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Managing Change

The need to respond effectively to change is at the forefront of organizational priorities in today's world. Pressure to cope with the increasing pace of change, degree of complexity, and sources of competition create mounting demands on the time and attention of those who lead and manage organizations. At a time when organizations need courageous thought, improved speed and agility, and the ability to be very close to those who make use of their products and services, many of those who are responsible for change efforts focus on obtaining short-term results, cutting costs. They risk losing their focus on the long-term viability of their organizations. One of the most important lessons to be learned from many change efforts is that these endeavors succeed or fail as a result of the people involved. Those who lead and manage change can benefit from an improved understanding and appreciation of the people-oriented dynamics of change. Producing change and implementing new strategies requires proactive and creative kinds of problem solving. Style of problem solving influences how we work as individuals, as a team, and how we approach others in our organization.

  • Your orientation to change influences the kind of results or outcomes you seek to achieve. Some prefer to produce more evolutionary change, while others seek revolutionary change, regardless of the requirement for a balance in most situations. Understanding your own preferences, and those of others, can help moderate natural preferences for particular approaches, and enable you to focus on pursuing an appropriate kind of change.

  • Knowing that you need to allow for differences in peoples' manner of processing can help you achieve the balance you need between fast action and well-thought out solutions.

  • Realizing that people have different ways of deciding can help you choose and apply process tools appropriately to ensure that both the task and people perspectives are carefully considered while making important decisions.

Example

The "continuous improvement" task force of one unit in a large organization worked on a problem relating to setting goals for their unit's operation for the next three years. Several members of the team suggested goals that included eliminating all printed memos, policies, and handbooks, and replacing them with an intranet solution that would be distributed and archived entirely in digital format. Other members reacted to that to that by dismissing it as impractical and unrealistic. They proposed that the major goal to be addressed should be develop more specific procedures for controlling use of the unit's library to reduce the number of resources that were frequently missing for extended periods of time without being checked out. The former group dismissed that proposal as trivial and of little consequence for the unit's overall improvement. After obtaining their VIEW results, discussing the differences among the task force members, and considering the value of respecting and building upon their style differences, the group developed new strategies for reviewing, analyzing, and discussing various proposals and suggestions. They also learned ways to use each other's strengths to "tame" some of their more unusual ideas to make them workable, and to expand the scope and originality of some of the narrower options, and to listen to each other's concerns and work to overcome them collaboratively.

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