Change Management: Altering Mindsets in a Global Context

James T. Walz (Rinker School of Business, Palm Beach Atlantic University, West Palm Beach, Florida, USA)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 9 May 2008

1514

Keywords

Citation

Walz, J.T. (2008), "Change Management: Altering Mindsets in a Global Context", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 29 No. 3, pp. 291-292. https://doi.org/10.1108/01437730810861335

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


As a primer for organizational change, Change Management: Altering Mindsets in a Global Context, by Nilakant and Ramnarayan, is useful for articulating the nuances of the change process. Well researched, this book provides a model for the change agent to map out their change process, while keeping in mind the proclivity of individuals to resist change. The authors do this by describing various theoretical positions and illustrating them through case studies, then pointing out neglect or missteps on the part of managers to effectively bring about change. Nilakant and Ramnarayan lean on the early research of Kurt Lewin, Edgar Schein and Chris Argyris to help the reader navigate the psychological barriers to organizational change. The model builds on the premise that the change agent must tip the equilibrium of the organization so that members recognize change is needed and initiate change based upon their “free‐will” ascent to this need.

The simplicity of their change model includes four tasks:

  1. 1.

    appreciating change;

  2. 2.

    mobilizing support;

  3. 3.

    executing change; and

  4. 4.

    building change capability.

This should be nothing new to the successful change agent but their discussion, grounded in solid research builds the case that, as simple as their model may appear, it is none‐the‐less foundational and very functional toward articulating the means to bring about successful change.

Of particular note is the section on “Executing change.” For many organizations and change agents, this is where things begin to fall apart. Countless hours of planning and psychological and emotional preparation are left unfulfilled. The authors state, “ … organizations are almost always underprepared for change. They underestimate the time and resources needed for change implementation. They do not pay adequate attention to coordination and integration of activities. They fail to invest in building capabilities for change execution” (p. 191). In addition, organizations must respond to the day‐to‐day intrusion of the marketplace on the change process. It is difficult, at best, to ascertain clear, “unfreeze, change, refreeze,” (Lewin) boundaries and conditions because of the dynamic complexity of the environment. In response to these problems, the authors point out three crucial tasks that must be accomplished in order to effectively execute change:

  1. 1.

    create cross‐functional linkages in organizations;

  2. 2.

    align policies, procedures and remove structural impediments to performance and change; and

  3. 3.

    create new routines for continuous improvement.

Policies, culture, and structure in many organizations support and even encourage compartmentalization of ideas which create an environment of distrust and turf protection. Both are detrimental to executing successful change. The architecture and policies of the organization must facilitate open exchange, accountability, and creativity. In addition, rewarding employees for collaborating across functional boundaries provides motivation for working towards organizational change. This needs to be articulated clearly by the leadership in order for the workforce to understand expectations and priorities.

Organizational routines can spell disaster for those trying to bring about change. Routines are often built upon tried and true processes that have stood the test of time. These routines provide understanding across functional boundaries so that expectations are agreed upon and unnecessary communication is eliminated while opting for productivity. Routines minimize the unnecessary but also blind us from the possible. Nilakant and Ramnarayan advocate, and rightly so, to identify those routines that stand in the way of effective change and create new routines in their place, institutionalizing them over time.

There is nothing flashy about this book. Its authors, both solid academics in the discipline of Management, have published a “how‐to” manual advocating the ways and means toward facilitating effective change. In the event that I sound less than enthusiastic, let me say that I thoroughly appreciate the theoretical foundation of their change model, the style of writing, and the practical synthesis of concepts derived from the critical analysis of the case studies. This put “flesh” on the bones, so to speak. It brought to life, as case studies should, the very real conditions that change agents face and the benefits that we derive from 20/20 hindsight. If you are new to the literature on change management, I highly recommend this book to get you up to speed. Nilakant and Ramnarayan have done an excellent job identifying the relevant research, condensing it down into operational imperatives, and providing directions for developing tangible results.

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