The major factors contributing to the need for change are changing business demands in a global economy, technological developments, and changing workforce demographics and values. Today’s business is increasingly consumer-driven and segmented. New technologies have made it possible to achieve profits at lower volumes in “niche markets.”
Aims of the change process
The goal of high-volume production at a low price has given way to new differentiation criteria such as quality, flexibility, on-time delivery, customer service, and custom-designed production. In general, this change in market demands is related to technological developments as both product and process innovations make it possible to meet diverse demands at a relatively acceptable price level (Daft 2003).
Change and modern organization
As a growing percentage of the workforce is better educated than previous generations, employees look for opportunities not only to apply existing skills but to further develop their competencies in the workplace. The importance of job content is reflected in the results of a recent study of working women, which found that a majority of the women surveyed considered the quality and challenge inherent in their job to be more important in retaining them than the child care arrangements offered by their employer (Genus, 1998; Vonderembse and White 2003).
The core concepts involve organizational effectiveness, the concept of “fit”, organizational learning, and change models.
Successful change thus requires paying very close attention to the forces at work in a specific social system. Changes have to be conceivable if they are to be doable. This applies not only to the initiators of change but eventually to everybody affected by the change. For many organizations operating in today’s changing environment and faced with pressures for adaptation, the process of unfreezing has been imposed externally (Stickland, 1998).
Readiness for Change
The readiness for change created in the open phase now becomes a need for change. Visible changes have to respond to the often small problems that participants see as barriers to change. It makes sense to think carefully about how to achieve the broader goal of change and to focus on small steps first. Just as any work organization change has to be tailored to the specific goals of a particular organization and its members, there is no “one best way” to change social systems. Every situation requires a unique approach that has to be “invented,” experimented with, and modified as needed (Sims, 2002).
Recognizing and Diagnosing the Need for Change
If the change process demands increased participation and influence from organization members who have not previously been able to exert such influence, it upsets existing hierarchies of authority and how power is distributed in the system (Schien, 2000).
Diagnoses of change
Depending on the perception of different actors in the organization as to who loses and who gains as a result of such a change effort, resistance will come from different groups. Even if this is recognized and if all organizational members affected by the change are involved, the previous equilibrium will still be disturbed and changed (Senior, 2001).
Gathering and interpreting information
The development of partial goals allows the participants to assess when the process gets off track and to avoid possible unintended side effects. This only happens, however, if the participants’ experiences and assessment of what is happening are taken seriously and influence the course of the change process.
Managing the People Issues
The main issues related to change management are power, leadership, stakeholder management, communication, training, development of employees, motivation, and transition processes.
Change and Competences
The process of competence development begins with direct participation in new activities. These new activities expand the range and scope of task demands and response possibilities. The critical exploration of existing work arrangements, concerning both organizational and individual goals, reveals contradictions and problems between how things are and how they could be. This kind of “gap analysis” lays the foundation for inventing alternative possibilities (Levy and Merry, 1986).
Envisioning and implementing
Envisioning and implementing changes in current work activities and arrangements allow for continuous adaptation and reassessment, help identify additional training and skill requirements, and foster the development of new goals and employee interest in taking on new challenges. A structure and process have to be created to make this happen.
Development and communication
A change process must be invented that allows people to coordinate their perceptions of contradictions and problems to construct a shared vision. This can occur through the dialectic of collectively reflecting on problems, taking action to implement improvements, and then reflecting again on the effectiveness of the changes (Senior, 2001).
Shaping Implementation Strategies and Managing and Sustaining the Transition
Planning in the move phase ought to encompass discrete steps or partial goals which can be evaluated on an ongoing basis. The success of a change process cannot be visible at the end only but must become transparent as it moves along. Originally formulated goals may become the subject of corrective action if they turn out to be double-edged, unrealistic, or otherwise undesirable (Ivancevich and Matteson 2007).
Planning and organizing
The employees affected should be involved in determining what is needed to support and consolidate the new system. Glitches and problems often point to the areas where modifications and further development are needed. If this phase is not actively planned, and the process just somehow stops, participants’ expectations may be frustrated, and they may fall back into resignation Real growth and development occur, however, during the invisible recovery periods between training sessions. Similarly, learning and change phases have to alternate with phases of stabilization for change to take hold and for individuals to regain a sense of predictability and mastery (Hayes, 2006).
Most organizations make little effort to control implementation and transition, the challenges they face, and their strategies for addressing them down to the shop floor or the “front line” of their operation. The manufacturing worker who has never been informed about where the part that he or she produces goes is not a rare exception. The more employees know about the “bigger picture” and how their work fits into it, the more aligned their creativity becomes with future work demands.
The purpose of intervention is to suggest optimal ways for changing a system and move in a specific direction, describe a developmental process that integrates individual learning and competence development with broader system change. This endeavor requires that we learn to think developmentally, which often is difficult for people who have been raised in the scientific traditions of Western civilization. There are probably many reasons that contribute to this difficulty, the most important, in our view, being the attribution fallacy and the linear cause-effect fallacy, discussed briefly below. People tend to join together with others who have similar interests to increase their power to exercise their preferences (Daft, 2003).
The need to create a mechanism for an ongoing dialogue is central to the processes of both individual competence development and social system change. Thus, people who perceive themselves to have overlapping interests often collaborate to achieve commonly held goals, while people who perceive themselves to have conflicting interests with others engage in various types of conflict, including violence, to achieve their goals. Information and communication are key ingredients in constructing a dialogue in which employees can invent alternatives and develop new goals.
Daft, R. L. 2003, Organizational Theory and Design. 9th Edition. South-Western College Pub; 8 edition.
Genus, A. 1998, The management of change: perspective and practice. London: International Thompson.
Hayes, J. 2006. The Theory and Practice of Change Management, Palgrave, 2nd Edition Palgrave Macmillan.
Ivancevich Michael T. Matteson John M. 2007. Organizational Change, Ashford University.
Levy, A., Merry, U. 1986. Organizational Transformation: Approaches, Strategies, Theories. Praeger Publishers.
Senior, Barbara. 2001. Organizational Change, Capstone Publishing.
Schien, E. H. 2000. Organizational Culture and Leadership. Jossey-Bass.
Sims, R.R. 2002, Managing Organizational Behavior. Quorum Books.
Stickland, F. 1998, The Dynamics of Change. London: Routledge.
Vonderembse, M. A., White G. P. 2003, Core concepts of operations management. Wiley.