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Reflection – Sinsath Shameer

by on October 22, 2007

Is fear the primary source as well as sustaining force of change?

There was a discussion in week 2 of the class on whether fear is the primary source as well as the sustaining force for a change.
I believe that fear results in a sense of urgency and this leads to initiating any change and this fear is again responsible for sustaining this change. Human beings strive on this and unless there is fear of competition, unless there is fear of losing the market, unless there is fear of not being able to maintain its reputation why would an organization need to change?

Company executives would be happy the way things are going. Why would there be any need to implement a new change or to grow the organization if they got all they want out of the business. The constant pressure to be one the top of the game, to be successful and to be profitable makes the organization seek for new and innovative ideas and hence an implementation of a new change strategy to improve and conduct itself in this competitive market.

One of the examples that someone suggested in class involves the 9/11 attacks. Since the attacks, the administration has been on high alerts to thwart any impending danger which ultimately resulted in the controversial Iraq war. The fear of being hit by WMD made the government to make the hasty decision to go for the war and there has been no easy way out for the administration with the current state in Iraq. How else can you can you justify this war based on a threat that was not clear, not direct and not imminent?

How many corporate transformations that are implemented by organizations are successful? Organizations must be aware that fear is a contributing factor for change and rather than reducing fear organizations should enhance the transformation process by harnessing fear to quickly change behavior. It is necessary to retain and communicate fear in order to have a rapid and long lasting organizational transformation. This doesn’t mean that you should dictate and rule the employees with fear, but what is necessary is to educate the employees about the dangers of not implementing the change, make them aware of your fears and the support that you need from them in this hour of crisis. Make them aware of how they would be affected if the change is not implemented. Your intention is not to create panic within the organization but to communicate in such a way that the employees understand the seriousness of the situation and you get their support along the way.

As mentioned earlier, communication is the key ingredient which enables the executives to stay in touch with the reality of the organization. Constant communication with the employees and reinforcing the initial ideas of the dangers of not implementing the change would create a sense of alertness among the employees and would enable them to stay focused on the change management initiative and to sustain the same.

References:
Class discussion
John P. Kotter and Dan S. Cohen, Heart of Change,
http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1235&context=cahrswp

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