Presentation on theme: "Dynamics of Large Scale Organisational Change Jean Neumann [Thanks to Mohrman, Marris, Cummings & Worley]"— Presentation transcript:
Dynamics of Large Scale Organisational Change Jean Neumann [Thanks to Mohrman, Marris, Cummings & Worley]
What is Change Management? Organisational change Any kind of change, including technical and managerial innovations, organisational decline or evolution of system over time Not necessarily related to explicit values Change management Attempts to control or regulate organisational changes planned or not Usually focussed on economic potential or competitive advantage Organisational development Using social science to plan development, improvement and reinforcement of strategies, structures and processes for organisational effectiveness Often supports values of human potential, participation and development
Comprehensive Organisational Change Complexity of Change Depth of Change Pervasiveness of Change +Lasting change in the character of the organization that significantly alters its performance *Mohrman defines by three dimensions
Dimensions of Comprehensive Organisational Change Complex changes Refer primarily to the size of social system being changed and the size of the change effort necessary to alter character and performance Deep changes Entail shifts in members’ basic beliefs, values and behaviour and in the way the organisation is understood Pervasive changes Implicate a major proportion of the organisation’s elements and subdivisions in the change
Typical Inter-related Change Initiatives for Reorienting or Reconstructive Changes (Neumann, Holti & Standing, 1995) Overall Change Strategy Business & Organisational Strategy Business Planning & Accounting Systems Quality & Operational Systems Industrial Relations & Personnel Practice Work Design & Related Training
Use a template versus grow a hybrid Clear pattern, sense of predictable control vs. customised outcome with high involvement and commitment Ignores uniqueness, repeats mistakes vs. less predictable outcome, provokes anxiety Reform in parts versus transform everything Control over introduction, success builds interest vs. most lasting change, working towards consistency Sequential competition, builds resistance vs. inadequate change methods and long- term disruption Change attitudes versus change structures Familiar, uses existing staff vs. more lasting, targets jobs, pay, decision-making Too slow, little evidence that it works vs. can be too fast, generates fear and upset Direct rapid change versus evolve slow participation Minimizes period of upset, expected from managers vs. involves people in decisions that shape their lives, educates for the future and changes norms Hanging around waiting, resentment, anger vs. increased resources, intolerable shifts in direction and predictability 4 Classic Dilemmas of Large Scale Change
Linear Action Comprehensive organisational change requires planning and sequencing (subsequent and simultaneous) and taking linear action, that is actions in sequence through time and space with some confidence of outcome. AND Non-linear Developments Attitudinal and behavioural change results from people changing themselves and those ‘things’ that add up to ‘organisation’. This type of change is by definition non-linear and, thus, full of uncertainty. Dynamics of large scale organisational changes are rooted in this essential uncertainty Essential Uncertainty of Large Scale Organisational Change
Uncertainty Goes with the Large Scale Organisational Change Territory The more comprehensive the change The more aspects of our environment, on which we rely for certainty, will change. Most methods for comprehensive change Usually mean that the majority wait around for the minority to take a decision or to act. Strong psychological and political feelings Reactions to the actual or potential content of changes, plus the ‘waiting around’ element of large systems change methods, stirs and then fuels anxiety. The longer the timeframe for implementing change The more people tend to both desire and fear re-formation of aspects of their identity that may result from or be required by the comprehensive change.
Managing Uncertainty is Normal Human Behaviour (But We Don’t Like It) Uncertainty = The fact or condition of not knowing, of being in a changeable or erratic situation, or things being unreliable. By definition uncertainty means having to act without knowing the outcome, which makes us feel anxious. When we feel uncertain Our first instinct is to search for more information upon which to act and to understand what is happening. We need to make ourselves secure with what we can control. As the uncertainty continues We tend to alternate between feelings of personal inadequacy and anger at the changes and at how others are managing those changes (i.e. anger at being made to feel personally inadequate).
We Often Compete to Minimise Our Uncertainty at Others’ Expense The more uncertain the comprehensive change becomes, the more we compete to conserve as much as we have and to minimise our losses We need to make others’ behaviour predictable, While retaining freedom to act once we know what others are up to. Add to this normal human behaviour, the organisational dimensions of roles, hierarchies and power The most powerful maintain or regain their balance by forcing the weaker to bear the burden of adjustment. Typical organisational defences for competitive management of uncertainty emerge early from core decision-takers Labour-management negotiated rules and procedures Differentiation: contracting out, temporary workers, etc. Insulation of HQ from operations
We Tend to React to Large Scale Uncertainty by Making It Worse We react defensively Move closer to those people with whom they have something in common Distance from those people with whom they disagree Hold (rigidly) certain positions and opinions related to the change Take up complementary (matching) positions We unproductively manage our distress by some version of psychological withdrawal E.g. self-mastery; self-failure E.g. hostility; irresponsible behaviour We persistently avoid resolution of emotional and political concerns People withdraw from engaging with the relationships that are perceived to be too uncertain to handle Turn inward to create an attitude toward external threats which reduces one’s vulnerability to them
Successful Change Requires Reciprocal Management of Uncertainty Reciprocal management of uncertainty Means to give and receive mutually. Mutual discovery for introducing predictability and new meaning. Minimum critical specifications = objectives General enough for revision, experimentation, customisation Specific enough to guide meaningful, cooperative action in which people can create a future for themselves Mechanisms for reciprocity Long-term development requires constant revision as events unfold An iterative process of review, revision and re-planning is needed. Participation and involvement are necessary Only a third of any particular organisational population are inclined to participate when given the chance. Mutual, often institutionalised, defences get in the way.
Paradoxically When we feel most defensive and vulnerable we have to risk openness. Openness, like defensiveness, tends to be self- confirming. Those who are fortunate enough to have found circumstances which encourage their sense of control and understanding are likely to go on increasing their grasp. The competitive assertion of autonomy and control constrains the lives of those subordinated to it. As its effect intensifies, people at every level of power inflict that on those below them.