Organizational Change: Strategy, Structure and Culture

Describe the relationship between an organization’s strategy, structure, and culture. Why do organizations have to change? Where would you start if you had to change the organization at Wal-Mart or any other big organization? What are some of the barriers to change that you might encounter? How would you overcome the barriers?

The strategy of an organization is simply the road map designed by the organization’s management to help it achieve its goals and objectives. The modern business world is very competitive and it is therefore very important for an organization to have a clear roadmap that can help it achieve its targets (Leban 13). The structure of an organization refers to how an organization connects its internal resources. The type of structure an organization adopts depends on the organization’s functions. The organizational strategy drives the company in the sense that the structure of an organization can not function without being connected with the organizational strategy. An organization can’t achieve its targets if its strategy and structure are not synchronized. The overall strategy of an organization is facilitated by the structure of the organization which needs to be continuously linked for the organization to continue being productive (Leban 13). An organization that does not inter-link its strategy and structure is at great risk of losing the market share of its products because a structure that does not relate to the strategy makes an organization to become less competitive. A global company such as Wal-mart operates on a multi-divisional structure that favors its strategy of doing global business. There is a very strong correlation between the structure of an organization and its culture. The organizational structure is very formal where all the stakeholders within an organization are assigned different roles and effective communication systems put in place by the management to help members work together towards achieving common organizational goals (Leban 46).

The procedures and policies of an organization are driven by the structure of an organization because it is very tangible and visible. The behavior of managers and other company associates is to a large extent influenced by company procedures and policies. One of the most overlooked themes in organizational management is the relationship between organizational structure and culture. The structure of an organization operates under the company’s culture. The culture of an organization forms the larger umbrella under the organizational strategy and structure that thrives. The larger picture of an organization is represented in its culture. The efficiency and consistency of an organizational culture entirely depend on how the structure is set up in terms of infrastructure and practices. Any organization regardless of its function will thrive and achieve its targets if it has a practical and efficient culture that guides its strategy and structure.

Structure and strategy are specific segments of culture that play a very important role in how the organization’s culture is set up. The management of an organization works according to the company’s structure (Leban 112). Interrelated groups within an organization can work together if the organizational structure remains consistent with the company’s culture. Coordination and effective communication channels within an organization are very important elements brought about by an effective organizational structure. Since the main objective of a business is to grow and increase in size, a good structure and strategy make sure that the objective is achieved through phases. When an organization is credited with having a healthy culture, then its strategy and structure are responsible for that. Many companies are adopting the cultural model of leadership since its benefits have been proven beyond doubt. Structure, strategy, and culture are the three fundamental elements that an organization can not survive without (Leban 112).

Organizational change is very important for any company that wants to grow and become successful. There are various causes of organizational change depending on the structure, strategy, and culture of the organization. A company needs to modify its processes and products since consumer behavior is not always constant. Technological advancements together with the ever-changing consumer needs make a change in an organization inevitable. When the product of a company reaches the maturity stage in the product lifecycle, it is necessary to initiate change since the returns from the product begin to dwindle. A company can respond to such a challenge in quite a several ways such as the production of a superior product and introduction of new technologies (Leban 145).

Change can also be necessitated when a company decides to stop the production of a particular product and instead invest the resources in another more promising venture. The exit strategy can bring a lot of changes to the organization as the company tries to find the best way possible to remain relevant in the ever-competitive market. New leadership or management within an organization is also another major cause of organizational change. The new management can come up with new policies and procedures for running the organization that must be followed by all the stakeholders. Different leaders have different styles of leadership that can influence change within an organization. Government agencies are examples of organizations that experience changes whenever there is a change in the leadership of a country. The other cause of organizational change is acquisitions and mergers which affect processes and resource allocation. When two companies merge, business operations are expected to change as well as the organizational structure (Leban 145).

Strategic change is another major cause of organizational change since the focus of a company’s functions is completely shifted. An example of this is when an organization that used to be customer-oriented changes to become product-oriented. When a company changes its process and introduces new systems, the physical infrastructure and other elements of the company’s strategy are bound to change to sustain the new system. Logistical and operational changes are key highlights of a product-oriented change (Leban 156). While initiating organizational changes, it is important to understand where the change should start. Those with the responsibility of managing change within an organization must first of all strive to change the minds and way of thinking of the employees and other stakeholders.

It becomes much simpler for an organization to initiate change if the employees and other stakeholders are well informed about the need for change. The management needs to assume that the employees understand and perceive change just like them. The company leadership should provide training for their employees for them to be in a position to see and understand why the company needs to make some changes. Change comes with structural changes and it is therefore very important for the employees to be well informed in advance if there is going to be a change in roles and responsibilities. Employees that are psychologically prepared for change tend to respond positively. Fear and skepticism on the side of employees only come when change is not communicated to them with the required clarity (Leban 156). The staff needs to understand how the change will affect them to prevent them from coming up with wrong notions about change. Organizational change should begin from the top management as a way of leading by example.

There are certain barriers to organizational change that must be overcome for an organization to fully realize the objectives of change. Since organizational change leads to complete restructuring and planning, there is no doubt that it is bound to face some challenges. Social barriers are the first ones to be encountered because some people find it difficult to accept change. New processes and systems are sometimes very difficult to be accepted and it takes a lot of effort by the management to help the employees accept changes within the organization. Change can be very difficult for a group since there is a possibility of new policies and processes being inconsistent with the norms of the group (Leban 165). Social barriers can be overcome if change can be modified in a way that compromises with some of the group norms.

This strategy helps in making members of a group accept change because adaptation is made simpler. The other strategy of overcoming social barriers of change is by involving all the stakeholders in the decision-making process as well as allowing them to give their feedback on the implemented changes. This strategy is very important to overcome social barriers to change as everyone will feel part of the change. The esteem and confidence of employees are boosted when they are fully involved in the change process. Cultural barriers are also common during the process of implementing organizational change. Employees become skeptical about new processes and policies especially if some past changes had failed to bring the desired results. It is always a difficult task for the management to try and convince the stakeholders that the new initiatives would work. To overcome this kind of barrier, tangible proofs must be presented by change managers to win the trust of other stakeholders within the organization. Resistance to change is very difficult to deal with and at times help from experts is needed to help employees understand the challenges of new initiatives (Leban 165).

Developmental barriers are another form of barriers that organizational change faces. The reluctance by employees to use new technologies due to inadequate training can be a major hindrance to change. Employees fear messing up with new systems hence most of them are always uncomfortable with sudden technological changes. It is always a great challenge for employees to apply their skills confidently especially when handling specialized applications. An example of such a case is when an employee is supposed to use new software before being properly trained. Technological changes can be overwhelming especially if they are suddenly introduced without adequate training of employees (Leban 166). The best way to overcome developmental barriers in change implementation is through training employees adequately before introducing new methods and systems. How change is introduced can be a psychological barrier to change. Lack of consultation before implementing psychological changes leads to mistrust within the organization and consequently strains employee relationships. Psychological barriers can be overcome by involving all the stakeholders in making decisions regarding the organizational change.

Works Cited

Leban, Bill. Managing Organizational Change. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2007. Print.