As we have shown organisations are open systems and many writers (Lewin, 1951; Genus, 1998; Lawson et al, 2003) argue that there exists a state of equilibrium between the forces forcing change and the forces resisting change. By conducting a force field analysis we can identify those forces for change and their strength and those forces against and their strength. By conducting this analysis we can then implement strategies that can reduce the forces against and increase the forces for, therefore disturbing the equilibrium and allowing the change to be introduced.
(see appendix 1) Paton and McCalman (2000) state that it is important to evaluate “the nature of an impending change situation so as to facilitate the marshalling of management expertise in readiness for the transition process. ” They classify change as lying on a continuum from Hard/Mechanistic change to soft/complex change. These are also referred to as difficulties and messes. (Paton and McCalman. 2000, 17) They developed a useful model to steer the change agent or teams in the right direction, known as the TROPICS TEST, (see appendix 2)
Along with the importance of knowing the exact nature of the change you are facing Paton and McCalman advocate using Leavitt’s Change model to note that a trigger will have many impacts on tasks, structures, relationships and cultures. (see appendix 3) In essence any change on any of these aspects will have a “knock-on” effect on the other parts, each one acting as a lever for change. In marshalling the resources necessary to implement the change it is essential to identify the change agent. Changes within an organisation need a catalyst.
People who act as catalysts and assume responsibility for managing the change process are called the change agent. Any manager could be a change agent; however it could also be a non-manager e. g. a change specialist from the HR department or outside consulting house. Outside consultants carry distinct advantages and disadvantages. They offer a subjective perspective that an internal agent may lack, however outside agents have an extremely limited understanding of the organisations history, culture, operating procedures and people.
As Paton and McCalman stated (2000, p4) “In change situations a little knowledge can be dangerous and limited understanding catastrophic. ” Outside consultants are also prone to initiate more dramatic change (which can also be an advantage) as they are not left to deal with the subsequent aftermath. In contrast internal managers who act as change agents may be more thoughtful and possibly overcautious because they must live with the consequences of the decisions.
The change agent must recognise that different types of change are required depending on the situation facing the organisation. Grundy (1993) developed a model, which suggests that organisations are faced with three types of change: (see Figure 2. ) According to Nadler and Tushman(1997) the effective management of change involves developing and understanding of the current state, developing an image of the desired future state and moving the organization through a transition period.
The initial awareness of a need to change may be either in response to external or internal pressures for change (reactive), or through a belief in the need for change to meet future competition demands (proactive) Dawson (2003) What is important is how the conception of a need to change can be influenced by factors within the organization such as operational inefficiencies and employee disputes and by factors that emanate from outside the organization e. g. through business press and media reports in the success or failures of other organizations.
Once a need for change has been identified the complex non-linear and “black box” process of organisational change begins. Change can affect all aspects of the operation and functions of the organisation as shown in Leavitt’s model. There is an understanding that regardless of planned or incremental approaches common to both is an understanding that the “soft” features of the organization i. e. the people, need to be taken into account. Formal planning techniques have their place but in themselves they are not enough.
Recognition of this fact produced what has become known as Organisational Development (OD). The OD approach to change is, above all, an approach which cares about people and which believes that people at all levels throughout an organisation are, individually and collectively, both the drivers and engines of change. Up until the late 1980’s managers faced brief distractions in an otherwise calm and predictable business environment. These brief distractions or changes were best handled by using Kurt Lewin’s three-step model of the change process.(see figure 4)
The first of these phases, unfreezing, consists of creating disruption in the status quo, either by introducing new staff or by more symbolic events. This heightens the awareness for the need to change. The second phase, moving, is essentially the change process itself i. e. making the actual changes, whether they are changes to strategies, structure or culture. The final phase, refreezing, involves cementing the changes in place making sure that the organisation does not slip back into its old habits. This can be achieved by introducing new management directly responsible for stabilising the change.