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Change management: a survival kit?. Presentation by Dr Judith Broady-Preston, Department of Information Studies, Aberystwyth University (copyright retained) to the Joint HLG Wales & IFMH Study Day, Friday 8 May 2009, Angel Hotel, Cardiff. Introduction.

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change management a survival kit

Change management: a survival kit?

Presentation by

Dr Judith Broady-Preston, Department of Information Studies, Aberystwyth University (copyright retained)

to the

Joint HLG Wales & IFMH Study Day, Friday 8 May 2009, Angel Hotel, Cardiff


Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.

Barack Obama, speech, Feb. 5, 2008

Wisdom lies neither in fixity nor in change, but in the dialectic between the two.

Octavio Paz

After you’ve done a thing the same way for two years, look it over carefully. After five years, look at it with suspicion. And after ten years, throw it away and start all over

Alfred Edward Perlman, New York Times, 3 July 1958

  • Nature of change
  • Change and emotion – resistance to change
    • “Public sector executives face unique obstacles in leading organisational change, in part because of entrenched civil service bureaucracies, procedural constraints such as managing performance and firing employees, and dealing with many different stakeholders with competing priorities”

Fenlon – Financial Times, 22 November 2002

  • Tools and techniques
  • Recipes and ethics
change categorisation
Change: categorisation










discontinuous change
Discontinuous change

“We are entering an Age of Unreason,

when the future, in so many areas, will be

shaped, by us and for us; a time when

the only prediction that will hold true is

that no predictions will hold true; a time

therefore, for bold imaginings in private life as

well as public, for thinking the unlikely and

doing the unreasonable.” (Handy, C. (1991) The Age of

Unreason. London: Random House.)

  • Increasing pace of change
  • Change from within - baby boomers, skills obsolescence, ageing equipment/technology
  • Forces of change
    • Relationship with, and the impact of factors creating an increasingly volatile external environment
    • Increasing demands for quality and higher levels of customer service and satisfaction
    • Greater flexibility in organisational structures and management patterns
    • Changing nature/composition of the workforce
    • Conflict from within organisations
forces driving change creating conflict
Forces driving change: creating conflict
  • Czerniawska study (2005) (adapted from and quoted in Mullins, (2007), Management and Organisational Behaviour, p. 734):
    • Outsourcing,together with continual redefinition of an organisation's core business
    • Fragmentation of work, together with distribution of work across different locations, people and organisations
    • Changing demographics and expectations, creating an employees, rather than employers’, market
    • Technology, described as a double-edged sword, enabling people to do more, but tempting organisations to do too much
  • All the above creates CONFLICT between organisations and individuals
  • NB May 2009 – add ‘TED’ (The Economic Downturn)!
change and emotion
Change and emotion
  • Responses to enforced change = emotional
  • Use of stories and analogies can create detachment:
    • Sources: -
      • E.g. the businessman and the fisherman (KitKat ad)
    • Aesop’s Fables:-
      • E.g. The Ass and the Mule (agree to reasonable change now or you can risk far worse enforced change in the future)
      • The Rich Man and the Tanner, (time softens change - given time people get used to things)
  • Nothing new!
    • F B Loughridge (1979) “Against the Self Image of the Trade: Some Arguments Against Computers in Libraries” Assistant Librarian
resistance to change
Resistance to change

“an inability, or an unwillingness, to discuss or accept organizational changes that are perceived in some way damaging or threatening to the individual.”

(Huczynski and Buchanan (2007) Organizational Behaviour, 6th ed., p.598)

NB New edition due 1 July 2009.

causes of resistance to change
Causes of resistance to change
  • Parochial self-interest (“I don’t want to be pushed out of my comfort zone”)
  • Misunderstanding and lack of trust (“Why are you asking me to do this?” Conspiracy theorists?)
  • Contradictory assessments (You might think this is good, but I don’t”)
  • Low tolerance for change (“I can’t cope with the uncertainty/anxiety”)

(adapted from Bedeian, 1980, quoted in Huczynski and Buchanan, 2007, p.597-599)

13 sources of resistance eccles 1994
ignorance (failure to understand the problem)

comparison (solution is disliked because alternative is preferred)

disbelief (feeling proposed solution will not work)

loss (change has unacceptable personal costs)

inadequacy (rewards from change = insufficient)

anxiety (fear of being unable to cope with new solution)

demolition (change threatens to destroy existing social arrangements)

power cut (sources of influence/control will be eroded)

contamination (new values/practices = repellent)

inhibition (willingness to change is low)

mistrust (suspicion of management motives for change)

alienation (other interests more highly valued than new proposals)

frustration (change will reduce power and career opportunities)

13 sources of resistance (Eccles, 1994)
overcoming resistance 1
Overcoming resistance (1)
  • 6 techniques (Kotter and Schlesinger, 1979)
    • Education and commitment
    • Participation and involvement (participative management and change)
    • Facilitation and support – counselling, therapy for staff
    • negotiation and agreement – negotiated, compromise change
    • Manipulation and co-optation – getting resistors ‘onside’ covertly
    • Implicit and explicit coercion – transfer, demotion, career blocking, sacking strategies
overcoming resistance 2
Overcoming resistance (2)
  • Stakeholder analysis
    • identifying and addressing needs of ALL affected by change
    • Recognising different needs require different approaches
  • Process
    • Compile list of all stakeholders affected by proposed change
    • Establish win/lose scenario of each one
    • Focus on potential benefits to strengthen support for change
    • Address concerns by negotiation and compromise
overcoming resistance 3 egan s stakeholder categories 1994
partners – supporters of your change

allies – supporters, if given encouragement

fellow travellers – passive; committed to the agenda but not you

fencesitters –not clear where their allegiances lie

loose cannons – dangerous; may vote against agendas in which they have no direct interest

opponents – oppose agenda but not you personally

adversaries – oppose you & your agenda

bedfellows – support agenda but may not trust you

voiceless – those affected, but who lack advocates and power to promote or oppose change

Overcoming resistance (3): Egan’s stakeholder categories (1994)
leaders and resistance to change
Leaders and resistance to change
  • Hooper and Potter study (1999) good change leaders:
      • effectively communicate change
      • develop open communications culture
      • champion innovation and creativity
      • set good personal example
      • avoid unnecessary stress by well-planned timing
  • Drucker view (1999):
    • “one cannot manage change. One can only be ahead of it. We do not hear much anymore about “overcoming resistance to change”. Everyone now accepts that change is unavoidable.”
change variables change elements matrix jisc 2008
Change variables: change elements matrix (JISC, 2008)
  • This tool provides decision-makers with a picture of the potential consequences if the change is, is not, or is partially implemented in each of a range of variables
  • Examples of variables are shown in blue. You may wish to tailor these to coincide with your own circumstances (next slide).
  • Available to download from:
managing the change cycle based on bryson 2006
Denial (1)



Resistance (2)



Exploring (3)



Commitment (4)

new forms

new balance

Managing the change cycle (based on Bryson, 2006)
effective management of change
Effective management of change
  • Step 1: Acknowledgement and understanding of the human element in an organisation
  • Step 2: Appreciate the influence of organisational structure and management style
  • Step 3: Successful change is facilitated by consideration of HRM concerns:
    • Change and HRM - 4 areas:
      • Communication and information sharing
      • Staff involvement and participation
      • Training and development
      • Job design
  • Mechanistic/planned vs. radical/dynamic
  • Pundits identify recipes – the ‘n-step recipe for change’ approach – e.g. Lewin’s three step model (1951):
    • Unfreeze (current situation)
    • Move (desired future state)
    • Refreeze (embed and stabilise the change)
  • Relationship between change management and
    • project management
    • leadership and conflict
  • Is it neat, tidy, rational, and logical?
recipe approach

codifies what research and practical experience suggest are main factors contributing to effective change, even if much of this = ‘common sense’

gives a framework/checklist of requirements for those planning change


research and experience confirm change is: - messy, untidy, politicised, seemingly irrational BUT ‘recipe approach’ assumes logical linear process. Presumption if change is messy must be because managers have failed to follow the recipe.

theoretically weak because looks backwards and not at how organisational processes may be changing themselves

Recipe approach
ethical change
Ethical change?
  • A contradiction in terms?
  • Dodds, S. (2007) "Three Wins: Service Improvement using Value Stream Design“ 2nd ed. is the story of how a small team of health care professionals re-invented the way they worked. The book charts the successful redesign of the Vascular Surgery Outpatient Clinic at Good Hope Hospital, in North-East Birmingham from 2000-2004, which was subsequently rolled-out across the region during 2005.
  • Claimed outcomes are:
    • a better service to patients - Do you want a Win for QUALITY
    • a skilled, motivated and enthusiastic team - Do you want a Win for FUN?
    • and a substantial cost saving in treatment costs - Do you want a Win for COSTS?

(Source : (Accessed 1 May 2009)