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Can your firm thrive on chaos?

If you really want a competitive advantage, make sure your organization can successfully respond to accelerating change. If your competition can't do this, it won't be here five years from now. Survivors will have the ability to react, constantly improve, and continuously implement change. Tom Peters of "In Search of Excellence" fame writes, "excellent firms of tomorrow will cherish impermanence - and thrive thrive on chaos."

In the past, the "technology of organization" was used to resist change. Now we must use the same and new technologies to do the opposite. You may only have one try at implementing a change. If you succeed and your competitor doesn't, he will be out of business. But it won't happen just once. You'll be challenged to implement change continuously.

In his book, "The New Realities", Peter Drucker is writing that the world has changed dramatically, and somehow business must figure out how to survive in the new political and economic realities. In response, bookstores are overflowing with management texts by researchers like Tom Peters, promoting new and usually better was to run organizations. But the word is still out about exactly what you should do. The alternatives seem endless. Most significantly, though, none of the "revolutionary" discoveries about management is of any value unless you and your organization will accept and implement it. So while your competition depletes its resources and morale by bouncing between gurus and sampling every new fad and fashion, I believe it would be more prudent for you to devote your organization's energy towards learning how to change. Out-distance your competition by improving your firm's ability to implement change.

The best place to start is to assess your organization's present capacity to change. An accurate, objective measure can help you improve your organization's ability to change, pinpoint areas for improvement and quickly raise your employee's consciousness regarding the need to be able to change. Then, when you decide what changes you want in order to survive the "chaos", you'll be able to implement those changes successfully.

Of the almost twenty factors that my company measures which determine successful organizational change, the two principal ones are your employees' willingness to change and your management's ability to implement change.

Inertia is common in organizations. But today an overly-conservative attitude can kill a company. Frequently, low trust of management, previous failures at implementing change, and personal fear make employees unwilling to take the risk associated with any change. Experience shows that many executives aren't aware of these feelings in their staff. Unless your organization's willingness to change is measured, you and your management team may remain oblivious to this potential impediment to organizational change or improvement.

The ability to implement change is determine by your formal organization, its structure, systems and procedures, and the skills of your employees, especially your management. Since implementing change is a new focus for most organizations, these change requirements are often absent or underdeveloped. Only by pinpointing them can you develop or improve them, and increase your organization's ability to survive.

Robert H. Kent is the President of the Mansis Development Corporation which specializes in working with CEOs and senior management to implement change into their organizations. Mansis currently has offices in Winnipeg and Toronto. Dr. Kent is a regular magazine columnist, a reviewer for professional journals, a frequent speaker at seminars and conferences, and author.
COPYRIGHT 1991 Canadian Institute of Management
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:how companies cope with organizational change
Author:Kent, Robert H.
Publication:Canadian Manager
Date:Jun 22, 1991
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