“The only thing that is constant is change”– Heraclitus of Ephesus (535-475 BCE)

Slawomir Wozniak, COO of SECO/WARWICK Group, shares his thoughts on change.

In today’s turbulent and fast changing world we have to be ready anytime to face the challenge and adjust to the new reality. With the knowledge gained over the course of Change Management I think it should be easier for me now to understand, plan and implement proper ways to adjust to the required change.

Even though I have had an opportunity to be in charge of some changes in the companies I have been managing I have never deeply analyzed which change management model should be used for the particular case. Instead I have usually follow my experience and gut feelings.

Some of the approaches to change like Long Marches & Bold Strokes (Kanter, et al., 1992) were in general known to me but without a detailed theoretical background. Once being in charge of entire company I had to use the Bold Stroke approach to manage the crisis during the crunch time. I had to cut in emergency every possible corner to reduce the cost, increase revenue and generate the positive cash flow to bring this business back on track. Actually it was the first step only of a larger change process. In the second stage I have followed the Long Marche approach to start changing completely that particular company culture. Although I have started this change process already four years ago it is still continued today by my successor as the change of the company culture requires a long time.

Thanks of gained knowledge during the Change Management course I can have now at least some basic understanding of these change models’ background and how they can be deployed into some business situations.

Another interesting however still underdeveloped is Kurt Lewin’s Three-Stage Change model I have learnt during the seven weeks study. By splitting change processes into three stages it can be broken into a smaller chunks which can be deeper and better analyzed. These can account for both the processes and people in the company.

When we combine this with the Coping Cycle developed by Carnall (2003) we can better understand how people react and adjust when faced with change (Burnes, 2017). So knowing the potential people reaction for the change I believe that I can prepare myself as a manager better for the proper change implementation and more accurate risk assessment.

It is well known that the human nature is to resist change and it prefers to stay in the comfort zone instead. As Kotter (1996) mentioned most of the transformation efforts fails for 8 key reasons:

  1. Allowing too much complacency
  2. Failing to create a sufficiently powerful guiding coalition
  3. Underestimating the power of vision
  4. Under communicating the vision by a factor of 10x-100x
  5. Permitting obstacles to block the new vision
  6. Failing to create short-term wins
  7. Declaring victory too soon
  8. Neglecting to anchor changes firmly in the corporate culture

In order to eliminate these errors Kotter has developed eight-steps process of successful organizational transformation. However one should remember that this change  model is rather a right fit for the rapid and top-down approach (Burnes, 2017).

Since I am currently facing a need to implement an organizational transformation of another business unit I am going to practice Kotter’s eight-step model. Nevertheless to understand better the emotional reaction of the employees affected by the change beside Carnall’s Coping Cycle I am going to support this change process by  Kübler-Ross’s change curve (Kübler-Ross, 2014).

It is very trusted and reliable tool that can be used to understand the stage where people are when they are going through a significant change in their life. This change curve also helps managers in understanding the position at which employees are at following change stages. Therefore managers can create tailor made methods of communication and guidance for those on the path of change (Anastasia, 2015).

I see the various change models learned over the Change Management course as a good tool box which needs to be further developed before the right framework can be selected to reliably deploy improvements and let organization to evolve.

Considering the timeframe and scale of efforts required to deploy even a single change model it is very important to make the proper prior analysis which model best fits particular case to make the right selection and proper deployment plan.

Since most of the changes in the business strongly influence human area it is also important to account for employees’ reaction, since you never know when the key people at your company will make an issue with your decisions.

Since every change requires from the leader of an organization a tremendous efforts to cope with the difficulties it is very important in my opinion to be ready to get out from the comfort zone and face all challenges. Otherwise the potential success of the change can be killed at its early stage.

Bibliography:

Anastasia, 2015. Understanding the Kubler-Ross Change Curve. [Online]
Available at: https://www.cleverism.com/understanding-kubler-ross-change-curve/

Burnes, B., 2017. Managing Change. Seventh edition ed. s.l.:Pearson Education Limited.

Carnall, C., 2003. Managing Change in Organizations. 4th ed. Harlow: Financial TImes Prentice Hall.

Kanter, et al., 1992. The Challenge of Organizational Change. Free Press: New York.

Kotter, J. P., 1996. Leading Change. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Kübler-Ross, E., 2014. On Death and Dying: What the Dying Have to Teach Doctors, Nurses, Clergy and Their Own Families. New York: SCRIBNER.

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