Integrative Paper: The Heart of Change
Bridget J. Capers
MNGT 5590: Organizational Behavior
Instructor: Francis Lonsway
December 6, 2011
The book “The Heart of Change” is a book of real-life stories of four hundred individuals from one-hundred and thirty businesses. According to Kotter and Cohen, organizations change when their people change. And, people change for emotional reasons. Kotter and Cohen warn against relying on spreadsheets or reports to promote change. They insist that the best way to engage the emotions is not to "tell" but to "show" through the use of videos, displays or even office design. At the end of each chapter, there are excellent exercises that will ensure the reader understands the material. Additionally, Kotter and Cohen believe change is an eight step process.
Step 1: Increase Urgency
According to the authors, the first stage of large-scale transformation should be to create a sense of urgency that the change is necessary. Urgency helps motivate personnel to overcome contentment, fear, anger, or negativity, which result in conflict. In order to increase urgency without also increasing fear and anger first you have to establish a clear problem definition and using illustrations that shows why the change is of urgency. An example is illustrations that include videos of valued customers’ complaints with the company. Step 2: Build the Guiding Team
Successful change needs effective leadership to provide the vision and to manage the process. The guiding team requires individuals with the right attitude, skills, and power. These skills include: relevant knowledge of the competitive environment and internal operations, credibility, connections, leadership and managerial skills. Useful teams require real teamwork. They share a similar sense of urgency, are guided by clear leadership, and coordinate their efforts through well-managed meetings. Step 3: Get the Vision Right
The guiding team is empowered to create a compelling picture of the organization's future. The successful vision will be bold, inspirational, clear, and credible. Though typical strategic planning activities such as budgeting and action planning fail to be motivators in themselves, Cohen and Kotter suggest they can provide a useful foundation for guiding the development of an effective vision. Winning visions avoid suggesting resistance by focusing on a positive sketch of the future. Simply concentrating on efficiency raises the twin specters of right-sizing and budget-cutting, which in turn raise resistance. Step 4: Communicate for Buy-In
With a vision in place, the guiding team has a powerful tool for obtaining the buy-in of management and the workforce. Persuasive communication requires leaders to deliver the message personally, clearly, and with confidence. According to The Heart of Change, this is leadership's chance to address the emotional issues raised by change - "You need to show people something that addresses their anxieties, that accepts their anger, that is credible in a very gut-level sense, and that evokes faith in the vision" (p. 84). Step 5: Empower Action
The authors’ take the stand that empowerment is less about giving more power and responsibility and should, instead, be about reducing employees' impediments to doing their jobs right. The authors describe four common barriers: 1) the "boss" barrier, 2) the "system" barrier, 3) barriers in the mind, 4) information barriers. In addressing the boss barrier, Kotter and Cohen recommend assigning resistant managers to where the problems are most acute, where they can see and feel for themselves the results of the problem. Fixing the system barrier often means realigning rewards policies so employee innovators aren't punished for trying new ways of doing things. Barriers in the mind are those self-fulfilling prophecies people...
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