Changing the way we manage change.For several decades now we have used as our basic premise when teaching "change management" Lewin's conceptual model: unfreeze-change-refreeze. This has served us well, but now it is time to rethink the model, which implies that change is a process imposed upon a "steady state" norm. It is evident that in today's competitive work environment, change is the norm while steady state is an illusory or, at best, fleeting, temporary state.
The management of quality took a great leap forward Great Leap Forward, 1957–60, Chinese economic plan aimed at revitalizing all sectors of the economy. Initiated by Mao Zedong, the plan emphasized decentralized, labor-intensive industrialization, typified by the construction of thousands of backyard steel when we abandoned our old paradigm of inspecting for quality and replaced it with an effort to build quality in through total quality management (TQM (Total Quality Management) An organizational undertaking to improve the quality of manufacturing and service. It focuses on obtaining continuous feedback for making improvements and refining existing processes over the long term. See ISO 9000. ) and other such schemes. Rather than a steady state, quality was viewed as something that could be improved continuously through incremental processes. This same reconceptualization needs to be applied to the change management process.
Recognizing change as a continuous process has implications for the way we manage it. No longer is it appropriate to consider organizational change as a project or event--with a beginning and an end--to be managed. Rather, we must consider change management as an ongoing aspect of the leader's job. What are the implications of this viewpoint for the way we teach change management in our colleges of business and in our continuing professional education programs? How can we refocus Verb 1. refocus - focus once again; The physicist refocused the light beam"
focus - cause to converge on or toward a central point; "Focus the light on this image"
2. to consider change as natural, and therefore an element of our environment to which we must continually adapt? How might we inculcate in·cul·cate
tr.v. in·cul·cat·ed, in·cul·cat·ing, in·cul·cates
1. To impress (something) upon the mind of another by frequent instruction or repetition; instill: inculcating sound principles. this view into those we are preparing to lead our organizations in the future? These are a few of the questions that will be examined in this paper.
Five Key Assertions
This paper is built around five key assertions regarding organizational change: (1) The most successful organizations in the long run are those that continuously adapt to changes in the competitive environment. (2) The forces for change in the competitive environment are manifold and continue to build at an accelerating rate. (3) It has become essential to manage change as a continuing process, not as a discrete event or even a series of discrete events. (4) We must adopt a philosophy of "continuous organizational change" to mirror the philosophy that has revolutionized quality management, "continuous quality improvement." (5) A new breed of manager is required who understands change and seeks continuously to adapt the organization to its dynamic environment.
How do we prepare this new breed of managers? Based on our experience as change consultants as well as academic instructors, we offer several ways to address this critical question. Let us examine each of our five assertions.
Assertion One: The most successful organizations in the long run are those that continuously adapt to changes in the competitive environment.
This is not a new idea. In fact, Lawrence and Lorsch (1967) and Schon (1967) were making this point in their seminal writings over three decades ago. The need for organizations to adapt to their competitive environment in order to succeed in the longer term is now a recognized principle in theories of both organizational design (Nystrom & Starbuck, 1981) and strategic management (Guth, 1985). In fact, as Drucker (1954) pointed out years ago, one of the key factors in effective management is the ability to sense environmental change and take steps to position the organization to capitalize on Cap´i`tal`ize on`
v. t. 1. To turn (an opportunity) to one's advantage; to take advantage of (a situation); to profit from; as, to capitalize on an opponent's mistakes s>. this change.
We teach that it is not enough simply to react to change; instead, the effective manager must anticipate change, or even better, be the creator of change. It is far better to have your competitors scrambling to react to the changes your organization has made than to play follow the leader. These days, the race goes to the swift, and it is the strong who survive.
Assertion Two: The forces for change in the competitive environment are manifold and continue to build at an accelerating rate.
This assertion has been the theme of a number of recent best sellers in the business book market (e.g., Brown & Eisenhardt, 1998; Drucker, 1999; Kelly, 1998; Strauss & Howe, 1997). Certainly the theme rings true to those of us in the modern workplace. The pace of our work seems to increase as we move faster and faster to survive in the brutal globally competitive marketplace. Here are five examples of change we are facing and some of the stressors associated with these changes (Sauser, 1999b).
1. Organizations under siege. Fueled by intensified global competition, increasing customer sophistication so·phis·ti·cate
v. so·phis·ti·cat·ed, so·phis·ti·cat·ing, so·phis·ti·cates
1. To cause to become less natural, especially to make less naive and more worldly.
2. and demands for improved quality at lower prices, and a growing cynicism toward big business, government, and labor, we have witnessed a major attack on many of the institutions and organizations of the past. Government, universities, the military, financial institutions, major manufacturers, utilities, and mainline mainline Drug slang verb To inject a drug churches have all become targets for scrutiny and change. Downsizing (1) Converting mainframe and mini-based systems to client/server LANs.
(2) To reduce equipment and associated costs by switching to a less-expensive system.
(jargon) downsizing and re-engineering have emerged as worldwide trends for large organizations as a result of intense global competition and its attendant need for efficiency. These days, even experienced technicians and managers are losing their jobs as organizations seek to streamline operations. This has led to considerable insecurity and stress among workers who were protected from such pressures in the past.
2. A technology explosion. The seeming explosion of new technology that has entered the workplace has affected all of us. Personal computers, fax machines, scanners, cellular telephones, fiber optics fiber optics, transmission of digitized messages or information by light pulses along hair-thin glass fibers. Each fiber is surrounded by a cladding having a high index of refractance so that the light is internally reflected and travels the length of the fiber , radar detection systems, graphics design software, the Internet, Web pages, and other wonders can be quite intimidating to those of us who still have trouble programming our VCRs. Yet new technologies enter the workplace daily, in wave after wave, version after version. Trying to keep up with technology, use it effectively, make cost-efficient decisions about its deployment, are issues that are straining even the most sophisticated employees and managers. Securing our information and protecting our technological investments and sensitive data are growing problems. New technologies are wonderful, but they can be challenging and stressful.
3. Standards, laws, and procedures. Most of us value playing by the rules and seek diligently to comply with the law, with professional standards, and with regulations and specified procedures, which we see as the rules of the game. Staying in compliance, though, becomes difficult when the rules are constantly changing. This is the way of life for many managers and employees as new statutes and administrative rules, new case law, new professional standards, and revised organizational policies and procedures Policies and Procedures are a set of documents that describe an organization's policies for operation and the procedures necessary to fulfill the policies. They are often initiated because of some external requirement, such as environmental compliance or other governmental are issued every day.
4. Time compression. "The check's in the mail," we used to say, knowing that would buy us a few days' time. But first with overnight delivery services, then fax machines, then e-mail, everything sped up. Now we can be buzzed, beeped, paged, and prodded no matter where we are or what we are doing. As the means of communication have become more efficient and the exchange of messages has accelerated, we often feel as if time has become compressed. Some employees and managers feel considerable pressure to do more and more, faster and faster, and are beginning to break under the strain.
5. Litigiousness Litigiousness
Littleness (See DWARFISM, SMALLNESS.)
a fortune is dissipated through the protracted lawsuit of Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce, and the heir dies in misery. [Br. Lit.: Dickens Bleak House] . Our nation is strong due in part to our freedom to seek justice in the courts. This constitutional right is dear to all of us. However, most readers will no doubt agree with us that the degree of litigiousness in our society can make the task of management--and even employment--very unpleasant. We must constantly be on guard not to say or do anything offensive lest we find ourselves in court as a defendant. "Working in a fishbowl" can be tiring and annoying, and we frequently hear fellow managers express their private frustrations with being constantly vigilant in all they say and do.
Altogether, these five factors--which are just a sampling of the many political, economic, demographic, and technological changes we could identify and list--can make our jobs as managers very daunting daunt
tr.v. daunt·ed, daunt·ing, daunts
To abate the courage of; discourage. See Synonyms at dismay.
[Middle English daunten, from Old French danter, from Latin . They are affecting not only the competitive environment we must face but also our stamina for facing it. Implications for our fifth assertion will be considered below. However, we now turn to the third assertion on our list.
Assertion Three: It has become essential to manage change as a continuing process, not as a discrete event or even a series of discrete events.
Those of us who have worked in the field of change management consultation have come to appreciate the value of Kurt Lewin's pioneering work in this area. Consultants have helped organizations bring about effective change by following Lewin's (1951) three steps of "unfreezing, moving, refreezing." Hellriegel, Slocum, and Woodman (1992, p. 734), drawing upon the work of Cummings and Huse (1989), describe these three steps as follows:
* Unfreezing usually involves reducing forces that maintain the organization's behavior at the present level. Unfreezing is sometimes accomplished by introducing information to show discrepancies between behaviors desired by employees and those they currently exhibit.
* Moving shifts the behavior of the organization or department to a new level. It involves developing new behaviors, values, and attitudes through changes in organizational structures and processes.
* Refreezing stabilizes the organization at a new state of equilibrium. It is frequently accomplished through the use of supporting mechanisms, such as organizational culture, norms, policies, and structures.
Far be it from us to critique Lewin's time-proven theory, but we must quibble QUIBBLE. A slight difficulty raised without necessity or propriety; a cavil.
2. No justly eminent member of the bar will resort to a quibble in his argument. with the concept of "establishing a new state of equilibrium," which the third of Lewin's steps, "refreezing," implies is necessary for successful organizational change. If our second assertion is correct and change in the competitive environment is accelerating, it may not be useful--or even possible--to speak of stabilizing an adaptive organization into a state of equilibrium. In fact, our very point is that the competitive environment is changing so rapidly that seeking to maintain stability is actually counterproductive coun·ter·pro·duc·tive
Tending to hinder rather than serve one's purpose: "Violation of the court order would be counterproductive" Philip H. Lee. . While we are not advocating anarchy or chaos, we do argue that "seeking stability" may not be the healthiest strategy for an organization desiring to compete successfully. Instead, we are advocating a philosophy of "continuous organizational change."
Change consultants have thrived for some time now by helping organizations "work through" discrete organizational changes. Typically, we have treated such change efforts as "projects," and have managed them as though they had a distinct beginning, middle, and end. We celebrated each successful end of a change project by congratulating our clients (and ourselves), collecting our fee, and leaving the organization's management team with the task of guiding the changed organization.
We submit that this is no longer good enough. We submit that our role as change consultants has shifted from (a) guiding our client's leadership team through a successful change project to (b) building into our client's leadership team the capacity to guide organizational change as a continuous process. As we build such capacity within the client's leadership team, we better prepare the client organization to survive and thrive by adapting continuously to its changing competitive environment.
No longer can we afford to conceptualize con·cep·tu·al·ize
v. con·cep·tu·al·ized, con·cep·tu·al·iz·ing, con·cep·tu·al·iz·es
To form a concept or concepts of, and especially to interpret in a conceptual way: successful change management as a discrete event or a series of discrete events. We must realize that our task is to assist clients not in "managing change projects" but in building their own capacity to create and drive change within their organizations. It is this new breed of manager who will lead the successful organizations of the future. Suggestions on how to produce this new breed of manager are offered following discussion of our other two assertions.
Assertion Four: We must adopt a philosophy of "continuous organizational change" to mirror the philosophy that has revolutionized quality management, "continuous quality improvement."
Prior to the TQM revolution, most manufacturing firms had elaborate quality control units whose job was to inspect completed products and reject those that did not meet established quality standards, sending the culled pieces to the "rework re·work
tr.v. re·worked, re·work·ing, re·works
1. To work over again; revise.
2. To subject to a repeated or new process.
n. " section or the scrap heap scrap·heap also scrap heap
1. A pile or heap of waste material.
2. A place for discarding useless or worthless material. . Similarly, customer complaint offices were commonplace, where customers could complain about the poor service they may have received and the organization could take steps to "put things right." Customer satisfaction has long been known as a key to retention, so these organizations were doing the best they could to meet quality standards using the paradigm of the times.
All of this changed, however, with the advent of the total quality management (TQM) concept that resulted from the work of such pioneers as W. Edwards Deming (1986), Joseph M. Juran (1979), and Philip B. Crosby (1979). Total quality management, also known as continuous quality improvement (CQI CQI Continuous Quality Improvement
CQI Chartered Quality Institute (UK)
CQI Clinical Quality Improvement
CQI Channel Quality Indicator
CQI Constant Quality Improvement
CQI Canonical Query Language
CQI Cost of Quality Improvement ), is based on this philosophy: To make commitment to total quality operations a way of life within the organization (Schermerhorn, 1999, p. 34). Schermerhorn asserts that the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Awards standards (listed below) indicate "the full extent of the day-to-day commitment that is essential to gaining competitive advantage through a commitment to total quality" (pp. 34-35):
* Top executives incorporate quality values into day-to-day management.
* The organization works with suppliers to improve the quality of their goods and services In economics, economic output is divided into physical goods and intangible services. Consumption of goods and services is assumed to produce utility (unless the "good" is a "bad"). It is often used when referring to a Goods and Services Tax. .
* The organization trains workers in quality techniques and implements systems that ensure high-quality products.
* The organization's products are as good as or better than those of its competitors.
* The organization meets customers' needs and wants and gets customer satisfaction ratings equal to or better than those of competitors.
* The organization's quality system yields concrete results, such as increased market share and lower product-cycle times.
The passion for quality that world-class firms have built into their organizational philosophy, systems, and day-to-day operations has resulted in immense quality improvements across the globe. By adopting TQM.ICQI principles, many organizations-private sector, public sector, and voluntary--are far better positioned to compete in today's market environment.
We submit that a similar set of continuous organizational change principles might also be formulated and adopted by organizations seeking to assure successful adaptation to the changing market environment. At a minimum, we argue that leaders consider adopting the following ideals:
* Incorporate within the culture of the organization an appreciation of the need for continuous adaptive change.
* Integrate this principle--this need for continuous organizational change--in day-to-day operations and decisions made at all levels of the organization.
* Build within the organization's human resources The fancy word for "people." The human resources department within an organization, years ago known as the "personnel department," manages the administrative aspects of the employees. a capacity to recognize environmental change and a desire to adapt successfully to such change.
* Reward employees (at all levels) who guide the organization into successful adaptive change.
Organizations that follow our suggestion to adopt these principles will quickly discover the value of our fifth assertion.
Assertion Five: This will require a new breed of manager, one who understands change and continuously seeks to adapt the organization to its dynamic environment.
We have now reached the crux of the matter Noun 1. crux of the matter - the most important point
alpha and omega - the basic meaning of something; the crucial part
point - a brief version of the essential meaning of something; "get to the point"; "he missed the point of the joke"; "life : Adaptive organizations employing the principles of continuous organizational change must be led by a new breed of managers--those who understand, appreciate, and use the concept of continuous change as they fulfill their day-to-day responsibilities within the organization. How are we to prepare this new breed?
Preparing a New Breed of Managers
As educators of tomorrow's leaders, this question is foremost in our minds. How are we to prepare capable leaders for adaptive organizations? What must we include within our college curricula? What should we incorporate into our programs of continuing professional development CPD is the means by which members of professional associations maintain, improve and broaden their knowledge and skills and develop the personal qualities required in their professional lives. for managers? How might we upgrade the change management skills of the rank and file employees?
We must admit we do not have all the answers! We do, however, have a few suggestions that might stimulate our readers to seek their own answers to these important questions. We have organized our thoughts under three headings: (a) college curriculum requirements, (b) continuing professional development, and (c) mastering change personally.
* College Curriculum Requirements
We are interested here not so much in the structure of the management education curriculum as the content and approach as they pertain to pertain to
verb relate to, concern, refer to, regard, be part of, belong to, apply to, bear on, befit, be relevant to, be appropriate to, appertain to developing the capacity to manage change. Clearly the curriculum must address the factors that are driving change. Students must be exposed to the dynamics of our political, economic, and cultural systems. They must understand how environmental and demographic factors influence our everyday lives. They must gain an appreciation for the power of technology and the blinding speed at which information is transmitted throughout the world. Biological, agricultural, psychological, and sociological factors must also be taken into account as we build a "change management" capacity within the future generation of organizational leaders.
Methods of instruction must be dynamic and must challenge our future leaders Future Leaders is a UK schools-led charitable organisation that aims to widen the pool of talented leaders especially for urban challenging secondary schools. It was founded in March 2006 by Nat Wei, a former founder of Teach First. to embrace change as a necessary part of all we do. Cases, group projects, brainstorming exercises, debates, discussions, and even lecture sessions must reflect the changes we are facing in today's competitive environment. Critical thinking and the desire to question and seek new answers must be outcomes that we strive for in our management training curricula. It is no longer acceptable (if it ever was) to teach the status quo [Latin, The existing state of things at any given date.] Status quo ante bellum means the state of things before the war. The status quo to be preserved by a preliminary injunction is the last actual, peaceable, uncontested status which preceded the pending controversy. . We must challenge students to think beyond current bounds, to expand horizons, indeed to invent the future.
* Continuing Professional Development
And what of our current generation of leaders? Must we wait for them to step aside, or are there possibilities for enhancing their change management capacities as well? We believe there are a number of ways to build a capacity for effective management of change into our current workforce. One technique, providing workshops on mastering change personally, is discussed later on. Before we address this topic, however, we mention several other ideas for employee development.
One technique we have found valuable is to invite employees from throughout the organization to participate in strategic planning Strategic planning is an organization's process of defining its strategy, or direction, and making decisions on allocating its resources to pursue this strategy, including its capital and people. exercises. Katz (1974) has argued that as one moves up the organizational hierarchy, the mix of necessary managerial skills shifts, such that conceptual skills (the ability to think analytically and achieve integrative problem solving problem solving
Process involved in finding a solution to a problem. Many animals routinely solve problems of locomotion, food finding, and shelter through trial and error. ) increase in importance while technical skills (the ability to apply expertise and perform a special task with proficiency) decrease in importance. (Katz' third category of skills--human skills--are important at every level) Frequently our continuing professional education programs focus primarily on technical and human skills; too often we fail to build the conceptual skills necessary to achieve success in the higher levels of management. Yet it is these conceptual skills that are essential to effect change.
Sauser (1989) showed how participation in strategic planning exercises can help build employees' capacity to conceptualize and design programs for organizational change. These workshops (not necessarily only for top management) can teach employees how to identify and predict changes in the competitive environment, analyze the organization's capacity to adapt to these changes, determine strategic objectives, and prepare action plans to guide progressive organizational change. Allowing employees broad exposure to strategic planning exercises, whether "for real" or moot An issue presenting no real controversy.
Moot refers to a subject for academic argument. It is an abstract question that does not arise from existing facts or rights. , can be an excellent way to develop the new breed of manager.
Other techniques for developing change management capacity include team project assignments (especially when the team cuts across functions and levels of hierarchy), exposure to futurists and their writings, brainstorming sessions, quality circles, scenario planning Scenario planning or Scenario thinking is a strategic planning method that some organizations use to make flexible long-term plans. It is in large part an adaptation and generalization of classic methods used by military intelligence. , and simulation exercises. We recommend that these be built into programs intended to develop managerial talent among the current workforce.
Of course, we need not neglect the importance of other human resource decisions when building an organization's capacity to recognize and adept to change. When selecting potential managers, attention should be given to applicants' flexibility, experience in leading change, and potential to facilitate or resist change. As continuous change management becomes more important as a driving management philosophy, selecting candidates who are comfortable with change becomes essential. This same argument applies, of course, to promotion decisions, training and development decisions, placement decisions, and the like.
We must teach current managers how to make. every day-to-day decision with an eye toward how it will help the organization adapt to the ever-changing competitive environment. After all, it is all well and good to have a strategic plan that calls for sweeping change, but it is the translation of the plan through day-to-day decisions that integrates it with the organization's culture. If the intent is to create culture that embraces the need for adaptive organizational change--and acts upon that organizational value--then the culture must appreciate and reward employees and managers who are willing to act in accordance with that value: Notice how these comments align with the principles of continuous organizational change listed under our fourth assertion.
* Mastering Change Personally
During the 1999 SAM International Conference, Sauser (1999a) described a comprehensive program to become a better personal manager of change. Four "tips" discussed in that paper for working proactively with change were: (1) raise your antenna, (2) build your skills, (3) use the power of the force, and (4) surf the waves of change. Since these tips are described in detail in the Proceedings of the 1999 SAM Conference (Abdelsamad & Myers, 1999) they are not presented again here. Note, however, that these and other suggestions for personal development (Sauser, 1999b) can be incorporated easily into a variety of change management workshops and programs.
We have argued that change must be reconceptualized as a continuing process, not as a discrete project, to be managed with an eye toward establishing a steady state of equilibrium for the organization. We built our argument around five key assertions and offered four principles organizational leaders should consider adopting as ideals for themselves and the people they lead. Finally, we suggested three techniques for building within the current and future workforce the capacity to lead organizations as they adapt to the dynamic competitive environment.
By following these principles and suggestions, we hope we have helped managers to build an appreciation for change into the culture of their organizations, and to lead their organizations toward more effective adaptation to the dynamic competitive environment.
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In addition to his academic duties, Dr. William Sauser consults for a variety of private and public sector organizations as well as nonprofits in such areas as strategic planning, organizational change, and human relations human relations npl → relaciones fpl humanas in the workplace. Dr. Lane Sauser, a CPA (Computer Press Association, Landing, NJ) An earlier membership organization founded in 1983 that promoted excellence in computer journalism. Its annual awards honored outstanding examples in print, broadcast and electronic media. The CPA disbanded in 2000. as well as a Certified Government Finance Officer and Certified Government Financial Manager A Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM) is a certification issued by the Association of Government Accountants (AGA). It was created in 1994 to provide a professional standard of financial expertise and ethics in government. , consults with state and local governments to implement change in budgeting, financial management, and operations.