CHANGE – The Only Constant

By April 1, 2015 No Comments

In this volatile world, every organisation is bound to hit a road-block called “change” and the choice to either sail through or get stuck depends solely on its readiness to change.

Those organisations who want to embrace change with open arms while understanding that it may be daunting have to cater to the types and effects of change. As per “Making Sense of Change Management” by Cameron and Green, the types of changes are

  1. Individual
  2. Team
  3. Organization

The above three types are inter-connected. The individual change is the heart of an organization. Where individuals have an impact from the team they belong, guided by its norms and rules; the team is highly dependent on its relation with the other teams in the organization. Inevitably this had led to the concept of Change Management! From the books, Change Management is defined as the set of strategies, plans and tools that helps the employees of a company transit from a current state to a desirable state. The people are the focus here unlike project management which deals with technical aspects of change like systems, structure and the like.

  1. Individual

People are at the centre of any change. So, Change Management is dealing with people who are unpredictable as each one reacts differently to the same approach, as per their background, personality, beliefs and context. So, there is no “one-fit-for-all”. It is highly important to understand the types of people for a successful change management.

  1. Team

Generally, teams are defined by the culture of a company. A team is effective when there is a clear mission, plan and goal setting with clearly defined roles and responsibilities. The team interpersonal relationships are a major factor to allow interaction and support to each other.

  1. Organization

The concept of organizational metaphor is very appealing. Organizations can be machines, organisms, political systems, subject to flux and transformation based on the way they function. Based on the metaphor, the model and strategy varies.

There are a bunch of models authored by various people from diverse streams and one of my favourites is Lewin’s three step model to change.

The steps are three simple words- Unfreeze, Move and Refreeze!!

Unfreeze: is to destabilize the current situation and get the organization ready for change. Essentially, the driving forces have to be emphasized and the resilient forces have to be weakened with a clear picture on the desired end state. This approach should ideally prompt people and teams to let go of the old behaviour and seek out new and more effective alternatives.

Move: The phase where an equilibrium between the driving and restraining forces is attained such that the organization moves/shifts to a new level. This can be accomplished by modifying attitudes, beliefs, processes, systems, and structures.

Refreeze: Once the organization has shifted to a new level, stability is achieved by setting policy, rewarding structure and establishing new standards.

The final step is highly important since there could be “homeostasis” (tendency of an organization to return to old behaviour) so, the new equilibrium has to be pushed through and managed until the new behaviour becomes a norm.

Lewin also introduced the concept of force field analysis which is one of the best tools for an organization to analyse the factors influencing the change. He suggests capturing the driving and resisting forces to a particular change which gives the change manager a perspective on the feasibility of the change.

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