Key metaphors and their strengths and weaknesses


Kurt Lewin theorized a three-stage model of change that has come to be known as the unfreezing-change-refreeze model that requires prior learning to be rejected and replaced. Edgar Schein provided further detail for a more comprehensive model of change calling this approach "cognitive redefinition." The first stage is when human being is becoming motivated to change. This phase of change is built on the theory that human behavior is established by past observational learning and cultural influences. Change requires adding new forces for change or removal of some of the existing factors that are at play in perpetuating the behavior. It is necessary to move past the possible anxieties for change to progress. This can be accomplished by either having the survival anxiety be greater than the learning anxiety or, preferably, learning anxiety could be reduced. In the second stage, human has to change what needs to be changed. Once there is sufficient dissatisfaction with the current conditions and a real desire to make some change exists, it is necessary to identify exactly what needs to be changed. Three possible impacts from processing new information are: words take on new or expanded meaning, concepts are interpreted within a broader context, and there is an adjustment in the scale used in evaluating new input. A concise view of the new state is required to clearly identify the gap between the present state and that being proposed. Activities that aid in making the change include imitation of role models and looking for personalized solutions through trial-and-error learning. Refreezing is the final stage where new behavior becomes habitual, which includes developing a new self-concept & identity and establishing new interpersonal relationships.

Morgan's organism metaphor

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The main assumption underlying evolutionary theories is that change is a response to external circumstances, situational variables, and the environment faced by each organization (Morgan, 1986). Social systems as diversified, inter dependent, complex systems evolve naturally over time because of external demands (Morgan, 1986). Teleological theories or planned change models assume that organizations are purposeful and adaptive. Change occurs because leaders, change agents, and others see the necessity of change.

White-water rapids metaphor

For the White water rapids metaphor, change is constant in a dynamic environment. The only certainty is continuing uncertainty. Competitive advantages do not last. Managers must quickly and properly react to unexpected events. They should be alert to problems and opportunities and become change agents in stimulating, implementing and supporting change in the organization The white water rapids metaphor is consistent with the discussion of uncertainty and dynamic environment. It is also consistent with a world that is increasingly dominated by knowledge, information and idea. However, this metaphor is lack of environmental stability and predictability and it also requires managers and organizations continually adapt to survive.

Bergquist's fire metaphor

Bergquist describe the changing context as a reason to reexamine organizational structures and culture, necessitating internal change. He describes the postmodern era as posing new challenges for organizations, particularly around the issue of change (1998). Postmodernism requires organizations to change their size and shape to respond to a more fragmented and complex environment. Reexamining the institutional mission is a major priority (Bergquist, 1998). As institutions rethink their reasons for being, the institutions themselves change their identities; Bergquist lists several institutional responses. First, the postmodern environment means that organizations move from more singular models of operation to examining multiple ways to be successful. Second, organizations might actively engage the various subcultures within higher education institutions, including the political, bureaucratic, symbolic, and human resource cultures. Third, other organizations might develop entrepreneurial cultures and structures in which they are able to adapt to changes. Last, they might find their distinctive niches, focusing on specialized aspects rather than a more comprehensive mission as higher education institutions have done in the past. Organizational change is conceptualized as an effort at becoming less homogenous and responsive to the multiplicity of various constituents customers, or interest groups. According to Bergquist, the postmodern era is requiring organizations to change; there is no way to avoid this cycle.

There are several reasons for people resists organizational changes. The major reasons are as employees are fear of failure, and they feel uncomfortable about the creature of habits, some of them have closed mind. Another consideration is the employee may think there is no need of change, and if it is necessary, they may doubt the sufficient supports systems. What is more, unwillingness to learn and fear of learning may prevent the changes internally as well.

Part two

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The origins of OD can be traced back to the 1940s when a team of researchers, led by Kurt Lewin, experimented with T-groups. These were small, unstructured groups where the participants learnt various aspects of group behavior from their own experiences. The researchers who initially facilitated the T-groups discussed the processes and outcomes of the sessions amongst themselves at the conclusion of each session. Eventually, the participants asked the researchers if they could be included in the review process. These review and feedback sessions were a rich learning resource for the participants. OD has moved on since this experimental phase. The term OD is now considered to be an umbrella term that includes many programmes and techniques for bringing about change. There is some contention as to which of these programmes and techniques come under the OD banner. However, it is commonly recognized that action research and process consultation are central to the philosophy and methodology of OD.

OD incorporates a planned approach to change that aims to improve the performance of organizations through the people in them. It is important to note that not all change that occurs within organizations is planned. Many of the changes that occur are emergent - that is, they are unplanned, minor changes that occur during the natural course of doing business. While OD promotes a planned approach to organizational change, it is traditionally considered to be concerned with incremental change and orderly transitions rather than drastic and sudden changes. While many authors would still argue that this is the case, others would argue that transformational change is now considered to be under the OD banner. Orderly transitioning is facilitated with the help of a change agent or consultant. The OD consultant works together with the client organization to help identify problems and opportunities and to take appropriate action. The role of the consultant is not just to guide the organization onto the most appropriate path, but also to teach key organizational members how to solve their own problems in the future. This results in a decreasing reliance on the consultant over a period of time. Theoretically, OD is based on the eventual withdrawal of the consultant.

OD views organizations as complex social systems where changes need to be system-wide. Individuals within organizations are members of various groups. These range from friendship groups to departmental groups to work teams. These groups interact and are often interdependent. OD consultants recognize the important role that teams play in the formation and maintenance of organizational culture. A major implication of this assumption is that interventions must attempt to influence culture through attention to workgroup subcultures. Indeed, if the culture is not changed then nothing else can successfully be changed.

In summary, OD has a number of distinguishing characteristics. Namely, it is incremental in nature and views organizations as complex social systems. This leads to gradual changes with a focus on culture and processes and to the recognition of the importance of teamwork and collaboration between organizational leaders and members. OD practitioners also have certain characteristics. OD practitioners are facilitators, collaborators and co-learners, who teach organizational leaders, and members, continuous learning skills, thereby enabling the organization to solve the own problems.

Part three

Organizational diagnosis produces the road maps that guide and direct organizational change interventions. The diagnosis usually is initiated from individual, group, and organizational levels; and explores a more integrated approach to diagnosis suited to an era of sweeping organizational change. A normal organizational diagnosis usually starts from three different perspectives: (1) macro views of organizations, (2) contributions of individuals, and (3) management and motivation in the high-involvement workplace. Diagnostic models for organization development and emerging organizational firms set the stage for diagnosing cultures for realignment and designing effective reward systems. The broadening focus of training needs assessment and strategic methods for addressing future staff requirements place the spotlight on human talent, while diagnostic issues for work teams emphasize the growing importance of groups.

In another point of view, organizational diagnosis proceeds in three orderly phases: entry, data collection, and feedback. The primary objectives of entry are to determine which units of the system (individual, group, and organization) will participate in the diagnosis and to determine whether the client and consultant can reach agreement about their respective roles during data collection and feedback. Entry begins with the first encounter between client and consultant and ends with a decision between client and consultant stating whether they can work together to complete the diagnosis. Entry is also a time for data collection, as the consultant begins to learn about the client system through conversations, observations, and the primary objectives of data collection are systematically to gather valid information about the nature of the client system and to prepare an analysis of that data for delivery to the client during feedback. Data collection begins when the consultant prepares a methodology for eliciting information and contacts members of the client system to implement the methodology documents.

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The primary objective of feedback is to promote increased understanding of the client system by its members. Feedback typically consists of a series of meetings between the consultant and client during which the consultant presents the data analysis and the parties discuss and interpret the data. In carrying out feedback, consultants "reenter" the system after having been away while they prepared the data analysis. Client reactions to the feedback and their behavior during meetings provide another source of data that may confirm or disconfirm the analyses provided in the feedback. Feedback also brings the diagnosis to completion and possibly prepares for a transition to planned change.

According to those diagnose process; the consultant uses the techniques and theory of diagnosis to understand a client system on its own terms, not to impose preconceived methods or conclusions. Each step in the diagnosis depends on an effective working relationship between client and consultant. Every phase in the process builds on the work of preceding phases. If properly executed, the methods described here are self-correcting because each phase provides opportunities to discover and to alter limitations of the preceding phases. For client systems who wish to learn, this methodology provides the opportunity-if it is employed by consultants who have been thoroughly and appropriately trained.

Part four

The literature concerning organizational change tends to fall into one of two main categories, one that emphasizes organizational efficiency and the other which emphasizes social change. Within these two groupings a desired outcome is emphasized rather than creating a clear understanding of the dynamics of organizational change.

The literature which emphasizes achieving organizational efficiency bases its assumptions on the work of Kurt Lewin. There are two forces which maintain organizational stability: driving forces and restraining forces. The driving forces are those elements of the organization which support a desired organizational change. Keeping the organization in equilibrium are the restraining forces. Change occurs when one of these two forces becomes stronger than the other (disequilibrium). Once the change has occurred, the organization reverts to a new state of equilibrium which reflects the desired change. The second grouping of literature concerning organizational change focuses on social change.

Strategic planning interventions.

The strategic planning intervention process help make decisions about where it should work, with whom it should work, and what kinds of providers and products it should support. The tool is comprised of four sections. The first project-level section is designed to help the project identify priority areas o fields for implementation of project activities cutting across all aspects of the organization. Each of the other three component-level sections is designed to identify priorities for component-specific interventions. Each section is comprised of a decision tree. This section describes how the decision tree is used to makes choices for project interventions. We first define the universe. The universe of choices is placed at the top of the decision tree and then - in sequence - a series of criteria is applied to each choice in the universe. Then, we sequentially apply a list of predefined criteria to each element of the universe finally; we have carefully reviewed the outcome of the universe mapping process.

2. Structural interventions

Structural interventions, like strategic planning interventions, target different levels in the organization. We will look at structural interventions to enhance the effectiveness of individual jobs, groups or teams, and entire organization.

The term "structural intervention" is a relative newcomer to a longstanding mode of implementing changes beyond the individual in order to change organizations behaviors and final outcomes. As such, there remain variations in the precise definition of the term. We first differentiate structural levels of causation from other macro-levels in that structural interventions influence laws, policies, and standard operational procedures implemented through activism, lobbying, and changes in policy. Interventions that they review pair structural-level intervention with those that are environmental. Besides, we could also portray structural intervention as synonymous with "enabling approaches". There is clearly disagreement in the limits of what may be considered a structural intervention. Some of the difficulties in finding a clear definition of structural intervention are reflections of the multi-disciplinary aspects of organizations, where different theoretical frameworks and terms refer to similar concepts. In addition, structural interventions may be linked to other levels of intervention either directly or indirectly.

3. Organizational culture interventions.

The culture of an organization is a progression of social development. As people within the organization change, so does the culture. By assessing the current culture, leaders and managers can act as change agents to transform an organization for the better. Creating a vision for the future and clearly communicating and implementing that vision leads to success in an organization. Leaders and managers are responsible for assessing the current organizational culture and determining positive influences that should remain intact throughout a cultural transformation) They also are responsible for developing new influences that promote organizational success and deriving strategies for implementing changes, including planning for ongoing communication. Developing steps based on a cultural vision that lead to a new environment completes the cultural transformation. Transformation, however, is an ongoing process because the cultural environment is always changing and may require modification as an organization and its management and leadership ideas evolve. Individual and organizational performance also can be affected by myriad political influences, which can come from both internal and external sources. Relationships can be developed from and determined by politics. Changing an organization's environment should coincide with changing problematical political practices. This may mean breaking up old relationships to create more positive and productive ones. Any assessment performed to change an organization's environment should include possible political ramifications of transformation.

4. Human process interventions

The human process interventions could be classified into the following points.

1. Goal Setting: This change program involves setting clear and challenging goals. It attempts to improve organization effectiveness by establishing a better fit between personal and organizational objectives.

2. Performance Appraisal: This intervention is a systematic process of jointly assessing work-related achievements, strengths and weaknesses.

3. Reward Systems: This intervention involves the design of organizational rewards to improve employee satisfaction and performance.

4. Career Planning and development: It generally focuses on managers and professional staff and is seen as a way of improving the quality of their work life.

5. Managing workforce diversity: Important trends, such as the increasing number of women, ethnic minorities, and physically and mentally challenged people in the workforce, require a more flexible set of policies and practices.

6. Employee Wellness: These interventions include employee assistance programs.


As far as I am concerned, the metaphors stated above strongly direct and support the issues regard to organizational changes. Employee in organization normally refuses to change since there is some fear and worries about the learning and supports. Also the organizational diagnosis produces the road maps that guide and direct organizational change interventions. This could give more suggestions and constructive recommendations to the future management.