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Reflection – Sinsath Shameer

by on November 20, 2007

Is it possible to say if a particular change management initiative was a success or a failure?

Throughout this course, we have been exploring change management in depth and have been analyzing change management based on real world experience. One interesting fact that I noticed is that it is really difficult to say if a change management initiative was a success or a failure based on the immediate outcome. Sometimes what seems like a success comes with its own package of side effects and sometimes a change management that was perceived as a failure happens to be a success in a period of time. What you can say is that this particular initiative was a success or a failure for this particular period of time since it’s really hard to understand the future implications of any initiative. It is also a matter of bringing your own perspective and how this change management initiative affects you personally.

Hence it is best for an outsider of the company to analyze the event from a fresh and unbiased perspective. We had extensively researched on ‘Apple’ for our term paper. It is one of the best examples of change in an organization. Both the changes that Apple had to go through with the firing of Steve Jobs and later bringing him back to the company after many years is a successful case of change management as we think of now. Soon after Jobs was fired in 1989, Apple stocks went up and the company did pretty well under John Sculley till 1992.

Sculley then seemed to lose interest in the company with his involvement in politics and had to step down in 1993. Apple had to face many adversities after this and business fared badly. I wonder if the oust of Jobs earlier and making Sculley the CEO would have been interpreted as a failed change management case during this period. I am sure the case would have been analyzed by different people differently. People who were affected badly by the drop in profits would have thought that Jobs shouldn’t have been made to quit but those who had bad relations with Jobs and those who were victims of his abuse wouldn’t have considered the oust of Jobs as a failed change management case no matter what the consequences were. So it all depends on who analyzes the situation; and what is their stand on a particular issue and how it affects them.

Finally when Jobs was brought back into the company, it turned out to be a turning point for Apple and the company has been remarkably growing since then. He seemed to be a much better businessman the second time and also seemed to be a bit more considerate to his employees than before. So now the whole event about ousting of Jobs and making Sculley the CEO seems like a successful case of change management. The events unfolded in a number of years and if this is the end, Apple it’s a happy ending for Apple. But no one can say what future has in hold and it is highly possible that with the new events that might crop up in the journey of Apple; the company will be analyzed in a different way by someone with a different frame of mind.

So in a nutshell, change is a journey and not a destination. Change brings with it various outcomes and you can analyze an event based on the outcomes for a particular period of time. It is highly possible that you will analyze the same change initiative differently with the new outcomes that it produces over the course of several years. A case can be analyzed differently based on the point of time that you are in.

Apple Confidential 2.0: the definitive history of world’s most colorful company, Owen W. Linzmayer, No Starch Press, San Fransisco, California, 2004
Class discussions

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