Approaches to Change


Axelrod discusses in his book titled: Terms of Engagement, four approaches to change: i) Leader-driven approach, ii) Process-driven approach, iii) Team-driven approach, and iv) Change Management approach.

Leader-driven change is more suitable for small and medium enterprises with owner-managers. This approach works well when the manager or leader has all the necessary information and knowledge. Leader-driven changes tend to be directive and non-participative. Therefore this approach is less suitable when: a) the workforce is young and/or highly skilled, b) the business environment is complex and dynamic, and c) successful change requires active involvement of a number of people in the organization.

Process-driven changes are led by experts or outside consultants and supported by the leader; these changes are more common in large, bureaucratic organizations. This approach works well when the change requires technical or specialized expertise. Also being directive and non-participative, as in the case of leader-driven approach, this approach is therefore less suitable when: a) the workforce is young and/or highly skilled, b) the business environment is complex and dynamic, and c) successful change requires active involvement of a number of people in the organization.

Team-driven approaches are most common in large, manufacturing enterprises that have skilled and educated employees. Change management strategies—such as TQM, Quality Circles, and Six Sigma—exemplify this approach. These are highly participative change efforts that empower employees and provide them with involvement, participation and ownership of change. Team-based approaches that are properly executed can unleash enormous levels of employee energy and motivation. This can, in turn, lead to innovation and productivity gains. However, using this approach can also cause some discomfort for managers in an organization because they may not be used to sharing their power and authority with workers. Moreover, this approach requires managers to shift from a directive, authoritarian style based on power and expertise to a participative style based on persuasion, coaching and helping. More importantly, the team-based approach to execute change requires the establishment of a ‘parallel organization.’

The fourth approach to change is called the Change Management approach. This is a combination of expert-driven and team-driven approaches. Whereas the former provides a business and technical focus to change, the latter generates ownership, involvement and commitment. So as to gain this commitment, most specialists, experts and change management consultants have incorporated the parallel organization concept in their process-driven approach. The Change Management paradigm is the approach to change that most organizations use today. Although it seemingly seeks to integrate ownership of change with practical business focus, the Change Management approach has shortcomings. Instead of involvement and commitment, this approach breeds cynicism, bureaucracy and resistance. It actually disempowers employees, by reinforcing hierarchical top-down management.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Lectures, Line of Sight

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Creative Tension


Leadership in a learning organization starts with the principle of creative tension. Creative tension comes from seeing clealrly where we want to be, our “vision,” and telling the truth about where we are, “current reality.” The gap between the two generates a natural tension.

Creative tension can be resolved in two basic ways: by raising current reality toward the vision, or by lowering the vision toward current reality. Individuals, groups, and organizations who learn how to work with creative tension learn how to use the energy it generates to move reality toward their visions.

Without vision there is no creative tension. Creative tension cannot be generated from current reality alone. All the analysis in the world will never generate vision. Many who are otherwise qualified to lead fail to do so because they try to substitute analysis for vision. They believe that, if only people understood current reality, they would surely feel the motivation to change. They are then disappointed to discover that people “resist” the personal and organizational changes that must be made to alter reality. What they never grasp is that the natural energy for changing reality comes from holding a picture of what might be that is more important to people than what is.

But creative tension cannot be generated from vision alone; it demands an accurate picture of current reality as well. Vision without an understanding of current reality will more likely foster cynicism than creativity. The principle of creative tension teaches that an accurate picture of current reality is just as important as a compelling picture of a desired future.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

The Transformation Jigsaw Puzzle


The efforts of many companies to achieve transformational change have been counter-productive. Some of those who ‘believed’ or who ‘tried,’ now feel betrayed. There is insecurity, widespread disbelief and cynicism in many companies.

 One of the reasons why so many people question either the commitment of senior management to change, or the feasibility of transformation, is that they perceive that all the change elements that the necessary for successful transformation are not in place.

As well as critical success factors, some obvious areas are being over-looked. The document, whether physical or electronic, is the currency of a business, the signals that pass through the nerves of the organic network and trigger intelligent reactions. It is the means by which most activities happen. Yet many organizations are unaware of how much time and resource are devoted to this unrecognized area of business, the production and distribution of documents.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight