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The Walking Dead and Organizational Development

AMC's hit series, The Walking Dead, owns an hour of television for many households. This isn't your typical zombie apocalypse. There are plots, twists, and turns that have you on the edge of your sofa while anticipating what's to happen next week at the end of the hour on Sunday night.

I've never been a "zombie movie" fan...EVER. To me, they're always the same. One person gets sick, spreads the germs, germs take over the world, and you have a group of folk trying to survive. Simple and familiar right? Well, this time around I'm watching the zombie apocalypse through a different set of lenses; an organizational development (OD) lense. I blame my graduate studies. I'm already a huge fan of how people operate. Once I discovered higher education revolving around that in organizations; I immediately signed up. Fast forward two years and there's a M.A. behind my name as I walked proudly across the stage May of 2013 with my degree in OD.

A few of the terminology that comes across my mind at the moment are group dynamics, groupthink, cognitive dissonance, Theory X/Y leadership, and organizational culture. These are all key because in the series, you see all these played out in the series. There are cliques on the show that go around looking to survive in the midst of the whole entire apocolypse.

Organizational Culture and Group Dynamics- This is a concept in OD that deal with the particulars of how a group operates and functions. Every group (2 or more persons) on The Walking Dead, who Rick (one of the main characters) and his crew runs into, has their own group dynamics. For example, some leaders are machiavellianism leaders. In other words, they lead from the authority title or position.

Groupthink- This is the "adult peer pressure". Throughout the show, you have leaders of various camps make decisions. Groupthink causes the members of the camp to just "go along" with the decision even though they disagree with it. Nothing is said about the decision either, which leads me to the next OD concept of cognitive dissonance

Cognitive dissonance has everything to do with values. This takes place in a group when a decision is made and the decision contradicts your personal values or beliefs. Alliances have been formed and relationships have been broken within the show because of cognitive dissonance.

Theory X/Y leadership focus on two types of leaders. A theory X leader is a leader who believes his or her followers dislike what they do whereas theory Y leaders believe their followers have a desire to do well and be successful. This showed up equally in the show as leaders looked at people in their camps as some who genuinely wanted to survive (theory Y) or others who could careless about everyone else, but themselves (theory X).

Not only is The Walking Dead packed with action and a great storyline. It also allows me to watch with an OD mindset. Can't wait till next Sunday!

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