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Change Management

Editor's Note to Readers

Welcome to the second edition of Human Capital Matters for 2014—the digest for leaders and practitioners with an interest in human capital and organisational capability. This edition focuses on Change Management. Human Capital Matters last reviewed literature related on Change Management in September 2013. The digest includes a range of material with an emphasis on emergent change and transformational change.

Human Capital Matters seeks to provide APS leaders and practitioners with easy access to the issues of contemporary importance in public and private sector human capital management and organisational capability. It has been designed to provide interested readers with a monthly guide to the national and international ideas that are shaping human capital thinking and practice. The inclusion of articles is aimed at stimulating creative and innovative thinking and does not in any way imply that the Australian Public Service Commission endorses service providers or policies.

Thank you to those who took the time to provide feedback on earlier editions of Human Capital Matters. Comments, suggestions or questions regarding this publication are always welcome and should be addressed to: humancapitalmatters [at] apsc.gov.au. Readers can also subscribe to the mailing list through this email address.

Contents

Ströh, U. An Experimental Study of Organisational Change and Communication Management, University of Pretoria, October 2004

This edition commences with a PhD thesis that attempts to clarify the importance of communication management particularly in the role relationship management in the broader context of organisational change. Although this work is a little dated it is included for its discussion on emergent approaches to change management.

Go to “An Experimental Study of Organisational Change and Communication Management”

Kotter, J. Barriers to change-the real reason behind the Kodak downfall, Forbes.com, February 2012

This is a very brief article linked to a video where Professor Kotter highlights the importance of maintaining a culture of innovation to support change in an organisation.

Go to “Barriers to change-the real reason behind the Kodak downfall”

Kotter, J. Leading Change, Harvard Business Review Press, 2012

Kotter has developed a list of factors that he believes lead to successful changes, and those that lead to failure. He has devised an 8 step method where the first four steps focus on de-freezing the organisation, the next three steps make the change happen, and the last step re-freezes the organisation with a new culture. He says that it is best if the 8 steps happen in order. This includes a link to the Amazon.com reader that will allow you to read part of the book.

Go to “Leading Change”

Government of Western Australia, Structural change management - A guide to assist agencies to manage change Structural Change Management, Published by the Public Sector Commission (Western Australia), May 2012

This guide has been developed to provide general guidance to Western Australian public sector agencies undertaking structural change.

Go to “Structural change management - A guide to assist agencies to manage change Structural Change Management”

Ströh, U. An Experimental Study of Organisational Change and Communication Management, University of Pretoria, October 2004

This is a PhD thesis that attempts to clarify the importance of communication management particularly in the role of relationship management in the broader context of organisational change.

Readers may be interested in different aspects of the thesis, however, it has been included in this digest because of Chapter 3 which covers emergent approaches to change management, in particular its exploration of emergent approaches to change management.

The characteristics of emergent approaches to change include:

  • Change is seen as a continuous process of learning to adapt to a turbulent environment.
  • Small-scale changes can lead to larger changes over time.
  • Managers should create a climate of risk taking and empower employees through participative management of change processes.
  • Managers should create a collective vision to direct the change process.
  • Key activities should be information gathering, communication and learning.

These approaches are based on building organisational capabilities for the long-run of the organisation.

Ursula Stroh submitted the thesis in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree Phd (Communication Management) in the Faculty of Economics and Management Sciences, University of Pretoria. The supervisor was Professor An Schreuder.

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Kotter, J. Barriers to change-the real reason behind the Kodak downfall, Forbes.com, February 2012

This article points out that there is more to effective change than strategic leadership. John Kotter focuses on the need to avoid complacency in an organisation. He uses Kodak's downfall as an example. He emphasises the need to maintain a culture of innovation. He argues that a key to this is to ensure that the innovators within the workplace are listened to at the top. He argues that a culture where innovators are not listened to leads to complacency. Kotter argues that complacency is key barrier to change. The dictionary is intended to assist organisations develop strategic people reporting measures that can help them to identify trends within their workforce which can directly impact the achievement of organisational goals. The dictionary provides 47 measures, each accompanied by an information sheet. These information sheets describe the measures in detail and provide a formula from which they can be derived. Each sheet contains technical discussion of their application, interpretation, analysis, data sourcing, limitations and targets, which may be best used by experienced HR practitioners.

John Kotter is the chief innovation officer at Kotter International, a firm that helps leaders accelerate strategy implementation. He is also the Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership, Emeritus, at Harvard Business School.

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Kotter, J. Leading Change, Harvard Business Review Press, 2012

The hyperlink provided will take you to the Amazon.com reader for this book. You will be able to read a portion without the need to purchase the book. This will assist you make a decision about whether you would like to read more. Kotter has written a new preface. The main points covered in the book that he highlights are:

  • The fundamental mistakes people make when leading major change are primarily the same as decades ago. Kotter attributes this to challenges growing faster than the skills of Executives.
  • There is still a need to understand that management is not leadership. Kotter notes that management makes systems work, whereas leadership builds systems or transforms old ones.
  • The basics of the kinds of structures and capabilities to sustain major change are still not sufficiently well understood by the majority of managers and leaders.

Kotter has developed a list of factors that he believes lead to successful changes, and those that lead to failure. He has devised an 8 step method where the first four steps focus on de-freezing the organisation, the next three steps make the change happen, and the last step re-freezes the organisation with a new culture. He says that this works best if the 8 steps happen in order. The second part of the book focuses on the 8 steps:

  • establishing a sense of urgency
  • creating the guiding coalition
  • developing a vision and strategy
  • communicating the change vision
  • empowering employees for broad based action
  • generating short-term wins
  • consolidating gains and generating more change
  • anchoring new approaches in the culture.

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Government of Western Australia, Structural change management - A guide to assist agencies to manage change Structural Change Management, Published by the Public Sector Commission (Western Australia), May 2012.

This guide Structural change management has been developed to provide general guidance to Western Australian public sector agencies undertaking structural change. It is not intended to be a comprehensive summary of the literature on change management but rather to provide practical guidance and information on managing structural change. The guide draws on contemporary literature, guides from other jurisdictions, and the extensive experience of chief executive officers.

A change to the structure is usually only one element of a change program. Often there are revised business processes and policies, legislative implications, new infrastructure (including technology), and changed lines of accountability or skill requirements. Although the structural change is only one element, if not designed well, or implemented successfully, it can in itself derail the whole change effort.

As each public sector agency is unique, so should the process for change be unique.

The scope and extent of the change, the culture, the context and the characteristics of the agencies involved influence each and every change. However, there are some common features of successful change.

The guide notes that while each public sector organisation needs to consider the best way to approach change, there are common change management principles that characterise successful change.

The extent to which those principles are exhibited will vary, depending on the extent and nature of the change. The principles for managing successful structural change are:

  1. clearly defined rationale and vision of the change is understood
  2. Stakeholders are identified, appropriately consulted and informed.
  3. The system and processes developed to achieve the change are transparent.
  4. Collective and collaborative leadership is empowered.
  5. There is a dedicated focus on people.
  6. The change is systematically reviewed and adapted.

The guide proceeds to advise that no single process is suitable for all structural change. However, there are some common interlocking process steps that should be followed. The process is not typically linear; the steps interlock and merge, allowing one step to begin prior to another being completed. The steps comprise design, deliver, dialogue, do and evaluate.

Ensuring the process steps are included in structural change will contribute towards a successful change outcome. Conversely, some common obstacles can prevent successful change. Any agency undergoing structural change should be aware of these obstacles and ensure that when designing their change approach that consideration is given to how to overcome them. The following obstacles have been drawn from general change efforts. However, they can be applied to structural change as well. The common impediments to successful change are:

  • a lack of a governance structure
  • a lack of role modelling by leaders
  • under-communication of the vision
  • declaring success too soon.

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