Themes in Module 3 of the Level 5 CIPD Qualification
A summary of everything you need to know about the third module
HRM Module 3 focuses on three interrelated areas of HR practice: ‘Organisational Development’ (5ODT); ‘Organisational Design’ (5ODG) and ‘Improving Organisational Performance’ (5IVP). These are, on the face of it, quite complex and deep – but once learners become immersed in the subject matter for each unit, they could be forgiven for thinking 'haven’t we covered much of this already?' They would be right – at least in part.
Level 5 students will all have a range of experience covering HR practice and the wider considerations of business and organisation management. By embarking on the programme, they will reinforce their professional knowledge and practice with concepts and theory based on current and emerging practice – the aim being to be able to apply theory in a practical sense in the reality of their HR management roles. If you have read the blogs covering the key themes in Module 1 and Module 2, you will know there are enduring themes that develop and build.
Alignment of HR practice to all aspects of the organisation is a key theme as is the need to ensure sustained organisational performance. That word ‘alignment’ is so important! These themes continue to be developed during Module 3 – but a review of the learning launches a new word that you might like to consider and digest – that word is ‘harmonisation.’
The module starts with consideration of ‘Organisational Development’ as an applied business discipline. We’ve all heard of ‘Organisational Development’, and can probably create some clear imagery in our minds to visualise what it entails. But, as some academics have acknowledged, there are so many definitions to consider and we might be forgiven for being rather confused. The CIPD factsheet ‘Organisational Development’ (2015) provides several definitions, some clear, others obscured through complex wordology. We see mention of the social sciences, in particular psychology, sociology and anthropology – indeed, some academics claim that to be effective and credible, organisation development consultants should be academically qualified in these disciplines.
What we need to do, of course, is synthesise the many definitions and come up with something that makes sense to us. What are the common themes? What can we relate to in terms of our own experience? For example, is ‘Organisational Development’ another term for change management (done properly?), or is it a sub-theme of learning and development? Oakwood had developed a view on this. We see organisational development as systematic process, applying a consultant/facilitator approach, that enables an organisation, through harnessing the talents of the organisation’s people at all levels, to achieve sustainable organisational performance (and survivability in a VUCA world). Of course, we may be mistaken – what do you think?
The second unit of Module 3 is ‘Organisational Design.’ The logic of exploring this subject after ‘OrganisationDevelopment’ is that, at least in Oakwood’s opinion, the two areas are inextricably related where ‘Organisation Design’ is a sub-theme or adjunct of the larger discipline of Organisation Development.’ One of the first key learning points from this unit is that ‘Organisation Design’ is far more than a focus on organisation diagrams and different possible versions of this. The physical shape of an organisation is important – seeking alignment to business need, of course.
But there are far more considerations that must be accounted for in order to optimise organisational performance – both tangible: processes and procedures, reporting lines, communication flows – and intangible, not least of which is ‘culture.’
As with ‘Organisation Development’ there is a heavy base of concepts and theory, some of which – systems theory, for example, is shared by both subjects. We explore the development and evolvement of organisational theory from the origins of modern thinking as espoused by Max Weber, through Taylorism (‘Scientific Management’) then considerations of ‘mechanistic’ and ‘organic’ organisations and then on to the evolvement of organisational models – ‘static’, ‘dynamic’ and ‘ecological.’ The thinking underpinning the theory of organisation design seems to be becoming increasingly more complex – try fathoming the significance and features of the ‘Fractal Web’ for example!
The models of organisation design, which we explore during the unit, are indeed complicated. However, if we filter out some of the detail, it is possible to draw out some key themes – and the importance of understanding organisation design becomes clearer. For example, we learn that the earlier ‘static’ models such as McKinsey’s ‘7 S’ and Galbraith’s ‘Star’, which are still used by consultancies to shape their interventions, are possibly too simplistic as they do not take account of the external environment.
By Module 3, you will be fully conversant with the necessity of understanding the external environment and how it impacts on the organisation – remember PESTLE/STEEPLE and that rather disturbing acronym VUCA? The more contemporary models of organisational design, those that sit under the heading ‘ecological,’ take full account of the macro environment – indeed, there is the recognition that not only does the external environment impact on the organisation, the organisation in turn has a tangible influence on the external environment.
Now, if you consider the definition of ‘Organisation Development’ offered above, could this not apply equally to ‘Organisation Design’ as an applied business discipline? The answer is ‘yes’ – in part. Both Organisation Development and Organisation Design seek to ensure the organisation is best positioned (and shaped) to optimise performance.
However, Oakwood considers Organisation Design to be more finite that Organisation Development. Confused? Well, consider the following analogy. If you were tasked with designing a car engine, you would want to ensure that all of the components making up the finished engine, working in ‘harmony.’ There’s that word. Think about it – you don’t need an engine warning light to tell you your engine is not working – you can hear it, feel it. So, you design an engine where all the components work together, in harmony, to optimise that engine’s performance: speed, fuel efficiency, endurance, comfort and so on.
Now, having designed your engine (Organisational Design), you now need to ensure that the engine is maintained (and the customer who bought the car remains satisfied). The engine will need to evolve – new legislation might require enhanced control of fuel emissions, for example. Activities to ensure the sustainability and appropriate evolvement of the engine are analogous to ‘Organisational Development.’ Of course, you may have or develop a different opinion of the relationship between these two disciplines – but that’s a key emphasis of Level 5 – critical analysis of concepts and ideas.
Improving Organisation Performance
So, to the third unit – and final subject of the Level 5 programme: ‘Improving Organisation Performance.’ This unit explores the key concept of ‘High Performance Working’ (HPW) and what this means in terms of ‘High Performance Working Practices’ (HPWP) and how to create a ‘High Performance Working Organisation’ (HPWO). As we unpack the ‘Black Box’ of HPW, a strange feeling of déjà vu is likely occur. We have, surely, covered all of this – perhaps with the exception of some terminology – in previous units? Of course we have! This last unit serves to tie everything together – to reinforce and consolidate.
For example, when we explored the business case for creating a ‘high engagement culture’ (5ENG) did we not cover the same themes? Absolutely! Consider for a moment – what comes first, ‘high performance working’ (optimal organisational performance) or a high engagement culture? They are, of course, mutually inclusive. If you focus on creating and driving a strategy leading to high performance working – then surely the outcome will be enhanced levels of employee engagement. But, if you focus on efforts to create and drive a ‘high engagement culture’, will that not result in optimised organisational performance?
So, coming back to that new word: ‘harmonisation’ – can you see how it applies?
Director of Development
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Les is responsible for qualification development and delivery at Oakwood. Les is a Chartered Fellow of the CIPD, a Fellow of the ILM, a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute and a Member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists.
Figurative language refers to the color we use to amplify our writing. It takes an ordinary statement and dresses it up in an evocative frock. It gently alludes to something without directly stating it. Figurative language is a way to engage your readers, ushering them through your writing with a more creative tone.
Although it's often debated how many "types" of figurative language there are, it's safe to say there are at least five distinct categories. They are: metaphors, similes, personification, hyperbole, and symbolism.
In truth, this is only scratching the surface. There are waves of other literary devices that color our writing, including onomatopoeias, alliteration, oxymorons, puns, synecdoche, irony, idioms, and more.
In this article, we'd like to highlight the main branches of the tree, or "the big five." But, if we're being honest, the list goes on and on. As a starting point, let's have some fun with the ones you're most likely to come across in your daily readings.
Figurative Language: Understanding the Concept
Anytime your writing goes beyond the actual meanings of your words, you're using figurative language. This allows the reader to gain new insights into your work.
One of the best ways to understand the concept of figurative language is to see it in action. Here are some examples:
- This coffee shop is an ice box! (Metaphor)
- She's drowning in a sea of grief. (Metaphor)
- She's happy as a clam. (Simile)
- I move fast like a cheetah on the Serengeti. (Simile)
- The sea lashed out in anger at the ships, unwilling to tolerate another battle. (Personification)
- The sky misses the sun at night. (Personification)
- I’ve told you a million times to clean your room! (Hyperbole)
- Her head was spinning from all the new information. (Hyperbole)
- She was living her life in chains. (Symbolism - Chains are a symbol of oppression of entrapment.)
- When she saw the dove soar high above her home, she knew the worst was over. (Symbolism - Doves are a symbol of peace and hope.)
The Big Five
Let’s dive deeper into "the big five." We’ll consider their place in your writing, and give some examples to paint a better picture for you.
When you use a metaphor, you make a statement that doesn’t literally make sense. For example, “Time is a thief.” Time is not actually stealing from you but this conveys the idea that hours or days sometimes seem to slip by without you noticing.
Metaphors only makes sense when the similarities between the two things being compared are apparent or readers understand the connection between the two words. Examples include:
- The world is my oyster.
- You're a couch potato.
- Time is money.
- He has a heart of stone.
- America is a melting pot.
- You are my sunshine.
A simile also compares two things. However, similes use the words “like” or “as.”
- Busy as a bee.
- Clean as a whistle.
- Brave as a lion.
- The tall girl stood out like a sore thumb.
- It was as easy as shooting fish in a barrel.
- My mouth was as dry as a bone.
- They fought like cats and dogs.
- Watching that movie was like watching grass grow.
Personification gives human characteristics to inanimate objects, animals, or ideas. This can really affect the way the reader imagines things. Personification is often used in poetry, fiction, and children’s rhymes.
- Opportunity knocked at his door.
- The sun greeted me this morning.
- The sky was full of dancing stars.
- The vines wove their delicate fingers together.
- The radio suddenly stopped singing and stared at me.
- The sun played hide and seek with the clouds.
Hyperbole is an outrageous exaggeration that emphasizes a point. It tends toward the ridiculous or the funny. Hyperbole adds color and depth to a character.
- You snore louder than a freight train!
- It's a slow burg. I spent a couple of weeks there one day.
- She's so dumb, she thinks Taco Bell is a Mexican phone company.
- I had to walk 15 miles to school in the snow, uphill, in bare feet.
- You could've knocked me over with a feather.
Symbolism occurs when a word has its own meaning but is used to represent something entirely different.
Examples in everyday life include:
- Using the image of the American flag to represent patriotism and a love for one’s country.
- Incorporating a red rose in your writing to symbolize love.
- Using an apple pie to represent a traditional American lifestyle.
- Using a chalkboard to represent education.
- Incorporating the color black in your writing as a symbol for evil or death.
- Using an owl to represent wisdom.
Examples in literature include:
- “All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts.” - As You Like It, William Shakespeare
The “stage” here symbolizes the world and the “players” represent human beings.
- “My love for Linton is like the foliage in the woods. Time will change it; I’m well aware, as winter changes the trees. My love for Heathcliff resembles the eternal rocks beneath a source of little visible delight, but necessary.” - Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
Bronte uses imagery of the natural world to symbolize the wild nature and deep feelings of her characters.
Some Fun Sounds
So, that covers "the big five." But, we'd be remiss if we didn't briefly touch upon some literary sound devices that can hang with the best similes and metaphors.
Alliteration is a sound device. It is the repetition of the first consonant sounds in several words.
- We're up, wide-eyed, and wondering while we wait for others to awaken.
- Betty bought butter but the butter was bitter, so Betty bought better butter to make the bitter butter better.
Onomatopoeia is also a sound device where the words sound like their meaning, or mimic sounds. They add a level of fun and reality to writing.
Here are some examples:
- The burning wood hissed and crackled.
- Sounds of nature are all around us. Listen for the croak, caw, buzz, whirr, swish, hum, quack, meow, oink, and tweet.
Figurative Language Engages the Reader
Regardless of the type of word you use, figurative language can make you look at the world differently; it can heighten your senses, add expression and emphasis, and help you feel like you're having the same experience as the author. With each brush stroke across the canvas a painter adds depth to their masterpiece. Figurative language adds the same kind of depth to our writing.
So, instead of hearing the wind blow against your window tonight, perhaps you'll hear the whisper of the wind as it calls out for you like a lover in the night. (personification and simile, respectively) That blank page you're looking at is actually a blank canvas. It's up to you to add texture and depth. Have fun layering your literary devices, but remember not to go overboard with them!