“In today’s highly volatile, unpredictable and ever flexible business environment, organisations can only take an emergent approach to change.”
Discuss the validity of this statement.
In ever changing business environment, organisations are adopting emergent approaches to deal with those. Modern business environment never stands still and hence, keep changing. People running businesses might have already experienced various kinds of changes related to economy, consumer purchasing decisions, political changes and supply chain changes (Kotter, 2011). However, outside of this myriad of negatives coming by the change cycles are businesses that are flourishing and growing year by year. Businesses that are successful in long run adopt business models that provide them with an opportunity to adapt to the changes in the demands of the market.
This essay aims at examining organisational changes and the issues firms usually face while coping up with frequent changes. The essay will analyse the statement, “In today’s highly volatile, unpredictable and ever flexible business environment, organisations can only take an emergent approach to change.” In present scenario, all types of organisations, from small to large are engaged in the process of change. There are changes to processes, products, services, consumer needs, locations, success drivers. These changes can be difficult to cope with but once organisation adopts a dynamic business model, it is able to adapt to frequent changes effectively (Kotter, 2011). As a preparedness measure, businesses nowadays, tend to adopt business models or management plans to adapt to changes.
Change Management models adopted by companies include change planning, stakeholder management, understanding the impact of change, determining ways to cope with change and competency management. By definition, change management refers to the process of renewing the theories, approaches, structure and capabilities of an organisation in order to provide customers with something innovative every time and also adapting to changes effectively. Since changes are inevitable and necessary at the operational and strategic level of the organisation so there is no doubt about its importance and management.
Often, it is argued that successful change management is crucial for every organisation if it intends to survive in the long run (Levin, 2012). Organisations that don’t implement change management in their system are likely to fail in the long run. But theories and approaches related to change management available with the experts are contradictory. It is believed that change management is becoming a required skill in every manager (Filicetti, 2007). There are different theories and approaches used by managers today to manage change effectively. In earlier times, managers believed that organisations with maximum changes couldn’t sustain in competitive environment and meet customer preferences.
They thought other way round i.e. the organisations with stability and employees with a set routine can only achieve success (Filicetti, 2007). But with evolving world and business scenario, changes have become necessary for a business to sustain. One of the widely accepted approaches for change management is ‘Emergent Approach’.
To cope up with the continuous changing market curves an organisation has to follow some Business models that further help it to adapt with the changes and keep an organisation stable and ever-growing (Filicetti, 2007). By definition, a business model refers to the rationale of how a firm develops, delivers and captures value throughout the changing times (Filicetti, 2007).
Amongst various Business Models that are followed by the business organisations in order to deal with the staggering changes in the market, the Emergent Approach seems to be a convincing way in the present day world of business. Emergent strategy is the view that strategy emerges over time as intentions collide with and accommodate a changing reality. Emergent strategy is a set of actions, or behaviour, consistent over time, “a realized pattern that was not expressly intended” in the original planning of strategy.
As per emergent strategy, it is implied that a firm gets to learn what is put into practice. Emergent strategies are implemented by allocating resources (Bhasin, 2012). Henry Mintzberg believes that in modern marketplace, allocation of resources is usually unknown and keeps changing. As a result, these emergent strategies enable organisations to adapt to changes in most effective ways. It goes in the opposite direction to the previous traditional approach adopted by most organisations-The Deliberate Approach.
The Emergent approach deals with strategies changing with respect to the requirement of the hour. It describes the process of strategy-making as consequential effect of the need to cope with the imperfections of the real world model which is subject to changes every second hour. This approach sees strategic management as an after effect of the trials and errors from the activities and experiences of the management. It identifies the following roles as pertinent to strategy leaders being successful in strategic management and coping up with changes: Planner, Communicator, analyst and Catalyst as well (Levin, 2012). Compared with other approaches, critiques of emergent approach are also significant. Foremost, emergent approach is a coherent change and also criticised for its emphasis on the political dimension of change. It is also limited to organisational changes to which emergent approach is applied and secondly, how it should be applied. Further, there is no assurance that organisational leaning will suit with the crisis or not.
Some of the change management approaches that can be adopted by organisations are:
Education and Communication Approach: It is believed that lack of communication and information usually doesn’t let the organisations to cope up with frequent changes. Upfront education and effective communication can help employees up-to-date with market trends and hence, they get prepared to face the changes effectively (Marshak, 2005). This, ultimately, helps in reducing different rumours about any concerns in the organisation.
Deliberate Approach: Under Deliberate approach, management team specifies the action the firm will be taking to accomplish its goals. Deliberate approach is also sometime referred to as top-down approach. It involves some form of planning and choices are dependent on the estimation of what might happen in future (Raineri, 2011). This type of approach is generally weak due to two reasons; one it is difficult to predict future due to rapid changes taking place in business environment. Second, these kind of strategies usually fail when developing new products.
Umbrella Approach: This type of approach has a clear definition of strategic goals and general strategic decisions that are made by higher management. In this, detail of how goals are to be accomplished is yet to be decided. Managers then use a process of iteration and consensus building that enables senior management to develop the strategy. In other words, senior management decided the detail of how goals should be accomplished (Conner, 2012).
These are the some of the approaches that help organisations to adapt to changes effectively. Nevertheless, of all the business Models coping with changes the Emergent Approach is in the upswing and provides better solutions towards the constantly changing market environments. From the economy to the needs of the market, things are constantly in motion.
A business needs to go with this flow and use it to its advantage. Rigidity is not the answer when you are looking for if you seek constant growth. From technology to market dynamics, the present scenario is often nothing like what it was 10 years ago. So it can never be expected that things remain unchanged 10 years from now (NeÄaský, Klímek, Malý and Mlýnková, 2012). Even if the core product stays the same, which is next to impossible given the intense competition in every market, there will be still the need to upgrade the technologies, train workforce, create new markets and seek more streams of revenue.
All this comes under the ambit of change and is necessary for survival. While a growing number of business leaders are starting to realize the importance of changing and adapting, the problem lies in the fact that the organizations they sit atop are inherently resistant to change (Filicetti, 2007). This is often the case with multinational corporations that have been doing things a certain way for a long time now. The inertia makes it very hard to mobilize these organizations. So while the head of the business wants certain things done, the organization itself finds it unable to meet these demands.
Hence, change management is a major job requirement for large organizations. Businesses that recognize what a massive challenge changing can be utilized the services of experts to ensure a smooth and seamless transition (Levin, 2012). Whether this change is in terms of operation model, or you are upgrading the technological backbone of your organization, preparing your workforce for this change is a crucial element. Training may be required to ensure that your employees are able to cope up with the changes.
At times, you may even need to bring in a new workforce to manage your needs while your current workforce undergoes training (Kotter, 2011). A change management expert will be able to guide you through this process and provide you with the detailed requirements. One of the reasons start-up companies gains so much success and traction is because they are structured to deal with all kinds of changes. The roles of employees are flexible and a lean model ensures that everyone understands the need to change. In effect, start-ups have a work culture that is conducive to change (Anderson, 2001). This same environment needs to be created in any organization.
Only when management have a work culture that does not hinder change, employees’ efforts produce tangible results. Hence, organisations must learn to embrace change, and encourage everyone to do the same (Levin, 2012). In nutshell, it will be right to say that in today’s highly volatile, unpredictable and ever flexible business environment, organisations can only take an emergent approach to change.
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