Change: Reshaping Cultures
The illusion of change has become the quick fix of the business world. Sales are down; reshuffle the marketing department. Operating expenses are too high; install a new budgeting procedure. Market share is slipping; call in the latest consultant to install the newest strategic-planning process. The rent is raised on New York headquarters; move the entire company to the Sun Belt. Change has become such a regular activity in the business world that companies suddenly become suspect if they stay the same.
Today's corporations are judged by outsiders on more than their product line and profit performance; they are judged all too often on appearance as well. Reputation, growth prospects, being in the right place (or market) at the right time, being up-to-date-- change and the appearance of adaptation have become for many companies a dazzling show that keeps up the appearance of modernity and vitality. An organization's image begins to slip and a new CEO or major reorganization will signal new initiative and energy. Doubts about accountability or fiscal integrity can be dashed by installing computerized accounting procedures. Corporations not only change to keep pace with tangible shifts in technology or the business environment; today they change because they're expected to.
With all this activity going on, how much real change is occurring? And how much should be occurring given cultural barriers to change? Change always threatens a culture. People form strong attachments to heroes, legends, the rituals of daily life, the hoopla of extravaganzas and ceremonies--all the symbols and settings of the work place. Change strips down these relationships and leaves employees confused, insecure, and often angry. For example, the