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Reflection – Jun Shao

by on December 1, 2007

Different Approaches in Change Management

An executive MSIM student Jill explored change management in Jazz metaphor and found that both the traditional model of Benny Goodman and the complex adaptive system (CAS) model of Count Basie were successful during changes. Also, she presented a real case of Philips Inc. that the Seattle team has to follow the traditional change process of their German colleagues. In those stories people are not restricted to certain approaches. The approach selection is based on change situations.

Organization Scale
Philips Inc. has 128,000 employees over 100 sites all around the world while some small companies have less than 10 employees. Their change approaches are quite different. Size is the key variable that influences change strategies followed in organizations. The more organizations grow in size, the more they will have to be more controlled and have mechanistic structure in place. Large organizations would also be more formalized in their processes. [1] The reverse was that the smaller the organization, the more it was likely to follow more organic and flexible approaches to change. That is why small organizations are always agile in facing changes while large organizations stick to traditional approaches of change management. In an organization, such as Philips Inc., the small team in Seattle is more adoptive in change process than the one of 100 people in Germany.

Change Diversity
Some changes are easily to be influenced by many factors, for example, the amount of players, the environmental conditions, and competitor’s responses. While others do not have the inertia, political power play or the history of previous relationships that could influence them. The former require power distribution and are always slow in response. While in the latter case, the nature of strategy formulation is more instantaneous and centrally controlled. Globalization exposed organizations in the context of world activities and the number of factors which will influence changes increase tremendously. For example, Airbus draws on a global network of more than 1,500 suppliers in over 30 countries. [2] They have to follow different business models and local policies.

Changes can be expected. The traditional approach is to set goals and then plan to reach them. Nowadays in a fast-paced world, with a great number of change variables, change is not as predictable as it used to be. Instead of defining targets, we are now paying more attention to what underlies changes, such as principles, rules, and processes. Kotter offered us an eight stage change process instead of solution plans in his books.

I have only listed some factors above that we might use to consider approaches during change management. There is no better approach or unsuitable one. Like clothes, we select what fits in certain situations. Even there is a trend of adaptive approaches to adjust to this volatile world. We might still choose approaches case by case.

[1] Robbins, S. P. & Barnwell, N.(2002) Organization theory: Concepts and cases, Pearson Education Australia, French Forest, NSW.
[2] Airbus, an EADS Company . (2007). Airbus – Corporate Information – People and organisation – Company structure. Retrieved Nov. 29, 2007, from

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