The question of identity – ‘Who am I?’ – is a deceptively simple question. The answers are manifold and complex. Identity has traditionally been thought of as that which is essential and unchanging – that which pervades over time and in different circumstances. For example, a person who is essentially extrovert may be outgoing both at work and with friends, and may have this identifiable characteristic throughout life. Other aspects of who they are might be more transient; for example, the same person, whilst remaining extrovert, may not think about politics in the same way or associate him- or herself with the same occupational groups throughout life, because he or she is focused on, and influenced by, external sources of ideas and information.
□Change and personal identity
Although there may be aspects of the self that are relatively unchanging, in the context of organisations and work much research has focused on aspects of identity that have degrees of fluidity that are affected by change and that themselves stimulate change. At a simple level, as people move through different roles (for example, team leader, manager, director) they often take on differences in persona. With experience they look at the world in a slightly different way, and they have a different repertoire of skills to draw upon. Equally, as they have experiences, both positive and negative, they can come to think of themselves in new ways and can recognise themselves as members or outsiders of identifiable social groups.
Who people think they are has a significant impact on what they do and how they relate to others. For example, Dan Karreman and Mats Alvesson (2001) tell the story of senior newspapermen, who have a regular meeting to review the front pages and sales figures of the previous month's papers. Although they know at an intellectual level that sales relate to whether there has been a holiday or not, notable events in sport (on the back page) or key political events, such issues are absent from their analysis.
In Part C of this book we engage with a series of chapters that draw on the earlier foundational and diagnosing concepts and explore enacting change in the workplace. This first chapter tackles the issue of choosing an approach to change. In practice, organisations do not only have to make decisions about where to focus their change efforts, but also the means by which to approach change. There may be a default approach to change within an organisation, but whether or not that approach suits the current and emerging context demands further consideration. In this interplay we see the diagnosis of contextual factors informing the enacting of change.
The marketplace of ideas and approaches for tackling organisational change is a crowded one. There are numerous schools of thought, frameworks, methodologies and practices related to change (Armenakis & Bedeian, 1999). Burnes (1996) argues that there is no one right way to approach change, but not all change options are suitable for an organisation's circumstances. Choice is unavoidable. Many change efforts fail. In this context of uncertainty and broad choice, organisations face a recurring fundamental decision – how to best tackle the immediate change challenges.
The key principles of rational decision-making and bounded rationality will be compared and contrasted to consider how critical choices related to change are influenced and determined. Decision-making theory will be introduced to provide a sound base on which to explore factors that aid or impede the decision-making process. We examine the difference between optimising choices and satisficing choices and the limitations of rational decision-making.
To gain a sense of the many different options available to organisations, we will examine alternative schools of thought, change models and popular business/change systems. We will pick up on the issues of context in relation to both change approaches and change choices. Organisations are often seen to jump on the bandwagon of popular change approaches. We consider the possible influence of brand effects on choice in relation to change. Burnes (1996) summarised these key themes of choice and approaches to change very well.
When change is instigated by either positive or negative pressures, it is important that managers understand how certain changes can affect their employees. This can be achieved by gathering evidence on how members in the organisation construct meaning within their organisation.
□The concept of evidence in change
The concept of evidence in most cases is unfortunately problematic. Some research traditions challenge the very idea of what it means to ‘claim to have evidence’ if one is operating with a view that our experience in the world is a socially constructed and relational phenomenon (Berger & Luckmann, 1966). However, the view that reality is socially constructed does not mean that ‘reality’ is any less ‘real’ in how people experience it. In some of our own research we have discussed the ways in which those managing an organisation relate to evidence about aspects of that organisation, in that there are ‘areas of interaction between the fantasised and the experienced’ (MacIntosh & Beech, 2011, p. 31). Hence, what to one individual or group within the organisation might be taken as straightforward and factual might be seen by others as either untrue or as a fantasy that is being used for political ends. Our own view is that a constructionist and dialogic perspective offers a useful means of looking at both how views come to be held (for example, that some aspect of a change process is important or unimportant) and how those views might impact on future action.
On a related note, Scott Cook and John Seely Brown (1999) offer an excellent discussion of the distinction between knowledge and knowing. They use the example of riding a bicycle to suggest that there are aspects of our abilities that we nonetheless struggle to articulate. Theoretically, it would be possible for people to specify in great technical detail the mechanics of how to ride a bicycle even if they were unable to do so themselves, but most of us who know how to ride a bicycle could not offer a solid explanation of the process. As a result, the tacitness of how we know something and the social process by which we construct explicit knowledge are both problematic.
Organisations are significantly shaped and influenced by the customers they choose to serve. As organisations seek to grow and develop, they do so by adding increasing value for the customers they currently serve. This can be done by adding new product lines or seeking new ways to add value for customer types that they are yet to acquire. Using some of the diagnostic approaches from the enquiry–action framework (presented in Part A of this book) it can be concluded that change most commonly involves organisations adapting to meet the demands of their customers and positioning themselves to compete effectively within their chosen markets. The need to undergo changes that help match internal organisational arrangements with the external organisational environment is a constant and evolving one. Organisations, however, must choose to continue to serve only current customers or to pursue new customers and challenge new competitors in the pursuit of profitable growth. This is the essential work of business strategy. It is equally relevant, and helpful, to conceptualise such choices in the context of public, voluntary and charitable organisations (See Extended Case: Australian Red Cross). We return to this theme later in the chapter. First we begin by considering two related but distinct changes that an organisation may engage with: choosing and changing customers. In the second half of the chapter we will examine the strategic change associated with changing competitors by entering new markets.
□ Choosing customers
Choosing which customers to serve and in what way is a fundamental strategic decision that can shape an organisation. Smaller businesses may make this choice based on factors related to the founder(s) – their professions, their interests, or it may even be an inherited family business. Entrepreneurs may identify new opportunities to add superior value for specific target groups even in areas in which they have little or no prior experience.
Most successful companies make a deliberate choice in who to serve as the result of considered assessment or detailed analysis. These organisations, large or small, are able to add more value for their chosen groups of customers than less-focused competitors.
One of the most significant and extensive changes to Australian local government was possibly that of the reforms introduced during the Kennett Government in the mid- 1990s (Aulich, 1999). These reforms included a rationalisation of the number of councils from 210 to 78 with unprecedented forced council amalgamations. The main outcome sought by the Government for these amalgamations was cost savings and efficiency improvements (Chapman, 1997). The Kennett Government claimed that local councils were inefficiently run and that local government needed to be revamped so that the community could benefit from any cost savings (Hallam, 1998). Other fundamental changes included fixed-term contracts to senior officers with no guaranteed renewal and the introduction of compulsory competitive tendering.
A qualitative research project was completed concerning the effect of the reforms on the City of Mayfair and this case study presents and discusses the results. The City of Mayfair had existing project practices were that adequate for the successful delivery of the typically smaller council projects. The delivery of major projects, however, required more advanced project management practices than were traditionally used by the City. The need for the City to be able to deliver more significant projects resulted in the acquisition of additional professional resources and improvements to project-management practices. The injection of experienced staff into the organisation led to improvements in its project-management knowledge base.
The study of the City's practices included data collection by interviewing respondents from within the Council. Participants were selected from project delivery departments within the organisation. Care was taken to choose participants by their level of experience and term of employment so that in-depth information could be obtained. Participants were also selected by their knowledge and familiarity of the project capital delivery area, so that relevant and essential information could be gathered for the study.
To help improve the quality of the evidence and data collected a process of triangulation was also used (Stake, 2010). Participants were selected from a number of different levels within the organisational hierarchy so that individual perceptions could be recorded. The interview respondents were each given the opportunity to review and comment on a draft copy of the interpretation of their interview transcript.
In organisations, much time is spent managing change through the deliberate selection of practices that are hoped to produce particular results. The triggers for such change work may emanate either from within the organisation or from shifts in the external environment. They may be optional or unavoidable, and they may be disruptive, rapid and radical, or slow and evolutionary. There are many tools and techniques that pertain to change situations, but choosing what to do, and how to do it, is not straightforward.
In this book we elaborate on a framework that does not dictate a prescribed path to managing change but, rather, treats the process as one of enquiry and action. This entails being skilled at asking questions so that the circumstances and purpose can be understood and matched to action. In the field of change management, action is normally somewhat experimental, as even the most popular ‘tried and tested’ practices can fail in new situations. Therefore, the approach we advise is to build up a repertoire of options and to be active both in the selection of which action option (or combination of options) to take and in the adaptation and development of change practices. We regard change management as being based on the skills of judging situations, selecting from and adapting prior practices in order to develop new ones, and then being able to understand and evaluate how these actions are working and thus make appropriate adjustments. In short, the change manager is an active learner, engaged in a continuous cycle of enquiry and action.
▄ Foundations of change and change work
We refer to the activities relating to planning, executing and responding to organisational change as ‘change work’. Change is complex. Managing change is very likely to entail some degree of disruption. Often the situations that managers encounter are difficult, perhaps even intractable. It is not that all change is inherently problematic but, rather, that when things are simple and doable there is less call for management intervention. As a result, it is normal for change managers to find themselves in the midst of so-called ‘sticky’ or ‘wicked’ problems that are not easy to resolve. Such problems are composed of divergent perspectives and tensions.
In Part A we laid the foundation for an understanding of change from several key perspectives. In Chapter 1 we introduced a number of key concepts, including change work, approaches to diagnosing change issues, disciplines for enacting change and the enquiry–action framework. We then surveyed a range of key concepts and change frameworks to demonstrate that there are different valid ways to understand and approach change. The last of the Foundations chapters introduced innovation as a separate change type and perspective of growing importance.
As we move into Part B, we now turn our attention to a series of chapters on diagnosing change. An excellent place to start is with the concept of context and the way it influences what is useful or useless, relevant or irrelevant. Context is examined alongside the closely related notion of environments, within which context takes on its identifiable forms.
All organisations operate within complex environments. By ‘environment’ we do not just mean the economies or industries in which they operate and compete. The organisations themselves have an internal context made up of numerous interdependent factors. Change agents must focus enquiry on understanding these environments.
There are many different ways of viewing change. Examining change using a context-based approach has considerable practical applications. These include: gaining an overview of the broader change situation; the identification of change priorities across a range of key areas; the development of a high-level map to orient change efforts; and a means to evaluate different approaches change.
This chapter explores different organisational contexts to better understand the complex change environment. A deeper appreciation of an organisation's general and specific circumstances informs both change priorities and approaches. The role of contextual analysis in orienting through mapping and building a shared understanding will also be explored. Some key models of external and/or internal environments will be introduced and compared. Context will be shown as a catalyst that brings to the surface key independencies between organisational dimensions, facilitates enquiry and enables action. Lastly, the chapter will pose some issues associated with adopting a contextually informed approach, including dealing with complexity.
□The complex nature of context
Context may be viewed as the situation within which some things exist or happen, and the means by which those things may be better understood. Context is sometimes referred to interchangeably as the environment. An organisation's context is made up of multiple factors. It has different layers, or levels, and time dimensions.
As discussed in Chapter 10, it is apparent that as organisations grow they begin to formalise the way in which business is conducted. This is because all organisations reach a size at which an informal approach is no longer tenable. Everything from recruiting staff and choosing suppliers to designing products and managing quality can be described in terms of the sequence of activities involved. The larger, more established and more complex the organisation, the more formal the documentation of such activities can become, and many large organisations have lengthy documentation setting out the way in which tasks are accomplished. Whilst this is sometimes necessary for accreditation purposes, such as ISO 9001, such codified specification of tasks can be cumbersome. Partly because such documentation is long and detailed and has a number of interconnects with other aspects of organisational life, it can be very challenging to introduce change. Change to approved, accredited or simply familiar ways of doing things might need to involve multiple stakeholders (see Chapter 7) and can be time-consuming.
This chapter focuses on how to approach changing the sequence, location and timing of routine tasks. These bundles of tasks are often described as processes, or business processes. This view of processes as the operational mechanics of day-to-day business is an important aspect of managing change and draws on literatures that are rooted in computing science and operations management. This is quite a separate body of work from the process literature in strategic management, which more typically refers to longitudinal studies of strategy-making processes (see Pettigrew, 1992). The 1990s saw a trend whereby large numbers of organisations tried to maximise the efficiency of their business processes (see Hammer, 1990). This chapter reviews the origins of process mapping and introduces two mapping techniques that can be used to capture a description of a process.
Greenheck is a major supplier of commercial heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) equipment worldwide. The organisation's goal is to provide the best value products, services and solutions to customers who want to move, control or condition air. Robert (Bob) and Bernie Greenheck formed the company in 1947, in a small shop located in Schofield, Wisconsin. Bob was the engineer and builder of the products, whilst Bernie was the salesman who would go out and find the customers to buy them. In the early years there were often attempts to provide more services beyond the HVAC equipment but in the end the company found its strength in the provision of HVAC. Those early days also proved to the Greenheck brothers that the power of sustainable innovation was truly one of the things that set Greenheck apart from its competitors. Bernie's consistent feedback from the field allowed Bob to change and adapt the product to deliver on the customer need, ensuring a strong and innovative product line. Whilst that practice still exists today, it is not enough in a hyper-competitive global market that demands more from businesses.
□ What innovation means to Greenheck
Innovation has become the new rallying cry for many organisations: ‘We must innovate in order to maintain our edge and provide long-term growth for decades to come.’ Whilst this can provide some guidance, without direction it provides little in the way of why it is that an organisation needs innovation. It does not answer the questions about what it will do to make change sustainable and how it will manage and maintain it over time. If innovation, taking a classical definition, is something new and something that creates dramatic change then we as humans have experienced this since our existence on the planet. That Greenheck has achieved a leadership position is attributable in large part to its long-standing commitment to consistently provide solutions to new industry challenges. Growing demand for building projects that reflect ‘green’ initiatives is impacting the ventilation industry. Greenheck was one of the first manufacturers of air-moving and -control equipment to join the US Green Building Council.
Learning and development are central to change management as most change projects involve people doing things differently. Major changes often mean that people need to go about understanding the nature of the organisation's processes, relationships with customers and clients and practices of delivery in different ways. Such changes mean that the change manager has to understand how people develop and what can be done to enable people to enact and understand the innovations that are aspired to (Antonacopoulou, 2006).
In this chapter, we explore the nature of reflection and reflexivity and the ways that change managers can challenge themselves to develop new understandings of who they are and what they do. We focus on the distinction between technique learning – the focus on specific, defined skills outcomes – and insight learning – the focus on developing new ways of conceiving reformatory personal change. We discuss how the alternative methods of learning and development can be integrated within the workplace and discuss the role of the change manager in selecting which methods to use to meet the demands of their situation (Easterby-Smith & Lyles, 2003).
In 2010, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development survey of learning and development methods reported to have found that there was an increasing integration of coaching, organisational development and performance management in which the aim was to increase innovation and effectiveness. Talent management was seen as a key driver of business, and 60 per cent of businesses in the survey were investing in talent management. This included in-house courses and coaching. In addition, mentoring schemes were on the increase, along with learning on the job. However, in 2014 the Brandon Hall Group 2014 Learning and Development Benchmarking Study reported that the trends of learning and development were changing and organisations needed to use adaptive learning principles with consideration to mobile technology and adoption of social learning tools. In this chapter, we compare and contrast some of these approaches and offer guidance on how they might be combined fruitfully. We start by discussing approaches to learning and explain the model of learning for technique and insight.
Stakeholders form an integral part of any organisation's external and internal context, as discussed in Chapter 4. The needs and interests of stakeholder groups influence both the what and the how of change. Not all stakeholders are of equal importance or influence, and there is a need for an approach to determine how best to engage with stakeholders in different change contexts.
As a change idea or program is introduced people will naturally align themselves with various positions with regard to the change. For some the change may represent a step in the right direction, and therefore something to be supported. For others it could constitute a threat – for example, by rendering their current competencies redundant – and so they may oppose the change. In many change situations there are a great variety of possible positions, and the complexity is increased as stakeholders change their positions over time. Therefore, when leading change it is helpful to understand the positions that stakeholders may adopt and what the consequences of this can be for change outcomes. In this chapter we explore a technique for mapping stakeholders’ positions, recognising the influence that they might exert and the dynamics that emerge as people act and react to each other.
We illustrate some of these points by drawing upon a hypothetical case. Whilst ‘managing’ stakeholders may not be possible, the techniques discussed can provide a route to engaging with stakeholders and influencing outcomes.
Two of the fundamental questions of change management are ‘What space do we have to act in?’ and ‘How can we increase that space?’ (Freeman, 1984). The space for acting is defined by the relative position of the individual or group seeking to make change happen and others around them who could be relatively supportive or obstructive towards the change intention. Stakeholder mapping has often been used to work out how to develop organisations in the midst of a network of others who may want to see different outcomes (Schneider, 2002). Stakeholder analysis can be used for a variety of purposes during a change project (Peltokorpi et al., 2007). These include assessing expected benefits (Strong, Ringer & Taylor, 2001), understanding implementation challenges, analysing the capability of an organisation to change and gaining insight into stakeholders’ influence over implementation.
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