Organisational Change – Why and How to Embrace
Organisational change: the movement
from a current state to a defined state - a different, improved and desired new state, through a set of
planned and integrated interventions.
(Organisational Culture and Organisational Change: An
Integrated Dynamic, Professor I M Bredenkamp,
In today’s business world, change is inevitable – new
technologies, new products/services, new processes, and new markets regularly drive changes in the way that
organisations are staffed, structured and operated. Although the motivation behind the
change may differ - growth, improved efficiency/effectiveness, maintaining market position, etc - the
necessity for change is constant. As the world around your business is continually
changing, your business must also change, or it may stagnate in, or fall behind, the
For an organisation to effectively respond to
change, it needs to anticipate, plan for, and control that change, rather than merely reacting passively to it, or
worse, not reacting at all. By being prepared, rather than caught off guard, a business can ride
the wave of change rather than be dumped by it.
To begin with, there are a number of questions to
be asked and answered:
Is change required? If so,
what type of change/s, and to what?
- Who will own and drive the change
process? Who else needs to be on board?
- Who are the other stakeholders? And might
some prefer to preserve the status quo? How will these parties be affected by, and
respond to, the change/s?
- What has the organisation’s past experience of change
been? And what about the owners/drivers, participants and other
stakeholders? Has their previous experience of change been positive, negative, or
What resistance, and how much, should be
anticipated? How can that resistance be overcome/minimised?
Given the organisational structure and
culture, how should the business consult and/or communicate with its members, encourage and facilitate
participation in the change process, and manage the implementation and review of that
Although time may be of the essence in planning
and implementing change to maximise return to the business, it is important to correctly diagnose the situation,
and identify the real change imperative/s. No matter how well planned and efficiently
implemented, if the wrong changes are made, a successful outcome is unlikely. By taking time to
effectively analyse the situation, time is likely to be saved in the long run.
This analysis may result in a recommendation to
change one or more of the following:
- technology, systems;
- policies, procedures, processes;
- staffing (including structure, number of staff, location of
staff, job design, and the skills and experience required to perform the job effectively);
- culture, including the ‘quality culture’, ‘service culture’,
Such changes may be implemented simultaneously or
sequentially, organisation-wide or gradually, depending on the nature and urgency of the change and the culture of
Although there is no single ‘right’ or ‘wrong’
approach to change, it is generally acknowledged that whichever approach is taken should be applied consistently
and sensitively, while at the same time being sufficiently flexible to meet the potentially differing needs of
An effective way to smooth the path of change is
through communication, either through consultation with participants and stakeholders on what and how change should
be implemented at the deliberation stage, or through communication of the determined change strategy prior to and
during implementation. Whether/how an organisation consults or communicates on the change may be influenced by:
magnitude of the change; size and complexity of the organisation; recognition by members of the need for change,
and support for the change strategy considered/selected; real or perceived repercussions or pay-offs of the change;
Training, development and support of those
affected by the change will also influence the success of a change strategy, in that the need for, and benefits of,
change are more likely to be accepted and embraced if they are clearly understood. This
acceptance may also be enhanced by closing the change loop with post-implementation review and, if necessary,
adjustment. However, as previously noted, change is continual, so organisations and their
members should not expect the change loop to stay closed for long!
By Trevor Neville,
Principal, and Kirsten Ferguson (Human Resource Management Consultant), TranZition Professional and Executive
Recruitment, Level 3 Waterfront Place, 1 Eagle Street, Brisbane Qld 4000. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: