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 /ADVANCE/ WINTER PARK, Fla., Sept. 9 /PRNewswire/ -- As consumers and business leaders alike struggle to understand why huge American corporations are laying off thousands of workers and floundering in the new competitive marketplace, a Gallup poll of business leaders released today points to one simple answer: U.S. leaders are not well-prepared to handle change.
 In areas ranging from shifting consumer demands and increased competition to changes in market conditions and the quality of the work force, executives are often uneasy about coping with changes, tend to resist them and believe their peers in top management are often short- sighted and too tied to the status quo.
 "Everyone wants to know what is happening to our leading companies and why," said Robert D. Gilbreath, president of Proudfoot Change Management in Winter Park, Fla. Proudfoot commissioned the study.
 "This survey gives us the answers very clearly. Change is overwhelming our industry giants, and many executives will be caught unaware -- which is disappointing if not tragic."
 What is worse, Gilbreath said, is that 79 percent of executives describe the pace of change in their companies as "rapid" or "extremely rapid," and 61 percent predict that the pace of change will accelerate. Yet most do not have formal structures in place to manage change, and less than half (47 percent) consider their companies "very capable" of coping with change.
 The survey also shows that executives feel unprepared for change in several areas they believe will be particularly important to their futures. Those areas include: quality of the work force, government regulation, information technology and social changes.
 "Companies that handle change well should not be experiencing the kinds of jolting disruptions we have seen many of our top companies implement recently," Gilbreath said. "They are letting events control their destinies. And the outlook is for continued disruption until the real cause -- change management capability -- is addressed."
 Gilbreath also noted that headline-making problems -- declining sales, foreign competition, labor relations and mergers and acquisitions -- are far less important to executives than might be expected based on the media attention these subjects receive.
 "The data clearly demonstrates that American business leaders are not well-prepared to deal with even those changes they fully expect to face," said Gallup Vice President Gale D. Muller. "But recent business news stories have suggested that given rapidly shifting social, economic and global conditions, organizations must adapt or die."
 Muller said the Proudfoot/Gallup survey is the first to surface the uneasiness with which executives face change.
 Other key findings include the following:
 -- Sixty-two percent of executives say they have a conservative or reluctant approach to change rather than an aggressive, proactive approach.
 -- Over three-fourths of respondents agree that the following four factors are the reasons American executives resist change: they have a vested interest in the status quo; they do noto? lose control of people or events; they do not know what to do about change; and they are too short-term oriented.
 -- Fifty-nine percent believe small businesses are generally best equipped to manage change, while only 32 percent mentioned large corporations.
 -- Nearly 25 percent of respondents cannot name a single example of a company they perceive to be best at managing change. Only one company, General Electric, reaches double digits in this category, with 17 percent choosing it.
 -- Respondents indicate experiencing "a great deal" of change in the areas of cost pressures, information technology, government regulations, rising or changing customer demands and quality programs.
 "Whether you're considering Kodak's ill-fated ventures into electronic photography and copiers, or Apple's inability to roll with the punches of the brutal computer industry, the corporations in trouble today have one thing in common," Gilbreath said. "They either incorrectly interpreted a changing environment or altogether failed to recognize the critical need to adapt to new realities."
 The survey polled Fortune 1,000 executives on their perceptions of change and change management in their companies. The survey sample included equal numbers of manufacturing and service industries and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent.
 Among the change areas the survey examined were: cost pressures, information technology, government regulations, rising or changing consumer demands, quality programs, quality and advancement of workers, social changes, downsizing, rapid growth, mergers and acquisitions, labor relations, foreign competition, declining sales and automation.
 Proudfoot Change Management is a subsidiary of Proudfoot PLC. Proudfoot was founded in 1946 and has U.S. headquarters in Winter Park. It specializes in performance, profitability improvement, strategic change and quality management. Proudfoot employs more than 1,400 people and serves businesses in over 35 countries across six continents in 24 languages.
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 /NOTE TO EDITORS: Copies of the survey are available upon request by calling 800-448-5963./
 /CONTACT: Randy Noles of Proudfoot, 800-448-5963, or David Schulte of Dorf & Stanton, 202-625-6930, for Proudfoot/

CO: Proudfoot Change Management; Proudfoot PLC ST: Florida IN: SU:

DC-IH -- DC016 -- 9957 09/08/93 16:02 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 8, 1993

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