The need to quickly implement far-reaching and often complex strategic change has led many managers and change agents to search for simple solutions and the one right way.... The appealing aspect of the promise held out for these types of change technologies is that they can absolve the manager from the onerous task of critically reviewing the full range of other competing approaches or devising a custom-made change program. They cut through complexity. However the offer is often illusory, for particular change approaches usually apply to particular situations, and simple solutions sometimes ignore the complexities of real life. (Stace and Dunphy, 2001, p 5)
To utilise a single change approach is to assume that all organisations, all situations and all internal and external variables and influences remain constant. It applies the same logic to all changes without consideration of the many and varied influencing factors.
I generally agree with the statement presented by Stace and Dunphy but am interested in the reasons underlying the requirement for simple, easy and fast change interventions. Are managers and change agents lazy and only looking for simple solutions? Does management consider change unimportant? Do management really believe that a single solution is going to work in every case? What is behind this trend?
Bold (2011) suggests that change itself is becoming the only constant or ‘business as usual’ in the modern business environment. With technological advancements over the past 10 years, organisation now have the ability to access, collect and process enormous amounts of business data very quickly. This has provided management with the ability to understand the current health of their organisational processes and track against set goals and targets quickly and accurately. Previously, managers may have waited for end of month or end of quarter reporting from all business units to be collated and presented to gain an accurate understanding of the current business position and gauge the results from previous decisions made. Now, when a manager wants to make a change, they want it implemented as soon as possible so they can assess the impact of the change.
Due to the high amount of change occurring in modern organisations and management’s requirement for immediate solutions, I believe that pressure is placed onto the change agents to provide solutions, often without the resources or time to perform adequate analysis to plan and implement the best change approach. As Bold (2011) suggested, change is becoming ‘business as usual’ and management may expect change managers to be able to develop a change process (i.e. the one right way), in the way that other parts of the organisation develops other repeatable ‘business as usual’ processes. Corporate competencies for change management constitute the critical capacity that is needed to create a learning organisation which is flexible, dynamic and adaptable in a rapidly changing and volatile environment. (Turner and Crawford 1998)
As recent as the 1990’s, research was being undertaken by Romanelli & Tushman (1994) that proposed an alternate viewpoint. Their punctuated equilibrium paradigm argues that relatively long periods of stability (equilibrium) are punctuated by short periods of more radical, revolutionary change. I believe that most organisational change researchers would now agree that this is no longer the case and further progression into the information age has meant that very few industries operate within a long term, stable business operating environment.
Although many different change models and approaches have been developed by academics, consultants and practitioners, none has yet to be accepted as a standard that can be used for all change interventions. Bold (2011) argues that there is no right or wrong theory for change management. It is not an exact science. However, through the ongoing...
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