Sunday, December 12, 2004

"UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP" by Courtney, Suzanne, & Rosalyn

Employees, who work for a large organization like Universal Music Group, tend to run into problems of communication. Throughout our plan for Universal Music Group, we will be suggesting various ways for resolving their communication problems, from starting up weblogs to using PDAs. We will also be talking about how our plan takes the organization's "informal network" into account, what three of the "six conditions necessary for successful change," and we will refer back to Weick's Organizational Information Theory in order to see which of his concepts applies to our plan. But first we are going to talk a little about the history of Universal Music Group.

Universal Music Group first began after Seagram acquired Polygram in 1998 and renamed the two joint companies Universal Music Group. After these two companies merged they brought together all of the labels that they had acquired over the years. But, the history of Universal dates as far back to 1898 when it first started out as a film manufacturing company and than later branched out into the music industry. Over the years, Polygram acquired record labels over seas. Polygram in 1986 went on to establish their music publishing. In the beginning years of the nineties, Polygram acquired two major labels: A&M and Def Jam. In 1995, Universal Records was created by MCA Entertainment Group. Then Seagram acquired MCA, INC. In 1996, they renamed MCA, INC. to Universal Music Group, but at that time it was still known as MCA, INC. Now Universal Music Group lists labels such as: Barclay, DreamWorks, Interscope, Geffen, A&M, Island Def Jam Music Group, Lost highway, MCA Nashville, Mercury, Mercury Nashville, Motor Music, Polydor, Universal Motown Records Group, Universal Classics Group. Their "global operations encompass the development, manufacture, marketing, sales, and distribution of recorded music through a network of subsidiaries, joint ventures, and licensees in 71 countries." The markets they reach go to the U.K., Germany, Italy, and all over the world. Some artists that are under Universal Music Group are: Eminem, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Sheryl Crow, Shania Twain, and they also have other international acts from Latin America and Europe.

Universal Music Group is a Global Organization. Besides having two main locations; 1755 Broadway in New York City and 2220 Colorado Avenue in Santa Monica, California; Universal Music Group also has locations in Nashville, Canada, Spain, Miami, England, Italy, France, and Australia. Universal Music Group has more than 10,700 employees that work for them worldwide. The chairman and CEO of Universal Music Group is Douglas Morris. The chairman of Universal's Island Def Jam Group is renowned record producer L.A. Reid.

When it comes to communication in an organization this big, it is important. After speaking to one of the employees, we found out that at Universal, their means of communication is through using the telephone, email, cell phones, blackberries, and regular mail. The employee told us that most of the time they use telephones, email, and regular mail whether the communication is from department to department or New York to Spain. They only use blackberries and cell phones sometimes. The main problems they face with their means of communication is when they use the telephones, the voicemail always picks up which can be considered the noise in this case because it is stopping the sender from actually speaking to the person receiving the message. When they use email, sometimes the email isn't delivered, there is too much spam which is the noise or interference, or the people don't answer the email. An example we are using was posted by Melissa in an earlier post when she talks about how sometimes she reads her email and sometimes she doesn't. When they use regular mail, it can sometimes get lost, and it takes time to get to the destination; they don't get an answer right away. Gage states that "UNLESS YOU HAVE A TRUSTWORTHY COURIER YOU NEVER KNOW IF YOUR MESSAGE WAS RECEIVED." As of right now, they don't have many problems with blackberries or cell phones because most of the employees don't use them for work purposes.

You would think that an organization this big would know about and how to use all the new technologies for communicating with one another as well as with their companies around the world. For our plan, we want to introduce weblogs, aggregators, wikis, instant messaging, text messaging, smart mobs, and flash mobs as well as suggesting that having their own mobile devices like a cell phone or PDA/Blackberry just for work and also starting a journal about what is going on in the organization. Aubrey makes a great point that through these technologies employees in the organization who don't know each other to communicate. We want Universal Music Group to have many options to choose from when communicating through their large organization of employees.

There are many ways in which Universal Music Group can improve their communication style among themselves and the offices they have throughout the nation. First, we would like to start off talking about how weblogs, journals, and news aggregators. Weblogs, which we have learned before are used by people to give up-to-date information to the public. These blogs as Suzanne said "archive and categorize information." Michelle makes a great point by saying that weblogs are like a diary. Weblogs also help make it easier to look up information and to communicate to people. We have learned that Universal Music Group runs into several communication problems. One way to improve communication in this organization is by making a company blog and setting it as a default page on their internet explorer or PDA. An easy way to set up a weblog is to go to blogger; this site gives an easy three-step way to create your company weblog. By having a weblog, they would be able to get in contact with whoever they need and would avoid missing calls and not getting messages via cell phone or via email. Weblogs as a form of communication in this company would help to improve the communication by making it available on a website specifically created for the company and would be a more convenient way of getting information and speaking to others. If each department set up their own weblog; the employees would know what is going on in that department without having to ask so many questions or wait for an answer. Like Lauren states, "blogging gives the organization a way to show a personal side to it's team members, and it gives a place for employees to have an informal place to build communication inside of their work environment."

News aggregators are also another form of communication that would help improve Universal Music Group. News aggregators are a fast and easy to find out information. A news aggregator "is a piece of software or a remotely hosted service that periodically reads a set of news sources, in one of several XML-based formats (primarily RSS), finds the new bits, and displays them in reverse-chronological order on a single page." Brynn makes a great point about using aggregators because they help cut out time spent searching the web. The company Universal Music Group would have to either download the program for aggregators or set one up at bloglines. By using a news aggregator on company computers you would avoid mass flurry of emails and would avoid missing important information.

Now we are going to focus on how wikis, smart mobs, and flash mobs will benefit Universal Music Group in having a successful communication system. We have learned that wikis is one of the most beneficial communication devices that this organization can utilize in order to improve their interaction with one another. As stated in this link we just provided, a wiki is a piece of server software that allows users to freely create and edit Web page content using any Web browser. It is reliable and an easier way to exchange ideas and it is also the fastest way in networking with one another. Like Lyneve said wikis "allow groups of people, to collaborate in bringing information to a specific site." For example, Universal Music Group can set up wikis that only certain people can have access to. These wikis can be about anything in the organization. Like Courtney said in one of her posts, "they are sort of like blogs but they're also different than blogs." Wikis are much quicker. An example would be having an artists' wiki that tells what artist was signed, when he or she was signed, what kind of music he or she will be recording, etc. Another example is using wikis as a form of communication would be having the departments set up a problem journal wiki. This problem journal wiki would be for each department to write about any problems they run into daily about communicating with people (things like technology working or people missing their messages) and by the end of the week, hopefully all these problems would be solved. Hopefully, this problem journal wiki would help to avoid big problems that would prevent communication mishaps between departments within the company and outside the United States. Furthermore, not only are wikis a consistent type of communication tool, but smart mobs and flash mobs are also helpful in communicating within each other. We agreed that smart mobs and flash mobs are useful types of device in helping Universal Music Group connect with other offices around the United States, as well as the U.K, for the reason that they do not have to give up the tools they are currently using just enhancing it more in order to communicate faster. Just like Danielle said in an earlier post on smart mobs and flash mobs " they both use technology to communicate, they are both very different from one another."

Smart Mobs can include the Internet as well as mobile devices such as cell phones. The usage of text messaging can be considered a smart mob due to the fact that it is including a more private and small groups of people interacting within one another and it's allowing them to synchronize their activities even though they are in various locations. For smart mobs using text messaging or instant messages can be for rescheduling or verifying a meeting.

In addition, flash mobs are a bit more diverse than smart mobs. According to the link we just presented, a flash mob is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, do something unusual or notable, and then disperse. They are usually organized with the help of the Internet or other digital communications networks. Sarah makes a great point by using flash mobs to represent "The Matrix." As Rosalyn Acosta stated on this posting, our group came to a belief that chat rooms can be thought of as an example of flash mobs for the reason that they are public and sporadic. If Universal Music Group created their own form of chat rooms, it would be a more accessible way for the companies to organize events, and communicate (within a large amount of individuals) with offices around the nation as wells as the U.K.Using wikis, smart mobs, and flash mobs can be very advantageous for Universal Music Group because like Stephanie Summer posted in her blog, "if something really important happens a message can be passed on to employees, and they can easily meet and discuss the issue."

Since we have been talking about how the whole organization could communicate together we are now going to focus on how the employees will be able to communicate with others and solve problems quickly. One way the employees would be able to communicate is by Instant Messaging. Instant messaging allows communication to happen between two or more people by using "instant text communication" through the internet. Instant messaging would help Universal Music Group because if your boss wanted to ask you to do something all he or she would have to do is to instant message you. This will also help employees talk back and forth with one another to see if anything new is going on. Instant messaging is also helpful if there is a problem that needs to be addressed right away and that person is on the phone, by instant messaging that person, the employee will get an answer right away without having to wait for an answer. With having instant messaging it not only offers just instant messages but it also offers chats or chatrooms for all the co-workers to participate with, web links to share different sites, images to show pictures, sounds, files, talk instead of using the phone, and streaming content which allows the employees to see stock quotes and news. By using instant messaging the employees of Universal Music Group will be able to communicate much easier with one another.

Another quick way that will help the employees communicate much easier is by having the organization provide cell phones or mobile phones that are just to be used for company business. The organization would do this by setting a certain amount of money aside to provide the cell phones. The employees would be able to use the cell phone for anything that pertains to work. They would also be able to use the cell phone for personal calls as well but they would be given a certain limit and if they go over that limit, they would have to pay the extra fees. The employees would also be able to choose their own carrier as a perk. Cell phones allow people to communicate and talk with one another when moving around or going to different places. Cell phones would help Universal Music Group because if a secretary has to get in touch with his or her boss to tell him something important and he or she isn't there; the secretary can call and give him or her the message. This would also work if the boss has to get in touch with his employee. Like we stated in class and like Imbar also stated in her post, by using a cell phone when in a meeting for text messaging another employee, there would be no distribution. Even though we aren't focusing on cell phones for our entire plan we still think that they will work for our plan just like Sunny's plan. Cell phones not only allow people to take with each other they also allow them to "send and receive data and faxes," to use the internet, and text messaging. Text messaging or short message service will allow the employees to communicate by once again using text like instant messaging. Text messaging can help Universal Music Group by allowing the employees to text each other when need for an example if someone is in a meeting and can't get away; he or she is able to contact whoever is needed by using text messaging on the cell phone. The employee will get whatever answer is needed without disturbing the meeting. Cell phones and text messaging will be a great help to all the employees at Universal Music Group.

Just like having Universal Music Group provide cell phones for their employees, we also recommend providing PDAs for their employees will also benefit their communication within the organization. Not everyone has to have a PDA but it would be in the best interest to the whole organization that everyone has their own PDA. PDAs or personal digital assistant would help the employees of Universal Music Group PDAs are easy to carry everywhere. PDAs can store a person's address book, calendar, daily planner, memos, to-do lists, allows them to have access to their email, and play music. PDAs allow the employees to check their email without using a computer. For example, they can check their email while waiting online for a cup of coffee. All their meetings and deadlines can be entered into the PDA in order to keep track of what is going on. Also, since working for one of the biggest record companies, these employees would be able to listen to the new artists or the already featured artists on the label. By using Personal Digital Assistants, the employees would be able to keep track of what they had to do in their daily work schedules as well as keeping track of what is happening in the organization.

Our plan to better Universal Music Group's communication system definitely takes the organization's "informal network" into account. For example, if there is a change in anything in the network, the employees will be able to find out quicker and easier. Since the chairman/CEO Doug Morris have been with Universal Music Group for a long time, he would be considered one of the "old boys" (Richmond, 150) in the company. He would be able to communicate and influence all the employees that the change would be good for the organization or if the change isn't going to work. The employees would respect him because he's been around the organization longer than most.

Our plan will also work for all the gatekeepers, an example would be the secretaries, because with all the "newer" technologies of communication the secretaries would be able to get the information passed on to their bosses faster and much easier without having to wait.

What we are trying to say is that no matter what job a person has in Universal Music Group whether they are a bridge, liaison, opinion leader, etc., our plan will work for them. Our plan will help important information get where it has to go right away. Our plan will benefit from the top of the organization right down to the bottom of it.

Our plan for Universal Music Group will incorporate three of the six necessary conditions for a necessary successful change. The three of the six conditions that will help this organization are "the system must have, or will create, slack resources, the change must be adapted to each specific organization, and the change will show obvious, positive results soon"(Richmond, 161-162).

In our text it describes slack sources as being "the resources that are available but not allocated, or ones that can be reallocated easily"(Richmond, 161). A type of slack resource would be financing; questions that would arise with financing a change would be where would they get the money for this? The way our plan will incorporate the first condition listed is that Universal Music Group will have to set aside some company money that would help by any gadgets needed. Which in our plan our main gadget is already supplied by the company (the computer) we only have to suggest ways of cleaning up their communication within the organization. The only things they would have to invest money in would be to buy the workers a cell phone just for work use and a PDA. All of our other suggestions to the company pertain to the computer.

The second condition listed that will help for a successful change would be that this change would "be adapted for a specific organization"(Richmond, 161). Which in this case is evident because we designed our plan specifically for Universal Music Group. So if anything were to go wrong with our suggestions it would not affect other companies.

The third condition that will help for a successful change was that this "change will show obvious, positive results soon"(161). With the type of suggestions we have given to Universal Music Group the change should show quick results right away. We are not doing a completely drastic thing that would distract the company from doing what they are supposed to be doing. Changes in the company would be noticeable and you would be able to see that people are talking with people they need to talk to and getting information they need right away.

With our suggestions to Universal Music Group they will have more direct communication and the information would be delivered at a faster pace. Since the companies offices are in over 71 companies its important to avoid miscommunications and have a clear level of communication in which you will not have to worry about big mishaps happening.

Karl Weick's organizational information theory includes strategies that can very much assist Universal Music Group in learning more about how to improve their communication within their offices. Stamping out utility is one of the few approaches that Weick recommends to businesses, especially large corporations.

Stamping out utility, like stated on this link we just provided, is holding on to practices that are inefficient in the short term. What Weick is trying to state here is that it should be important to make use of something until another thing (better) comes along. For example, Universal Music Group only uses regular phones to get in touch with the headquarters in other states without realizing that by employing cell phones as their new communication device, they can have better communication and reach the person they are trying to call at any time of the day.

In addition, another illustration that stamping out utility can be beneficial to Universal Music Group is that utilizing email is now considered the "older" way to communicate among employers and employees, and wikis, as well as weblogs, are the "newer" communication tools. We are advising Universal Music Group, who is still using emails, to discard this method and begin to use wikis and/or weblogs in order to have a more efficient connection with their employees.

In conclusion, we would like to restate that no matter what part of the organization a person is a part of our plan will hopefully benefit their ways of communication. Our plan was designed to inform Universal Music Group about all the different ways of communication they could be using in order to make their company run more efficiently all around the world.


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