Change is a way of life and forms an inevitable part of our personal and corporate lives. It is indeed almost impossible to live, or work, without some kind of change, either in ourselves, others, or the environment in which we work and live.
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However, it is seen that most people resist, or avoid change, either because they are not able to fully understand the benefits of change for the good, or maybe even because they feel they cannot cope with envisaged changes.
In the corporate world, it is seen that strategic changes are needed, in terms of product innovation, marketing tactics, and even in the recruitment and promotion of employees. As we move into new eras of growth and development, it is essential that our thinking and attitudes change, imbuing the new. More than anything else, it is seen that creative ideas are needed that could provide new products and services. (Dawson 2009, p.5).
Therefore it is needed that change needs to be a constant phenomenon in corporate settings, reacting to a new situation, challenges, and risks, beneficially and harmoniously, seeking common good but also monitor the bottom line of the business, since the main objectives need to be pursued even with changes on. Perhaps even more important than the change agents themselves would be how the need for change presentations are made. Sometimes changes launched through feelings create a radically better approach to analysis. (Kotter & Cohen 2002, p.27).
Case studies in change agents
In their book, ‘Managing Organizational Changes –A multiple perspective’ approach, Palmer et al. considers the case studies of four major companies, who had undergone major changes. Hewlett Packard’s merger with Compaq, IBM’s tryst with the internet, Kodak’s entry into digital technology, and finally McDonald’s strategy on correcting imbalances between their pro-offered range of products and customer preferences. (Palmer, Dunford & Akin 2009). The underlying results of these changes were the initial scepticism, unwillingness and unwillingness of the workforce to allow such changes which needed a lot of persuasions and convincing from the top management.
Home Depot’s need for major cultural changes
Another aspect of change that is difficult to implement is cultural and administrative changes that permeate throughout the organisation. In the case of Home Depot, the new CEO was faced with the need for major changes. This was in terms of enhancing the core by improving the “profitability of current and future stores in existing markets; extend the business by offering related services such as tool rental and home installation of Home Depot products; and expand the market..” (Home Depot’s Blueprint for cultural change 2006, p. 63).
However finally through the cooperative efforts of the executives and workforce, the company was able to shelve off its previous image and embark on fast track growth plans bough about by organisational and cultural changes.
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The main aspect of change is that people need to be sufficiently motivated to subject themselves to change, and without a sufficient dose of motivation and incentive, it may be difficult to get people to change, or accept change. According to Kotter and Cohen “people will change what they do more often and with more success when their feelings are influenced to want to be part of the proposed change.” (McWeek n.d.).
This is most likely in modern corporate settings immaterial of the fact whether large scale strategic mergers, acquisitions and takeovers take place, involving billions of dollars of even small restructuring of organisational layout or employee positioning.
Changes are seen as changes and more unwelcome than accepted, except if they improve an employee’s personal status or goal-seeking.
Eight step formula for change
According to Kotter and Cohen, it is seen that there is an eight-step formula for successful implementation of Change and they are:
- A sense of urgency is needed to make things move
- A guiding team that could make changes effectively and decisively
- The need for visions that go along with changes
- The communicating of vision is also important
- Leaders need to provide empowerment to make changes last
- Short terms wins are produced when resistance to change is broken
- At no stage should there be any letdown for changes to be instituted
- It is the responsibility of the change managers to make the changes permanent. (Kotter & Cohen 2002, p.7).
In the human context, it is possible to subject human emotions to desired changes, but this may not be possible to incorporate cases, where business considerations and corporate goals, and vision/mission are supreme. Therefore, changes in companies have to be instituted through the major decision-making personnel, like CEO or Managing Director. They need to be convinced about the need and benefits of the proposed changes, and what strategic advantages could accrue out of its implementations. It is also necessary to know about its pitfalls and disadvantages, and a contingency plan needs to be in place, in the event the changes do now work out or are abandoned.
The main aspects to consider in the case of changes are that they are well planned and organised, take care of all the aspects include its effects on personnel and practices and also its short, medium- and long-term consequences. Also, it needs to be properly explained to the persons who would be affected by it, including the workforce, who need to be fully convinced and satisfied about the changes even before it has been formally implemented throughout the organisation.
Finally, it could be said that the main reason could be the implementation of changes without the consent, or approval of the affected groups, or even the management’s disinterest in monitoring and controlling the change on a long-term basis. It could even be in terms of bigger changes that have rendered the smaller changes redundant, or unpractical. For instance, the decision of the Company’s directors to enter into a new merger or alliance may be shelved if the Government does not allow it on anti-trust grounds.
Dawson, P M B 2009, Managing change, creativity and innovation, SAGE Publication Ltd. Web.
Home depot’s blueprint for cultural change: Harvard business review 2006.
Kotter, J P & Cohen, D S 2002, The heart of change: real-life stories of how people change their organizations, Harvard Business Press. Web.
McWeek n.d., 1-Lecture Notes: Message from the textbook (Provided by customer).
Palmer I, Dunford R & Akin G 2009, Chapter 1: managing organizational change; a multiple perspectives approach (Provided by customer).