The six-box model is a framework developed by the American analyst Weisbord to assess the functioning of organizations. It is a generic framework and is intended for use across a wide variety of organizations. It is based mainly on the techniques and assumptions of the field of organizational development. The model represents a particular way of looking at organizational structure and design. It gives attention to issues such as planning, incentives and rewards, the role of support functions such as personnel, internal competitions among organizational units, standards for remuneration, partnerships, hierarchies and the delegation of authority, organizational control, accountability and performance assessment. The model also follows the basic ‘systems’ approach to organizational functioning including the well-known inputs and ‘outputs’ categories”. Weisbord (1976) proposes six broad categories in his model of organizational life, including purposes, structures, relationships, leadership, rewards, and helpful mechanisms. THE SIX-BOX MODEL: Weisbord’s six-box model contains six elements to focus the organizational diagnosis: the organization’s strategy, structure, rewards, internal relationships, helpful mechanisms, and leadership. Surrounding the six box model is the environment, although it is not included in the model. For each dimension, the model includes specific questions. Weisbord’s six-box diagnostic model centers the analysis on areas of dissatisfaction as the starting point, identifying organizational outputs with which both external customers and internal producers are dissatisfied. Then, participants find the causes of dissatisfaction in the six elements of the model. Internal producers are the key decision makers to solve those areas of dissatisfaction.
Weisbord poses diagnostic questions for each box of his model. For example, he suggests that OD consultants determine whether organizational members agree with and support the organization’s mission and goals within the purpose box. This question refers to his premise regarding the nature of the formal and informal systems within the organization. PURPOSE : The purposes of an organization are the organization’s mission and goals. Do organizational members support the organization missions and goals? STRUCTURE: Weisbord refers to structure as the way in which the organization is organized; this may be by function – where specialists work together – or by product, program, or project – where multi-skilled teams work together. Is there a fit between the purpose and the internal structure of the organization? RELATIONSHIP: The ways in which people and units interact is termed relationships. Also included in the box of relationships is the way in which people interact with technology in their work. What type of relations exists between individuals, between departments, and between individuals and the nature of their jobs? Is it their interdependence? What is the quality of relations. What are the models of conflict? REWARDS: Rewards are the intrinsic and extrinsic rewards people associate with their work. What does the organization formally reward, and for what do organizational members feel they are rewarded and punished? What does the organization need to do to fit with the environment? LEADERSHIP: The leadership box refers to typical leadership tasks, including the balance between the other boxes. The leadership dimension positioned in the center is connected to the other five factors, because Weisbord sustains that leaders play a critical role in the organizational effectiveness. Do leaders define purposes? Do they embody purposes in their programs? What is the normative style of leadership? HELPFUL MECHANISMS: Finally, the helping mechanisms are the planning, controlling, budgeting, and information systems that serve to meet organizational goals. Do these mechanisms help or hinder the accomplishment of organizational objectives? EXTERNAL ENVIRONMENT: The external environment is also depicted in Weisbord’s model, although it is not represented as a “box”.
STRENTH: Weisbord’s model is particularly useful when the consultant does not have as much time as would be desirable for diagnosis, when a relatively uncomplicated organizational map is needed for quick service, or when the client is unaccustomed to thinking in systems terms. In the latter case, the model helps the client to visualize his or her organization as a systemic whole without the use of strange terminology. Weakness : Weisbord’s six-box model has been widely used by OD practitioners, because is easy to use and easy to understand by clients. However, the simplicity of the model is also a disadvantage, because the model lacks a solid theoretical foundation to determine the real existence of gaps, and their degree of influence over the whole organizational effectiveness. Furthermore, the model fails to provide a solid course of action to close identified gaps given the internal arguments of dissatisfaction