Change Management

Change management is a set of processes aimed at ensuring the implementation of significant changes in a business is orderly, controlled and systematic. One of the goals of change management is to overcome resistance to change so that organizational members believe in change and help make the transformation process orderly and effective, which is the organization's goal.

Change management is the processes, tools and techniques used to manage the people-side of change but it is not a stand-alone process that can be used to design a business solution. Change management is a method for managing and reducing resistance to change when a process, technology or organizational change is implemented but it is not a process improvement method. Change management is the component every business needs to ensure the improvement process for its organizational performance is successful, but it is not a stand-alone technique to be used to improve organizational performance.

Change management, which tries to ensure that a company responds to the conditions in which it operates, has four key features. The first is that change is a product of dissatisfaction with current strategies. The second is that it is important for a business to create a vision for a better alternative. The third feature is that strategies for the implementation of change have to be developed by the management. And the final one is that change will face resistance.

One of the cornerstone models to help understand organizational change was developed by social scientist and physicist Kurt Lewin in the 1950s. The model, known as Unfreeze-Change-Refreeze, is a three-stage process of change and uses the analogy of changes in the shape of a block of ice. The first stage (Unfreeze) involves a preparation of the organization to accept the need for change and as part of this the existing way of doing things should be broken down so that a new way of operating can be built up. During the second stage (Change) people start looking for new ways to do things as their uncertainty resolves and they act in ways to support the transformation. As part of the third stage (Refreeze,) the organization should make sure the changes are incorporated into everyday business and they are used all the time so that the new sense of stability can make people confident and comfortable in the new environment.

According to Lewin, there are forces which drive change and forces that restrain it. When the two sets of forces are in equilibrium there is no change. A change occurs when the driving force exceeds the restraining force. Forces for change are also internal and external, with the main pressure for change in a business usually being external.

Lewin's analysis can be useful when investigating the balance of power involved in an issue and when identifying the main stakeholders on the issue. The analysis can also be used for the identification of opponents and allies as well as of the ways to influence the target groups.

There are numerous change management tools and components. Change management process is a sequence of activities or steps followed by a change management team or a project leader when they apply change management to a change or a project. Readiness assessments are tools a change management or project leader use to assess the business's readiness to change. Communication and communication planning includes a careful analysis of the audiences, the timing for messages and key messages. Coaching and manager training for change management is done so that supervisors, whose role in managing change will be key, know how to use individual change management tools with the employees they supervise.

Training and training development includes the development of training requirements by project team members, on the basis of which the project team or training group will develop training programs. Sponsor activities and sponsor roadmaps consist of the development of a plan for sponsor activities to be carried out by key business leaders and of the help senior executives receive from a change agent or project leaders in order for them do the right things to sponsor a project. As part of resistance management the change management team needs to identify, understand and manage resistance in the organization. Data collection, feedback analysis and corrective action as well as celebrating and recognizing success are the final two elements that together with the other six and the change management process create a system for change management.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Reshaping Change: A Processual Perspective
Patrick Dawson.
Routledge, 2003
The Change Riders: Managing the Power of Change
Gary D. Kissler.
Addison-Wesley, 1991
When Firms Change Direction
Anne Sigismund Huff; James Oran Huff; Pamela S. Barr.
Oxford University Press, 2000
Organizational Culture in the Management of Mergers
Afsaneh Nahavandi; Ali R. Malekzadeh.
Quorum Books, 1993
Generating Creativity and Innovation in Large Bureaucracies
Robert Lawrence Kuhn.
Quorum Books, 1993
Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change
William Bridges.
Perseus Books, 1991
Managing Change in a Unionized Workplace: Countervailing Collaboration
Kirk Blackard.
Quorum Books, 2000
Motivation, Beliefs, and Organizational Transformation
Thad B. Green; Raymond T. Butkus.
Quorum Books, 1999
Key Issues in Organizational Communication
Dennis Tourish; Owen Hargie.
Routledge, 2004
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Managing Change"
Competing by Design: The Power of Organizational Architecture
David A. Nadler; Michael L. Tushman; Mark B. Nadler.
Oxford University Press, 1997
Librarian’s tip: "Fundamentals of Organizational Change" begins on p. 184
Helping Employees Embrace Change. (Current Research)
LaClair, Jennifer A.; Rao, Ravi P.
The McKinsey Quarterly, Autumn 2002
Executive Leadership during Organizational Change: A Bi-Cycle Model
Manz, Charles; Bastien, David; Hostager, Todd.
Human Resource Planning, Vol. 14, No. 4, December 1991
All I Ever Needed to Know about Change Management I Learned at Engineering School
Dickhout, Roger.
The McKinsey Quarterly, No. 2, Spring 1997
The Learning Organization and Strategic Change
Rowden, Robert W.
SAM Advanced Management Journal, Vol. 66, No. 3, Summer 2001
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