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Brighton School of Business and Management Student Newsletter August 2010


Contributions from you, our students, are very welcome  if you have information, advice, website links, or ideas, that may be of help to other students, please send them to us.

Managing Organisational Change

When major change is necessary, in any organisation no matter what size or type, the most important message for the managers planning and implementing that change is that change must be managed thoughtfully and carefully, in order to minimise disruption, conflict, and distress, and to achieve the desired outcomes that the change is meant to achieve.

There are many hundreds of thousands of articles on managing changes, but here are a few that our Management tutor team felt would be of interest.

Understanding Change Management

 adapted from a MindTools article

Change management is a term that is bandied about freely.

Sometimes it’s a scapegoat for less than stellar results: “That initiative failed because we didn’t focus enough on change management.” And it’s often used as a catch-all for project activities that might otherwise get overlooked: “When we implement that new process, let’s not forget about the change management.”

It’s a noun: “Change management is critical to the project.”

It’s a verb: “We really need to change-manage that process.”

It’s an adjective: “My change management skills are improving.”

It’s an expletive: “Change management!”

But what exactly is it?

Change management is a structured approach for ensuring that changes are thoroughly and smoothly implemented, and that the lasting benefits of change are achieved.

The focus is on the wider impacts of change, particularly on people and how they, as individuals and teams, move from the current situation to the new one. The change in question could range from a simple process change, to major changes in policy or strategy needed if the organization is to achieve its potential.

Theories about how organisations change draw on many disciplines, from psychology and behavioural science, through to engineering and systems thinking. The underlying principle is that change does not happen in isolation – it impacts the whole organisation (system) around it, and all the people touched by it.

How to manage Change successfully

In order to manage change successfully, it is therefore necessary to attend to the wider impacts of the changes. As well as considering the tangible impacts of change, it’s important to consider the personal impact on those affected, and their journey towards working and behaving in new ways to support the change.

Change management is, therefore, a very broad field, and change management approaches vary widely, from organisation to organisation and from project to project. Many organisations and consultants subscribe to formal change management methodologies. These provide toolkits, checklists and outline plans of what needs to be done to manage changes successfully.

When you are tasked with “managing change” (irrespective of whether or not you subscribe to a particular change management approach), the first question to consider is what change management actually means in your situation. Change management focuses on people, and is about ensuring change is thoroughly, smoothly and lastingly implemented. And to know what that means exactly in your situation, you must dig down further to define your specific change management objectives.

Typically, these will cover:

Sponsorship: Ensuring there is active sponsorship for the change at a senior executive level within the organisation, and engaging this sponsorship to achieve the desired results.

Buy-in: Gaining buy-in for the changes from those involved and affected, directly or indirectly.

Involvement: Involving the right people in the design and implementation of changes, to make sure the right changes are made.

Impact: Assessing and addressing how the changes will affect people.

Communication: Telling everyone who’s affected about the changes.

Readiness: Getting people ready to adapt to the changes, by ensuring they have the right information, training and help.

Change Management Activities

Once you have considered the change management objectives and scope, you’ll also need to consider the specific tasks. Again, the range of possible change management activities is broad. It’s a question of working out what will best help you meet the change management challenge in hand, as you have defined it in your objectives and scope, and how to work along side other people’s and projects’ activities and responsibilities.

The essence of this is to identify the tasks that are necessary if you’re going to give change the greatest chance of success.

Coming from this, the activities involved in managing change can include:

·         Ensuring there is clear expression of the reasons for change, and helping the sponsor communicate this.

·         Identifying “change agents” and other people who need to be involved in specific change activities, such as design, testing, and problem solving, and who can then act as ambassadors for change.

·         Assessing all the stakeholders and defining the nature of sponsorship, involvement and communication that will be required.

·         Planning the involvement and project activities of the change sponsor(s).

·         Planning how and when the changes will be communicated, and organizing and/or delivering the communications messages.

·         Assessing the impact of the changes on people and the organisation’s structure.

·         Planning activities needed to address the impacts of the change.

·         Ensuring that people involved and affected by the change understand the process change.

·         Making sure those involved or affected have help and support during times of uncertainty and upheaval.

·         Assessing training needs driven by the change, and planning when and how this will be implemented.

·         Identifying and agreeing the success indicators for change, and ensure they are regularly measured and reported on.

Remember, these are just some typical change management activities. Others may be required in your specific situation. Equally, some of the above may not be within your remit, so plan carefully, and coordinate with other people involved.

For more articles from MindTools, visit:

Overcoming Barriers to Change

Change guru Rosabeth Moss Kanter has outlined five barriers to change  and suggests ways to overcome them.

Forecasts fall short

While you must have a plan for change, don’t expect it to hold fast.

You are doing something new and different. Predicting exactly how long something new will take or how much it will cost is impossible. (Experience suggests, though, that it will take longer and cost more than you think.)

So, observe your team and listen to their comments, then be prepared to update and adjust your original plans.

Roads curve

Be prepared to face the unexpected.

It is impossible to predict every single consequence of something new or different. You will always be confronted by consequences that neither you nor the team anticipated.

Don’t let these stop you in your tracks. Be prepared to respond, troubleshoot and make adjustments.

Expect the unexpected.

After the excitement of a project launch, reality bites:

·         solutions are not always obvious

·         multiple demands in your job are piling up

·         the people you need to communicate with are not returning your calls

·         the team is discouraged and enmeshed in conflict.

Critics emerge

Even if you have built a coalition and involved key stakeholders, there will be critics and cynics who will challenge you.

They will be strongest not at the beginning but in the middle of your efforts. Only then will the possible impact of the change become clear. Those who feel threatened will then formulate their objections.

This is when you, with the help of others, need to respond robustly to criticism, remove obstacles, and push forward.

Momentum slows

Most teams and individuals can’t work at a fast pace for very long periods.

Accept that the pace of change will slow down at times, allow it for reasonable periods, but then find ways – incentives, motivational messages, reminders of the benefits that lie ahead – to increase the pace again.

Take a fresh approach to the change activity:

·         revisit the main goal

·         recognise what’s been accomplished

·         recognise what remains to be achieved

·         achieving the Goal

Overcome these barriers and your change will be implemented successfully.

For more on Rosabeth Moss Kanter, visit:  and › … › Organisational Development

Managing Change Action checklist

1. Think the change through

Ask what kind of change may be involved from a broader perspective. Will it include job content, responsibility, new – unknown – tasks, new methods of working, new skills, new relationships, threats to security, new training, re-training?

Will it be something on a broader scale that involves re-thinking what the purpose of the organisation is, or should be?

2. Build the change culture

Build commitment by:

sharing information as widely as possible

allowing for suggestions, input and differences from widespread participation

breaking changes into manageable chunks and minimizing surprises

making standards and requirements clear

being honest about the downside.

Develop a culture that supports change by:

·         recognising prevalent value systems

·         creating a blame-free culture of empowerment and pushing down decision-making – but clarifying decision boundaries

·         breaking down departmental barriers

·         designing challenging jobs

·         freeing time for risk and innovation

·         focusing on the interests of all stakeholders.

Get the people right by:

·         recognising staff needs and dealing with conflict positively

·         being directional without being directive

·         involving everyone

·         earning commitment and trust

·         developing relationships

·         understanding how teams work

·         recognising one’s limits and others’ strengths.

3. Appoint a champion for change

Change programmes benefit from a ‘champion’ to galvanise the plan and the action. The champion’s credibility is of paramount importance, as is sufficient seniority and a proven track record. The champion must also be lively, energetic, passionate and committed: if you are not the right person to be leading change, recognise it now!

4. Build the right team for change

Select a team with a mix of technical competencies and personal styles, not necessarily all at senior levels. Most members should be respected individuals from within the organisation, not outsiders. You need ‘movers and shakers’ whose commitment is not in doubt, but temper them with a few known cynics. All should have earned respect within the organisation and be widely trusted and credible.

5. Build the case for change

Develop an outline of what the organisation will look like at the end of the culture change programme. Include structures and culture: will you move from a hierarchical to a team-based culture? What will the implications be?

You might know why the organisation needs to change but you need to persuade others; everyone must be convinced of the urgency of the need. Draw up a clear, compelling case which marshals both quantitative and qualitative arguments. Spell these out in terms of business objectives linked to a vision of where the organisation will be if change is successful.

In reality, persuading people of the need for change can be a complex and sensitive business which can appear odd if it comes ‘out of the blue’. It may be useful to bring someone in from the outside to act as a catalyst but this needs to be managed with care and sensitivity.

Given that the changes are best owned by the people implementing them, it is most practical to get a group of staff to identify the change factors themselves – then they see and understand the need for change.

A health-check of the key factors in mapping change includes:

Leadership – Does the leader set an example and foster learning and development?

People – Do people think naturally about what’s coming next? Or will the next change be met with the same old shock and horror?

Control – Do measurement and procedural control stifle creativity?

Integration – Do we have a business of people in separate boxes or do we mix across areas and responsibilities?

Processes – Which are the key activities which give us our strength?

6. Define the scope of change

To be successful, a change programme must have the right scope. Define its coverage and limits rigorously. To be fully effective change needs to operate in six dimensions:

·         markets and customers

·         products and services

·         business processes

·         people and reward systems

·         structure and facilities

·         technologies.

7. Draw up an outline plan

Plan for change in the way you would for any major project.

Vision: what is the ‘big idea’ behind the change? What is the organisation striving to achieve? This must be clear and compelling.

Scope: what needs to change if the organisation is to realise its vision?

Time frame: what will change when, and in what order? Radical change takes time, especially if attitude change is involved.

People: who will be most affected by change and how? Who will play prominent roles in implementing change (the change agents)?

Resources: how much will the change cost? Will there be offsetting benefits

Communications: will you need new mechanisms and structures to communicate with front line employees?

Training: have you allowed for the training of managers and front line employees in both hard and soft skills associated with change?

Organisation structure: will changes be needed, for example towards a flatter structure?

8. Cost the change programme

Change can be expensive, particularly if it is associated with plant closure or redundancies. Recognise this and draw up a separate budget. Don’t underestimate the ‘softer’ costs of training, or the communications the programme will require.

9. Analyse your management competencies

Senior managers need to be fully committed to change programmes to guarantee their success. Establish from the outset whether the management team is signed up to change, and address honestly the position of those who are not enthusiastic supporters. Make sure that senior managers are included in those consulted for proposing change factors.

10. Identify the driving and restraining forces

In any organisation, there will be forces driving and forces restraining change: you need to identify both sets. Plan to reinforce the drivers, or add new ones; and to weaken or lessen the restraining forces, through education. This will usually be a slow process, but it can be helped by frank discussion, and even more by positive success.

11. Outline the change programme to line managers

Use your plan to outline to line managers the likely impact of the programme on structures, people, processes and products. Seek criticism and feedback and use them to refine the plan and build consensus in favour of change.

12. Communicate

Communication is the key to successful change. Communicate continuously with stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers and owners – as you plan and build the programme. Be open and honest with employees about the likely extent of change. Don’t allow rumour to circulate: be frank.

13. Identify change agents

Although change is initiated at the top, and led by a change team, it has to be driven through the organisation by change agents. These need to be the organisation’s own employees, not external consultants. Select people who are committed, enthusiastic and who can command respect. Plan to train them and use them to champion and cascade the change programme throughout the organisation.

Adapted from a Chartered Management Institute Checklist find more at:

The Positive Deviance Model of Change

According to Richard Tanner Pascale and Jerry Sternin, there are always positive exceptions to situations concerning business problems. In their research they found that in most environments there are a few isolated groups or individuals, operating with exactly the same constraints and resources as everyone else, but who are functioning much more effectively.

In the Harvard Business Review of May 2005, they drew on these findings to present their Positive Deviance model.

This holds that managers must actively look for those groups and individuals who are being successful despite working in the same conditions, with the same resources, and the same support, as those who are underperforming, or not making the progress expected of them.

The next step is to identify how these individuals or groups are performing so successfully, and replicate the success strategies of these “positive deviants” into the mainstream, so that all can benefit from the application of them.

Examples of positive deviance can be found in most organisations, and at most levels:

Sales people who regularly out-perform others, team leaders and managers who have very little conflict in their teams, managers who delegate effectively, teams and their managers who adapt to change more smoothly, teams and individuals achieving positive results in difficult external communities, teams and individuals achieving high quality standards, or low wastage rates, divisions or departments with very low staff turnover rates, and so on.

When individuals, teams, managers, or sections of an organisation are found to be performing significantly more effectively than the majority, the positive deviance approach is to analyse the reasons for their success, and to then use this knowledge to change behaviour, and-or processes and systems, to mirror that occurring in the positive deviance environment.

This approach is a form of Benchmarking, but more focused on identifying extraordinary performance within the organisation – extraordinary because it is being achieved despite the similarities in the working environment in which it takes place.

However, once the positive deviances are identified, introducing these into other areas of the organisation then requires an appropriate change management model to be adopted, in order for the implementation of the changes to be successful.

For more on this model, see:   and and…/PDandWickedProblemsinDPPS.pdf

Featured BSBM Courses

Many of the qualifications offered in our portfolio have some content which focuses on managing change either from a personal viewpoint, or the management viewpoint.

The courses which have specific modules on this subject, dealing with it as it applies to different management levels within an organisation, are:

The Higher National Diplomas HNDs, the Level 5 Diplomas in Management, Leadership, Marketing and Human Resource Management, and our Level 7 Masters level Advanced Diploma in Management Studies.

Students of these courses are usually preparing for a higher level role and increase in management responsibility, having knowledge and understanding of how to manage change effectively is essential.

For details of these courses, please visit:

Study Resources of the Month

As this issue is focused on Working Abroad ~ here are some recommendations related to that topic:


The Theory and Practice of Change Management

Hayes J. Palgrave Macmillan

Managing Change and Innovation in Public Service Organizations

Brown K, Osborne S. Routledge Masters in Public Management

Making Sense of Change Management

Cameron E, Green M. Kogan Page

Managing Change: A Strategic Approach to Organisational Dynamics

Burnes B. FT Prentice Hall

The Heart of Change; Real Life Stories of How People Change Their Organisations

Kotter J and Cohen D S. Harvard Business School Press

On our website we now have a direct link to the Amazon Management Books section  to use this go to our Study Bookshops page.


Please see the links, above in the left hand column, for websites that contain valuable information, articles, reports, case studies, and reflections on Leadership.

Student Recommended Resources

Related to last month’s topic of Working Abroad:

“…. aimed at Australians, but I believe it would be useful for anyone, anywhere …

~ our thanks to Rolake

 “… try the Embassy of any country you are considering … I found three that were very helpful, lots of information, contact names – even lists of job opportunities …”  

~ our thanks to Stefan

Quotes from the Gurus

“Not to change is not to stay the same ~ it is to decline”

Kurt Lewin

  “Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely!”

Karen Kaiser Clark

 “Those who refuse to change will find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists”
Eric Hoffer

“The only constant is change, continuing change, inevitable change – that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be Isaac Asimov

Useful Study Links

an extensive collection of business articles and publications related to organisational change

change management articles, interviews, survey results, and more

includes a directory of online articles on change management

many sections on change management best practices

advice, guidance, articles, on change management issues

managing change issues discussed in depth in the Business and HR pages

offering research findings in areas of creative leadership and change management

extracts from Harvard Business Review articles

business management articles, webcasts, case studies, focused on leadership, change, and decision making

wide range of articles related to change management

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