Managing organizational change and the global conditions affecting an organization


1.1 Introduction

According to the Future Administrative systems Team (University of Houston, 2004), managing change is "a systematic process of taking into account the global conditions affecting an organization, as well as specific conditions in the organization. The change management methodology examines the current environment with respect to organization culture, communication, organization design, job design, infrastructure, personnel, skills and knowledge, people/machine interfaces, and incentive systems." Organizations are defined as systems comprising elements of formal organizational management and operations as well as elements of more informal aspects of organizational life (Senior and Fleming 2006).

Several definitions of organizational change have been presented over the years, For example, Burnes (1996) suggests that organizational change means the understanding of alterations within organizations at the broadest level among individuals, groups, and at the collective level across the entire organization. Managing change requires "Methods and processes that assist individuals in adjusting constructively to new systems, procedures, processes, workflow, organizational relationships and other differences as they occur."

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Three important factors are acknowledged in the above definitions of change management - the organization's culture, the people and communication. Managing change and liaising with stakeholders in order to perform change are integral parts of good staff and project management, but change is never easy to manage. The adoption and implementation of a new system will bring about change to any organization. Sometimes the changes required by an organization are likely to have incited the acquisition of the new system. Adoption of a new system can support a changed approach, but the system itself is not regarded as the change. The organization has to be prepared for the change in order not to be seen as the cause of the change thus preventing resentment and resistance which may lead to the failure of the system implementation.

An example of this is the implementation of a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and Managed Learning Environment (MLE) in a university. Such environments are always part of an institutional strategy about learning and sharing knowledge, but a university cannot be converted to a different type of learning organization simply by implementing a VLE or MLE. The implementation of system projects must run in tandem with change projects. However, putting the responsibility on the implementers of the system is likely to result in the failure of the project. In the context of a system implementation, change management will require an institution to anticipate, prepare for, manage and undergo major organizational change from one state to a newer state. The change can be represented by:

-The legacy system to the replacement system;

-One organizational mission to extended institutional pursuits;

-One infrastructure and set of skills to a different make-up;

-Old business processes to new trading methods;

-Decentralized ways of working to centralized functions;

-One set of values to an adjusted collection of principles and standards; and/or

-A known management approach to other styles of governance.

Almost all people are nervous about change. Many will resist it - consciously or subconsciously. Sometimes those fears are well founded - the change really will have a negative impact for them. In many cases, however, the target population for the change will come to realize that the change was for the better (reference)

The pace of change is ever increasing - particularly with the advent of the Internet and the rapid deployment of new technologies, new ways of doing business and new ways of conducting one's life. Organizational Change Management seeks to understand the sentiments of the target population and work with them to promote efficient delivery of the change and enthusiastic support for its results.

D.C. Brandenburg and C.V. Binder (1992) suggests that managing change requires Methods and processes that assist individuals in adjusting constructively to new systems, procedures, processes, workflow, organizational relationships and other differences as they occur.

There are two related aspects of organizational change that are often confused. In Organizational Change Management we are concerned with winning the hearts and minds of the participants and the target population to bring about changed behaviour and culture. The key skills required are founded in business psychology and require "people" people.

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Organizational Design may be a specific objective of the project, for example where there is to be a reduction in the workforce, or it may just be a consequence of the changed business processes and technology.

Organizational Change Management issues are often under-estimated or ignored entirely.

Typically, the concept of organizational change is in regard to organization-wide change, as opposed to smaller changes such as adding a new person, modifying a program, etc. instances of firm-wide change might include a change in mission, restructuring operations (restructuring to self-managed teams, layoffs), new technologies, mergers, major collaborations, new programs such as Total Quality Management, re-engineering, etc.

2.0 Organisational Change and Transitions

There are two approaches to organizational change, namely:

Hard systems model for change

Soft systems model for change

The hard systems model for change (HSMC) definition of an organization is ''a stable, formal structure that takes resources from the environment and processes them to produce outputs'' (Laudon and Laudon, 2000) while the soft system model for change (SSMC) regard an organization as ''a collection of rights, privileges, obligations and responsibilities that are delicately balanced over time through conflict and conflict resolution'' (Laudon and Laudon, 2000).

2.1 Hard Systems Model for Change (HSMC)

This approach has identified some classical schools. The classical school is a management perspective that emerged during the 19th and early 20th centuries that emphasized a rational, scientific approach to the study of management and sought to make organizations efficient operating machines (Daft, 2008). Some of the key players in the classical school include Frederick Taylor (1856-1915) who proposed the scientific management- a systematic method of determining the best way of getting a job done and specifying the skills needed to do it as well as the machine theory which dismissed the psychological aspects of behaviour because workers were regarded more like machines. The two methods had a clear division of tasks and responsibilities between workers and management. The scientific selection of people encouraged the selection of people with appropriate abilities to do newly designed job.

Another major player was Henry, L. Gantt who developed the Gant chart used to measure planned and completed tasks at each stage of production. A good classical school is the Fordism. This involves the application of scientific management principles to workers' jobs, installation of single purpose machine tools and assembly line with provision mass production and systems and control units. Other key players include Weber who identified bureaucracy as a legal rational type of authority and Fayol who listed planning, organizing, commanding, coordinating and controlling as the five basic management functions in administration.

2.2 Soft Systems Model for Change (SSMC)

This approach has identified the problems with organizations, namely:

Highly complex


have problems that are difficult to locate and define

Need total solutions.

Problems with organization can either be resolved, solved and dissolved (Ackoff, 1993). According to Ackoff, to resolve a problem involves the selection of an action that yields an outcome that is good enough. This approach relies on the use of common sense and to some extent, trial and error. This often used by most managers in decision making and is also called the clinical approach in dealing with messes because it involves reaching a consensus by a group of people on how to resolve a problem. This approach keeps most people happy and on board with the change but lacks analytical rigour in its formation of the objectives, thus, does not indicate how far the objectives of the change have been met.

To solve a problem involves eschewing the use of common sense and base decisions on quantitative models like the use of scientific models rather than qualitative models. This is also called the research approach to mess management as it is likely to be used by scientific or technologically inclined managers. From the fore-going, the two approaches mentioned are limited in their capacity to plan and implement change hence, the suggestion of a third approach called the concept of dissolving a problem.

To dissolve a problem involves changing the nature and/or the environment of the entity in which it is embedded so as to remove the problem (Ackoff, 1993). This approach is also called the design approach because problem dissolvers in addition to using the methods of problem resolvers and solvers seek to redesign the characteristics of the larger system containing the problem like changing the organizational structure, culture and processes. Only a few managers use this method and these are those that have the principal objective of development rather than growth or survival and who recognize it.

3.0 The Organizational development Process

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This approach identifies the importance of the people that make up the organization. It identifies that people at all levels of the organization are individually and collectively the drivers and engines of change. The assumption is that people perform better when they have high quality of life and that workers that are under-utilized are capable of contributing towards the goal of the organization if given the opportunity of taking more responsibilities.

Paton and McCalman (2008) identified three concepts with respect to managing people and gaining their commitment to work in an organization:

Organizations are about people

Management assumptions about people often lead to ineffective design of organizations and this hinders performance.

People are the most important asset and their commitment goes a long way in determining effective organization design and development.

Total Systems Intervention (TSI), developed by Flood and Jackson (1991), is a meta-methodology that brings together a range of systems metaphors, a framework of systems methodologies, and various systems approaches to enable creative problem solving. In a process of TSI, systems metaphors are used to encourage creative thinking about organisations and the issues confronting managers.

The discipline of Organizational Development has evolved over the past fifty years or so. Both French & and Bell, describe organizational development asa long-term effort, led and supported by top management, to improve an organization's visioning, empowerment, learning, and problem-solving processes, through an ongoing, collaborative management of organization culture-with special emphasis on the culture of intact work teams and other team configurations-using the consultant-facilitator role and the theory and technology of applied behavioral science, including action research. (French & Bell, 1999, pp. 25-26)

On a practical day-to-day level, we think of OD as an ongoing, thoughtfully planned effort by all members of an organization to improve how that organization operates, serves its stakeholders, fulfills its mission, and approaches its vision. What are more compelling than the definition of Organizational Development are the underlying and continuously evolving philosophy and values of the discipline

3.1 Lewin's three phase model of change

Lewin (1951) proposed an extensively referred literature on change. It consists of three phases:




Unfreezing involves "shaking up'' of people's habits of thinking and behaviour in order to create their awareness for need for change. This implies the change of the status quo by strengthening or weakening the forces that could push or maintain the change (Cummings and Worley, 2009). This might involve the selective promotion of employees or termination of employment (Goodstein and Burke, 1993). A good example is the case of Pitford College in Shire County. A member of staff was promoted to director of open and resource based learning (O&RBL) while others had their responsibilities changed from teaching the students to tutoring students working in self service types of learning environment. Part of the unfreezing process was the consultation with the head of departments and decision makers to discuss new developments which were seen as challenging the status quo on education.

Moving is the second stage of the Lewis' change process and it involves making the actual changes that will move the organization to a new state. This includes the establishment of new strategies and structures to new ways of doing things. For example, In the Shire County, the O&RBL involved a series of seminars on concepts of O&RBL for staff. In addition, Pitford Collge, one of the other two colleges in the County, large new O&RBL centres were built with multimedia teaching and learning facilities.

Lewin's final phase in the change process is the refreezing and this involves stabilizing or institutionalizing the changes. This involves making sure that new changes are secured and prevented from 'back sliding' and may even involve the recruitment of new staff that are untainted with the old habits. The continual involvement and support of top management is very crucial and essential at this stage. Once the changes have been made, it is also important to reinforce the changes with symbolic actions and signs such as change of logos, building designs, forms of dress, and ways of grouping people to get work done. It is essential to continually collect data and feedback to track the progress of the change and to monitor the further change in the light of environmental changes.

According to Senge (1990) learning organizations exists where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together.

The basic rationale for such organizations is that in situations of rapid change only those that are flexible, adaptive and productive will excel. For this to happen, it is argued, organizations need to 'discover how to tap people's commitment and capacity to learn at all levels.