Many of the organizations used as examples in previous chapters faced dramatic shifts in their competitive environments or internal changes stemming from natural processes of growth or evolution. As a result, many were contemplating or undertaking significant changes in their fundamental direction. In a number of instances, these changes were [strategic] in the sense that that were explicitly designed to improve the organization's performance.1 More specifically, these changes were intended to make the organization more prosperous, more effective at achieving its aspirations, or simply more likely to survive.
I want to stress that this chapter is concerned with change that is purposefuland adaptive. There are certainly other forms of organizational change that are legitimate topics of concern. However, given the agenda of this book, the focus here is on the more bounded phenomenon of strategic change, and especially on the role played by leaders. Again, as I noted in chapter 6, the basic assumption underlying this focus is that the quality of leaders' thought and action can influence organizational performance outcomes. Strategic change is one of the most critical and difficult forms of purposeful organizational adaptation. It is critical because it is fundamentally connected to a firm's long-term competitiveness and survival. It is difficult because of the complexity of the economic issues involved and the psychological and organizational barriers that must be overcome.
Given its importance and complexity, it is not surprising then that, as with the topics of strategy and leadership, much has been written about