Identification of issues and problems in Wong Manufacturing Company (WMC) based on information supplied. Considerations are to be made from the perception of an external change consultant engaged to assist the board address the issues and challenges.
The four assumptions that can be added to the issues and problems being faced by the Wong Manufacturing company are succession planning to the third generation; an in-depth research report into the new markets suggested by Mira and Ryan to generate awareness among the board members regarding entry into newer markets as well as customer perception in existing markets; awareness of new technology in manufacturing that would further help reduce the cost of production; lack of training in CRM among the staff which would help keep a track of the expected large scale operations.
Larry Greiner (1997) suggests that the growth of all organisations can be classified into five distinct phases. Each phase is characterised by a period of calm and culminates in a management crisis. Furthermore, each phase of growth shows the influence of the previous phase. Greiner, therefore, argues that organisations that are aware of the previous stages of growth can be proactive in managing the next stage. He believes that the management can be influential in anticipating the impending crisis and therefore preparing themselves for the same. Grenier comes to the conclusion that proactive companies can utilise expected organisational crisis by converting them into stepping stones for capitalising on opportunities of future growth. In this article, Grenier has provided a suitable solution to manage the crisis in each phase of organisational growth.
Malhotra and Hinings (2015) however speak different language in their studies on continuity and change as a process of organisational transformation. They are of the opinion that organisational transformation occurs as a result of continuous change rather than disruptive change. They argue that while resistance to change is always constant, if the factors resisting and promoting change are equal, then the energy that is generated as a result of the tug of war would aid in the completion of the transformation. Furthermore, they observed that the same energy that aids in the change transformation can be channelled to create awareness among all parties to the debate.
Malhotra and Hinings (2015) were of the opinion that this would help create an environment of mutual discussion and help resolve the conflict from the grass root levels. They therefore believe that a suppression of this energy would precipitate the crisis by magnifying possible issues involved. Finally, they observed that the discussion and debate as a result of the mutual exploration into the crisis would help mould the continuity and prepare the organisation for change. This initiative would be possible due to the synthesizing pattern that would aid the unanimous transition of change rather than a splintered approach that would result from a polarised ideology among all concerned persons. They further suggested that any weakness in any of these phases would only aggravate the crisis rather than simulate continuity and change.
A comparison between the two approaches, show that while the underlying question remains the same, both articles have adopted distinct and different methods to resolve the issue (Malhotra & Hinings, 2015), (Greiner, 1997). While Greiner speaks of change happening in five phrases, Malhotra and Hinings speak of continuity and reciprocal relationship it enjoys with change. While both are of the opinion that change is needed for the growth of organisations, Greiner speaks of a futuristic approach of utilising change for organisational growth; Malhotra and Hinings look at ensuring a smooth transition or continuity in the organisation by channelling the energies that are created as a result of the tussle between resistance to change and need for change.
Gersick (1991) speaks of the influence of change on the development of organisational systems. The study into the revolutionary changes to multiple levels looks into traditional assumptions as wells new theories at each level of analysis. He conceptualises change as a punctuated equilibrium. In other words, he assumes that alterations are separated by long period s of stability. Furthermore, he argues that stability does not impact incremental adaptability of the organisation while it is effective in controlling and limiting any disruptive or sudden change. He continues on the same thinking put forth by Malhotra and Hinings when he speaks of continuity in the organisation (Malhotra & Hinings, 2015), (Gersick, 1991). He also supports the findings of Greiner, when he states that organisations enjoy long period of stability or calm with upheavals or crisis between each period. (Greiner, 1997), (Gersick, 1991). The entire study focuses on disruptive change in organisations and the manner in which systems react to such changes as well as their ability to function despite the changes that are occurring. The article raises several questions about the impact of revolutionary changes on organisational growth and continuity within the company despite the changes that are happening.
A quick look at the events occurring at Wong Manufacturing Company also supports the findings by Gersick. Three generations have been shown at the helm in WMC. While the founder, Sofea Wong is shown as a woman of substance who created the company from scratch, she is also picturised as a fair leader, who is willing to share the profits with her employees. This character is clearly visible in the wages that she offers ( clearly above the minimum wages in the country); as well as employee benefits like child minders, that help her employees focus on the work on hand rather than worrying about matters close to their heart like the welfare of their children during the hours that are spent at work.
The second generation is shown as a bridge between the larger than life Sofea Wong and the employees. While Hana is efficient, she is highly dependent on Sofea whom she consults before making any major decision. This thinking and working style earns Hana the respect of her employees who are happy that there is not disruptive change despite a change in guard within the top management at WMC. The change in management has been smooth and the transition has not created any major change in the company other than a slight decrease in the number of employees. His change has been attributed I the reduction in profit margins due to shrinking markets.
The third generation, consisting of Mira and Ryan, on the other hand, are not ready to sit back and watch the company build by their grandmother bite the dust. They realise that dramatic change is essential for the company to survive in the long run. Due to their education, both of them look at meeting the challenge in two different ways. They are of the opinion that a two pronged approach would be highly beneficial for the company in the changed economic circumstances. Unfortunately, they are unable to convince the board, who believe that the siblings have bitten off more than they can chew. The board is of the opinion that the change of guard must be slow and similar to the transition between Sofea and Hana.
Narratives and story-telling help foster a sense of belonging to all who believe themselves to be part of the story, or are remotely associated with it (Dailey & Browning, 2013). This concept is similar to the sense of ownership felt by call children who love listening to stories from their grandmother. At a later stage, even if the same story is told by any other individual, the child continues to associate the story with his or her grandmother. On similar lines, each organisation or company would have stories associated with it. These stories add a dimension to the company and create an atmosphere of reverence and awe mong the listeners.
Repetitive listening also creates an image that is constantly re-enforced with each re- telling. Thus, on analysing Dailey and Browning’s article on repetitive narration with the events occurring in Wong Manufacturing Company, it is evident that many of the findings and conclusions hold true. Sofea’s larger than life image is a classic example of the power of narrative repetition. The larger than life image also ensures that she can do nothing wrong in the eyes of her employees who hold her high up on a pedestal. While Hana was able to successfully use the ideology during her transition to the top management by ensuring that all employees knew that Sofea was involved in the decision making process.
Unfortunately, narrative repletion failed to work its magic during the transition to the third generation. By this time the larger than life image of Sofea and the humble image of Hana were well established the minds of the employees, who now felt that Mira and Ryan were young children who did not know what they were doing. The employees as well as the Board were of the opinion that the siblings were merely trying to prove their superiority in light of the transition of power.
Mira and Ryan are the change managers, if change were to occur at WMC. They need to consider two aspects of successful change management. Eh first is in the implementation of change and the second is concerned with the continuous monitoring and review of change to ensure that it is on the correct track. The change agents need to manage the speed and complexity of the change in an effective and efficient manner (Hayes, 2014) so as to neutralise the threats that may arise as a result of any possible opposition to change.
The effectiveness of collaborative intervention is directly increased when they enjoy the respect of the persons with whom they are working (Hayes, 2014). The two modes that would be apt for use at WMC are listening to the viewpoints of employees and Board members. Both Ryan and Mira should adopt this method rather than riding roughshod over them in a bid to put forth own views regarding the impeding change in the company. The second method would involve suspending all critical judgement and keeping an open mind to the changes as well as the opinion of the Board, employees, and other concerned parties. This initiative would help the aggrieved parties like employees and the board, as well as clients to explore the possibilities and options before them. This would also allow them a free hand in understanding the reasons for the initiatives by the change agents (Hayes, 2014). While these methods of collaborative intervention do not usually go hand in hand, the change agents need to ensure that there is no deviation from this process, in order to ensure that the transition is smooth and does not happen under the shadow of conflict and upheaval within the company.
Organisational change follows a typical typology classification that holds true regardless of the country or industry that is being referred to. The typology may be broadly classified into traditional and modern. While the classical theories were concerned with hierarchy and were more rigid, the modern theories tend to consider the basic human psychology and changes in technology which would affect the manner in which the company functions. Based on this perception, WMC which has followed a traditional approach till date would be better positioned if it were to adopt a shift in its ideology when considering implementation of change.
Since the change agents need to ensure that change is smooth and stress free, they need to focus on four important questions, viz., What, How, Who and When. It is observed that the issues being faced by WMC is primarily due to the lack of commutation between the change managers and the organisation members. Dialogue is the best option to overcome this situation. As can be observed, from the happenings at WMC, the organisation members are agitated and have a negative opinion about the initiatives by the siblings.
Change agents at WMC can help cool the situation by adopting a collaborative and more passive approach to change management. The agents need to communicate the various proposed changes as well as the reasoning behind the proposals. However, the change agents must ensure that they leave the interpretation of the changes and the reasons change with the organisation members. The change agents must be prepared for not only opposition to the changes (resistance to change) but also to the fact that interpretation and the subsequent perception may be against the ideology of Mira and Ryan. The change agents must be prepared to implement the changes slowly and in a phased manner to minimise the opposition to change as much as possible.