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Understanding Change Management

Write an Essay on Leading Change.

Change management is required at the time when a firm undergoes a change. Change can be of variety of types like total quality management, rightsizing, re-engineering, cultural change, restructuring, and turnarounds (Mohammad Mosadeghrad; 160-187). It is understandable that different purposes are served with the change management process. However, all change management practices may not click or will certainly fail. Various reasons can be responsible for it; however, controlled executions of each and every step of the change process involved are of high values.  This can be understood from a few of examples of the change failures. The types of change management models and theories can also help to understand that why change management process at times fails. The study is also aimed at understanding why transformation process fails while leading the change process. The purpose is being served through the few examples of fail cases of change process and also the theories & models on the change management.

Possible reasons of failure according to Kotter: The reasons for the failure of the change management process can be understood from the studies of what Kotter had spoken of the change management in an article in 1995. In that article, Kotter had identified a few set of factors which should be fulfilled and effectively applied to the change process to get or yield the desired outcome (Henry et al.; 372-382). Establish an intellect of urgency was one of the factors identified by Kotter. It requires a robust market analysis to collect some facts supporting the needs for responding to it. However, the purpose gets collapse due to the difficulty of driving people to the change. There are many who want to be in their comfort zones. Since, change management is a long process; it must be supported with accelerating efforts of stakeholders under the governance of effective strategies (Lozano, Nummert and Ceulemans; 168-188).


Form an influential guiding alliance is another factor which according to Kotter troubles the change process. A change process generally lacks the teamwork at the top positions. The senior most managers are not involved in the teamwork which is utterly required to head with a powerful alliance to commence the change process. The human resource is generally assigned with the responsibilities to lead the change process or work as the team. However, this should essentially be allocated to the senior managers. Senior managers should necessarily be involved with the leadership skills. A change management process is also hampered due to the unclear vision (Van der Voet; 373-382). Few visions are very complicated and vague as well. Additionally, presentation of visions is accomplished within just a few minutes. Hence, the participants face the challenge to collate with the visions. Communication is another challenge which the change process faces. Change process and the purpose behind the change, the benefits of it and the possible consequences of not undergoing the change are not explained or communicated to the stakeholders appropriately. Empowering others to act is also one of the challenges which the change management process generally faces. It means that managers do not follow the strategies needed to empower stakeholders on the designed vision of the change process. Communicating vision is not just enough; it should rather be empowered as well. Unless and until it is undone coalition or alliance will not work (Van der Voet; 373-382).   

Possible reasons for failure according to Kotter


Short-term wins is also very important which does not only help to be in line with the objectives but also motivates the stakeholders for a sustained progress of the process. The main pitfall in regards to short-term wins is that participants are not confident of attaining it. Short-term wins to them is rather a sudden thing which they were not sure of. Banking upon the early successes for further changes is the next issue which is the part of a fail example of change process. This includes a declaration of the success and reacting to it as if the mission is completed now. It does not take into account the planning which is required to bring additional robustness in the change process. Despite of taking success as the path guider to the next strategy, it ends up making the participants relaxed and optimistic about the success. Establishing a connection between the success and the new behaviors is another key reason of a change process failure.  This includes pitfalls like being relaxed with the success; however, not collating the behaviors with it. It means stakeholders have tried their hard to attain the success; however, they are not able to relate them with the changes (Matos Marques Simoes and Esposito; 324-341). It lacks the revised social norms and promoting people into the leadership positions. Since, the change is not implemented effectively; it affects the further changes. Such change processes are generally the fail cases of change management.

Theories & models of change management: The theories and models of change management provide a list of strategies which must be implemented to get the best results. These models and theories do also help to understand whether the different factors as believed by Kotter are really critical to change processes. Lewin’s change management model is one of those which divides a change process into three sections such as unfreeze, make changes and refreeze (Cummings, Bridgman and Brown; 33-60). Unfreeze is the stage which is attained after successfully communicating the change process to stakeholders, creating the clear visions and empowering the stakeholders for the change process. Hence, the models illustrate a few of the points of Kotter’s change process such as establishing the communication, creating the visions and empowering the stakeholders. ‘Make the changes’ of the Lewin’s model is about implementing the strategies. This will include implementation of strategies and monitoring of short-wins as well. Short-wins will lay the foundation for further changes. Short-term wins is an essential element of Kotter’s change process. The final stage of the Lewin’s model is about refreeze which advocates the importance of adapting the change. It means that the short-term wins in the form of a smaller change must now be utilized for making further changes to the system. Once the ultimate change is attained it must be brought into the practices as well. This is according to the Lewin’s change model is terms as refreeze. This is as according to Kotter is also known as establishing the change process based on smaller success.  

Models of Change Management - Lewin's Change Management Model


The McKinsey 7-S model is another model for change management. This is indeed a very systematic process which is divided into seven different segments like strategy, structure, systems, shared values, style, staff and skills. It does not directly explain the Kotter’s factors for change management; however, it advocates a systematic establishment of similar facts as that of Kotter’. Strategy must be checked to identify whether it is capable enough to bring the required changes. Structure involves examining the strategies to check whether it is feasible with it. ‘Systems’ means analyzing the existing system to check whether it is engaging for stakeholders. ‘Shared values’ is like the common vision in Kotter’s change process. The style, staff and skills are all checked to identify whether the sufficient resources for change are available (Ravanfar; 1-25).

Analysis: In this study, few theories and models like Kotter’s theory, Lewin’s change management model and the McKinsey 7-S model have been discussed to understand the possible factors of success for a change management. In the light of the theories and models, this can be said that change management is a long and continued process till the time the vision is attained. The change management is perhaps more challenging than recruiting & selecting the professionals and implementing a technology in the organizational system. Each and every bit of the different theories and models selected for this study must be fulfilled in order to avoid any shortcomings (Belias and Koustelios; 25-38). Those firms that have struggled with their change process and had ultimately failed to deliver may have various reasons for it. The transformation process gets failed because it is not supported with appropriate strategies. Such failures lack the leadership in top managers. They struggle to work as a team and establish a shared vision for the change. Most of the stakeholders tend to resist with their existing beliefs for their work responsibilities and have distinguishing reasons to avoid a change process (Chia; 8-27). They act as a resistant to it which is also why many change process do not find a collaborative approach of stakeholders.


The transformation process is failed as well because it is not executed properly over the long-term. A reliant over the short-wins makes stakeholders relaxed and unfocussed on further changes. They struggle to implement and practice the short-term changes. Hence, the change process ultimately goes diverted from the line of objectives (Whyte, Stasis and Lindkvist; 339-351). Few reasons for failure can be summarized as inappropriate & unviable strategies, irrelevant to the firm’s structure, inappropriate execution of the strategies, change victim and not utilizing the short-term successes (Whyte, Stasis and Lindkvist; 339-351).

Models of Change Management - The McKinsey 7-S Model

Example of fail change process: One of the examples of failure is of New Coke launched in April 1985. The reviews were so bad that Coca-Cola had to replace New Coke with its original formula in July, 1985 (Benstead and Reif; 220-241). Customers had desires for a sweet taste; however, they had different expectations from the company. Customers had wanted their company to be in its original form. Hence, this can be said that Coca-Cola had failed to read and understand its customers’ demands. Another example of a fail case is of Motorola. The company had missed on analyzing the needs for change. Motorola had invented the cell phones and dominated the international market in mid-80s and the some part of 90s. It all happened in 1994 when AT&T had requested Motorola for a digital phone (Hornstein; 291-298). Despite being utilizing on the opportunities, the company simply preferred staying away from it and had allowed Nokia to step in. The inability to realize the need for a change had caused a lot to Motorola. The company had to lose a huge market shares to Nokia. Motorola had actually become the change victim (Hornstein; 291-298).  

In summary, this can be said that a change or a change management is a must do act in the ever increasing market competition and the changing consumer behaviour. Modern companies must have the capabilities to identify the business opportunities and the appropriate time for a change. In addition, organizations as a whole must contribute to the change process. A leadership approach is required at the top managerial positions. Teamwork and the shared vision for the change are also very essential for a successful change management. Moreover, the change process must follow the footsteps of companies with successful change process examples and also the relevant theories & models of change management.

References

Belias, Dimitrios, and Athanasios Koustelios. "The impact of leadership and change management strategy on organizational culture." European Scientific Journal, ESJ 10.7 (2014).

Benstead, Lindsay J., and Megan Reif. "Coke, Pepsi or Mecca Cola? Why product characteristics affect the likelihood of collective action problems and boycott success." Politics, Groups, and Identities 5.2 (2017): 220-241.

Chia, Robert. "Reflections: in praise of silent transformation–allowing change through ‘letting happen’." Journal of Change Management 14.1 (2014): 8-27.

Cummings, Stephen, Todd Bridgman, and Kenneth G. Brown. "Unfreezing change as three steps: Rethinking Kurt Lewin’s legacy for change management." human relations 69.1 (2016): 33-60.

Henry, Laura S., et al. "Application of Kotter’s Theory of Change to Achieve Baby-Friendly Designation." Nursing for women's health 21.5 (2017): 372-382.

Hornstein, Henry A. "The integration of project management and organizational change management is now a necessity." International Journal of Project Management 33.2 (2015): 291-298.

Lozano, Rodrigo, Benjamin Nummert, and Kim Ceulemans. "Elucidating the relationship between sustainability reporting and organisational change management for sustainability." Journal of cleaner production 125 (2016): 168-188.

Matos Marques Simoes, Paula, and Mark Esposito. "Improving change management: How communication nature influences resistance to change." Journal of Management Development 33.4 (2014): 324-341.

Mohammad Mosadeghrad, Ali. "Why TQM programmes fail? A pathology approach." The TQM Journal 26.2 (2014): 160-187.

Ravanfar, Mohammad Mehdi. "Analyzing Organizational Structure based on 7s model of McKinsey." Global Journal of Management And Business Research (2015).

Van der Voet, Joris. "The effectiveness and specificity of change management in a public organization: Transformational leadership and a bureaucratic organizational structure." European Management Journal 32.3 (2014): 373-382.

Whyte, Jennifer, Angelos Stasis, and Carmel Lindkvist. "Managing change in the delivery of complex projects: Configuration management, asset information and ‘big data’." International Journal of Project Management 34.2 (2016): 339-351.

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