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Managing Change Challenges, Processes and Strategies

 


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INTRODUCTION

We are all aware of organizational change but managing it requires different abilities from those associated with operational leadership. The key to managing organizational change is:

What attitudes will the organization want to prevail after the organizational change has been implemented?

What level of performance is the organizational change design striving to achieve?

Will people confidently offer creative thought and accept empowerment, particularly in areas of risk, during the organizational change process?

Organization face increasing market pressures characterized by shortening delivery time spans, tightening of product quality, and performance specifications, and diversification of customer requirements. With increasing competition many organizational change initiatives have been to cut costs and reduce human resources. Consequently organizations find it difficult to harness systems, processes and people to provide a quality customer service. This has severely strained communication channels, human relations and the ability to manage essential organizational change and development initiatives effectively.

Once organizations have reacted to commercial threat by taking whatever short term organizational change measures they can, they are often left with stressed, demoralized, and low performing people. Reaction to this malaise has been to exalt people to raise their productivity with management preoccupation on how best performance improvement could be achieved. With organizational change being preoccupied with internal malaise management simply fail to secure the organizational change needed to take advantage of market opportunities, or counter new market threats, and consequently the organization continues to decline.

If an organizational change approach to managing it is taken that does not consider peoples natural feelings and needs then the organizational change initiative itself, no matter how important, will not produce the beneficial results required. At its worse the organizational change process will produce poor moral and consequently poor performance.

Managing change is probably the single most important issue today for all those who have undertaken the difficult task of managing organizations. Technological changes and increased global competition caused by liberalization and deregulation has placed greater demands on organizations to be flexible, responsive and efficient. Around the world, organizations big and small face the inevitable prospect of change.

Organizational change comes in many forms, like some organizations may grow bigger, they may become better without becoming bigger, or they may shrink and become smaller or they may even die. Given these kinds of manifestations of change, it is not surprising that it evokes a myriad of emotions. Some find the prospect and experience of change exciting, challenging and fulfilling. Others find it daunting, stressful and unpleasant. It can cause both hope and despair. Managing change also involves simultaneously managing resources, processes and emotions. This is what makes ‘change’ a complicated and challenging task.

Today, India is poised on the threshold of a major transformation, because India is the only country in the world with the thriving democracy of approximately 937 million people, and the size of its middle class exceeds the population of the European Union. According to the World Bank forecast, by 2025 Indian will be the world's fifth largest economy. Following the liberalization of the Indian economy in 1991, Indian businesses were exposed to the realities of both domestic and global competition. Many business analytical pundits expected indigenous businesses to struggle for survival in the throes of deregulation and increases competition. Surprisingly, the response from the Indian organizations to these changes has been positive.

Organizational change refers to processes of growth, decline and transformation within the organization. For many people, including managers and academics, organizations are ‘things’ which provide order and stability. We tend to think of organizations as enduring structures in a changing society. Also there is a widespread view of organizations as being associated with constancy and permanence.

The truth, however, is that organizations are changing all the time. Organizational change takes different forms. It may change their strategy or purpose, introduce new products or services, change the way they produce and sell, change their technology, enter new markets, close down departments or plants, hire new employees, acquire other organizations, or become acquired by other organizations and so on. In doing so it may become larger, smaller or stay in the same size. Sometimes organizations change quite radically but retain the same name and image.

CHANGES IN INDIA

The changes that swept the organizational winds across the world reached the Indian continent in 1991. For more than 40 years, the government policies sheltered Indian businesses from competition and never expected that the Indian companies would transform and adopt the global mindset. Subsequently, the Indian Government liberalized a series of policy measures aimed at removing restrictions and barriers to economic activities. Such liberalization made Indian business houses to increased local as well as global competition. By and large, the Indian organizations responded vigorously and positively to the changes in the economic environment. Number of the Indian companies saw these changes as opportunities rather than as threats. For example, Ranbaxy, a Pharmaceutical company manufacturing in eight countries and exports its products to 45 countries. To cite another Indian Company is Arvind Mills, which is rated as the world's fifth largest denim producer. Prior to 1991, the idea of Indian organizations becoming world - class producers would certainly evoked cynicism and derision. Yet, this is what precisely many Indian organizations hope to become in the coming decade.

After all the myriad of theories presented by the theorists, there is only one question that emerges: What are the processes by which organizations change? Planned change certainly is one process, but there are other processes by which organizations change like for example; some described the predictable stages in the life of an organization - stages over which managers had little influence. Others described failures and bankruptcies and witnessed the murderous hand of the environment in organizational decay. While some were interested in how organizations innovate; they focused on processes of innovation.

As the field of organizational change began to flourish, it became abundantly clear that planned change was only one mechanism of change, and that there were several processes of change in organizations.

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