Making Sense of Organizational Change

Making Sense of Organizational Change

Making Sense of Organizational Change

Making Sense of Organizational Change


By applying an invaluable sense making framework to organizational change in both a practical and accessible way, and combining the theory and practice of implementing change, this book represents an instructive and informative view on the implications of change in the business world.


Organization change is ubiquitous today, and for good reason. Organizations must keep changing in order to keep up with changing world, national, and local events and competitive conditions. If they don't change they will fall behind.

Of course, some types of change are better than others. This particular new type of change that I'm proposing is highly successful, as indicated by the very positive experiences of several organizations. It is a must for any company that is concerned about staying on the leading edge of innovation and competitiveness.

How many times have you heard this story line, or one very like it? How often has this story been told, with the only change in it being the particular change programme being advocated as effective? How much more cynical are you now than you used to be about claims like this, perhaps even while you are hoping that the story line about the change you're considering is at least plausible, if not fully accurate? Certainly you are convinced that on-going organizational change of some type is crucial; the only problem is to cull from the multiple offerings the type of change that will work best.

In this thoughtful and thought-provoking book, Jean Helms Mills explores the above story line in a fascinating way. She presents a detailed case study of multiple 'pre-packaged' organizational change initiatives that Nova Scotia Power (once Nova Scotia Power Commission) underwent between 1988 and 2002. These included a culture change programme, privatization, down sizing, business process re-engineering, leadership changes, strategic business units, and a balanced scorecard strategic plan. Based on careful interviews, observation, and archival data-gathering over a five-year period, she details the reasons that a particular change was adopted with great enthusiasm, how interest in it waned, how it was replaced by another enthusiastically adopted change initiative, how interpretations of prior change initiatives evolved over time, and how this process was repeated again and again, through multiple changes. Often one change initiative hadn't even been 'completed' before the next one, sometimes a type of change with values that seemed to contradict the prior one, began to be implemented.

This description of the multiple, overlapping changes is juxtaposed with a careful, detailed exposition and respectful summary and critique of Karl

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