Making sense of Change Management Theories

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This report is about making sense of change management. The world is constantly changing around us, both in our private and our working lives. To manage these changes we develop coping strategies. In your private life you may set aside time for reflection or recreation each week to take stock of where you are. Organisations develop both formal and informal structures, which provide customary ways of reacting to external events. It is these established patterns of behaviour that provide us with a framework and a measure of security in a changing world.

The impact of organizational change can be found everywhere is an under statement. To understand this important process, we examine it from several key perspectives in this report. First we describe the nature of this process, include the forces that require organizations to change. Then we focus on changes that are more deliberate and describe what is know as strategic planning, which involves deliberately making radical changes in how organization operates.

Most people having difficulty accepting they may have to change the people they work with and even the basic nature of their jobs. After all if you are accustomed to working a certain way, sudden changes can be very unsettling. in other words, for various reasons, people resist change., however such resistance can be over come. With this in mind, social scientists have developed various methods, which are known collectively as organizational development techniques, to implement needed organizational change in a manner that is acceptable to employees and that enhances the effectiveness of the organization.


Change is the coping process of moving from the present state to a desired state that individuals, groups and organizations undertake in response to dynamic internal and external factors that alter current realities.

"Everybody has accepted by now that change is unavoidable. But that still implies that change is like death and taxes - it should be postponed as long as possible and no change would be vastly preferable. But in a period of upheaval, such as the one we are living in, change is the norm." -Peter drucker

The simplest definition of change management is;

"Making change in a planned and managed fashion".

Organizational change can be defined as;

"Any alteration in people, structure or technology"

Although change has always been a part of manager's job, it has become even more important in recent years. (Maggie 2007)

What is organizational change?

Organizational change is any action or set of actions resulting in a shift in direction or process that affects the way an organization works. Change can be deliberate and planned by leaders with in the organization or change can originate outside the organization and be beyond its control.

Change may affect the strategies an organization uses to carry out its mission, the processes for implementing those strategies, the tasks and functions performed by the people in the organization, and the relationships between those people. Naturally, some changes are relatively small; while others are sweeping in scope, amounting to an organizational transformation.

Change is a fact of organizational life, just as it is in human life. An organization that does not change cannot survive long much less thrive in an unpredictable world. Several factors may make organizational change necessary, including new competition in the marketplace or new demands by customers. These types of external forces may create expectations of improved efficiency, better service, or innovative products. When organizational change is well planned and implemented, it helps assure the organizations continued survival. It can produce many tangible benefits, including improved competitiveness, better financial performance, and higher levels of customer and employee satisfaction. These benefits may take some time to achieve, however, and the transition period that accompanies major organizational change usually is a time of upheaval and uncertainty. Not every individual in the organization will benefit personally from change; some will be casualties of change, especially if jobs are cut or realigned. But change should make the organization as a whole stronger and better equipped for the future.


Change can be divided into two types, unplanned change and planned change. Unplanned change consists of changes in the environment, moves by competitors and regulators, evolving needs of customers and so on that are outside the control of the business. However, organizations themselves change in unplanned ways. Just as people themselves change, their needs and motivations evolving in response to different stimuli, so organizations as a whole will change and evolve as well. Unplanned and unsought, this kind of change can have hard consequences for management.

Example of unplanned change include the loss of key staff members, especially senior managers and leaders, with a consequent loss of impetus and motivation in the organization; the emergence of new and unofficial groups or alliances of employees with their own personal agenda for change or for resisting change; sudden breakthroughs by research teams, or the emergence of new creative ideas elsewhere in the organization that change ideas and attitudes; sudden un forecast growth in key markets; and so on. The list of possibilities is almost endless. Practising managers are familiar with the phenomenon whereby the organization changes and evolves, steadily and imperceptibly, in response to a variety of internal and external pressures. Very few organizations end up looking like they did when first founded.


Planned change, by contrast, is that which is desired and needed by the organization and its managers, who will deliberately set changes in motion. There is an irony that, while unplanned change happens whether the manager wants it or not and is usually unstoppable, planned change can be very difficult to implement.

Examples of planned change can include the introduction of a new product line, the implementation of a new production technology, the introduction of new financial control and reporting systems, reshaping the organization to change the structure of its departments and divisions or switch to a new organizational type such as the matrix organization or virtual organization. increasing the size of the organization by hiring new people, or decreasing the size by making people redundant, changing strategic direction to focus on new goals, and so on. Again, there is virtually no limit to the kinds of changes that can be planned, provided the organization has the resources and capacity to carry them out.

Forces of change


Strategic management toolkit to analyse an organisation's environment to provide a firm basis for action. a PESTLE analysis can be used to identify external triggers for change. As trading conditions become more volatile and change more rapid, so organisations need to continually scan their environment for the political, economic, social, technological, Legal and Social

Political changes

The trend in numerous countries towards moving public enterprises into the private sector is a major source of change. But under this heading one could also include:

deregulation of markets

moves to introduce private sector practices into public organisations, such as the UK Government's Next Steps initiative

Changes in the economic

There will be short-term, cyclical changes demanding fast reactions such as cost environment cutting or fire fighting to meet sudden surges in demand

But there are also the long-term structural changes in the economy, such as:

underlying growth and inflation rates

globalisation of markets

regional economies such as the EC and the euro


Social changes

Broad changes in the way we live, including:

greater emphasis on health and safety

environmental concern

social equality

demographic changes

change away from the nuclear family

values and lifestyle choices

Technological changes

The huge reductions in information costs produce both opportunities and increased pressures

Technological advances reduce the entry costs into many businesses

Shorter product life cycles with increased scope for new products and methods of distribution make more opportunities available to all organisations in an industry.

Legal/legislative changes

Changes in the legislative framework within which the organisation operates, including:

health and safety and other employee legislation

product liability legislation

legislation directly affecting an organisation's market, e.g. regulations on telecommunications

Increasingly in the UK, the legislation may be putting EU directives into effect, i.e. implementing changes agreed at a supranational level

Eco-environmental Concern for the environment now constitutes a major element of the framework within which organisations operate. Influences upon particular organisations may include:

the opportunity to develop new markets and products, e.g. the supply of pollution control equipment for motor cars and other applications is now a major industry

designing products so that they are environmentally friendly

the increasing cost of meeting pollution and other environmental regulations (Elearn 2005), .( Mats 2008)


internal triggers to change (from Dawson 2003, based on Leavitt 1964), related to new technology, the revision of the primary task following from new products and services, new people in key positions or people getting new ideas, interests or ambitions or pressure to modify administrative structures. Rapid expansion might lead to demands on organizational changes such as when organizations divisional as a consequence of diversification. It can also be a matter of leading individuals trying to realize personal interests and agendas.( Mats 2008)

Stages of Change

Lewin's model

You may have been involved in action improvement programmes which achieved improved levels of performance in the short term but where practices soon slipped back to their previous pattern. Perhaps the change involved events where new practices were introduced with evangelical fervour and everyone came back resolving to change their ways. After a year or so people had difficulty remembering exactly what the event was all about. Lewin (1952) noted that this was often the case and argued that a successful change project should involve three steps:

1. Unfreezing the present level.

2. Moving to the new level.

3. Re-freezing that new level.

1. Unfreezing

The notion of unfreezing recognises that before new behaviour can be successfully adopted, the old has to be discarded. Lewin particularly emphasised the importance of the individual who must feel positively the need to change. Not everyone will want to unfreeze the organisation. The existing culture may not encourage innovation. There may be powerful people within the organisation who perceive they have a lot to lose from any change. At the same time, we do not want to change for the sake of change; we want to keep what is valuable about the current organisation.

2. Moving

Having unfrozen the organisation, we must now move it through the transitional state. Managing in this transitional state is very different from managing in stable environments.

Many writers and practitioners argue that you cannot really plan in the conventional sense during this stage but that the process is one where change emerges from the interactions of different individuals and groups. The change manager in this view is seen strictly as a facilitator who intervenes to guide and stimulate the activity of others.

To intervene effectively, the change manager must again use levers and triggers. These are actions by the change manager, small in themselves, which stimulate others to act and take responsibility for those actions.

3. Re-freezing

The final stage is for management to signal that the change management process has been completed and that it is time to operate within the context of the new culture and processes.

To do this management will need to:

celebrate success and communicate their appreciation of the staff

show by their actions that they will only operate according to the new ways of doing things

support staff in their new roles and reward them accordingly

Encourage staff to reflect on the change programme as a basis for further improvements in the future.

Once you have achieved an important task, it is all too easy to just move on to the next problem. If someone has done a good job, then take the time to tell them how much you appreciate their work. At the conclusion of an important project, make the time to hold a party and celebrate success.( Elearn 2005)

.Change as a sequential process

Another way to look at the subject is from traditional management perspective and thinking of organizational transformation. For instance change in the PODC techniques, thereby following universal or benchmarked practices. Therefore change means variation in following techniques

Planning - Setting objectives

- Implementation of policies

- Decision-making

Organizing - Formal & informal organisation

- Departmentation

- Hierarchy

- Authority- responsibility relationship

- Span of control etc.

Directing - Leading

- Leadership styles

- Motivation theories

Controlling - Direct & formal control

- Indirect & informal control

Examples of Change Management Plans

Successful Change Management

British Airways

Back in 1981, British Airways brought on board a new president. When this president started, he noticed that the company was very inefficient and was wasting a lot of valuable resources. To make the organization more profitable, this president decided to restructure the entire organization. He realized that the best way to do this was through change methodology management plan.

methodically, the company began reducing their workforce. But, before they did this, through his change management leadership, the chairman gave the company the reasons for the reorganization and privatization of the company in order to arrange them for the future change. so, through leadership and communication, he directed his company through a hard time that could have been unsuccessful without effective change management resistance communication.(web 1)

Frailer change management

In 1960s suit companies business began to fall down and lose momentum with the transformation of external environment. Firstly, Men's clothing became more casual, fragmenting the market and undermining the 'style monotony' of the inter-war years; Secondly the degree of competition has been increased, for example a rise in imports from low-cost suppliers in the Far East and continental Europe; Thirdly new technology emerged in 1960s, such as high-skill and technology-intensive manufacturing; Fourthly the requirement of gender equity was becoming stronger than before, and female workers made their voices heard more (Owen, 2000). Facing these new situations, suit companies in Leeds should be sensitive to and prepared as early as possible for external environment change, however The multiple tailors were 'catastrophically slow' to respond to the new situations. One possible measure was to move up-market, but a few Leeds manufacturers did so. Most of them eventually abandoned manufacturing and became pure retailers. Furthermore the industry still mainly relied on a low-skill, labour-intensive manufacturing strategy, which had constituted a large obstacle to adapt the new situations. Overall this case reminds us that the old formula should be abandoned as it becomes clear that the game is up (external environment changes), and do something different. In this case study, it is apparent that organizational inertia and failure of having a quick response to the external environment changes has resulted in the death of suit companies in Leeds, not mention to lead to the failure of change management.(web 2)


Organizational change is driven by a variety of external and internal conditions and actors. These do not automatically force change in a particular direction but are always interpreted by organizational members based on, for example, personal interests, educational background and perceptions of what is fashionable. Hence, managers often imitate various organizational trends promising a lot but unfortunately neglecting real life complexities. The latter tend to complicate efforts to use many fashionable ideas.

However, in spite of many change initiatives failing, much writing on change

Suggests that it is possible to control change through various forms of planning and design. The idea of planning organizational change has its roots in ideas of participative and incremental change central in Organizational Development.

The idea developed into more comprehensive Open Systems models depicting

Organizations as consisting of a variety of sub-systems that need to be carefully aligned in order to implement organizational change successfully.

Reference & bibliography

Maggie, John Roecker, 2007, Project Managing E-learning: A Handbook for Successful Design, Delivery and Management, 1 edition, Routledge

Elearn (2005), Change Management: Management Extra, Pergamon Flexible Learning,UK

( Mats 2008), Mats Alvesson and Stefan Sveningsson, Changing Organizational Culture,1st edition , Routledge,USA

Web 1, Examples of Change Management Plans, bright hub web site available from

web 2, Change Management Strategies, Journal of Cambridge Studies web site, available from

Balogun, J. and Hope Hailey, V. (2004) Exploring Strategic Change, 2nd edn (London: Prentice Hall).

Owen Geoffrey. 2000. Well Suited, a History of the Leeds Clothing industry. Oxford University Press, UK