Organisational Change and Management Development

Companies have to embrace change either in technology, processes, structure or managing style in order to stay current and competitive in the current climate. However, as Salerno and Brock (2008) put it, change only becomes a reality within a business or organisation when its individual members commit and carry out the new initiative, accommodate the new structure, follow the new system, or turn out the new product.

In order for individual members to make changes to their actions and behaviours, change projects have to be led by managers who have the necessary attributes to influence and to implement the projects. The following article argues that the alignment of managerial development and organisational change as parallel and linked activities could create good leaders and increase their competitiveness. This assessment is tasked to show whether argument is valid.

Article

Burnes, Bernard. “Managing change and changing managers from ABC to XYZ.” The Journal of Management Development. 22. no. 7 (2003): 627. Theme Organisational Change and Management Development Article Aim & Article Summary The article presents an argument that in an age where good leaders are at a premium, and where continuous changes appears to be the order of the day, organisations need for alignment organisational change and management development so as to maintain and increase their competitiveness. This article is split into 2 main components. It is led by the discussion on organisation change projects fails which the author largely attributes it to the absence of good leadership.

And the second part is a case study comparison of two companies ABC and XYZ to illustrate how different managerial approach affects the outcome of organisational changes. The article aims to present that since both managers and organisations have to develop constantly to remain competitive, both activities should be aligned so that managers can develop and hone their skills and organisation change projects will have a ready source of participants. Research Methodology – Accuracy, Reliability and Validity

For the first component on why change fails, the article relied heavily on secondary research based on quantitative methods obtained from other authors’ sources to substantiate the findings. Although the article have may have provided accurate reasons on why some major organisational changes adopted by some companies have failed, the validity of the findings are outdated. Some of the organisational changes initiated happened more than twenty years ago from the date of the article and throughout the years how people work and the way people perceive change and innovation have transformed drastically.

On the second component, qualitative research was performed through consulting engagement. Data was collected in the form observation of meetings, structured and semi-structured interviews with senior, middle and shop floor staff. For ABC company, the author serves as an adviser and considered it as a case study mode while for XYZ company; the author took on a participatory action research mode (Denzin and Lincoln, 1998).

The author provided an accurate assessment based his role of as an adviser to both companies for their planned organisational change. However, it is also his role as an engaged adviser which caused the case studies to be biased towards XYZ company. Analysis, Significance of the findings The article illustrated the importance of having good leadership in implementing organisational changes and argues that managers can hone their management skills through participation in organisational changes. It suggested that since it is beneficial for both the organisation and manager, both activities should be aligned.

The case studies provided further proved that without good leadership, large scale, radical organisational changes is not possible. While it is true that organisations could build its management development programs around the planned organisation changes. Large scale organisational changes may not be an ideal learning ground for managers who do not have the skills and competencies to lead change project. It exposes the organisations to risks of organisational change failure and creates unrealistic stress to managers who might not have the competencies and abilities to manage the change.

Strengths, Limitations/Weaknesses The article is well set out for readers to draw assumption that management activities and organisational changes can be aligned to increase managers’ capabilities and increase organisations competitiveness. However, on closer inspection, the article runs the risk of generalising its message as the assumption is only based on 2 case studies. The case studies does not fully explained whether the changes done by ABC company have failed after the management development project have been rejected by its managing director. The author also did not elaborate on the difficulties and problems that XYZ company experienced during the change implementation.

The first part of the article where the author describes why organisational changes failed is laden with excessive citations which make the reading very disruptive. The second part which is the case study however was written in a good pace and makes the reading more enjoyable. Conclusion The underlying message from the article is that organisational changes tend to fail with the absence of good leadership. And since it is vital that organisations and managers keep developing themselves to stay relevant and competitive, it is beneficial to align both activities strategically and operationally.

This theory is relevant in the event that the planned organisational changes are incremental and p over a period of time. Stewart (1996) explained that changing an organization towards some ideal form cannot be achieved overnight. Most OD programs are over 12 months in length and an average would lie somewhere between three to five years. As such, it will take a long time for organisations to measure and know whether the management development program is successful.

Although it is agreed that organisations can coincide organisational changes with management development exercises, the changes to be implemented should not be on a large scale to minimize the risks exposed by the organization in the event the managers could not perform up to par. For radical and large scale changes, Potts and LaMarsh (2004) stated that organisations require teams of change agents, not just individuals.

These teams need to be assembled and given charters and job descriptions that clearly set out their roles early in the change project so that they can operate effectively to make the change successful. Instead, management development projects can be centered around results-driven programs (Schaffer and Thomson 1998) which rely on incremental approach to change. Result-driven improvements require minimal investment and there is no excuse for postponing actions and results can be measured within a shorter time frame.

References

Black, J. Stewart, and Hal B. Gregersen. Leading Strategic Change – Breaking Through The Brain Barrier. New Jersey: FT Press, 2003.

Duck, Jeanie Daniel. “Managing Change: The Art of Balancing.” In Harvard Business Review on Change, 55-81. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1998.

Kotter, John P. Leading Change. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1996.

Kotter, John P. “Leading Change: Why Transformation Efforts Fail.” In Harvard Business Review on Change, 1-20. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1998.

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