Managing Change

2 months ago by

‘It is not the strongest or most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change’ – Charles Darwin

Never, in the history of mankind, have organisations faced such challenges. This pandemic has brought chaos and uncertainty. Classic change management theories and strategies have been thrown out of the window. Companies are being made and broken on the ability to adapt to, or exploit, the rapidly changing environment.

Leaders can try and predict the future, indeed history teaches us that failure to do so will undoubtedly result in commercial ruin or the collapse of society however, in the current climate such predictions produce, at best, a blurred picture of what might be, not a blueprint of future events. The effective and progressive management of change leads to the creation of future environments which will at least reflect the organisation’s needs.

Managers must recognise that change, in itself, is not necessarily a problem however, their inability to effectively manage it does create many real difficulties, why is this the case? Possibly, this is due to managers’ challenges to appropriate, develop and reinforce their role and purpose within complex, dynamic and challenging situations.

Resistance to Change

The strength of the resistance to a change force depends on what people have to gain or loose by changing and on how the culture of the organisation shapes the way they respond to change. An organisation that is open to change, with a significant number of change agents and people who are willing to try new things, is said to have low resistance whilst a closed organisation  with very few change agents, will have high resistance – the ‘but we’ve always done it this way’ brigade.

‘Change is not a threat. Change is an opportunity’

Change Management

Buchanan and McCalmans 1989 model; Theory & Practice

Trigger Layer: Opportunity, threat crisis, clarify, express, communicate

Vision Layer: Define the future (including structure), challenges, excitement, innovation

Conversion Layer: Persuade, recruit disciples, detail the structure

Maintenance and Renewal Layer: Sustain and enhance belief, reinforce and justify, regression avoidance (ritual)

‘We are not creatures of circumstances; we are creators of circumstance’ – Benjamin Disraeli

The main reasons for resistance to change are

  • Ignorance
  • Comparison – thought alternative was better
  • Disbelief in solution
  • Loss – high personal cost
  • Inadequacy – insufficient rewards
  • Anxiety

Dealing with resisters

  • Convince them
  • Of the validity of the chosen strategy
  • By appealing to their self-interest
  • Buy them
  • Marginalize them
  • Exit

An effective change strategy and management of same can be the difference between life and death for organisations in the post-pandemic world.

Prince Niccolò Machiavelli

“It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.”

History shows us that there is more to success than simply recognising the ‘triggers’ for change. Successful exploitation of a change situation required knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the situation and an understanding of the interactions and potential impacts of associasted variables.

By Annette Bell, Bell Group Director & Co-Founder

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