The Theories and Practices Behind Organizational Change
Is real and permanent change truly as difficult to achieve as it is sometimes suggested to be? If so, what steps are necessary to properly introduce major changes within the context of an organization? Can an organization survive in today’s fast paced global economy without properly instituting regular changes in order to adapt to the very fluid market in which it resides? The Heart of Change by John P. Kotter and Dan S. Cohen attempts to address the answers to some of these fundamental questions and more by exploring what steps are necessary for organizations to make when undertaking change management processes.
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Others still may be uneasy and intimidated by the size and scale of the challenge that lies before them. Yet most organizations that are unsuccessful at change are able to recognize the changes that need to be made, are motivated to follow through with these changes, and have little or no issues with tackling the problems. They fail not because of perceptual issues, lack of motivation, or fear, but because they are not taking the correct steps to implement the change in the proper manner.
In The Heart of Change, Kotter and Cohen identify several key premises that can be very useful in assisting organizations and the managers within them while attempting to execute change procedures. The most important premise in the book, which is the foundation for their entire model of change, is that “people change what they do less because they are given analysis that shifts their thinking than because they are shown a truth that influences their feelings” (Kotter & Cohen, 2002, p. 1). By accepting this, you can more effectively overcome the one of the biggest challenges in organizational change, which is to modify the behavior of individuals (Kotter & Cohen, 2002). This concept becomes imperative when moving through the eight stages of successful large scale change as are outlined as follows: increase urgency, build the guiding team, get the vision right, communicate for buy-in, empower action, create short-term wins, don’t let up, and make change stick (Kotter & Cohen, 2002, p. 7). During each of these steps the participants must remember it is more useful to see and feel the problems to inspire change rather than simply analyze and think about them. Emotionally charged ideas are what change behaviors (Kotter & Cohen, 2002, p. 11)
What follows is an examination of two of the eight stages of change and how they relate to the concepts presented in Organizational Behavior and Management by John M. Ivancevich, Robert Konopaske, and Michael T. Matteson. Though Kotter and Cohen would contend that each of these eight stages is equally important, I personally believe that these two concepts are some of the most crucial to successful organizational change. This assertion is supported by their strong relationship to the concepts and theories presented in Organizational Behavior and Management as well as their practical applications in today’s business environment.
Building the Guiding Team
After building a sense of urgency among employees in stage one of the transformation process, we turn to a critical step in our journey of change. Step two in our change process is to assemble the proper team that will carry out the rest of our large-scale organizational revolution. The purpose of this team building stage is to enable the work groups that are created to accomplish the tasks set before them in a highly efficient manner by setting goals and priorities, analyzing how the group works together, observing their communication & decision making...