Topic 9: Managing organisational change

Change management revisited
Why and how do organisations change?
'Strategic' or 'planned' change
Managing change

Change can occur in many forms. It can be radical or incremental, planned or emergent,strategic or non-strategic. It can be top-down or bottom-up. The change strategy can use coercion, persuasion or power sharing. One of the greatest problems for an organisation that needs to adapt to new conditions is
resistance to change by the staff, which can result from habit, inertia, fear or vested interests. Overcoming resistance requires change agents to have a good understanding of the present culture. The change agent must also have ways of influencing that culture— such as modelling, coaching, allocating rewards, hiring and firing, and training.

The most successful organisations are those which predict change and take action early. This means that the change can be gradual and the organisation can control the process. Wherever possible, it is best to predict and control change, so that the change is evolutionary, absorbed by the organisation and its culture with little disruption. Creating a learning organisation, where change is embraced at all levels of the organisation in response to changes in the environment, allows this to happen. One of the chief requirements for a learning organisation is an atmosphere of trust. Unless there is trust between management and staff, and between departments, and between individuals, there will not be the sharing of information and co-operation which learning needs.

'Strategic' or 'planned' change—which, for convenience, we will refer to from now on as planned change—is the approach to change which you will find discussed most commonly in texts on change management. This approach emphasises change as a logical and planned process which progresses through a series of predictable steps and takes an organisation from one form or state to another. It is generally used when it is necessary to implement a major change in an organisation within a reasonably short time. It involves imposing change decided by management on the staff, unlike emergent change within a learning organisation where the management and staff work together to develop the organisation and respond to change.

Most change initiatives generally involve managers undertaking a number of tasks which may interact and overlap with each other, but which follow a logical sequence. They are:
* diagnosis
* generating commitment
* planning
* implementing
* embedding
* reviewing.