What is change? On the World Wide Web at wordnet. princeton. edu/perl/webwn, there are 20 different definitions of change (2008). Wikipedia defines it by saying that “Change denotes the transition that occurs when something goes from being the same to being different” (en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Change, 2008). This definition is where this paper needs to start in order to understand what provokes change, and what steps people can take to overcome pitfalls when it comes to implementing change in their organization.
Characteristically, the idea of organizational change is “in regard to organization-wide change, as opposed to smaller changes… Examples… might include a change in mission, restructuring operations, new technologies, mergers, major collaborations…etc. ” (McNamara, 2008). Change is a “strategy to accomplish some overall goal” (McNamara, 2008) and should not be done just for the sake of change. Do not confuse the term strategy with the term goal, however. While these two terms may seem like the same thing, the difference is that “goals focus on what, strategies focus on how” (Chaudron, 2003).
Typically, the saying “organizational change,” is “about a significant change in the organization, such as adding a major new product or service” (Managementhelp. org, 2008). Organizational change is usually brought on by a major, or several major external driving force(s), such as, substantial cuts in funding, a necessity for dramatic increases in productivity and/or services, or market/client changes (i. e. expanding globally). Some major types of organizational change are Transformational, Incremental, Remedial, Developmental, Unplanned, and Planned.
The next few paragraphs will explain each of these a little more. An example of a transformational (or radical) change could be changing an organization’s composition and customs from a hierarchical structure to a large amount of self-directing teams. Another transformational change example is a business process referred to as re-engineering, “which tries to take apart (at least on paper, at first) the major parts and processes of the organization and then put them back together in a more optimal fashion” (Managementhelp. org, 2008).
This type of change is also sometimes referred to as “quantum change” (Ibid). Incremental change is continuous improvement, such as a quality management process or the implementation of a new computer system to increase efficiencies. Often, “organizations experience incremental change and its leaders do not recognize the change as such” (Ibid). Remedial change is defined as a change “to remedy current situations or issues” (Managementhelp. org, 2008). Remedial changes are implemented to improve poor performance of a product or entire organization.
They may also be put into practice to reduce burnout in the workplace, to help the organization become more proactive and less reactive, or to address large budget deficits. “Remedial projects often seem more focused and urgent because they are addressing a current, major problem” (Ibid). It is sometime simpler to verify the success of these projects because the problem is either resolved or it is not. Developmental change is used “to make a successful situation even more successful” (Managementhelp. org, 2008).
For example, if a company wished to increase the number of customers it can help, it might introduce a developmental change (such as building more cash registers, or changing around the customer service line structure) to help accomplish that goal. Another developmental change might be implemented to reproduce successful goods or services. Developmental changes can appear more broad and unclear than remedial, depending on how precise the goals are and how essential it is for members of the organization to accomplish those goals.
Unplanned changes normally occur due to a major, unexpected surprise to the organization, “which causes its members to respond in a highly reactive and disorganized fashion” (Managementhelp. org, 2008). Some examples of unplanned changes; the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) suddenly leaves the organization, major public relations problems appear, or poor product performance quickly results in a loss of customers. Planned changes occur when “leaders in the organization recognize the need for a major change and proactively organize a plan to accomplish the change” Managementhelp. org, 2008). Just because a change is planned, does not necessarily mean that the implementation of the change will happen in a highly organized fashion. In reality, “planned change tends to occur in more of a chaotic and disruptive fashion than expected by participants” (Ibid). There is an old saying that goes something like, “the only thing that stays the same is everything changes. ” Knowing that change is such a staple in everyone’s lives, why then, is organizational change (or any change for that matter) so difficult to accomplish?
First of all, people, by nature, tend to be resistant to change. There are many reasons for this. Some people are afraid of the unknown. Others think everything is fine the way it is and do not see a need for change. Some people simply do not think there is an effective way to accomplish major organizational change (McNamara, 2008). According to John Kotter, there are eight reasons why many change processes do not succeed (Kotter, 1990): •Allowing too much complexity •Failing to build a substantial coalition •Not understanding the need for a clear vision •Failing to clearly communicate the vision Permitting roadblocks against the vision •Not planning for short term results and not realizing them •Declaring victory too soon •Fail to anchor changes in corporate culture How can these pitfalls be avoided and how is organizational change best carried out? First, in order for any organizational changes to be successful, the company must have top management’s (the board, chief executive, etc) involvement. Second, the company needs a successful change agent. A change agent is the “champion” who initially instigates the change by being persuasive, consistent, and a visionary.
Their responsibilities as change agent include translating the vision into a realistic plan and carrying out the plan (Managementhelp. org, 2008). Change agents all need to make sure there is frequent communication about the change with all organization members. “The best approaches to address resistances are through increased and sustained communications and education” (Ibid). Change agents should meet with all employees and managers to explain the reasons for the change, how it will be expected to be carried out, and where additional information about the change can be found.
The plan needs to be designed, organized and well communicated. The change agent should leave room for changes in the plan, but should also make sure to communicate why the plan has changed. On top of the basic guidelines listed in the previous paragraph, there are several other general guidelines to keep in mind (Managementhelp. org, 2008): •Consider using a consultant. Ensure the consultant is highly experienced in organization-wide change. Ask to see references and check the references. •Widely communicate the potential need for change. Communicate what is being done about it. Communicate what was done and how it worked out. Get as much feedback as practical from employees, including what they think are the problems and what should be done to resolve them. If possible, work with a team of employees to manage the change. •Do not get wrapped up in doing change for the sake of change. Know why the change is being made and what goal is hoped to be accomplished. •Plan the change. What is the plan to reach the goals, what is needed to reach the goals, how long might it take and once the goal is reached, how will that be made known? Focus on the coordination of the departments/programs in the organizations, not on each part by itself.
Have someone in charge of the plan. •End up having every employee ultimately reporting to one person, if possible, and make sure they know who that person is. Job descriptions are often complained about, but they are useful in specifying who reports to whom. •Delegate decisions to employees as much as possible. This includes giving them the authority and responsibility to get the job done. •The process will not happen overnight and will probably take longer than originally planned. •Keep perspective. Keep focused on meeting the needs of customers and clients. Make sure everyone is taking care of themselves. Organization-side change can be very stressful. •Do not try to control change. Expect it, understand it, and manage it. •Include closure in the plan. Acknowledge and celebrate accomplishments. •Read some resources about organizational change, including new forms and structures. In John Kotter’s book, “A Force for Change: How Leadership Differs from Management” (1990), along with the previous mentioned eight reasons why changes do not succeed, he used the Change Phases Model to list the following eight steps to follow for successful change: Establish a sense of urgency •Create a coalition •Develop a clear vision •Share the vision •Empower people to clear obstacles •Secure short-term wins •Consolidate and keep moving •Anchor the change According to Kotter, it is imperative that these eight phases of change are followed in this exact order. Based on the information learned in this class on change, the author of this paper has made her own comprehensive personal plan for change. Based on what was learned in the class, and applying past experiences, this author is going to do what she can to bring about change in her organization.
This author is very limited on what changes can personally be made within the organization, but she can do her part to help keep morale up when changes come down through the chain of command. There is a new program that is going to be implemented later this year and this organization has been keeping us up to date on information regarding this change for over a year now. This new program is designed to combine all of the current programs being used together, to make everything easier to input into the system (everything will be in one place).
There will be resistance to this program (there is already resistance talking about the implementation). There will also be bugs to work out, and lots and lots of training to adjust to the new changes. This author’s plan to help with this transition is to keep morale up by staying positive to the changes. It is also important to do research about the new changes in order to be well informed about what is going on within the organization. This allows the office this author works in (in a leadership position) to better answer any questions and help other soldiers prepare themselves for the changes that are coming.
The more knowledge the battalion has about the new system, the easier it will be to show others how those changes will affect them, and hopefully how it will affect them in a positive manner. There are so many different ideas on how to deal with changes, big and small. One key thing to remember is to find out what works for the organization going through the changes, and do everything that can be done to keep the channels of communication about the change, including feedback, open. Remember, “When the winds of change blow hard enough, the most trivial of things can become deadly projectiles” (Despair. om, 2008). References Authenticity Consulting, LLC. (2008). Types of organizational change. Retrieved April 18th, 2008 from the World Wide Web: http://www. managementhelp. org/misc/types-of-orgl-change. pdf Chaudron, David, PhD. (2003). Begin at the beginning in organizational change. Retrieved April 18th, 2008 from the World Wide Web: http://www. organizedchange. com/decide. htm Kotter, John. (1990). A force for change: how leadership differs from management. Retrieved April 18th, 2008 from the World Wide Web: http://www. 12manage. com/methods_kotter_change. html McNamara, C.
MBA, PhD. (2008). Basic context for organizational change. Retrieved April 18th, 2008 from the World Wide Web: http://www. managementhelp. org/mgmnt/orgchnge. htm Wikipedia. (2008). Definition of change. Retrieved May 2nd, 2008 from the World Wide Web: http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Change Winds of change quote. Retrieved April 18th, 2008 from the World Wide Web: http://despair. com/viewall. html Wordnet search (2008). Definition of change. Retrieved May 2nd, 2008 from the World Wide Web: http://wordnet. princeton. edu/perl/webwn? s=change &o2=&o0=1&o7=&o5=&o1=1&o6=&o4=&o3=&h=