Action Research and Organizational Development

By J. Barton Cunningham | Go to book overview

13
Different Stages of the Change Process

Organizational change is a disorderly, highly dynamic process. It typically entails shifting goals and surprising events. The chaotic nature even occurs in organizations with the best laid plans. 1 Goals and activities shift as they are modified by managers and other organizational participants, reflecting previously unvoiced or even unknown needs and aspirations. 2

Managing organizational change is much like trying to cure a cancerous person. The condition may arise from a bad diet, excessive smoking, or a range of life style conditions. In many cases, no single variable accounts for the cancerous conditions, and there is rarely "one" certain cure.

There are probably thousands of situational variables affecting whether a change is successfully implemented or not. As a result, we cannot have a precise cause and effect knowledge of implementation, as there are numerous interacting variables to consider. Introducing change in organizations is much like cancer research where there is no single variable or event responsible for a successful implementation. In this sense, smoking may cause cancer if other situations are also present. In the same way, an organizational pay system or compressed work week will not stand on its own, but will depend on a range of resistances people manifest at different stages of an intervention.

During the stages of the implementation of a change, different reactions occur making it necessary for managers to respond in unique ways. This chapter outlines how people feel during various stages of a change. It then provides a perspective on the tactics and strategies at each of these stages.

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