Winds of Change

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What is change? On the World Wide Web at, there are 20 different definitions of change (2008). Wikipedia defines it by saying that “Change denotes the transition that occurs when something goes from being the same to being different” (, 2008). This definition is where this paper needs to start in order to understand what provokes change, and what steps people can take to overcome pitfalls when it comes to implementing change in their organization. Characteristically, the idea of organizational change is “in regard to organization-wide change, as opposed to smaller changes… Examples… might include a change in mission, restructuring operations, new technologies, mergers, major collaborations…etc.” (McNamara, 2008).

Change is a “strategy to accomplish some overall goal” (McNamara, 2008) and should not be done just for the sake of change. Do not confuse the term strategy with the term goal, however. While these two terms may seem like the same thing, the difference is that “goals focus on what, strategies focus on how” (Chaudron, 2003). Typically, the saying “organizational change,” is “about a significant change in the organization, such as adding a major new product or service” (, 2008). Organizational change is usually brought on by a major, or several major external driving force(s), such as, substantial cuts in funding, a necessity for dramatic increases in productivity and/or services, or market/client changes (i.e. expanding globally).

Some major types of organizational change are Transformational, Incremental, Remedial, Developmental, Unplanned, and Planned. The next few paragraphs will explain each of these a little more.
An example of a transformational (or radical) change could be changing an organization’s composition and customs from a hierarchical structure to a large amount of self-directing teams. Another transformational change example is a business process referred to as re-engineering, “which tries to take apart (at least on paper, at first) the major parts and processes of the organization and then put them back together in a more optimal fashion” (, 2008). This type of change is also sometimes referred to as “quantum change” (Ibid).

Incremental change is continuous improvement, such as a quality management process or the implementation of a new computer system to increase efficiencies. Often, “organizations experience incremental change and its leaders do not recognize the change as such” (Ibid).

Remedial change is defined as a change “to remedy current situations or issues” (, 2008). Remedial changes are implemented to improve poor performance of a product or entire organization. They may also be put into practice to reduce burnout in the workplace, to help the organization become more proactive and less reactive, or to address large budget deficits. “Remedial projects often seem more focused and urgent because they are addressing a current, major problem” (Ibid). It is sometime simpler to verify the success of these projects because the problem is either resolved or it is not.

Developmental change is used “to make a successful situation even more successful” (, 2008). For example, if a company wished to increase the number of customers it can help, it might introduce a developmental change (such as building more cash registers, or changing around the customer service line structure) to help accomplish that goal. Another developmental change might be implemented to reproduce successful goods or services. Developmental changes can appear more broad and unclear than remedial, depending on how precise the goals are and how essential it is for members of the organization to accomplish those goals.

Unplanned changes normally occur due to a major, unexpected surprise to the organization, “which causes its members to respond in a highly...
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