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Communicating for change: a systems thinking approach

Durba Banerjee (Visiting Faculty, Indian Institute of Management Indore, Indore, India)
Harshal Lowalekar (Operations Management and Quantitative Techniques, Indian Institute of Management Indore, Indore, India)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 7 June 2021

Issue publication date: 20 September 2021




This study describes in detail an application of the Theory of Constraints (TOC)-based systems thinking approach towards clear and effective communication in a change management exercise. The same is achieved through the example of a large defence organization that is struggling with a multitude of problems in its stores and purchase departments.


It is demonstrated through the case study how five systems thinking tools – Current Reality Tree (CRT), Evaporating Cloud (EC), Future Reality Tree (FRT), Negative Branch Reservation (NBR) and Prerequisite Tree (PRT) – can be applied in overcoming different layers of resistance and for getting the necessary agreement from the stakeholders for a successful change initiative.


The five logical thinking tools helped answer the three questions – “what to change”, “what to change to” and “how to cause the change” (Goldratt, 1990) – satisfactorily and overcome various layers of resistance to get the desired buy-in from the stakeholders for a successful change management exercise.


The cause-and-effect based method presented in this work is generic enough and can be adopted for getting a buy-in in a variety of change management contexts.



Banerjee, D. and Lowalekar, H. (2021), "Communicating for change: a systems thinking approach", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 34 No. 5, pp. 1018-1035.



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