Leading Organizational Change

People change Organizations   

Organizations can't change without people changing first.  This involves the art of influencing change (not attempting to control it, which rarely succeeds).  Organizational Change is the collective action of individual change that emerges as organizational change.  One approach to understanding how individuals change is the Transtheoretical Model (TTM), which is also known as Stages of Change (SOC). 

Change agents also play a key role in influencing organizational change.  Note that the emphasis is on influencing change versus "managing change" which is debatable.  This pdf focuses on the Internal Networker, drawing from some of Peter Senge's papers from around 1996.  The three roles (executive leader, local line leader, and internal networker) all come from Senge.  The split between the formal & informal organization and strategic & tactical orientation have been added to emphasize the domain of each role.  The function of change agent role model has also been added since this is a critical role the internal networker plays in organizational change.  The linkage between the executive leader and the local line leader was also shifted to an empowering relationship that is really bi-directional in how it gains its strength.  Traditionally, empowerment is something thought of being given to someone else.  However, this overlooks the possibility of self-leadership through testing boundaries of empowerment.  All too often, limits on empowerment are assumed and never tested.  Therefore, it is essential to add a pull component to empowerment.   
In initiating organizational change, the first step is raising awareness that some change is needed.  An Organizational Assessment can be used as a point for initiating the dialogue that is necessary for organizational change to gain grassroots acceptance (the 1st step towards commitment).

Resistance to change 

  • Inertia - comfort with the status quo
  • Timing - conflicts with other initiatives and/or priorities
  • Surprise - proper groundwork has not been done so people are caught off guard (need for change not established)
  • Misunderstanding - benefits not properly understood
  • Cultural pressure - some who may want to change are held back by others in the organization
  • Self-interest - conflicting personal priorities
  • Differing assessment - conflicting agreement over the value of the benefits associated with the change

Points of leverage

  • Education and communication - raising awareness of the nature of the change and the associated benefits (objective is to gain commitment)
  • Involvement - gaining buy-in through participation in the decision-making process and implementation (objective is to gain commitment or at least compliance)
  • Support - helping people adjust to the physical and mental aspects of the change (objective is to gain compliance and possibly commitment)
  • Negotiation - establishing an acceptable agreement that gains sufficient support for the change process (objective is to gain compliance)
  • Manipulation - use of individual rewards and benefits to gain cooperation (objective is to gain compliance)
  • Coercion - threat or use of punishment to force compliance (but not commitment)