DEALING WITH CHANGE
Change masters: Those people and organizations adept at the art of anticipating the need for, and of leading, productive change.
—Rosabeth Moss Kanter (1983:13)
Change-adept organizations cultivate the imagination to innovate, the professionalism to perform and the openness to collaborate.
—Rosabeth Moss Kanter (1997:7)
IN CONTEMPORARY SOCIETY, change is pervasive, both in the larger society and within individual organizations. Many of the writings about social change deal with processes of bringing about particular changes in the larger society—public policy changes, changes in the culture. The focus in this chapter, however, is on changes within individual human service organizations, changes that are often responses to changes taking place in the larger society.
Many writers equate organizational change, or the introduction of “innovation” (Delbecq 1978), with progress. Current organizational performance is not fully satisfactory—change should be an improvement. However, in human service programs, there are also negative changes, changes that harm service users or that harm service providers. Funding sources disappear; restrictive legislation is passed that limits access to services. Innovative changes may provide benefits for one set of stakeholders but impose costs on other stakeholders. Merit-goods policies are adopted that impose particular costs or limitations on service users in the name of community values.
The following discussion does not assume that all change is beneficial. It does assume that human service organizations face constant changes in the organizational environment and therefore must give