Organisational Change Management Volume 1


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The approach used in this reference book (Volumes 1 to 5) is guided by this statement:

"...In complex non-linear, dynamic systems, order emerges out of chaos, and the details are unpredictable. You have to set the initial conditions for change and create the context. But then you provide minimum specifications - just a few hard rules, which people can figure out how they are going to follow..."

Richard Koppel, 2004

This is especially true for large organisations as they

"...are far too complex, interactive and autocatalytic to be designed from the top down..."

Michael Shermer, 2008

In an established organization,

"...we have to revisit what made us strong in the past and what lessons we can use to rebuild in the future, but you can't be a prisoner of your history..."

Rod Eddington as quoted by Tony Walker, 2011

As Margaret Wheatley (2009) observes, chaos and destruction are part of life. The traditional ways to try to control these 2 factors are more rules, regulations, procedures, structures, etc. But this approach does not work!!!!!


"...Getting people to acknowledge the need for change is much more a political challenge than a technical one..."

Michael Watkins, 2009

" change because you want to stay contemporary and win. But you don't have to declare everything as being stupid that went before you..."

Jeff Immelt as quoted by Peter Roberts, 2010

At a personal level, Margaret Wheatley (2009) observes that for change to be effective, you have to be willing to feel insecure and challenged!!!!!!

Research continually shows that there is an expanding gap between the capacity of organisations to adapt and the intensity of change they are now facing. One example is an IBM study (2008) that states: only 2 out of 3 Australian projects failed to live up to what was expected, plus around 50% failed to meet goals of timeliness, budget or quality. The main obstacles to successful implementation are

"...changing mindsets and attitudes, corporate culture and underestimating project complexity and the skills and knowledge needed. People-related factors were more important than resource restraints and even technology..."

Narelle Hooper, 2009a

The 7 ingredients described in the recommended framework are designed to create the initial conditions and context with minimal specifications for a successful organisational transition.

One of the biggest challenges is how to handle the unexpected/highly improbable/uncertainty; these are linked with randomness. An unexpected event is usually rare, has a major impact and is, retrospectively, predictable (not prospectively predictable). Remember:

"...almost no discoveries, no technologies of note came from design and planning......a strategy for the discoverers and entrepreneurs is to rely less on top-down planning and focus on maximum tinkering and recognizing opportunities when they present themselves..."

Nassim Taleb, 2007

You need to keep watching for changes in circumstances (situations, context, etc), and to understand when and why organisational changes need to be made.

"...only 3 things in life are certain: death, taxes and the fact that today's strategy won't work's success will be tomorrow's old news. The question is not if, but when......To adapt successfully, you must constantly monitor the uncertainties that could invalidate the assumption underpinning your current strategy...?

Robert Simons, 2010

Even though planning can be hard in a changing environment, it is still important.Remember:

"...Really nice thing about not planning is that failure comes as a complete surprise..."

Anon as quoted by Dennis Hall, 2006a

Furthermore, we live in a time of constant flux and vast change, ie Churn of Change; with handling change being hard work

"...The prime requirement in business today is the ability to manage constant organisational change, and this demands finely tuned interpersonal and intuitive skills..."

Luke Slattery, 2007

"...few goals are more challenging to achieve than significant, lasting change in adult human beings......Our minds are changed either because we ourselves want to change or because something happened in our mental life that warrants change......change can occur in any sphere: our political beliefs, our scientific beliefs, our personal credo, and our views about ourselves. Sometimes, the change of mind can be smooth and congenial, but it is especially poignant when a change of mind a fundamental way......whatever the cause or prompt, we must ultimately be in charge of our own mind changing. At times of such powerful mind changes, the ability of the person to be aware of what is going on in his or her mind is crucial..."

Howard Gardner, 2006

"...changing behaviour is hard, even for individuals, and even when new habits can mean the difference between life and death. In many studies of patients who have under-gone coronary bypass surgery, only one in nine people, on average, adopts healthier day-to-day habits..."

David Rock et al, 2006

"...getting people to change is becoming increasingly important in our rapidly changing world environment. The dominant view of organisational leaders is that getting people to change just requires information and the right motivation: the need to know what has to be changed, and then use incentives to inspire people to behave differently. This is a reductionist perspective, which works well in any linear system: if a machine breaks down, we work out logically where the source of the problem is, and simply replace the part. However, if the 'thing broken' is someone's communication style, finding this out and trying to ' replace the parts' is not realistic..."

David Rock et al, 2006a

"...there aren't any key theories in managing change - only different competing theories. These are to do with strategic planning at one end, right through to theories of participation and involvement at the other. One deals with conceptualising the project, dividing it up into stages, working out strategies, and the other deals with ways and means to get people to buy in..."

Margaret Patrickson as quoted by Jodie McLeod, 2004

"...Niccolo Machiavelli. In his treatise on power, The Prince, the 16th- century Florentine wrote that there is "nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things". Machiavelli went on to warn that those who pursue change made enemies of all those who profit from the old conditions but had only "lukewarm defenders" in those who could do well out of the new order. Thus it happens that whenever those who are hostile have the opportunities to attack, they do it like partisans, whilst the others defend lukewarmly..."

Sophie Morris, 2011

"...the principle that fundamental change happens because people decide to make it happen, and organisations can inhibit or enable that change..."

Peter Senge as quoted by Mike Hanley, 2005

"...Change is complex. Change is a dynamic non-linear unfolding odyssey - not part of set stages". Managing change is difficult - is often about keeping many things up in the air at the same time..."

Patrick Dawson, 2005

"...responsibility assumption......It is possible to change other people's behaviour by changing one's reaction to them..."

Wikipedia on Dale Carnegie as quoted by Catherine Fox, 2005a

"...models of "planned change" typically involve three stages: gather information, follow due diligence procedures; decide what you want to do, making decisions and enrolling people in the decision; and follow through, monitoring and adjusting as you go.....Most change processes are superficial because they don't generate the depth of understanding and commitment that is required for sustaining change in truly demanding circumstances. Planning, deciding and monitoring and controlling the ensuring process may be all that are needed in situations where change is essentially about reacting to new circumstances but.....When you're facing very difficult issues or dilemmas, when very different people need to be aligned in very complex settings, and when the future might really be very different from the past, a different process is required..."

Peter Senge et al, 2005

"...Change is actually a process like a lot of other processes. It needs to be planned and measured and reviewed and reported on and challenged"research shows that in successful change projects 20% of the effort goes into planning "some people say it is better to be inspirational leader driven ... trust people to deliver. Yes, you need to do these things as well, but if you do that without planning and process it is likely to fail..."

Les Owen as quoted by Susan Heron, 2006

" need to focus primarily on getting the initial condition right. If you start from a good place, then the choices that lead to success will look like the right choices..."

Clayton Christensen et al, 2003

"...blindly copying the best practices of successful companies without the guidance of circumstance-contingency theory is akin to fabricating feathered wings and flapping hard. Replicating their success is not about duplicating the attributes; it's about understanding how to generate lift. Good theories are circumstance-based. They describe how managers need to employ different strategies as circumstances change in order to achieve the needed results. The use of one-size-fits-all processes and values historically have made the creation of growth torturous..."

Clayton Christensen et al, 2003

"...a lot of organisational change goes wrong because people lose their nerve halfway through, once you have invested in change......keep your nerve and see it through..."

Glyn Davis as quoted by Ben Potter 2016

" need people who can adapt and change - who are not purpose built...?

Richard White as quoted by Julian Bajkowski, 2009

NB Behind the organisational theory is the enquiry into human purpose and meaning. This can be linked with major religious frameworks, ie
"...every major religious framework that still operates.......can be traced back to a specific period: from 1800 to 200 BC - the Axial Age. The sixth century BC......was the most fertile interlude, when not only Pythagoras, Buddha, Confucius, Lao-tzu and several Hebrew prophets including Ezekiel lived and worked. From Greece emerged Western secular philosophy, which brought reasoned argument to bear on human predicament and the reflections it inspired. These reflections, no less urgent now than they were then, can be roughly summed up by this way:
Untold multitudes have come before us who have brought all the same passions living their lives as we do, and yet nothing of them remains to show that they'd ever been. We know, each one of us, or iat least fear, the same will happen to us. The oceans of time will cover us over, like waves closing over the head sailor, leaving not a ripple..."

Karl Jasper as quoted by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, 2017

What difference do we ultimately make? Yet we remain driven by our single-minded passion to make a difference.

"...We aren't born into lives that matter but have had to achieve them. Such an endeavour demands a great deal of individual striving because what counts is nothing less than outstanding accomplishment..."
Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, 2017

"...There is nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come..."
Anne T Lawrence as quoted by Rebecca Newton, 2019


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