Change Management: The Four-Step Model

In business, change is not an exception to the rule as the term may suggest, on the contrary, it is the norm and even in day-to-day activities, there is a constant tendency for change.  Based on the truism of Darwin’s survival of the fittest, it is not the strongest or most intelligent organisms that survive, but rather those that can best adapt to change.  In the organizational setting change is inevitable and the success of a business manager is directly proportional to their ability to navigate the company and adapt to emerging changes.  In my experience, I have found that change is best addressed when the organization is working harmoniously from both within and without. Kotter’s Model of change management proposes for the application of 8 steps geared towards this.  It involves; the creation of agency, forming coalitions, creating change vision, communicating it, removing obstacles promoting short-term wins, building on the change and anchoring it into the corporate culture (Kotter & Cohen, 2002).  However, I discovered that while this model is quite effective, it is simply one-way of looking at it and it is possible for one to come up with a more effective four-step model of managing change.

During my internship for instance, the firm I was working for was undertaking a radical shift from outsourcing to vertical integration. The first thing the organization did was to communicate the objective to the employees and stakeholders. This way instead of the management working towards selling the ideas of change step after step, they focus on convincing the stakeholders of the importance of the change and showing them how it is beneficial to them. This makes it relatively easy for them to implement the actual change from an intrinsically motivated viewpoint.  After selling the idea, the organization must then focus on training their staff to implement the change.  For example, in the organizations for which I was working, the department heads had to be trained to oversee the production of raw material while they had previously only been expected to verify the finished product after it has been outsourced. This required considerable technical awareness as well as attitude adjustment since the scope of their work had expanded from a predominantly HR one to encompass unfamiliar technical realities.  Everyone must be made aware through some level of training direct or indirect of the changes they are expected to implement and this is always easier if they have been convinced of the necessity of the change.

The training stage can then be followed by the pre – implementation; this is the first step of implementing change by maintaining part of the old and introducing the new. This is necessitated by the need to avoid complete disorientation of the staff as well to have a platform from which to carry out a comparative analysis.  Finally, there is the full implementation stage where the changes, which had been theoretically expressed, are completely implemented. This step is, however characterized by a gradual decline of the old processes and increasing in the new ones.

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