Making the Best of the Inevitable: Change

By Marques, Joan | Journal of Global Business Issues, Summer 2008 | Go to article overview

Making the Best of the Inevitable: Change


Marques, Joan, Journal of Global Business Issues


ABSTRACT

In today's organizations there is a continuous mode of alertness on change, instigated by a multiplicity of environmental and evolutionary transitions that occur in the world of business. While there are many theories in existence about dealing with organizational change, a specific focus on management's approach and priorities in such a time has been somewhat weak. This article therefore presents a set of proper management actions, to be taken in times of change, derived from data gathered from a group of 40 members of the Los Angeles workforce, affiliated to a broad variety of work environments, and MBA students at the time of the study. The study delivered a total of 19 attention points, which were categorized in internal focus points, mutual issues, and external focus points.

Introduction

No elaborate explanation is needed when the topic of change comes around. It has been presented to us on many forums and in numerous ways that change is the steady companion of our times and is not going anywhere. Quite the contrary! Smith (2008), for example, affirms, "change is becoming increasingly commonplace" (p. 34). Briggs (2007) seconds this viewpoint in his statement, "In business, change is the one thing that people can be certain of (p. 13). Referring to some of the many contemporary reasons for change, Sverke, Hellgren, Nàswall, Gôransson, and Ôhrming explain, "Over the past decades, downsizing and other structural reforms (e.g, mergers, acquisitions, and privatizations) have become increasingly characteristic of organizations in most countries" (p. ill). Some say that change is the only constant (Elving, 2005), while others contest that even change changes. Both assertions are right, of course, because change is a steadfast phenomenon of which the manifestation alters as the pace of life picks up.

In today's organizations there is a continuous mode of alertness on change. This alertness is entirely justified, for reasons that Boyd (2008) confirms when he states, "[...] managing successful large-scale change can be very difficult. The process can be slow, frustrating, and especially complex due to a great number of extraneous environmental factors surrounding the change project" (p. 11). Thus, a responsible and seasoned management team in any organization is aware of the fact that change entails the inclusion of multiple aspects and dimensions. "Changing requires addressing the strategy (what you are trying to change), skills (what capabilities the recipients of the change need for success in the new state), and structures (the long-term and short-term organizational tools that support the new state)" (Carter, 2008, p. 20).

Once a change process is concluded, there is still no opportunity to "refreeze" the new process, like some older theories used to assert. Even if the organization and its leaders feel comfortable with a newly implemented process or strategy there is no guarantee that this will remain the case for long, simply because there is a vola tile environment in which the organization performs. Within the interdependency of organizational existence, existing competitors can always make surprising moves, while new ones may emerge at the horizon at the most unexpected moments, instigating sudden disruptions and the need for unforeseen and oftentimes unwelcome alterations in established strategies and processes. Smith (2008) verifies, "as globalization "flattens" the Earth, competitors appear from unexpected places, and they often bring with them new, disruptive business models" (p. 34).

While there are many theories in existence about dealing with organizational change, a specific focus on management's approach and priorities in such a time has been somewhat weak. This article is therefore geared toward a set of proper management actions, to be taken in times of change.

The Study

In order to obtain data that truly reflected circumstances in contemporary work environments, the author of this article engaged in a study questioning workforce members on their perceptions on management's main concerns in times of change. …

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