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Recognizing the three forms of organizational change raises several issues and questions. What models of change are appropriate? Who participates? Is one form more valuable than another? Under what con­ditions? Are there commonalities across these three forms of change? To be useful in a practical way, a model of organizational change must address these specific issues:

     participation—maintaining the right level of participation, utiliz­
ing the best available ideas, but without creating intellectual or physi­
cal change overload

     alignment—achieving strategic-level goals through ground floor
level efforts through a logically linked set of aligned measures

     speed—creating results quickly, enabling action before the dynamic
environment creates a new strategic focus

     efficiency—coordinating efforts and actually achieving desired
changes within the resource constraints of the organization. Utilize
internal and external expertise when and where appropriate. Avoid
wasting valuable time.

To become more "changeable," organizational change leaders must recognize and exploit the three forms of change and must learn to an­ticipate the barriers to change which are common to each form.

Each form of change has its own predominant issues and concerns relative to planning, participation and barriers

For example, consider the elemental change of replacing a piece of production machinery or office equipment. The principle planning is­sues involve selecting from a set of available replacements, installing the new device and accomplishing the necessary learning by those who operate the equipment. Participants are likely to be limited in number, a fairly small and focused group, and the participants will remain con­stant throughout the change effort. Barriers will most likely center around resources, financial or other justification, and concerns about near-term obsolescence.

By contrast, consider a change in manufacturing methods requiring a shift from a functional-oriented plant layout to a cellular-based system.

Here, the planning effort must consider the design of the system, pre­dicting the new system's performance (assuring capacity needs are met), and the creation of a detailed implementation plan. Such a plan may involve extensive physical rearrangement of the shop floor, training, and revision of other processes such as material control, packaging, and ship­ping. Regarding participation, a cellular transformation would necessar­ily engage the efforts of many, though not all would necessarily partici­pate at one time. Manufacturing engineers would be involved in the ear­liest stages, work force trainers at a later stage. Material control special­ists may have ongoing interaction and responsibilities as the transition proceeds. Barriers to such a change would include various forms of re­sistance, solving process interface challenges, and addressing technical constraints such as work balancing and ensuring quality in a new pro­duction system.

Finally, consider an infrastructural change example. An established manufacturer elects to replace its mainframe MRP system with a net­work-based ERP solution. Planning concerns must address the avoid­ance of process disruptions (e.g., assuring that orders are shipped!) and such secondary effects as assuring BOM and inventory record in­tegrity at cut-over. A very wide array of participants will take part, though certainly not all at any one time. Of course, barriers to such a change include availability of technical resources and the investments already made in the prior system.


Recognizing multiple forms of change is the starting point. The real benefits arise from incorporating this knowledge into change project planning. Change projects may be represented via flowcharts, Gantt charts, PERT diagrams, and other formats. Each of these is useful but incomplete in telling the story of the change process.

Two new tools for change leaders to employ are the Change Re­source Profile and the Stage/Barrier Table. While these tools are not theoretically complex, they add value to the change process by en­abling better resource-deployment decisions and by helping to foresee difficulties before they arise.

Figure 1 illustrates the general form of a Change Resource Profile. Horizontal bands represent resource groups, or classes. Vertical bands depict project phases or steps. Note that change efforts of the three forms described earlier tend to have differing stage descriptors. For illustration purposes, they are simply shown here as Stage 1,2, and so forth.

Within the Change Resource Profile, various colors or shading pat­terns will depict the nature of involvement. One useful set of catego­ries includes: (1) No Active Involvement, (2) Consultation as Needed, (3) Independent Work, (4) Collaborative Work.

This simple tool directly enhances the efficiency of change efforts. An obvious contribution is highlighting opportunities for noninvolvement. It also highlights the need for information to be handed off be­tween stages, an often overlooked element of lengthy change efforts.

A second useful tool is the Barriers Matrix. This is a display, often constructed via Post-It notes and newsprint, similar in form to a project

Gantt chart. Instead of displaying the project activities, however, the Barriers Matrix displays categories of barriers versus project stages. Barriers are first classified via the Nominal Group Technique into three to five broad groups, such as process capability, regulatory issues, de­cision-making methods, employee attitudes, supplier capabilities, and customer requirements. Individual barriers may then be classified by category and placed chronologically within the stage of the transfor­mation in which they will occur

While simple in nature, tools such as these provide significant change leadership advantages. In addition to gaining efficiency, they promote visibility, action and accountability. Change efforts succeed more of­ten when such tools are employed. Additionally, conflicts and syner­gies across multiple change efforts become easier to detect, and pat­terns of repeating issues are more readily addressed.


Three distinct forms of change affect organizations: elemental, pro­cess, and infrastructural. No single system of stages or steps univer­sally describes all three forms. Likewise, no single planning tool exists that can ensure effective change implementation. These forms differ from each other in terms of the relevant planning issues, the manner of stakeholder participation, and the types of barriers encountered.

Understanding the three forms of change and using both new and traditional planning tools can help organizations gain competitive ad­vantage through more effective change.


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