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The successful organizations emphasize on business policy and strategic management. The thought leadership gives prime importance to the meticulous planning and execution. The famous management guru Peter Drucker opined that the survival of an organization is important first of all. Then comes growth factors. Here, survival is possible at the cost of alignment with the emerging trends and initiating the change process conducive to the competitiveness. Hence, change is perceived as an effective tool of organizational development and robust growth of any business. More flexible the change process, better results we can expect. The change should be dynamic in nature leading to create the win-win situation to all the stakeholders (Arnaboldi, M., & Azzone, 2005). The organizations like WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, Amazon, Snapdeal lead in the race simply because they are good at strategic change management. In fact, it is the key to their success. Their change is more comprehensive and at massive level with an optimization of information and communication technology (ICT).
The experts believe that change is inevitable. It is the law of nature. It should be objective and not subjective at all. The change is impersonal and has larger than life impact on overall performance of any enterprise or corporation. The company philosophy, culture, values matter to what extent change is feasible and workable (Helms, Dye & Mills: 2009). There are certain factors which influence while introducing the change at workplace. Changes are the expected outcomes in the form of revision of strategy, organizational structure, processes, performance and finding creative and practical solutions to meet the emerging needs of market.
Globalization has the lion’s share in bringing transitions at the workplaces. In addition to this, technology, government reforms, legal implications, never-ending customer expectations, competition and volatile market conditions compel the firms to plan and execute change process. These can be classified into internal and external factors. For example, Goods and Service Tax in India has restructured the company policies, pricing, auditing etc. It is legal implication and binding for target firms to comply with same. Sometimes, change is voluntary while it is involuntary as well. Corporate strategy is voluntary while legal reforms are involuntary changes. Both have direct or indirect impact on the organization. Depending on the purpose of organization, the changes could be short-term, mid-term or long-term.
We notice controversial views on the feasibility of change process. There are basically two approaches dealing with change effectively: Top-down and Down-Up approaches. The concept of top-down approach is related to business re-engineering and business process re-engineering. The core idea of applying this approach is the process creation and orientation concerned with bring expected changes in the form of cost, service, quality and minimizing average processing time. While the bottom-up approach is about effectiveness and efficiency. The Japanese term “Kaizen” is popular and recommended by the management experts to improve the processes, systems and for lean management. The modern change management is the best combination of both bottom-up and top-down approaches for sustainable development of an organization.
People, processes and systems are central focus strategic change. One must ensure that change is not introduced at the cost of self-interest. Otherwise, it will spoil the not only the existing performance but overall organization. It may prove as a slow poison to the enterprise in years to come. Here, company and business are more important than individuals in the process of change management. Here, the leader should behave as change catalyst and act responsibly. He or she should take all the stakeholders into confidence with strong conviction.
The success ratio of change relies more on its execution than planning. Change should be incorporated with strategic goals aligned with company vision and mission. This is because the change process is advised and guided by team of experts. However, when the process actually begins, some unexpected elements take birth. Managing them is a key challenge. Flexibility, time-span, task-allocation, accountability, adaptability, readiness, stability, leadership, proactive involvement in the decision-making process really matter in the process of change management (Sturdy & Grey: 2003). Communication, coordination, commitment have to be taken care of right from entry to exist point. It is equally important to set the right expectation from day one and keep on verifying, evaluating, updating, confirming at each stage. Timely and accurate information leads to transparency in everything we do. It makes all the stakeholders confident and give desired result in stipulate time-frame. However, there is no thumb rule or golden theory to make it successful. It varies from one to another.
A notable scholar and change expert Ralph Stacey introduced a model based on strategic change. It is useful to deal with the unpredictability and uncertainty in the present market conditions. He referred it as “The Science of Complexity.” In order to overcome the instability and complexity of an organization, Stacey came up with the strategy process. The model is fruitful for long-term gains through change cycle. He highlighted the significance of network feedback system by giving an example of Boolean network. The decision-making process fastens enough with strong sense of visualization for proposed change. It ensures the accuracy and speed of change process which is crucial in the execution phase.
Few of the notable change management models are mentioned below. It is interesting to compare and contrast few of them to measure the effectiveness pertaining with specific industry requirements. There are various models introduced and proposed by different experts to deal with change process effectively. Some notable models can be mentioned in short in order to compare and contrast as to understand what works best for change management. Kurt Lewin’s “Three Stage Model” is one of the most popular models. It is based on the framework of “Unfreeze – Change – Refreeze.” Being a physicist and social scientist, Lewin emphasized to maintain the principle of equilibrium at all these stages. This model was actually introduced in the 1950s. Hence, it may seem to be outdated in due course of time. However, it is still used by some of the firms only because it is comparatively easy to understand and implement as well. Lewin took support of ice-berg theory to justify the various aspects while classifying the three stages.
The Contingency Model of change management by Dexter Dunphy and Doug Stace is highly recommended to larger-size enterprises. It is an extended version of Lewin’s model. The contingency approach is considered as ‘an optimum fit’ since the firms differ in their vision, core values, organizational structure and processes. To make the change process more fruitful and result-oriented, Dunphy and Stace have classified the transition into four major steps. They are ‘Fine tuning, Modular transformation, Corporate transformation and Incremental adjustment. Either consultative or coercive change is expected after micro planning and careful execution (Westover; 2010). It is ensured when the change process is managed by an able leader. These experts have also helped by recommending four styles of leadership to execute it. Collaborative style of leader expert proactive involvement from largely from employees while consultative leader sets goals and develop expertise and pool of talent to achieve them step by step.
The transformation leader gives high importance to future of organization. Naturally, less participation from employees both in change process and decision-making is experienced. The coercive leader is dependent on the key drivers of change such as manager, external parties, executives etc. After comparing, collaborative style is more appropriate to get maximum results and minimize disturbances. In short, both scale and style of change management are equally detrimental to make it successful (Senior & Swailes: 2010).
The other models regarding change process include ADKAR initiated by Josef Prosci. It is the extension of Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Action and Reinforcement. Basically, it is the best combination of two zones: Enablement and Engagement zone respectively. Some expert perceives it in three states of change such as current, transition and future. However, many leaders are not quite comfortable to apply this model in their organization.
The eight-step model of change by John Kotter has proved to be fruitful exercise to transform the firms tactically. It can be proved with the help a case study. The enterprise named as Danish State Railways is a joint venture of Danish Railway Network and Bane Denmark providing railway services (construction and technical operation etc.) in Denmark. Though there was no competition earlier, liberalization influenced both railway sector and European markets greatly. In order to deal with emerging challenges, the management came up with approval and creation of Railway Board in February, 2007. All would work to make Danish a leading railway technical contractor in Scandinavia in 2010 and in Europe by 2015. They used Kotter’s eight-step change model as reference and converted into a four-track transformation plan such as Ready, Set and Go, Better time on the track, Technology and Business development. Soren Peterson and Jens Pedersen (2008: 679) strongly believed that motto “From bureaucracy to business” could convert their master plan of change process into a concrete reality as explained in their case study.
Working on the feasibility of change management models is essential to ensure the best returns on investment (ROIs). I compared two models of change for this purpose. Lewin’s three-stage model and Kotter’s eight-stage model. The Lewin’s model has both merits and demerits. It is simple and easy to understand. It can be applied at departmental or process level. It is good for short-term changes. However, it may not work for dealing with long-term and complex changes. This is because any change takes place with strong resistance in the initial stage and ends with reinforcement. Longer the resistance, more time it takes. On the other hand, John Kotter’s Eight-Stage Change Model is more comprehensive. It is flexible enough to cope up with unexpected elements during the process of change. In fact, the very first stage of ‘Creating Sense of Urgency’ hits on reducing the resistance itself. The experts view that change management is a dynamic process. Kotter’s Model of Change is not only transitional but also transformational aiming to optimize the gains in a systematic and scientific methods (Kotter: 2012).
Predictive analysis is an essential skill in strategic change management. Taking the nature of business and sector into account, we believe to re-engineer the product for different users. Initially, the product was manufactured only for particular age-group of working professionals. Now, we have extended the scope for housewives and youths. We applied the first step of Kotter’s model i.e. creating sense of urgency by integrating it with ‘awareness camps’ and highlighting the future ill-effects of fat or unhealthy bodies. The live demonstration is to be given with the use of machine to burn calories and keep body physically fit. The How-to-use guide is made more infographic and in multiple regional languages unlike previous (only in Gujarati). It is fact that business growth is nothing but career growth and stability for employee. It reduces the resistance and increase reinforcement for end-users and employees both.
The changing lifestyle, working hours, health and safety norms and market competitors are considered in the revised plan. As a value-chain system, the customized diet-plan will be prepared and shared with end-users depending on lifestyle. If required, the provision of personal coaching is also made available. A helpline is created newly to deal with customer complaints. Feedback system is in place for all. Bi-weekly and monthly reports are important from measuring the effectiveness of change process and bridge the gap. This helps to stick with the plan i.e. the last stage of Kotter’s model.
All of the above discussion shows that there is no thumb rule while planning and execution of change process. No one can assure which type of change model give the best results. On the other hand, the visionary leader becomes the change catalyst through leading by examples. It is the most influential phase to reduce the resistance and speed up the change process. The key to strategic change management is an effective integration of several elements required. It’s the outcome of commitment, communication and collaboration after all. It works well through caring and sharing approach. Time, budget, manpower, technology and company philosophy define the scope of strategic change. The process design, alignments and teamwork empower the change event leading to yield the maximum positive results. In short, the strategic change is an exciting journey at the same time it is challenging enough. However, the roadmap and focused approach can make it fruitful.
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