Introduction and Background
The business drivers for change in the next decades will be more numerous than in the past. There will be
challenges from global expansion, new technologies and new business models. What is clear is that the successful organisation of the 21st century will have to be an agile workforce with ability to embrace and thrive on change. Change management is therefore a critical focus area for Leaders and Managers of visionary organisations.
Drivers for Change
The drivers for change are numerous in a highly competitive and global business context. The expansion of the
global economy is assured. With it comes the challenge of conducting business efficiently across ...view middle of the document...
Here are some different views on the drivers for change and the need for formal management of change:
A Customer’s View
• 'The new implementation is probably a great system, but my staff are not using it'
A Project Manager’s View
• 'We delivered the project on time and to budget, but the customer is not using the system'
A CEO’s view
• 'An unacceptable number of our projects fail to deliver to customer expectations'
Historical Context; How organisations have evolved to manage change
Change is not new. Businesses have always faced change, but the rate of change is increasing at a phenomenal
pace. Historically, those organisations that have been well placed to embrace change have thrived and have stood
the test of time on competitiveness.
The structure of organisations and the mode of working can have a considerable effect on the ability of an
organisation to embrace change and exploit change. Today, leaner, flatter organisations, and project-based working models, are sought for agility and faster responsiveness to changing business conditions.
Let us trace a few of the significant milestones in the development of organisations.
During the late 1800s, many European organisations were managed on a personal, family-like basis. Employees
were loyal to a single individual rather to the organisation or its objectives. The dysfunctional consequence of this management practice was that resources were used to realise individual desires rather than organisational goals. Employees in effect owned the organisation and used resources for their own gain rather than to serve customers. Change was initiated from the top - usually by the owner of the business and not in response to environmental triggers or organisational goals.
Recognising the dysfunctionality of the above, Max Weber Weber, M (1947) suggested that organisations could be managed on an impersonal, rational basis. It was felt that organisations, based on rational authority, would be more effective and adaptable to change because continuity is related to formal structure and positions rather than to a particular person, who may at some point leave. This form of organisation was called a bureaucracy.
Rules, regulations, hierarchy, authority and impersonality were the hallmarks of bureaucratic organisations. Again, change was prescribed from the top (top-down) but much more structured and rational.
Identify why Weber's structure was superior to the personal, family-like management previously deployed -
particularly in the context of managing change? Here are Weber's reasons for introducing bureaucratic management:
Rules and regulations
The formal guidelines that define and control the behaviour of all the employees while they are working. This formal system helps to provide the discipline that an organisation needs to exercise control and reach its goals. Adherence to rules and regulations ensures uniformity of procedures and...