The biggest challenge to the management class of the organization is not making changes to the organization, but being able to keep up with the fast evolving nature of the business sector. Failure to keep up with such changes leaves a business or organization highly vulnerable to adverse affects of losing business to other more versatile competitors or even losing relevance in the new environment.
The attempt to change or to adapt is not always effective; indeed, only about 25% of initiatives for change are successful. It is therefore very important for the management to be very deliberate in every step it takes to ensure that the organization can effectively adapt to new environment.
Initiative and Process Change
Initiative changes are mainly focused on coming up with new programs, projects or regiments of doing work in the organization. Such changes usually occur on a regular basis in companies and are aimed at making sure that the company is evolving to the ever-changing environment. The specific needs of the company are identified through the process of strategic planning; and implementation is done according to the plans laid thereof.
On the other hand, process changes involves changing the way things are done vis-à-vis the day-to-day operations of the organization. The first step in doing this is identifying the processes that form the core of the organization; this is followed by making improvement to these processes so as to make them more efficient in terms of costs, time management, quality or any other parameter identified as a good target for improvement.
These changes are very important as they function to replenish the various organs of the organization; by creating strong and versatile structures that can easily adapt to inevitable change.
The Steps of Implementing Initiative and Process Change
In order to successfully execute changes that will be beneficial to the organization, it is important to have a good plan of doing it. The following four steps have been suggested for the effective achievement of the management goals identified.
Step 1; Identification of the Major Factors for the Successful Development of the Capacity for Change
Many studies have been done to the major factors influencing the successful implementation of such measures of change; such a list was created by a team commissioned by the management of General Electric in 1992 and consists of the following.
- Leading change; having the change starting from the top; so that the rest of the organization follow suit.
- Creating a shared need; this involves framing the change so as every member of the organization sees that it is necessary; and that more benefits will be seen from the change than from resistance.
- Having a clear vision; so as the expected outcome is clear to everyone.
- Mobilizing commitment; there are people in the organization who must be part of the process; and their commitment is necessary if not mandatory.
- Changing systems and structures; the management has to make sure all the changes instituted during the process reflect in the infrastructure of the organization in terms of the workforce.
- Monitoring progress; a system has to be put in place whereby the management can measure the meeting of goals and objectives of the agenda.
- Making change last; the actual process of change has to be preceded by planning, and putting in of proper structures to ensure a smooth transition from one state to the other.
These factors are critical for such a transition; while they may seem obvious and easy to attain, the change process is not more-often-than-not unsuccessful since not all managers are keen enough to ensure that each of the requirements is met.
Step 2: Profiling of the extent to which these factors are being managed
The factors listed above have no meaning if they are not converted to tangible efforts on the ground. It is important that on every step of the way, each of the factors is reviewed each time so as to ensure the program is going as planned. Such profiling would identify any weaknesses in any of the critical factors; thus allowing special attention to be paid to the area.
Step 3: Create a system to improve each of the critical success factors
From identifying the areas that need more effort among the critical factors, the next step is coming up with ways of improving the sectors. The best way of achieving this is by encouraging dialogue between the various players who have a stake in the change process and outcomes. Such would allow asking of important questions regarding how various problems can be solved; and with maximum benefit both to the organization and to the target population.
This eventually results in development of an action plan; which ideally has the input from all the stakeholders; and which gives a role to each one of them rather than heaping the responsibility on a single person or department.
Step 4: Viewing the implantation of the critical factor as process rather than an event
It is of uttermost importance to maintain a watchful eye over the implementation of the change program especially in regard to the critical success factors. This can only be done if the managers of the program see it as a process rather that a single event with a defined end.
One of the major factors that contributes to the failure of change initiatives is the viewing them as event rather that processes; this puts them at risk of being dismissed as fads that will come and pass (probably like many others before them); and the involved parties pay only lip service rather than committing themselves fully both to the process and the projected outcome. As such, the change has to affect the public image of the organization, it also has to permeate and transform the organizational and human resource infrastructure so that every achievement is permanent and progressive.
This requires the process of change to be led from the front; and the importance of leadership as a tool for championing for the change factors has been recognized. Leaders should create the vision so that everyone else in the organization strives to achieve it, not because it’s their job, but because they feel inspired by it.
Every organization has to be prepared to adapt to change; just like in the jungle, survival can only be guaranteed for companies that are fit enough to operate in the ambient environment. There is no end to examples of companies that have been caught flat-footed by far-reaching industry changes. It is therefore in the interest of every organization to put in place mechanisms which would allow effective adaptation.
Ulrich, D. (1997) Becoming A Change Agent. Human Resource Champions: The Next Agenda For Adding Value And Delivering Results, Harvard Business School Press, Boston: 151-188.