The concept of change management is fast gaining prominence in the corporate area and government. Change management is maturing and becoming increasingly engrained in the day-to-day practices of corporate life. Proper application of change management in a firm results in greater engagement and participation of people in the whole change process, who in turn work as a team towards a common established objective to realize meaningful benefits and deliver results (Connelly, 2010). The following represent three notable trends in change management in the business management field at present:
i) Increased acknowledgement of the significance of change management
A growing number of modern corporate leaders are increasingly acknowledging the role and importance of change management concepts in the current globalized and technological business environment. As a result, more progressive corporate leaders are placing greater value on change management along with its contribution to the overall planning and success of business initiatives and projects (Connelly, 2010). In addition to greater acceptance, business leaders are increasingly attaching more legitimacy to the practices and competencies of change management.
ii) Increased utilization of techniques, tools and language
There is observed increase in the adoption of change management-related structures and techniques, especially in the development of new generation in-house competencies (Kotter International, 2012). In addition, there is growing use of the various corresponding technologies, tools and common language in corporate leadership following prescriptions of change management theories.
iii) Growing engagement and earlier incorporation with project management
More and more business leaders around the world are introducing change management into their project management programs at an early stage as opposed to later phases (Connelly, 2010). Indeed, project managers are increasingly seeking change management resources and support throughout entire project lifecycle.
Benefits and Challenges of Change Management Theories
Accepting change is often difficult for employees and the organization itself. Change management theories serve to provide guidelines follow and determine expected outcomes. There are three main change management theories/models that most companies use: Lewin’s Change Management Theory, McKinsey 7-S Model, and Kotter’s 8 Step Change Model (Kotter International, 2012).
i) Lewin’s Change Management Theory/Model
Developed by psychologist Kurt Lewin in 1950s, this model argues that most people prefer and function with certain parameters of safety, it involves unfreezing resistance to change through motivation, transitioning through sufficient leadership and reassurance, and refreezing change by operating under new accepted and implemented guidelines (Turner & Crawford, 1998). This model is easy to use and therefore most organization prefer it in enacting major changes across the organization. However, the main challenge with this model is that requires notably long period of time for successful implementation.
ii) McKinsey 7-S Model
This model provides a holistic approach to management of an organization. It has four main benefits: it provides an effective approach to diagnosing and understanding an organization, provides guidelines to organization change, integrates rational and emotional aspects, and addresses all integrated elements in a unified manner (Ecademy, 2004). On the other hand, this model has such inherent weaknesses as change in one part affects all other parts due to interrelated factors. It assumes any differences in determining factors in addition to being relatively complex to implement. As a result, organizations adopting this model often experience high incidence of failure.
Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model
This model approaches change as a campaign, in which leaders strive to convince their employees about the urgency of change in the organization. The model has easy 8 steps, with focus on preparing and embracing change (Homji, 2010). Furthermore, transitioning from one step to another is relatively easy. Downsides of this model include the absolute risk of failure if one of the steps is skipped or ignored. Furthermore, implementing change using this model takes a significantly long time.
McKinsey 7-S Model and increased acceptance of change management
Since its introduction in the late 1970s, the McKinsey 7-S Model has provided a new perspectives on organizational effectiveness in the business management field (Homji, 2010). Managers have moved from their former preoccupation with organization as structure and focus on more critical questions facing the organization. Many years later, McKinsey 7-S Model is still relevant in understanding the interrelation of organizational elements, ensuring the wider effect of changes effected in one area is taken into consideration (Connelly, 2010). The model helps business leaders to appreciate the complexity of modern organizations especially the fact that structure alone does not represent organization today.
McKinsey 7-S Model and Increased utilization of techniques, tools and language
McKinsey 7-S Model has become one of the most preferred strategic planning tools by corporate leaders around the world. Managers are today more focused on human resources as main factor for organizational performance than such conventional mass production tangible as capital, equipment and infrastructure (Ecademy, 2004). Also, there is greater use of such change management language as Strategy, Structure, Systems, Shared Values, Skills, Staff and Style.
Going into the future, change management should become a required leadership competency for all corporate leaders at all management levels. Every organization should also move to make change management a normal part of various change projects within the organization. The continued emergence and evolution of the discipline should see increased role of practitioners in providing more solid application, guidance and proofs of success.
Connelly, M. (2010). Kurt Lewin Change Management Model. Retrieved January 2013, from Change-Management-Coach.com: http://www.change-managementcoach.
Ecademy. (2004.). Change Management. Retrieved January 2013, from The Social Business Network: http://www.ecademy.com/
Homji, K. F. (2010). Business Process and Change Management Offerings for Addressing Issues in the Retail Supply Chain. Gurgaon: Tata Consultancy Services.
Kotter International. (2012.). The 8-Step Process for Leading Change. Retrieved January 2013, from Kotter International: http://www.kotterinternational.com/ourprinciples/changesteps/changesteps
Turner D, & Crawford M. (1998). Change Power: Capabilities that Drive Corporate Renewal. Warriewood, Australia: Business & Professional Publishing.