The Knowledge is Already in the Room

July 19, 2017


This guest post is by Pamela Ruiz, presenter of How to Manage Organizational Change, part of the STRONGER ORGANIZATIONS, STRONGER NETWORKS track. Learn more about the conference and register here: 

Your organization’s richest resource is its human capital – the knowledge and skills contained within your staff. When your organization is facing an issue, are you tapping into that resource to solve the problem? Because I’m 100% willing to bet that the knowledge to do so is already in the room. If people are active in decisions affecting them, then they are more likely to adopt new ways. This is the main theory informing the Action Research Model of organizational development.

“Action Research is, in the most basic sense, a type of research that creates and measures change in a cyclical manner with the intention of overall positive growth throughout the process. This type of research is generally conducted in a collaborative manner by an individual person or team of people who are interested not only in studying a particular problem but also in creating solutions.” (James, Slater and Bucknam, 2012)

The research can be conducted internally by a valued team member, or externally by a consultant. It’s important that the researcher is objective, asks the right questions, and can provide collected information back to stakeholders to analyze and determine the issue at hand. 

Starting off on the right foot means that all team members are encouraged to share their thoughts and experiences. Be sure to invite less vocal people to chime in, too.  The researcher takes everyone’s input, summarizes, and organizes it into an action plan. Then the team works together to implement the plan, and evaluate the process. What worked, what didn’t? What did the team enjoy about the process? What was challenging? 

The final steps of the model – checking in with stakeholders to ensure acceptance of the action plan – should not be overlooked. In fact, I believe regular check-ins throughout the process ensure the model’s success. 
Empower yourself and your team to solve issues collaboratively. Create lasting change. Attend my session, How to Manage Organizational Change, at Maryland Nonprofits’ 2017 annual conference to learn a 14-step process to implement successful change in your organization!

As an organizational consultant with nearly an entire career in nonprofits, I often see organizations not utilizing their teams for maximum effectiveness and engagement. Team members do not feel part of the larger mission or plan, and skills and passions go untapped. I am available to organizations for short- and long-term consultations, specializing in strategic planning and team retreats. For more information about me and to connect, please find me on LinkedIn: or via email:

About the Author

Pamela Ruiz has over 15 years of comprehensive experience in the areas of nonprofit management, training and facilitation, career development, internship design, international education, membership, and program management. Through her varied experience in both for profit and nonprofit organizations, she is adept at organizational consulting in the fields of employee satisfaction and accountability, managing change, and work/life/health balance.  Ms. Ruiz has lived, studied and worked in Italy, and has traveled through Europe, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East, Asia, and North Africa. An experienced director in the field of international education and career exploration, Ms. Ruiz is also a knowledgeable facilitator and speaker for workshops and intercultural meetings. Pamela excels in taking an idea from its inception, developing the project or program, and seeing it through the launch and continued management.