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What is change management?
Change management is a term often used when a new process is introduced within an organisation, often a transition from situation one to situation two. Change is often a planned process with a given time scale for changes to be enforced within.
Defining Change Management
Sedairy (2001: 163) defines change management as, "The act of controlling the organisational change process by means of competent management". However, Hiatt and Creasey (2004) cited in Kale (2005: 57) provide a more in depth definition in which they define change management as:
"The process, tools and techniques to manage the people-side of business change to achieve the required business outcome, and to realise change effectively within the social infrastructure of the workplace".
Despite the different definitions from the academic authors, change management clearly focuses on making sure change within an organisation is managed effectively, which can be done through the use of different elements, including competent managers, effective processes and techniques.
Reasons for change management?
Some organisations, feel that the main reason for change is to allow the company to achieve its goals, or aspire and create new ones. Other reasons could be: -
To address newer markets.
A reaction for changes that have been demanded.
Keep up with new technologies.
Stay ahead of competitive organisations for products etc.
External forces and influences (e.g. legislation.)
Allows re-development & rebranding.
Staff development and training.
An example of why to change; “If you wait until your business' position is threatened, it may result in defensive and ineffective management. Proactive change - when management foresees a change in the market or economy that will affect the business and makes changes in order to better its position - is much more effective. Analyzing your strengths and weaknesses can help you identify potential changes.” (
There are many other reasons why some organisations change, or de-develop and re-brand, sometimes a failing company may do this in order to protect themselves, clients and staff members.
Why is this relevant to the business world?
Today’s world economy is forcing organisations to change, a high demand in the most up to date software, the ever changing legislation and policies and high diverse cultures and communities.
The need for organisation change is driven by many factors as I pointed out earlier. AscotBarclay say that these are some indications: -
Changes in the senior leadership team
Technological changes and upgrades
Changes in business strategy
Replacement of outdated working practices and processes
The need to cut or trim costs and increase efficiency
Challenges resulting from growth, mergers and acquisitions
Downturns and tougher operating conditions
The need to implement new organization behaviors and skills
The need to develop change and improve organizational culture
So why is this relevant to the business world? Without undergoing change or recognising it companies would not be able to expand to the global and economic demands within society today. Companies are ever changing, and expanding at a very high rate. These could be small changes such as software updates e.g. apple or bigger ones such as a rise in growth and productivity.
Over the last five years, change management has grown as a discipline on its own. A study between 2003 to 2005 shows that the percentage of participants changing grew from 34% to 55%.
In these subheadings below, are three key points for when implementing change within an organisation; when and how to manage it positively and what not to do. A key point is strength in numbers and it is important to get your team on board as soon as possible and to give them all the information they need in able to take change on board and enforce is positively in the most effective way possible.
More and frequent changes
- Change is happening constantly; and at such a fast rate within organisations today. The changes are happening quicker and faster than ever before. With such a vast amount of changes being implemented a clearer structure needs to be put in place for the individuals who are being managed through this change so that they can be impacted in a proper manner without confusion and being mislead.
Value system of empowerment
– Over many years, systems within organisations have shifted; from the old controlled and predictable ones to be replaced by more modern and new values. These values include decision making, authority and responsibility down into the organisation. This shift from the old to the new, seems to have created benefits, including making the top-down changes more difficult and increased a higher resistance level. The change from the old hierarchical structured organisations need to manage the staff more and empower them and get them on board to help influence the change.
– Competitive advantage as information is moving at a very fast pace. The demand for speed and efficiency is a great demand now, and in years to come, this demand will increase and expectations will continue to rise. Organisation and managers who do not implement change management will fail and build their competency levels too quickly and will not be able to implement change. Those who can effectively implement will have a key source of competitive advantage in later years when the need to change will rise again.
This link is Patrick Dixon, who is a speaker, talking about why businesses change?
Change management is no longer a choice, in fact it isn’t even just a necessity it can often be referred to as a survival technique. The current economic state enforce businesses to play a big part in developing and re-creating themselves to stay ahead of ongoing changes. Businesses therefore change in order to keep their head above the water – or face swimming with the sharks.
Example of an Effective Change Management Model
Mento et al (2002) expresses that a number of change management models exist with a purpose to guide and instruct the implementation of change within an organisation. John Kotter's (1995) eight step model of change management is the most commonly referred to change model from the latest academic literature. Metre (2009) also expresses that most change management initiatives are based on Kotter's eight step model of change. Smith (2011) also states that Kotter's model has been applied and adapted since the mid 1990's and is still widely quoted and applied within management settings today. Clearly there is agreement among academic authors that this is one of the most recent effective change management models. Consequently, it is appropriate to use this change model as an example for this wiki entry, since it is still utilised by managers in the current business climate.
Metre (2009: 7) states that, "Kotter observed the myriad difficulties associated with change efforts, distilled the common themes and turned them into a prescriptive framework". This framework was then named 'The 8-step change model". Below is a diagram which displays the eight steps to from Kotter's change model.
Adapted from Metre (2009: 7)
Step one is concerned with creating a sense of urgency about the change being implemented. Varkey and Antonio (2010: 269) state that the change projects leader, "should take ownership of the project, be intimately associated with the project and feel great urgency for change". The result of this is explained by Metre (2009: 8) who states that, "The urgency inspires individuals and creates a sense of realism with respect to a change efforts goals and objectives".
Step two is described by Metre (2009: 8) as, "forming a powerful coalition through the assembly of senior management and key influencers within the organisation, encouraging team work and unity throughout the process".
Step three is concerned with creating a communal vision which allows for a strategy to be created which is done by the input of everyone who shares the vision.
Step four is concerned with creating the vision which Smith (2011: 115) states, "needs to be communicated from the leadership level, down through all organisational levels, in language and in actions and behaviours".
Step five is concerned with motivating others within an organisation to embrace the change. To help employees engage with the change being implemented, processes are improved and obstacles to the changes success are removed.
Step six concerns creating small achievable goals in order to meet the overall change intended. This way 'quick wins' occur in which employees feel they have achieved something. As a result, high motivation is likely to be sustained.
Step seven involves consolidating improvements in order to produce further change. To do this, policies and procedures which inhibit the change are reviewed and improved.
Step eight is the final step of the model which institutionalises new approaches which have been implemented. The approaches which have created success in the move for change need to be identified and then placed firmly within the organisational culture of the business.
In terms of the models effectiveness, Richesin (2011: 13) states that Kotter's client list, "Includes over 150 Major corporations, including Capital One, Coca-Cola and Dell Inc". These are all successful companies in the current business climate, which evidently displays that the eight step change model can be effective in implementing change.
However, a study of Kotter's eight step model and it's implementation in to an organisation, which is documented in a journal article by Richesin (2011) states, "The analysis of the organisation revealed that one year in to the change initiative, not even step one had been successfully completed". Kotter (1996) cited in Richesin (2011: 27) also states, "Organisational change must be thought of as a long term process. Even decades can be meaningful time frames". Both Kotter's (1996) quote and Richesin's (2011) study findings imply that the eight steps may take an extensive period of time to reach completion. Consequently, employees engaging in the process are likely to become unmotivated. This is because step six in which small goals are set to help motivate employees may not be reached quickly, which results in an employee base that has no goals to work towards and as a result, makes employees resistant to the new changes.
Another drawback of the model and its time period for implementing effective change is the introduction of new managers in to an organisation. A new manager may not engage as well with the eight step change program as a previous manager. As a result, new managers may see the model as unhelpful and resist the changes. This could disrupt the progress that has already been made by previous managers as the new managers do not carry on implementing the eight steps.
Cohen (1999) cited in Richesin (2011: 5) also states, "Organisation's that support and implement continuous and transformational change remain competitive". This implies that an organisation needs to frequently change their strategy, processes, and goals to survive. However, the extensive length of the eight step change model in implementing change would not allow for this to happen, as it takes extensive time periods just to implement one set of changes. Consequently, organisations are likely to be ineffective at responding to consumers via continuous change if they use the eight step change model, which ultimately results in failure for the business.
Although the model has been applied to some very successful organisations, it still has some considerable limitations which could cause an organisation to struggle in staying competitive with it's industry.
New Trends in Change Management?
Change management can be dated back to the early 1990’s however; our current economic state can often be seen to be very similar to this date with the recession and can be linked to around 2005 onwards. Change management is a new trend, it enables organisations the opportunity to re-invent themselves time and time again, keeping up with customer’s wants, needs and desires.
Global business has changed dramatically at the beginning of the 21st century, following a period of upheavals which included one of the largest economic booms followed in turn by an all pervasive internet bust, the spread of globalization, pressure on the environmental front, and continuing political, social & economic divisions. These changes have transformed the very nature and business models of global companies as they gear themselves to succeed in a new world” (
Change management is also a cause for modernisation within organisations that need a little development or re-vamp; sometimes a little face lift really does do the trick, in order to keep customers happy. Often an organisation also see’s change as a second chance, getting there before history repeats itself operating in a second chance nature.
Why business change programmes fail?
Change in business world has become a common reality and therefore, management of change has become essential to improve. Many reasons have been explored in order to identify why the management of change fails. The Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) (2007) identified possible reasons which can be used in the future to avoid this failure and manage it better in the future. Reasons include:
lack of clear Chief Officer and/or members ownership and commitment at appropriate levels in the organisation
lack of a clear and powerful vision for what the deliverable or outcome would be, or where it does exist, failure to communicate that vision and lack of clarity about what is required in terms of “new” behaviours and approaches that is consistent with the new vision
no link to the core objectives of the business, i.e. A lack of clear link between the programme / project and the organisation’s key strategic priorities
no sense of urgency or the initiative was not given any serious priority so was under-resourced and everyone had their day jobs to do at the same time
not removing the obstacles to change
failure to create short term wins and no follow through
lack of effective engagement with stakeholders
lack of skills and proven approach to programme / project management and risk management
follow through / benefits realisation issues such as: not finished, overtaken by the next initiative, so we got no benefit from it; lack of budget or the budget was withdrawn before we got the benefits
Change management requires strategic decisions made by managers and other leaders. Therefore, it is so important to clearly know what the organisation wants to achieve and learn from the mistakes other organisations might have made in the past so that these could be avoided or at least controlled in your organisation. ‘Working within a common framework of programme project and change management also helps manage the consequences, tradeoffs and their impact on key stakeholders’ (IDeA, 2007).
In this section I am going to discuss two different case studies. Two companies; both organisations have gone through major re-development, new investments and constant updates in products and software over some years. Starting at the bottom and rising to the top.
These are a useful point for a business that is addressing a similar issue; where to go, and what to do next. What will be the next big thing to hit the market and how can we develop it? This could also be a good starting point for organisations that are trying to find a new trend to follow within the business world. Some points may also help those looking to re-develop new exciting idea’s to invest in or begin to mange a change within their company.
The first of the two companies I am going to look is the iconic and well known Apple inc.
Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs were friends in high school and remained friends after graduation. Wozniak started to work in computer design and in 1976 designed what was soon to become the Apple 1. Job’s had his eye on the future and set about selling this machine on the 1st April 1976 Apple was born. The apple 1 was not taken as seriously as hoped and the boy’s then went to develop the Apple 2 which was said to be a very impressive machine. Sales boomed and continued to increase as newer products developed and the company expanded. In 1981, Wozniak took leave and Jobs become the chairman of Apple.
Apple continued to expand their products; each time developing new idea’s updating software and brought out better quality products. This is an example of change management. By 1982 Apple were the first personal computer company to reach one billion dollars in annual sales.
Over the next couple of years, Apple continued to redevelop products and continue to invent and invest newer ones, bringing out numerous products that changed the world we live in today.
Wozniak and Job’s caught on to something that they believed would change and develop the lives of their consumers – and they were right. They invested their time and workmanship to continuously change their products, even simple things such as software updates, and those of us who are religiously on our I-phones all know how exciting they are.
I feel the need to point out that, not all of Apple’s products made it big time, however Wozniak and Job’s never gave up on changing and constantly developing the products we all know and love today. This is a brilliant example of change management, and proves when it works – its works! (
The next company I am going to look at is Virgin.
In 1968 sixteen year old Richard Branson creates a youth-cultured magazine, the first publication handed out on January 26th. In 1970, Branson then goes to start his own Virgin Mail Order business, selling records by post; a year later opening the first Virgin Record Shop in London. This leads on to opening his first record company a year later. Richard Branson continued to develop his company, launching virgin games and night clubs. In 1984 Virgin Atlantic Airways and Cargo is born, later leading into Virgin holidays.
Richard Branson continues to expand developing in internet, mobile phones, condoms, cosmetics, gyms, bank accounts, submarines and the list is endless. Virgin has a rich and varied history and you can bet there will be plenty more to come – Virgin is a very strong company, and still stronger than ever.
Again this is a sturdy example of change management within an organisation – or a person. Richard Branson has changed and taken over many different aspects of business and helped develop and innovate new and exciting ones, each time bringing out bigger and better products. To this date it is surely unknown how many pies Richard Branson has dipped his fingers into to say the least, however we can all probably bet that there all very successful.
This has to be one of the biggest brands, and Branson certainly knows how to run a good business and new trends.
Richard Branson has recently taken over Northern Rock and again has successfully created Virgin Money, the aims? Like all Virgin companies – to give customers a better deal. Virgin started dealing with money in March of 1995.
Taking over Northern Rock was a big development and change for Virgin, re-branding and re-developing a company that had a very bad downfall and was slaughtered by the public and media. Virgin Money had previously won awards, and last year was named one of the top UK companies to work for.
Virgin and Branson would have had to implement many changes when overcoming the mess that Northern Rock left them with, and yet have come out of the darkness smiling from ear to ear. To say the least, Virgin and Richard Branson, have over gone many change management issues and aspects, and have certainly come out better than they started. (
Bad Change VS Good Change.
Change can be a subject that many feel threatened by, the fear of the unknown is seemingly difficult for some people to foresee what may follow. There are different types of change that can impact individuals, for service improvement, organisational change and change for development. Individuals can often feel the need for change, however may not take it positively at first, and the need for preparation is a key.
The NHS developed an illustration on the process individuals go through when change is implemented and during the course of change.
This illustration shows the up’s and down’s one feels when change is implemented for an individual, and personally I do believe that for a business it would no doubt be much different.
A good example of change management, other than the two companies I previously spoke to you about is British Airways. In 1981, a new chairman was brought in, and after starting noticed the company was running insufficiently and wasting valuable resources this chairman restructured the entire organisation and successfully. A little bit more information is in this link, along with two other organisations who also implemented change with vast improvements.
Here I found a link to a survey of managers that had undergone change within the past couple of years. The Annual Management Agenda survey found a massive 92 per cent of the 600 managers polled said they had experienced organisational change over the past couple of years.
“...while most organisations were good at making change happen, they were singularly bad at consolidating it, maintaining momentum and reviewing and learning from the process, argued report authors Linda Holbeche and Claire McCartney.” (
Here are the main key points that came up in the survey it stating that: -
Change was badly managed, stress, harassment and conflict grew greater in the work place.
78% of managers were suffering from work related stress, caused from lack of support.
52% of managers were harassed, 27% bullied and 34% felt sidelined and excluded.
46% of conflict had increased in the last two years.
Echoing the comments attributed to Gordon Brown about Tony Blair, a quarter of managers said they have lost trust in their corporate leaders, up from 22 per cent last year.
"There is a perception that senior managers are secretive and out for their personal gain,” said the authors.
"Senior managers must become more open and communicative and they must ‘walk the talk’ in terms of the corporate values, to stem this rising level of mistrust,” they added.”(
It has been said that people don’t hate change management, they hate bad change management, and there is a significant difference.
Another example of bad change management is when a company re-brands itself for the wrong reasons – in protection for themselves, some people may say CYA (cover your ass!)
Philip Morris to Altria
Phillip Morris cigarettes (which owned Kraft foods at the time of their rebranding) is now called Altria. The company was cleared of charges related to a woman’s smoking-related death, and by coincidence the company parted ways with their old name and took on their new one that very same day. The Chairman Louis Camilleri claimed the name change “marks how far we have come and gives us a framework for how much further we aim to go… this is the right thing to do and the right time to do it.”
“Unfortunately for Camilleri, it seems most people saw the name change as a pathetic measure to escape the company’s bad reputation. After all, this was the same company whose president swore to congress in 1994, “I believe nicotine is not addictive.”” (
Again the link below shows you two or more bad examples of companies re-branding for the reasons of CYA!
Change: A less straightforward journey.
“It is a paradox of organisational life that situations and problems that cry out most strongly for change are often the very ones that resist change most stubbornly”
(Pugh, 2009: 1). Organisational change is less of a clear-cut process as often perceived, thus has garnered increasing attention in the realm of management literature. Organisations are regularly undergoing change, whether it is downsizing, right-sizing, reengineering, culture changes, management fads, the list goes on (Reichers, Wanous and Austin, 1997). Take for example the manufacturing industry. According to Lawler (1986) and Walton (1985), workforce reforms in manufacturing plants have seen a significant shift from Talorist work ethics – of control and rigidity - to higher degrees of employee involvement and commitment. This was somewhat mirrored in the east. Technological advances in the Japanese automotive industry sparked ‘lean’ thinking in respect of manufacturing techniques, requiring greater input from the workforce in order to reduce waste (Womack, James and Roos, 1990). Quite often though, organisational change fails, owing to a number of constraining factors in the change management process.
Over thirty years ago, when looking at management culture within organisations Charles Handy (Handy 2007) identified four distinct main cultures. Each of these cultures to aid understanding he believed could be symbolised by an image to reinforce the elements within the culture. The individual cultures or philosophy of culture can also be explained using the Ancient Greek Gods. Handy named these ‘The Four Gods of Management’.
Zeus - The Club Culture
In Greek mythology Zeus was known as the god of the sky, law and order. He was believed to control lightning and thunder which were used by him as weapons. He was the king of gods and presiding over all other gods on mount Olympus. When analysing a management culture, the role culture is best explained as the owner / manager of a family organisation, who surrounds himself with friends and family to build a business. As the business develops the owner remains the central figure, controlling all aspects of the business from a central point. This could be compared to a spider within the centre of a spider’s web. The power within the culture runs within the structure of the web. The encircling lines of the web are power and influence. As business builds, the web is increased in size. This environment can be a friendly and sociable but ruled with an iron hand. This culture works for the smaller business but as it expands the owner within the middle of the web starts to lose control of the extremities. At this point change management is required.
Apollo - The Role Culture
Apollo was the Greek god with many talents. He was perceived to be the god of order and rules. As organisations increase in size a requirement exists to impart explicit knowledge of how to conduct specific tasks in the workplace. This usually takes the form of policies and procedures. The role culture can be simplified by saying that each separate department, individually working on their own task, plays a part in getting the overall job done. This type of culture requires a hierarchical structure producing the policies, procedures and overseeing the operations of the organisation. Example of an organisation with an Apollo culture could be the Ministry of Defence or the National Heath Service. The symbol used by Handy to represent this culture was a Greek temple. The pillars represent the departments and provide the organisation with strength. The departments only meet at the top, where the department heads form the management board, the upper levels of the hierarchical structure.
Athena - The Task Culture
Athena, in Greek mythology, was the daughter of Zeus, the king of the gods. She was believed by the Greeks to be the goddess of wisdom and arts and crafts. As a war goddess, instead of focusing on bloodshed she would focus on strategy. The task culture management relies on the need to complete a specific process or to solve a particular problem. These results and solutions are achieved by drawing sections of knowledge together from within the organisation. Define the problem and then allocate the appropriate resources. The strength of an Athena type management culture lays within the groups working on specific tasks or problems. This can be symbolised with a net. The power of the organisation is not at the top as in an Apollo culture or within the middle of the web as in a Zeus culture but instead where the lines of the net cross.
Dionysus - The Existential Culture
The hedonistic half brother of Apollo, Dionysus the Greek god of wine and song, is often used to portray drunken rivalry. He is sometime identified with frenzied madness and represents libido and gratification. . Within the other three cultures mentioned the individual is subordinate to the organisation, their role is to enable the organisation to achieve its purpose. The existential culture the organisations role is to allow the individual to achieve their purpose. An example of this could be Doctors working within a medical practice. All have their own specialities and share the facilities such as phones and rooms. They may be managed but not lead. Handy symbolised the Existential culture using stars grouped together. No star is dependent upon another and it best portrays the individuality of the person.
To identify, using Handy’s Gods of management theory, the type of culture within an organisation is not always easy. If the organisation is large there can possibly be a combination of cultures within. An example of this is the National Health Service: The culture within a hospital could be viewed as a ‘Role Culture’, structured with policies and procedures, individual departments working towards a common goal. The structure has the hospital management at the top of the organisation, trying to move the hospital forward meeting the requirements of the local community.
This is a unique period in the NHS and a time of significant change for health and care services in England, with an unprecedented level of responsibility being devolved to frontline staff. Building on our successes as we design the future requires bold and thoughtful leadership, rethinking how we work, challenging current practice and thinking outside of our own organisational and professional interests.
Sir David Nicholson, NHS Chief Executive (NHS 2010.b)
Within the organisation however the consultants, doctors and nurses, who could be portrayed as individual stars having to work together, maybe said to have an existential culture making any changes very difficult. It has been said that the public sector providers of heath care want to keep existing working patterns and are reluctant to change (Le Grand, 2001:117).
Organisational culture has long since been recognised as a factor affecting the change management process (Wilkins, 1983). Peters and Waterman (1981) affirm that a defining factor of a successful organisation is a very strong and well developed culture. The culture sets the norms for the whole organisation and provides underpinning for individual behaviours and actions (Mohanty and Yadav, 1996). Especially for longstanding organisations, the culture becomes the lifeblood of the workforce, transferring from one generation of worker to the next. For organisations brought up on traditional management thinking, and particularly those longstanding, instilling change requires a paradigm shift in the managerial ideologies and thinking employed (Mohanty and Yadav, 1996). This of course is far cry from simplicity, which is evident in the 90 per cent failure rate of culture change initiatives (Rogers, Meehan and Tanner, 2006). Consistent with the views of Thomas and Hardy (2011):
“Successful change requires the cooperation of employees.”
By reversing this statement, it may be construed that a lack of cooperation hinders the change process. Similar then, Piderit (2000) argues that a mismatch between the organisational culture and change method can encumber the change effort, decreasing cooperation and increasing resistance. The main contention here is that employees become resilient to the change effort, thus preventing a cultural overhaul.
So culture plays an important role in the change management process, and a lack of accountability can potentially lead to employee resistance. How then might change be managed accordingly? Discussion in Lofquist (2011) emphasises how it is difficult to implement change if those that are most affected are not involved. Thus improving the involvement of employees is likely to improve the chances of successful organisational change. This sustains the views of Lawler (1986) and Walton (1985). Both of whom observed the benefits of greater employee involvement and commitment in work reforms in the manufacturing sector. First and foremost, communication is paramount. Discrepancies often exist in the interpretations of change between employees (Isabella, 1990). It is essential therefore for the rationale of changes to be communicated regularly and tailored specifically for each employee group or level (Meyer and Stensaker, 2005). In terms of involvement, recent approaches to change management celebrate resistance as part of the change process. As an example, Thomas and Hardy (2011) discuss how taking counter-offers made by employees into consideration invokes reciprocity and involvement, leading to a better change process. This may however be peripheral since this interaction is commonplace for organisations with trade union intervention. In terms of commitment, Mohanty and Yadav (1996) consider how the communication of superordinate goals and a sense of belonging of individuals to a larger system are important aspects in the successful change of culture.
This section highlights that change management is less straightforward. Culture in particular has a large influence on the process of change. In itself, culture requires a momentous shift in ideologies and beliefs to enable change to happen. Communication is seen as a salient aspect in supporting change, functional in disseminating rationale to employees. Furthermore, employee involvement is beneficial in navigating change, and the communication of the larger picture can serve to develop commitment to organisational goals.
Change management has been recognised in previous years, however I feel that it is beginning to resurface and re-develop itself since the recession hit. The utter strives and needs for companies and organisations to change now is a key trend and it is the force of trying to keep up with high demands, growth and consumer wants and needs.
Change management, when implemented correctly can be a saviour for companies who are fighting their way to light end of a dark tunnel. However it cannot be stressed enough that the need for it to be implemented right, when people are satisfied with why and how, and have the correct knowledge to follow the instructions they are given – all goes well, again the other end without those points it can also go terribly wrong.
Any business can implement change management; it is not set in stone to a particular type of product, company or type of manager. The results could be a boom in sales, effective and happy work force and team members and a company that strives to be ahead of the game, current trends and other businesses.
Word Count 2.739.
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