Change for the Sake of Change

There is an old joke, how many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb, only one, but the light bulb must really want to change. It is similar for organizations. Change can take great effort for an individual; an organization is a collection of connected individuals, which makes the change more complicated and difficult. Why, then, undertake change for the sake of change? If there is no specific goal or objective for the organization, some improvement, some benefit, why undertake the change? Why would a company spend time, talent, and resources to make the change? The answer, they would not. However, as we discussed in organizational shifts, we know that organizations do change for the sake of change or, better stated, so that someone can feel they have left their mark on the organization.

Change for Improvement

We have discussed change for the sake of change, change caused by organizational shifts, and change due to societal changes. We would be remiss if we did not at least discuss the real reason that a change should be implemented. Most organizations are in some sort of competitive environment, some companies more subjected to this than others. In response to this competitive pressure, the organization will adapt to the circumstances to ensure the company is truly a long-term endeavor. This may require constant adapting to forces external and internal to the organization, as well as the short- and long-term goals of that organization. It would be folly to believe that an organization will only need to change one thing and be done with the change. It is also folly to believe that simply saying “the organization needs to bring products to market faster” works.

Know your Gear Pattern

There are many things that impact the way our company works and therefore the best way to introduce changes to the company will require considering these other attributes that influence the way the organization works, navigating those that help and those obstacles that hinder our change initiatives.

■ Organization structure - the structure of the organization influences and can easily hinder our change objectives. Consider the functional organization, often referred to as a silo or stove pipe organizational structure. Communication between the departments is often difficult; competing priorities between those team’s present challenges as well. The problems that arise from this competitive environment may have been solved via compromise or another approach which may have led to a sub-optimized solution.

■ Management philosophy - the company’s approach to management will have implications on the way we approach the change. For example, a command and control approach would require an approach that differs from an organization that has long established roots in employee empowerment.

■ Market demands - also can be the pressures of delivery on our organization and can distract or corrupt our change management initiatives. Unless we connect the daily work with the change we want to have happen in our organization, we can expect to see some resistance. The more stressed our people are by the demand of the job, for example throughput demands, the less available they may be for the change.

■ Legal constraints - if our company produces products that are subject to legal constraints, the uncertainty of these uncertainties likely do us no favors when it comes to the change.

■ Pre-existing policies and procedures - our company has some associated inertia in part comes from the processes and procedures used to perform the work. A company may work diligently to ingrain the present way of working, and to move from one way of doing the work to another can take time and changing of habits the company once thought to be beneficial.

■ Geographic distribution — organizational change must also consider the geographic distribution of the company, which would include things such as specific language and social norms for the region. If the work of the company requires these various geographic regions to work together rather than being separate and unique entities, we have further communications and logistical complications to our organization change.

■ Socioeconomic construct - an organization may be the proverbial big fish in the town when it comes to employment. In these cases, the company may have considerable leverage or ability to push the desired change onto the employees. If the company is the best employer in the town, and people do not wish to leave that town, the employee is, so to say, captive.

Selecting the Right Change Management Strategy

Like any endeavor the best chance for success is matching a strategy to the strengths and away from any weaknesses. Weighted and unweighted decision tools such as Pugh matrix can help in the decision-making process, as well as decision trees, Strength, Weakness, Opportunity and Threat analysis, and other decision critiquing methods.

Selecting the best strategy may not be so easily determined even using these tools. There may be times when these tools provide no solace or help at arriving at the best solution. No matter the approach taken, it is necessary to take measurements of key variables. Those variables depend entirely upon the objectives and goals of the organization. It is not possible to provide a prescription without understanding the attributes of the company as well as the objectives of that company. No matter

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There has been a movement toward self-directed work teams

Figure 4.7 There has been a movement toward self-directed work teams.

the objective, the strategy, or the associated risks, measurements will inform the status of the work, and this can be compared to the end objective where alteration of strategy or tactics is taken.

There are limits to these tools and techniques. The outcome is only as good as the critical thinking and effort put into the assessment. Not matter how the strategy is derived, identifying specific measurements that are associated with the desired improvement area will be prudent. In this way, it is possible to assess the efforts put forth against the objective, providing some feedback regarding the suitability of the efforts undertaken to meet the objective.

Unintended Consequences of Change

It should be clear after the previous chapters that things happen in which we could have never conceived or envisioned the consequences. Therefore, our explorations should be incremental, testing out those things we think we know, without exposing the entire organization to the risk of change that is not well considered. It is true that it is not possible to predict the total range of unintended things that can happen in the course of our doing the work. That is the reason we run these exploratory testings; we consider those results before we set about inculcating this change to the organization at large.

Of course, there are times when the unintended consequence is favorable or represents an opportunity upon which we can build or extend the improvement. In these cases, we can work to understand the nature of the opportunity (positive unintended consequences) and determine if this discovery is something accidental or perhaps in fact serendipity due to the exploration we have undertaken. If it is serendipity, it may be that this is not really an opportunity but some random event that coincides with the effort of improvement we have undertaken.

Management Effect on Change

Management likely means different things to different people. There are probably as many definitions of management as there are people, and equally as many opinions or perspectives about what constitutes good management. To be sure what was considered effective management 30 years ago would be considered by and large ineffective by today’s standards.

To be sure, management must be behind the change and plays a significant part in the change. However, there is a line between helpful, and overbearing, [here are many management styles, some of which will aid learning, facilitate experimentation and learning, and other styles will squash exploration, experimentation, and learning. The range of management expression that can be employed organizations have a variety of structures and there has been movement toward empowerment via self-directed work teams. These teams do not have a single person sanctioned as a leader from the organization. Rather, the leadership is more nebulous and depending upon the situation or circumstances rather than a person defined by the organization as the lead.

Laissez-Faire Management

Management must take a hand when it comes to ensuring the organization, individuals, and the systems have a focus that is convergent or congruent. There may be times when management should take a more hands-off approach, this is called Laissez-Faire (an policy of letting things take their own course - non-interference). However, management has responsibilities to the organization, employees and shareholders. Should it be possible that management can have this approach?

Intrusive Management

Intrusive management is sometimes colloquially referred to as seagull management. It is the name of the management philosophy that refers to the manager that flies in, squawks and craps on everything and then flies off. Intrusive management can

Management style has impacts on the work and the relationships

Figure 4.8 Management style has impacts on the work and the relationships.

interfere with team learning as the manager directs and defines the actions the team is to take. This sometimes missing and sometines heavily directing are not consistent and not helpful for team development.

Authoritarian Management

Authoritarian management is sometimes required, but when it comes to experiments and learning by doing the work, this is not the management style. Authoritarian management, if ever, is for times when the organization is exposed to serious risks, damage to customers and employees, or exposure to costly legal actions and then it may require authoritarian approaches. Experience suggests that authoritarian management style does not allow room for team learning, that much of this style consists of command and control and directed work. This command and control approach has an advantage for acutely time sensative actions, but it is not a helpful approach when it comes to experimentation and learning This managemnet style prizes objective and immediacy over learning and experimentation.

Consultative Management (Democratic)

Consultative management is an approach wherein the management does not take a unilateral decision on how to proceed without the team members. Consultative management approach will be one that empowers the employees to contribute their ideas; in fact, it is not just desired but it is expected. This is exactly the opposite of the authoritarian approach to management. The manager does not set instructions; there may be organization process assets to which the tean must comport, but there may be times when either this process documentation does not exist, or cannot be exactly executed according to the process standard, thus allowing space for learning and creation.

When it comes to continuous improvement effort, consultative management also is part of any organization improvement. For example, root cause analysis is not the sort of thing that comes from a management structure but from those closely tied to the work. Prudent management approaches will try to get as many varied inputs to organization improvement as possible, and then use some mechanism to evaluation for benfit and probablity of success.


Coaching management approach considers the talent and competencies of the team members, and works to develop these. This style of leadership is like the coach of a sports team, they help the individual team members increase and inprove their respective competencies and capabilities, and the capabilities of the department or company. The coach works to evoke identify organization objectives and goals from the team member as well as uncover actions to take to achieve those goals. In this way, the coach is helping the team member achieve their objectives by ensuring the individual gets project work that helps the individual to grow and develop those skills to be able to achieve their goals as well as that of the organization.


Visionary leaders inspire and tap into the emotional component of the work and the objectives of the work that is presently underway. The visionary connects the individual to the work creating a bond with the individual and the goals and objectives. As the name indicates, the visionary works to create and establish a vision of the organization. The vision is not very helpful if the vision remains in the head of the manager. It is therefore important the vision be articulated sufficiently to engage the team members. There are limits to this leadership style, for example, this vision focus is on a long time horizon, and is not good for the short term or immediate activities or effort.


There is arguably a new approach to the work at some companies collectively referred to as agile. In agile (a variant of which is a scrum), the team is empowered and as close to self-organizing as an organization can get. There is a responsibility within that agile within this approach known as scrum master. The scrum master helps the team to organize the work and help to solve problems. The role of the scrum master is a servant leadership role. This approach, when executed well, can go a long way to building team morale, along with helping the team members find work within the project that more closely matches the desires and motivating work for that individual.

A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves. - Lao Tzu


This style of leadership is employed when quick progress is required. We need fast results. These leaders are focused on performance, specifically output and throughput. This leadership approach requires a team that is well established and more to the point well trained in their respective craft. This is not a style that is conducive to learning on the job, as what is prized is the speed of execution and fast results. Learning requires time to explore and assimilate what is observed.


Transformational and coaching styles are similar, both require constant and clear communication with a focus on identification and achievement of goals. Like the pacesetter, an emphasis is placed on maintaining morale; however, unlike the pacesetter and the focus on the goals of the individual, the focus is on the organization’s objectives. Transformational leaders, because of their focus on the organization objectives, will need significant delegation of areas of responsiblity. Therefore, this type of leadership requires that the level of capability of each team member match that of the delegated responsibility. This can be a great opportunity for team learning, as the team members will need to be empowered to accomplish the objectives, and since the focus is on the objectives and the end results, the methods may not be dictated. The exception may be in the case of mandatory processes and adherence.


Transactional leaders will focus on the performance and provide incentives for that performance. The leader or manager will establish the rewards for specific performance, usually monetary. The reward system can have negative implications, driving behavior contrary to the organization’s objectives and goals.


Bureaucratic leaders focus on the procedures and policies of the company. This makes the style a bit comparable to autocratic style. Bureaucratic styles focus more on doing things by process and procedures and autocratic styles are more driven from command and control of the leader. There will be a formalized area of responsibility that goes along with the process and proecedures. In this way, any learning by an individual will likely be in their area of responsiblity and by dint of execution in the form of the processes. This can dampen cross functional learning.

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