Halal process is followed with consistency” (“Maple lodge farms”). Consequently, in order to meet the stringent requirements of the Muslim community, Maple Lodge Farms has recruited and/or trained personnel in a highly specified manner, so as to satisfy their particular consumer needs. Additionally, the human resources department of Maple Lodge Farms encourages management leaders to continuously undergo training programs in order to keep abreast of new managerial techniques.
This increases the efficiency of how all the plants of the firm are run. Moreover, the company has regular employee performance appraisals in order to ensure the quality of services offered to consumers. Therefore, the organization’s emphasis on fostering an organizational culture premised upon customer satisfaction – achieved partly through human resources policies concerning recruitment and training – has allowed the company to achieve recognition for its entrepreneurial strides.
The workplace diversity amongst employees of Maple Lodge Farms – ensuing from the diversification of the firm’s product lines to accommodate Halal consumers – necessitates a form of diversity management and the implementation of employee diversity programs by the human resources department. Diversity management’s initiative is not simply to advocate tolerance; more significantly, its purpose is to combine the different perspectives of a multicultural organization’s staff and use them to improve the firm’s performance.
My research indicates that while Maple Lodge Farms may have a rudimentary diversity management system in place, its human resources team should consider taking full advantage of the company’s diverse employee population. This involves: top management commitment, diversity training programs, inclusive/representative communications, activities celebrating diversity, support groups/mentor programs, diversity audits and management accountability.
I believe establishing a comprehensive diversity management system will allow Maple Lodge Farms to become not only an inclusive firm but one that is more effective from a business standpoint. My analysis of Maple Lodge Farms shows that it has tremendous potential to grow as an organization. Firstly, the managerial team should consider altering its delegative style of management to one that involves coordination techniques. Since Maple Lodge Farms seems to be on the outset of a revolutionary period in Greiner’s growth model, a change in how the company manages itself is necessary. Those companies that move ahead find a new solution in the use of special coordination techniques” (Greiner, 1998). Establishing these modifications in the organizational structure and in the general way the firm is managed, will enable Maple Lodge Farms to progress into the coordination stage – the next phase of Greiner’s growth model – and maintain the company’s steady evolution. “All of these new coordination systems prove useful in achieving growth through more efficient allocation of a company’s limited resources.
They prompt field managers to look beyond the needs of their local units…they learn to justify their actions more carefully to a “watchdog” audience at headquarters” (Greiner, 1998). Furthermore, the aforementioned diversity management system is another change Maple Lodge Farms should make, as it will move the organization in a new direction – wherein the marketing strategy will be more wide-ranging and cognizant of the immense diversity in customer tastes.
From a human resources perspective, Maple Lodge Farms has succeeded in aspects other companies have failed in; they have created an organizational culture that whole-heartedly advocates superior customer service policies. This is evidenced by the human resources policies emphasizing the recruitment and training of qualified individuals, who are able to meet the organization’s standards of customer service. The distinction of being one of Canada’s fifty best managed companies validates the human resources measures Maple Lodge Farms has undertaken to provide first-class products and the best customer service.
If the firm were to establish a strategic plan to implement a coordination management style and a diversity management system, then Maple Lodge Farms would experience no difficulties in continuing its success as a company in the future. Works Cited 1. Grand river foods fresh poultry processing division sold to maple lodge farms. (2011, November 21). Canadian Poultry Magazine, Retrieved from http://www. canadianpoultrymag. com 2. Greiner, L.
E. (1998). Evolution and revolution as organizations grow. Harvard Business Review, (Reprint 98308), 4-11. Retrieved from http://www. gertjanschop. com 3. Maple lodge farms amongst best managed companies. (2011, February 23). Brampton Guardian. Retrieved from http://www. bramptonguardian. com 4. Maple lodge farms ltd. : Zabiha halal. (n. d. ). Retrieved from http://www. zabihahalal. com
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