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Organizational Behavior: Ideo Case Study

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Case: Ideo

  1. The cognitive abilities specifically mentioned in this case include verbal, quantitative, reasoning, spatial, and perceptual, and these abilities directly relate to an employee’s task performance.  Verbal ability relates directly to an employee’s ability to communicate and explain things clearly, which is extremely important when working with co-workers and management, and especially when performing customer service.  While this is likely somewhat of a routine task performance skill (assuming they are communicating daily with customers and co-workers), this is also relates to adaptive task performance in that no one situation is exactly like a previous one, which requires some measure of adaptability.  

Quantitative ability would most likely fall under the routine task performance category, as a significant portion of quantitative ability is essentially number crunching (solving mathematical problems and equations, plugging numbers into equations etc.)  There is possibly also an aspect of creative task performance, if the employee can come up with a brand-new way of solving certain mathematical problems, or creates a new mathematical model to represent a set of data.

An employee’s reasoning ability would apply to both routine task performance as well as adaptive.  Most likely, an employee’s daily responsibilities at Ideo would require some sort of reasoning to complete various everyday tasks.  But there would also likely be times when an employee is assigned a difficult project or problem to work through, which would require a higher or different level of reasoning; thus, the employee would have to go beyond the basic level of reasoning they apply to their everyday tasks to solve this problem.

Both spatial and perceptual ability would be almost completely adaptive and creative in terms of task performance.  Considering Ideo is a design company, in all likelihood, each design that they create is going to be very different from the previous one, in both look and function.  When an employee is imagining and projecting what a specific design would look like, they are incorporating different types of designs and sequences then they would have in previous projects, simply because the new design is different.

Employee’s emotional abilities relate directly to counterproductive behaviors.  Employees are tasked with regulating their emotions while in meetings, as they discuss the pros and cons of various design ideas and try to come up with the best solution, to ensure that the project isn’t derailed and the meeting/discussion stays on task.  Employees need to keep their emotions in check so that they aren’t just constantly frustrated with the projects and with their co-workers, as such attitudes can have a significantly negative impact on the work environment.  Their bad attitude could catch on with others who disagree with the final decisions, or it could just make them miserable to work with, which would in turn hamper the productivity of their fellow workers.  In addition, an employee with a bad attitude who goes in to speak with a customer could wind up ruining the customer’s experience with the company, causing them to lose the buyer and possibly some of their reputation (considering customers who have bad experiences somewhere tend to tell other people about it).

  1. I think I could be a good fit for this job.  In my opinion, in terms of emotional ability, I am definitely capable of meeting their standards for emotional regulation.  I feel that I am very good at controlling my own emotions, good at recognizing the emotions and emotional cues of others around me, and resolving issues that arise without taking things to a personal level or letting them get too heated.  The one thing that would bother me about this company is the statement where the case says bean bags would be thrown at someone who is being too hot-headed in a meeting…I do not think that would go over very well and I certainly wouldn’t appreciate or find that productive if it were to ever happen to me.  In terms of the cognitive abilities required, this would be a little more of a challenge because I am not overtly creative or spatial oriented, but these are things I can learn I think, and I do possess good reasoning, mathematical, and verbal skills.  Overall, I think this would be a solid enough fit, though not necessarily an ideal one.
  2. The book defines ability as referring to the relatively stable capabilities people have to perform a particular range of different but related activities.  I believe that the informal practices Ideo utilizes can enhance the emotional ability of the employees.  Much of the informal practices seem to revolve around shaping or molding the employees’ raw emotional abilities into ones that are productive and conducive to the environment Ideo is trying to construct.  Take the first example given in the book: employees are encouraged to seek feedback regarding how their emotions affect others.  This type of feedback and training is teaching and informing the employee on exactly how and how much their own emotions are affecting the people around them.  This gives the employee the opportunity to recognize the types of behaviors and emotions they are exhibiting, say, when they are frustrated, and this education will enable them to try and adjust their mannerisms when they experience emotions such as frustration in the future.  

The fact that the project leaders in the company are always on the lookout for potential conflicts is useful and productive as well.  This has the side effect of potentially helping the employees themselves recognize when a situation is about to go south and figure out ways to both identify and address the coming conflict, in a non-hostile and productive manner.  Also, it is good to have a neutral third party intermediary in arguments and conflicts sometimes, as they can help keep the discussions civil and on-topic.

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