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Reflection – Gints Salaks

by on November 21, 2007

Reflection – Gints Salaks

Every day we go to work, to school, shopping and don’t even realize how much our environment changes. We pass by so many structures and assume that they don’t change, but reality is that everything in our lives change, but the only difference is that we decide at what speed the shutter clicks. The same can be applied to the companies. When you are within the organization, it seems that processes don’t change fast enough and you just find out about the change from outside source – like newspapers and TV. For the past 6 month, I have been doing my internship and have noticed some change within my organization, but the speed of change within seems much slower than seeing it from the outside. We are so used to the surrounding environment that only when something big happens, we say “Ahh, what a change!”

The authors John P. Kotter and Dan S. Cohen in “The Hearts of Change” have many great points in their book, but what I would like to add or suggest is that organizational change should start not at the top of the company as the authors usually indicate, but from the bottom, the work bee level. Many employees of large corporations have outlived their hirers and CEOs and have experienced many so called “transitions”. Many C-level executes have come in as raging bulls and have left the company as quick as they came, but changes have been left hanging in the air. Personally, I would like to see statistics of how many companies have failed on their change management, but I believe that there are more unsuccessful transformations than there are successful ones.

After reading book “The Heart of Changes”, I came to many conclusions and in many cases I have to disagree with the author’s point of view. Even though the book was astonishingly well written, it lacked some deeper understanding of what causes the change and who is the actual work bee of change. In 99% of stories, the book addresses the heroism of the CEO, upper manager or the company’s founder, but let’s not forget that in many cases the change is caused by the everyday worker. Even though the workers are often uninformed about the future vision of the company or direction, they are the true movers towards that goal and they deal directly with the change. I would like to compare that to a war – soldiers are in front, directly engaging the generals and seeing the true war while generals are cozy sitting in their bunkers and directing them were to strike.

Everyday we can observe in the news that some union or organization goes to strike. Or about how product gets recalled or somebody gets food poisoning. The question is: Why was it there in the first place? Usually C-level execute comes in front of the TV and says that he will do anything to change his organization and make it better so that this doesn’t happen again. I noticed from in-class discussions that many CEOs are simply too busy traveling, creating new networks, selling the products and spend less time looking at the organization itself. Many times “work bee’s” voices, opinions, suggestions get ignored and forgotten. But when the real problem comes up, the CEO or someone from management is ready to step in and change the organization.

Today many modern and open-minded companies have shifted their behaviors and do implements management of change. They do listen to their employees and apply bottom up structure, but it doesn’t happen quick enough. Large corporations are less agile to change because it takes more power to start the wheels. Where smaller enterprises are quicker to adapt to the demand and change more frequently and effectively. Every company once was small and agile, but when it rose to the top, it got too big and sluggish, as the result, they make customers change rather than changing itself.

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