Change, Transition, and Organizational Progress: What Does It All Mean?

Kenneth Wallace

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1. A Basic Human Need

2. There Are Two Kinds of Change

3. How to Take Charge of Change

4. The Three Phases of Change

5. Transition and Organizational Progress: What is the difference between change and transition?

6. Transition and Enterprise Integration: The Three Areas and Four Components of Organizational Structure

7. The Strategic Plan and Implementation Blueprint: No Doubt Contracting _

Alfred North Whitehead wrote that “the art of progress is to preserve order amidst change and to preserve change amidst order. "

1. A Basic Human Need

Change is a fact of life! The only thing that doesn't change is change. Consequently, it is also a fact of life that human beings are always dealing with change in some form at every stage of their lives. Change, in fact, is a basic human need. Change is really nothing more than movement from one state of being to another. Without movement - physical, physiological, biological, mental, spiritual, emotional - human beings would simply stop functioning and human existence, as we experience it, would cease. Change is the natural means to both improvement and deterioration. To a large extent, human beings have a choice in what the results of change will be.

2. There are two kinds of change:

Natural Change: change that occurs without cognitive human intervention and that takes place in a natural way, such as weather and the changing of the seasons.

Designed Change: change that occurs as a result of cognitive human intervention and that takes place as a result of changing the environment to reflect human thought; this kind of change is governed by human intention and perceived need rather than by natural conditions.

The human experience of change is exactly the same in both natural and designed change. The reason is that all change in the environment provokes the same kinds of emotions about one's ability to adapt to and survive in the altered conditions. The initial human reaction to change is fear - fear of loss of something and the fear that what is lost will not be replaced by something of a greater value that will increase predictability and sustain life.

3. How to Take Charge of Change

Regardless of the type of change that occurs, there exists a basic human need to experience the change process as being well-ordered and safe rather than chaotic and dangerous. Without this experience of ordered and safe change before, during and after any transition the human element of the organization cannot fully participate in productive contribution to positive change. It is imperative to identify and remove existing and potential risks that can inhibit the successful execution of any strategic change initiative.

Like it or not, change happens continually in your life and in your organization. As Whitehead's comment indicates, the only way to make change work in your favor is to take charge of the change process. When you do this, you use the change process as a means to design the future you intend rather than passively allow the changing environment to present you with limited options and narrowed choices for meaningful action.

How can you “take charge of change" so as to make it happen in your favor and to make it “ordered?" There are several points to be considered in answering this question:

- Change is conceived as an event (something which happens at a particular moment in time and at a specific place or places).

- Change is experienced as a process; this process is called “transition. "

- Because transition is a process, it can be managed.

How well the transition is managed will determine if change is remembered as a positive or negative experience. The remembrance of previous changes is the basis of motivation for or the resistance against future changes. Assessing the level of “change readiness" is a critical first step in determining the level of support and interest in changing from the current state of affairs. How has change been experienced in the past by those who will be responsible for and who will be affected by changes in the present? The answer to this question will help you determine if some “pre-work" on “stage-setting" is needed to prepare the organization for a successful transition. This step is a part of an overall “Transition Risk Analysis" that will help you determine what the transition facilitators and inhibitors are within your organization.

Effective change implementation management skills are necessary for all managers in any organization. These skills are essential to the strategic achievement of an organization's mission and goals. These skills can be learned and continually refined. The better these skills are learned, refined and implemented on a proactive basis, the more the process of change becomes a competitive advantage for the organization.

4. The Three Phases of Change

There are three phases of change:

- Letting Go

- Transition

- New Beginning

Change for the better always involves these three stages. If they are not gone through in succession, the resulting change will not be for the better. Focusing on helping your organization let go of the past, transition through the change and begin together to move in a new direction is the pathway for creating improvement, increased productivity and job satisfaction. This is the journey of change. In short, the process of transitioning needs to be seen as a strategic element of the organization's development and growth.

5. Transition and Organizational Progress

What Do I Mean by “Transition?"

Transition is: “The process through which an existing circumstance, condition or relationship (real or imagined) is acted on in a manner that produces a new and different circumstance, condition or relationship. "

What Do I Mean by “Progress?"

Progress is achieved when the “new and different circumstance, condition and/or relationship" is better able to help the individual or organization realize their personal and/or corporate vision and mission. An individual or organization progresses by effectively managing the process of transitioning from one state of existence to a more desirable one.

An organization progresses by taking charge of the changes it undergoes by effectively managing the process of transitioning from one state of existence to a more desirable one. Progress is achieved when the “new and different circumstance, condition and/or relationship" is better able to help the organization realize it purpose and mission.

If an organization does not take charge of the changes it undergoes by effectively managing the process of transitioning, then the changes it experiences will soon sweep it into dangerous and destructive currents.

6. Transition and Enterprise Integration

The Three Areas of Organizational Structure:

- People

- Systems

- Environment

Any enterprise is composed of people, systems and the environment in which work is done. When change is initiated it often occurs in only one of these three areas of the organization. Any attempted change that doesn't involve all three areas of organizational structure will result in outcomes worse than the present.

It is true that people make or break the organizations for which they work. It is also true that people and their performance impact and are impacted by the following four components of organizational structure:

- the organization's principles and policies

- the organization's mission, strategies and planning

- the organization's arrangement, operations and administration

- workplace space, processes, procedures and arrangement of equipment

The above model demonstrates the interrelationship of the aspects of any enterprise. When there is a change in one area, all other areas are affected in some way. If one area needs change in order to be more viable and productive, the other parts must be involved in the change. If they aren't, if change occurs at all, it will not be for the better in the long run.

When planning any transition, honor the interconnectedness of your organization by actively and creatively involving all these areas and components of your enterprise. Don't segment the enterprise into separate entities and focus on only one to the exclusion of the others. Any organizational transition should be preceded by the creation of a “Strategic Plan and Implementation Blueprint" that serves as the marching orders for the entire enterprise and that keeps everything integrated, on track, within budget, on time and with minimum resistance from and disruption to the operating environment.

7. The Strategic Plan and Implementation Blueprint: No Doubt Contracting

A vital part of any “Strategic Plan and Implementation Blueprint" for the transition process is what I call “No Doubt Contracting. " This is an unambiguous document that clearly describes what is involved, who is involved, responsibilities and accountabilities and what the outcomes will be for the organization, its employees, customers and the community in which it does business. If change is to be directed toward a better future for all involved, there will need to be a clear vision of the destination, how to get there and what is needed by whom to make it happen. When all parties contract with one another, then all have buy-in not just to the creation of the contract but, more importantly, to the results the contract is designed to help accomplish.

While pursuing a planned transition, it will be wise for the leaders of such an undertaking to remind themselves constantly of the words of Machiavelli: “There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things, because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. "

Ken Wallace is one of only eight certified Business Systems Coaches worldwide for General Motors.

He makes it easy to learn how to live and work better than you are now no matter what you do. Get started immediately by claiming your free eBook, “How to Do Better Than Your Best in Anything You Do" by visiting the Better Than Your Best website.


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