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Organizational Change and Development

External forces for change of Flight Centre

Flight Centre, an Australian travel agency, has experienced impressive market growth because of its effective management structure. The firm has taken advantage of the emerging technologies to expand its operations to Europe, North America, and parts of Africa. However, this has not been without challenges in various environmental factors. To understand the external environmental factors that affect Flight Centre in its normal operations, it is necessary to use PEST Model.

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PEST Model.
Figure 1: PEST Model. Source (Meisiek 2002, p. 59).

Political factors

The Australian market is the main business hub for Flight Centre. The government has adopted a free market policy where barriers to market entry have been eliminated. The same policy is practiced in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada, which are major markets for this firm. This policy has seen the number of rival firms enter this industry at very high rates, a fact that has increased market competition. Following the terrorists attack at the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001, governments in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia developed stringent policies concerning the identity of the clients in this industry (Dunford & Palmer 2002, p. 380).

The law requires travel agencies to have the full identity of their clients, their purpose of travel, and any other information that may be relevant to the security apparatus. This regulation has had an impact on the operations of this firm. Some clients consider such information confidential. As such, they would avoid agencies that seem to investigate a lot about their personal lives (Anderson & Anderson 2010, p. 70). This puts the firm in a very delicate scenario. On one side, it is required to gather this information from their clients to operate legally. On the other hand, they are obliged to deliver products, which are in line with their customers’ demand. The management of this firm has been keen on explaining to its clients the need to gather this information to protect its market share.

Economic factors

The performance of Flight Centre has been boosted by the economic prosperity that has been experienced in Australia. According to Becker and Murphy (2000, p. 57), Australia has experienced impressive economic growth within the past two decades. The recent economic recession that affected the firm’s main markets did not have a serious impact on its operations, though it slowed its growth. Porters 5 Forces analysis of the attractiveness of the market reveals some factors about the economic environment. A high level of competition in the Australian market following rapid market entry by rival firms shows that economy of this country is growing (Bennett 2011, 68).

Technological factors

Technology has affected this firm in various ways. The emergence of e-commerce has made it easy for smaller firms to get into the market, posing a serious threat to the firm. Technology has also increased the power of the buyers as they can shop around the internet looking for the best alternatives (Cameron & Green 2012, p. 72). Despite these challenges brought about by emerging technologies, this firm has benefited a lot due to the emerging technologies. Its marketing strategies have been made simpler because of the advanced internet technologies.

Socio-cultural factors

The social environment has had a positive impact on this firm as the global society becomes integrated. This integration has increased rates of travel into and out of this country. It has also helped the firm to develop an organizational behavior that is sensitive to the cultural diversity of the employees of this firm.

Internal Forces of Change

The case presents several internal forces of change at the firm that is geared towards managing the changing external environmental factors. The biggest internal force of change at Flight Centre is its leadership. The management of this organization has remained very flexible to various environmental changes, making it easy to initiate and support new ideas at the firm. Highly educated and technology conscious employees is another strong internal force of change. They are keen to identify changing trends in the market and develop mechanisms to respond to these changes as appropriate. The structures put in place by the management such as web-based marketing and integrated electronic communication systems at the firm have been important in supporting change.

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Most Important Factors

From this case, the most important factor that has enabled this firm to succeed in the market is its leadership strategies that embrace change. The managers of this firm have been supportive of new ideas that may help improve its operations in the market. The decision of the management go global is also an important factor. This has not only expanded the firm’s market share but also enabled it to understand global forces of change and their relevance to this firm. Finally, the emphasis laid on research has been of benefit in managing change. As Harrington (2006, p. 38) say, managing change requires regular research.

Culture Change Program in an Australian Manufacturing Company

Arturo is one of the leading Australian manufacturing companies that have been keen on managing change within their environment. According to the case presented by Scheeres and Rhodes (2006, p. 228), the top management unit decided to introduce the corporate culture and core values at the firm to define how the employees are expected to behave when they are on their official duties. The first challenge that the management realized it had to deal with was the cultural diversity of the employees. Most of the employees at this firm were not born and brought up in Australia. This meant that their cultural views and perceptions towards various issues in the workplace varied a great deal. The decision to implement this culture change was very noble because it was difficult to work in an environment that lacked a common cultural practice that was valued by all the employees. However, the strategy taken in implementing this change was very poor.

The management decided to use pamphlets and posters as a way of reaching out to the employees within this firm. It is important to appreciate the fact that the management was able to describe these values in a clear manner and in various languages to ensure that everyone understood them. However, most of the employees found them to be more annoying than being informative. The training program that was organized by the top management aggravated the whole situation. According to the report by Scheeres and Rhodes (2006, p. 230), the management introduced compulsory training for the employees, from the mid-managers to junior employees to enhance understanding of these core values. According to Hiatt and Creasey (2003, p. 39), change is an unavoidable eventuality, but one that is always dreaded by many people. To succeed in bringing change within an organization, it is important to involve all the stakeholders. The change should be seen to be coming from the bottom towards the top (Lederman & Klein 1996, p. 118). At the bottom of the pyramid are the majority members of the organization in the form of junior employees. They have to be part of the change because they will be directly involved in its implementation. The top management of this firm did the complete opposite. They initiated the change and then developed structures to force employees in accepting their policies.

Analysis of the Culture Change Using Change Framework

The case presented above demonstrates several weaknesses in the change strategy used by the management of Arturo Company. The Kurt Lewin change model below can help us identify the weaknesses of the change strategy as presented in the case.

Kurt Lewin's Model.
Figure 1: Kurt Lewin’s Model. Source (Paton & McCalman 2008, p. 67).

According to Lewin’s change framework, introducing change within an organization is a systematic process that should follow three main steps. In this model, the first step is to unfreeze, which simply means being ready for the change. It involves identifying issues that make it necessary to change various aspects of an organization. This stage is the most important because the stakeholders will be expected to agree that change is necessary. Pugh (2007, p. 54) says that they should be motivated about it, and feel that it is necessary within their organization. These are the areas where the management or Arturo missed the point. They never prepared their employees for this change. The employees were never involved in any way, and to them, they did not see the need for the change. The second process is the initiation of change itself. The management of this firm did well at this stage. The only problem was that the first stage was ignored. The final stage in this model is to freeze which involves establishing stability after the change. This stage was poorly implemented.

Recommendations

The following are some of the recommendations that the management should consider ensuring that future changes at this firm are successful.

  • The management should engage all the stakeholders at every stage when bringing new policies within the firm.
  • The management should ensure that employees understand the relevance of change so that they can be motivated towards it.
  • The employees should be the agents of change, not posters.

Processes within My Team

When I enrolled for my postgraduate degree at this institution, we were encouraged to form a study group. The group was important in facilitating student-student discussion to enhance our understanding of various concepts in this course. The instructor emphasized the importance of close coordination among the group members because it also enhances interpersonal skills. Being able to work with team members enhances an individual’s capacity to relate well with employees at the workplace (Reiß 2012, p. 71). I found my group very fascinating because we are committed to addressing various tasks that were assigned to us as a team. One of the positive factors that I experienced in this group was the commitment when addressing assignments.

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At the end of every class, we would make an effort to ensure that the five-member team met to share various issues about the group. During such meetings, every team member would have a specific role to play to ensure that we were successful. According to Levasseur (2010, p. 160), assigning of duties is one of the best ways of achieving success when working as a team. Although I was elected as the leader of this team, all the members were very responsive when it came to addressing various tasks. Assigning duties was very simple. The members would pick the tasks they believed they could handle, and I would be left with the last task to address.

In such a successful environment, there were some problems in some of the processes at this team. One of the main problems was the time available for the meeting. Most of the team members are full-time employees at various firms within the country. They have minimal time to attend class and participate in these group works. In most of the cases, we would meet for only thirty minutes per session. This was affecting the quality of our work because it made it difficult to address some of the pertinent issues, especially those that are contentious. In some cases, a member or two would skip the meeting because of personal or job-related commitments. This would massively affect our operations in various ways. The absence of any of the members at the meeting meant that the task assigned to them would be delayed. When they finally present their work, it would be too late to assess it to iron out issues of concern. Such events have led to poor grades in some of our works. Such issues would demoralize some members who worked hard but had to be punished for the mistakes of other members of the group.

Team Development Activity that Can Enhance the Effectiveness of the Process

The processes within this team can be improved using emerging telecommunication technologies. After sharing the issue with all the team members, it was clear that time was the biggest issue that was affecting our performance. As a leader, I strongly suggest that video conferencing would be the best solution for our team. Using webcams and internet-enabled computers, this team can organize meetings late in the evenings and over the weekends at the comfort of one’s office or even bedroom (Franklin 2011, p. 93). As a leader, I will only communicate with the members the time for the meeting and confirm the attendance of all the members. When this is done, it will be the responsibility of every member to ensure that there is no form of a disturbance at the time of the meeting. This will not be a difficult activity because all the five members have some of the latest laptops with some of the latest features in the market. This means that they will not have to incur any expenses when this strategy is implemented.

I believe this will be the right thing because, on many occasions, I have to chat with some of the members using this form of technology. If this can be used in leisure talk, I have a feeling that it will be more successful for our official work in the team. The main thing that I will do is to share the issue with my team members, make them enthusiastic about it, and find structures that will be used in its implementation. This will make the team more efficient than it is currently.

List of References

Anderson, D & Anderson, L 2010, Beyond change management: How to achieve breakthrough results through conscious change leadership, Pfeiffer, San Francisco.

Becker, G & Murphy, K 2000, Social economics: Market behaviour in a social environment, Harvard University Press, Cambridge.

Bennett, J 2011, The International Handbook on Non-Market Environmental Valuation, Edward Elgar Publishers, Cheltenham.

Cameron, E & Green, M 2012, Making sense of change management: A complete guide to the models, tools and techniques of organizational change, Kogan Page, London.

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Dunford, R & Palmer, I 2002, ‘Managing for High Performance? People Management Practices in Flight Cantre’, Journal of Industrial Relations, vol. 44. no. 3, pp. 376-396.

Franklin, M 2011, ‘Aligning Project Management And Change Management’, Managing Business Transformation, vol. 8 no. 35, pp. 128-149.

Harrington, H 2006, Change management excellence: The art of excelling in change management, Paton Press, Chico.

Hiatt, J & Creasey, T 2003, Change management: The people side of change, Prosci Research, Loveland.

Lederman, J & Klein, R 1996, Market neutral: State-of-the-art strategies for every market environment, Irwin Professional Publishers, Chicago.

Levasseur, R 2010, ‘Ensuring Project Success: A Change Management Perspective’, Interfaces, vol. 40. no. 2, pp. 159-162.

Meisiek, S 2002, ‘Situation Drama in Change Management: Types and Effects of a New Managerial Tool’, International Journal of Arts Management, vol. 4. no. 3, pp. 48-55

Paton, R & McCalman, J 2008, Change Management: A Guide to Effective Implementation, Sage Publications, London.

Pugh, L 2007, Change management in information services, Ashgate, Aldershot.

Reiß, M 2012, Change management: A balanced and blended approach, Books on Demand, Norderstedt.

Scheeres, H & Rhodes, C 2006, ‘Between cultures: values, training and identity in a manufacturing firm’, Journal of Organizational Change Management, vol. 19. no. 2, pp. 223-236.

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