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Change Management: Why? When? What?
By Dr. Karine Schomer, President, CMCT

Rapid and continuous change is the reality of today's business life. Regardless of industry, the size of a business or its stage of development, companies have to cope with the dynamics of flux and instability, and business success depends on the ability of an organization to be flexible and resilient.

Business organizations and their employees need the knowledge of how to anticipate change, adapt to change, and proactively implement change if they are to stay aligned with the demands and opportunities of the evolving business environment.

Frequently, a business has to deal with change on many fronts at the same time: competitive pressures, stockholder expectations, globalization, product or service changes, changing technologies, business process changes, quality certifications, rapid growth or retrenchment, leadership and succession changes, restructurings, mergers and acquisitions, and changes in employee skills, demographics and expectations.

All successful organizations pass through major stages and crises as they evolve. It is typically at these junctures that change management interventions are most needed.

  1. Preparation for 2nd or 3rd round financing
  2. Transition to functional team management
  3. Post-IPO transition to being a publicly traded company
  4. Rapid growth stage in a growing market environment
  5. Transition to decentralized profit center structure
  6. Formalization of systems, structures and processes
  7. Changes in product or service focus
  8. Changes in business processes
  9. Changes in internal structure
  10. Leadership transitions
  11. Company certifications
  12. Retrenchment and downsizing
  13. Mergers and acquisitions

Change management is also needed at points when business organizations find themselves suffering from suffering from common symptoms such as customer complaints, production delays, runaway expenses, employee turnover, problem managers, turf battles, internal conflicts, poor morale, communication failures. These symptoms are frequently a sign that there are underlying root causes relating to leadership strategy, company mission and vision, corporate values and culture, management style, organizational structure, planning, decision-making, accountability, performance management, work processes, and employee policies.

Change efforts often fail because they attempt quick-fix solutions to the individual symptoms instead of identifying the root causes and designing changes that work on the organizational system as a whole. Change efforts also fail when they don't take into account all three dimensions of any change: the technical (what are we changing), the human (how will it affect people) and the organizational (how will it affect the rest of our organization). If any one of these dimensions is ignored, the likelihood is that the change will not achieve its intended purpose, and may create new problems without fully resolving the old ones.

Change management is the art and science of guiding and managing the implementation of change in a way that addresses the root causes of organizational issues, and achieves success in all three of the change dimensions. Change management helps analyze the organization's need and readiness for change, designs a change process that will minimize loss of productivity during the change, works constructively with the human reactions to change, and maximizes the long-term institutionalization of the change and the commitment of stakeholders to its success.

© 2002 Karine Schomer. All Rights Reserved.


For more information, contact CMCT, write to info@cmct.net, or call 510-525-9222.

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