Levers of Change

While there are very few general rules in organizational change, some general principles hold true for all organizations. A good place to start for most organizations in competitive, dynamic environments is to look at the four levers of change. These are technology, quality, costs and marketing—four areas that can be targeted for change.


Technology does not refer only to tools, equipment and machinery. It also includes information, knowledge, and activities that are involved in the physical transformation of inputs into outputs. The outputs may be products or services. Any physical transformation task has a choice of technologies associated with it. In a business environment characterized by increased global competition, management of technology has become a major area of concern for organizations.


Quality is all about meeting or exceeding customer expectations. It is a critical element in any change effort because customers are the ultimate judge of the success of the change effort. If the change does not result in products and services that meet or exceed customer expectations, it has obviously not achieved its purpose.


Costs or productivity constitutes the third lever of change. In today’s business environment, customers are very cost-conscious and are unwilling to pay for products or services that do not meet their expectations. With increased competition, they have more choices. Consequently, they are no longer dependent on a single supplier or a few suppliers for products and services. Widening the choice has resulted in customers demanding more value for their money. A challenge for most organizations is to enhance quality while reducing costs. This requires carefully planned processes, systems and work habits.


Marketing refers to the mechanisms for delivering products and services to the customer. It includes: attracting new customers to your organization’s offerings; retaining existing and new customers; and examining your distribution channels, marketing structures and procedures.


Each of these levers is supported by a set of structures, processes and procedures such as human resource practices. Any changes in the levers will also require corresponding changes in these structures, processes and procedures. In the first phase of appreciation, it is not necessary to work out these details but you need to be aware of the linkages that need to be strengthened at the implementation stage.


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