top of page

Making Sense of Change Management - Book review

1 March 2009

Dr. Moria Levy

Numerous books have explored and will likely continue to delve into change management, a nuanced and complex field that addresses individuals, groups, and organizations. This book distinguishes itself from others I'm familiar with on the same topic. Unlike a guide, its purpose isn't to offer step-by-step instructions or promote a specific technique as the ultimate solution for managing change. Instead, it provides a variety of potential directions, presenting the perspectives of the authors, Esther Cameron and Mike Green—both seasoned consultants in the field. The decision of how to implement and adapt to organizational changes is left in the hands of readers.


The book's initial section delves into change management across different spheres—the individual, the team, and the organization. It meticulously examines the role of a leader as a change facilitator. The latter part of the book explores various typical applications of change management, illustrating the use of a combination of tools from the presented models.


The book addresses the following topics:

Change Levels:

  • Change at the Individual Level

  • Team-Level Change

  • Enterprise-Grade Change

  • Leadership


Common Types of Change Management:

  • Organizational Restructuring

  • Mergers and Acquisitions

  • Cultural Change

  • Process Computing Change


This isn't a book for those seeking rigid formulas. Instead, it benefits individuals aiming to broaden their understanding of the world concerning changes and their management. Whether for learning, consulting in the field, or leading organizational change, this book caters to those seeking a comprehensive perspective. The summary provided here is only a glimpse and should be separate from reading the complete book and wishing you an enjoyable and insightful read.


Change Levels:

Individual Change

There are four approaches to addressing change at the individual level:

  1. Behavioral Modification

  2. Cognitive Achievement of Results

  3. Psychodynamic - The Inner World of Change

  4. Humane Maximizing Potential


The behavioral approach to change management advocates directly altering behavior patterns to induce change, involving a five-step process:

  1. Identify the behaviors influencing performance.

  2. Measure the actual usage of these behaviors.

  3. Conduct a functional analysis of each behavior by breaking it down into components.

  4. Develop an intervention strategy specifying rewards for encouragement and punishments for prevention.

  5. Evaluate the effectiveness of the intervention.


Intervention strategies can draw from theories such as Theory X and Theory Y, Herzberg's theory of hygiene factors, and stimulating factors. Tools for intervention may include performance management, compensation policies, values translated into behaviors, managerial advantages, skills training, management style, coaching, and 360 feedback.


The cognitive approach differs from the behavioral one in its perception, focusing on the belief that people act based on their beliefs and values. Achieving results in change management involves cognitive activity, addressing factors influencing behavior, and setting goals for desired outcomes.


Example modification techniques include positive listings, affirmations, visualizations, reframing, pattern breaking, detachment, anchoring and resource states, and rational analysis. Possible intervention tools encompass management through objectives, business and performance planning frameworks, results-oriented coaching, beliefs, intentions, cultural interventions, and a resilient vision.


The psychodynamic approach, spearheaded by Elisabeth Kubler Ross, posits that individuals undergo a psychological process during change, delineated through stages like denial, anger, negotiation, depression, and acceptance. Other models address chaos (shock) and acceptance (relief). Possible intervention tools include understanding the dynamism of change, guiding individuals through change, externalizing hidden issues, addressing emotions, and treating employees and managers as adults.


The humane approach amalgamates elements from the three preceding approaches, emphasizing a holistic view of the individual. Maslow's hierarchy of needs is integrated, including physiological, security, love and belonging, self-needs, and needs for progress. Carl Rogers, a proponent of the humane approach, defines feelings in different stages of change management.


Summary:

  1. Readiness for external communication only; unwillingness to change; not accepting problems.

  2. Sensations surface; problems visible but seen as external; focus on the past.

  3. Little regard for self; relating to sensations, especially in the past; recognition of contradictions.

  4. Intensification of past feelings; beginning recognition of current sensations; partial acknowledgment of responsibility for domestication.

  5. Free talk about current sensations, acceptance of responsibility, and consent to deal with contradictions.

  6. Physiological and psychological release: the contradiction between experience and awareness is minor.

  7. Experiencing and accepting new sensations; self becomes confident in the process; strong feelings of choice and responsibility.


Possible intervention tools for the humane approach include living the values, developing organizational learning, addressing the hierarchy of needs, relating to feelings, and channeling and counseling.


When managing self-change (or change in another individual), it's crucial to understand five influencing factors:

  1. The nature of the change.

  2. The implications of the change.

  3. Organizational history of changes.

  4. Character of the individual.

  5. Personal history.


Accordingly, planning and managing the change should be undertaken in practice.


Team-Level Change

Defining a team is distinct from defining a group, and experiencing change in these two entities is dissimilar. A group constitutes individuals within a defined boundary, either self-defined or imposed by others. Conversely, a team is a more tightly-knit group with common goals, shared responsibilities, strong affinity, and collaborative efforts. Teams are necessitated when a task is too intricate—whether technically, physically, professionally, or due to the weight of responsibility—to be accomplished by an individual. Various types of teams exist, including groups (which are inaccurate), permanent work teams, parallel teams, project teams, matrix teams, virtual teams, network teams, administrative teams, and change teams. These teams differ in continuity, duration of activity, organizational relationships, leadership, location, mission, authority, and focus.


Five factors influence the effective functioning of a team:

  1. The mission, planning, and objectives.

  2. Roles.

  3. The operational processes of the team.

  4. Internal connections among team members.

  5. Team connections to the rest of the organization and the external environment.


Every team changes its establishment, whether when new members join, when a key member departs, when the scope of activity shifts, under increased external pressure, or amid changes in organizational culture.


Conduct and leveraging of teams during change:

  1. Group:

    a. Advantages: Good for generating out-of-the-box ideas.

    b. Disadvantages: Alignment can be challenging.

    c. Advice: Appropriate for incorporating new ideas and spreading information.

  2. Work Team:

    a. Advantages: Effective in implementation.

    b. Disadvantages: Resistance to change.

    c. Tip: Integrate leadership to facilitate change.

  3. Parallel Team:

    a. Advantages: Suitable for piloting new ideas.

    b. Disadvantages: Risk of alienation if unsuccessful.

    c. Advice: Suitable for initiating or validating new concepts.

  4. Project Team:

    a. Advantages: Effective for focused tasks.

    b. Disadvantages: Less suitable for addressing value/leadership issues.

    c. Tip: Suitable for short-term objectives.

  5. Matrix Team:

    a. Advantages: Flexible, suitable for new initiatives.

    b. Disadvantages: It can be time-consuming due to unclear leadership.

    c. Advice: Appropriate for introducing new ideas and circulating information.

  6. Virtual Team:

    a. Advantages: Combines different groups.

    b. Disadvantages: Lack of cohesion may lead to misunderstandings.

    c. Tip: Integrate virtual teams early but implement changes in the later stages.

  7. Network Team:

    a. Advantages: Wide distribution, suitable for sharing rationale for change.

    b. Disadvantages: Difficult to monitor and control progress.

    c. Advice: Suitable for incorporating new ideas and spreading information.

  8. Management Team:

    a. Advantages: Powerful, capable of making a significant impact.

    b. Disadvantages: Typically resistant to change due to time constraints.

    c. Advice: Be prepared for challenges; surprise interventions may be necessary.

  9. Change Team:

    a. Advantages: Energized, as change is their focus.

    b. Disadvantages: Influence is team-centric.

    c. Advice: Form a team with influential and powerful individuals and secure adequate resources.


Enterprise-Grade Change

Understanding how change occurs at an organizational level involves grasping the four types of organizations as defined by Morgan (the four metaphors):

  1. Organizations as Machines:

    a. Characteristics: Process-oriented; orderly organizational structure.

    b. Change Management: Corresponds to the behavioral approach; objections are expected but well-managed through planning and control; authoritarian systems.

  2. Organizations as Political Systems:

    a. Characteristics: Separation between operational conduct and an overarching political system.

    b. Change Management: Relies on powerful support; broad support is preferred; emphasizes coalitions.

  3. Organizations as Organisms:

    a. Characteristics: Organizations as living, evolving entities.

    b. Change Management: Changes respond to external needs; awareness and acceptance are crucial; success requires partnership and psychological support.

  4. Organizations as Fluid and Transform:

    a. Characteristics: Complex systems intertwined with the broader environment.

    b. Change Management: Change is an evolving process; managers are part of the environment; tension and conflicts are integral to change; managers allow and facilitate.


Various familiar models blend these metaphors, summarized as follows:

  • Levine (1,3): Thawing of the situation, change, re-freeze of the problem.

  • Bullock and Batten (1): Discovery, planning, action, integration.

  • Dannemiller (1,2,3): Sense of urgency, coalition, vision, and values, channeling, empowerment, planning, quick victories, improvements, and rewards, institutionalization after the change.

  • Burke and Harris (3): Change requires more significant benefits (dissatisfaction, desire for change, and negligible risk) than the cost.

  • Nadler and Tushman (2,3): Change is influenced by formal organization, informal organization, work, and people.

  • William Bridges (1,3,4): Separation between change and transition; transition involves an uncomfortable neutral zone and a new beginning.

  • Kotter (2,3): Manager roles during change include effective process management, organizational culture and politics, and the ability to take risks, learn, and innovate.

  • Senge (2,3,4): Spiral approach: start small, constant growth, anticipate challenges.

  • Stacey and Shaw (2,4): Changes emerge naturally from good communication, conflict, and stress; the manager is part of the change.


Each model has advantages and is more suitable under specific circumstances than others.


Leadership

The leader plays a significant role in change management, as defined in the book "Leadership on the Line" as leading unnatural change. Several leadership aspects warrant consideration to guide leaders effectively in leading change.


Vision Leadership:

Vision leadership, often regarded as a cornerstone in the leadership realm, faces some opposition in recent times. Bennis, an advocate of visionary concepts, identifies three crucial components for a leader: guiding vision, passion, and integrity. He distinguishes the qualities of a manager and those of a leader, a comparison that doesn't favor managers. Berryman adds charisma, inspiration, intellectual stimulation, and consideration for individuals as requirements for leaders guiding transformation. However, opponents like Heifetz and Lowry argue that the leader's vision concept needs to align with the 21st century's needs. Tailored leadership is suggested, capable of challenging individuals, pushing them beyond their comfort zones, and managing external pressures and conflicts adeptly. Jean Lipman-Bluman emphasizes connections with diverse people and ideas, favoring leaders who excel in political ethics, authenticity, reliability, politics of commonality, long-term thinking with immediate action, leadership through expectations, and a desire for meaning.


Roles of the Manager:

The roles of a leader guiding change vary based on the attitude towards the organization within the four metaphors. In a machine-like organization, the leader is a project-oriented manager; in a political context, they build and lead a vision and coalition; in an organism analogy, the leader serves as a coach and consultant; and in a complex, fluid system, the leader facilitates change. Combining all styles seems essential. Sanji opposes the heroic leader role, distinguishing between junior managers focused on teams and customers and senior managers responsible for creating an innovative environment. Network administrators work at the interface between projects, teams, and functions, presenting a real challenge for junior managers and organizational change leadership. O'Neill endorses Sanji's model, defining change roles as sponsor, supportive sponsor, implementer, change agent, and advocate.


Management Styles:

Goleman explores the link between high emotional intelligence and business results, identifying six management styles:

  1. Compulsive style – suitable for crises and urgent changes.

  2. Authoritarian style – appropriate for turnarounds and visionary leadership.

  3. Aggregate style – ideal for repairing ties and rebuilding trust.

  4. Democratic style – practical when the team is more aware than the leader.

  5. Route-setting style – effective with a highly motivated team and additional tools.

  6. Trust style – suitable when individuals need new skills as part of the change process. Goleman emphasizes the importance of the leader's emotional intelligence in self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and social skills.


Different Leadership for Different Stages of Change:

Cameron and Green outline changing leadership roles at different stages, distinguishing between inner (emotional) and outer (task-oriented) aspects. Cotter stresses the criticality of the initial stages, Kanter emphasizes continuity, especially in the middle stages, and Bridges proposes a model for managing change toward its end. Bridges provide tools for leading during the neutral zone and the discomfort before adapting to the new change.


Importance of Personal Knowledge and Internal Resources:

Leaders bear a substantial responsibility in change management, and discussions about their talents and skills abound. A less-discussed tool is the leader's knowledge and resources. Bennis argues that leaders should design their lives rather than be solely led by experience, emphasizing self-learning, self-responsibility, fearlessness, optimism, and self-reflection. Kavi identifies characteristics related to leaders' knowledge and resources, recommending continuous learning, service orientation, positive energy, belief in others, a balanced life, viewing life as an adventure, synergy, and renewal in all physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual dimensions. Kavi suggests behaviors that connect internal and external aspects, such as being proactive, thinking about the end, prioritizing orders, thinking win-win, understanding before being understood, generating synergy, and refining and innovating.


Common Types of Change Management:

Organizational Restructuring

Organizational restructuring is a prevalent form of change, driven by various reasons:

  • Reducing or adjusting the organization's size

  • Centralizing or decentralizing powers

  • Strategic shifts

  • Introducing new products or services

  • Market readjustments

  • Coping with internal or external crises

  • Cost reduction and streamlining

  • Reducing hierarchical levels

  • Mergers or acquisitions (detailed in a separate chapter)

  • Cultural transformations

  • Changes in senior management


When implementing organizational restructuring, close attention to the human resources aspects of change management is crucial beyond deciding the nature of the change itself. In perceiving the organization as a machine, the Levin model can be adopted: the thawing stage to integrate people, the change stage to strengthen pro-change elements and weaken resistance, and the freezing stage for rewards. Alternatively, perceiving the organization as an organism may lead to adopting the Nadler and Tussman model: first, clarify causes, timing, and rationale; second, communicate appealingly to goals and visions; and third, brand the entire move as feasible. Organizational change comes at a high price, requiring a focus on the benefits while honestly and transparently conveying the costs.


The book explores various organizational structures (entrepreneurial, functional, product or geography divisions, matrix) and delves into circumstances where each is more suitable, highlighting their advantages and limitations.


Key considerations in planning and executing an organizational restructuring project include:

  • Leadership: Guiding people through the confusion and discomfort of the process is a critical role for the leader.

  • Future Direction and Strategy: Ensure practical aspects are addressed, moving beyond vision and strategy to tangible plans.

  • Channeling: Vital for success, involving the correct information, channel, and timing for knowledge transfer.

  • Implementation Process: The implementation complexity needs to be addressed, with coordination of expectations being key.

  • Supporting Tools: Activating tools that support the new organizational structure.

  • Visibility into Administrative Support: Ensuring administrative support remains visible.

  • Continuous Communication: Maintaining a clear and consistent message about the purpose of change.

  • Selection Process: Establishing a transparent and consistent selection process.

  • Top Management Involvement: Securing attention and involvement of top management in the process.

  • Involving Middle Managers: Consulting and involving middle managers early in the process.


Addressing change at both the individual and team levels is essential, attending to both the human and mission aspects simultaneously.


Mergers and Acquisitions

In recent years, mergers and acquisitions have become commonplace in organizations. Various reasons drive mergers and acquisitions:

  1. Growth: Accelerating growth in people and market dimensions (customer base, branding, etc.).

  2. Synergy: Increasing revenue and reducing operating or financial costs.

  3. Diversification: Breaking through existing capabilities' frameworks (market or product).

  4. Integration: Transverse (competitor) or longitudinal (supplier or customer) integration.

  5. Deal Closure: Pressure from the board of directors or acquiring competitors in a similar move.


The authors provide detailed insights into the advantages, disadvantages, and associated organizational implications for each reason. Case studies in the book offer valuable lessons for managing merger/acquisition change, emphasizing constant and continuous channeling, defining the proper organizational structure, handling cultural obstacles sensitively, keeping customers informed, maintaining a complete and orderly process, acknowledging the end of an era, creating a sense of urgency, forming a supportive coalition, establishing a new vision, creating short-term successes, improving the process iteratively, linking the process to success, and emphasizing decency.


Recommendations for overcoming cultural gaps include early meetings with the management team of the acquired/merged company, creating a 100-day plan, continuous communication with attention to audience, timing, path, and message, cultural workshops, and a constant series of actions for integration.


Standard cultural dimensions confronted include laws/connections, group/individual dynamics, the level of expression of sensations, individual involvement in decision-making, and the place of status. Feldman and Spratt identify seven common "sins" in mergers/acquisitions, such as lengthy checklists, overly hyped channels, excessive committees and planning, undefined job titles, vision, and value statements without corresponding actions, inadequate manager selection, and rewarding behaviors that may not be the right ones.


A recommended merger/acquisition process involves pre-merger assessments, infrastructure building, rapid integration, and implementation, covering aspects like assessing cultural strengths and obstacles, appointing an integration manager, ranking managers, developing a channeling strategy, building infrastructure, integrating senior personnel, rapid integration through workshops, process audits, continuous learning, and the development of standard tools, language, and processes.


Leaders supporting employees in the M&A process should consider communication strategies during intent announcements, the publication of detailed plans, the onset of changes, and the organization's operation in its new configuration. Recommendations for junior managers, according to Devine, include active involvement, staying informed, meeting people, managing emotions, career management, considering it a criterion for success, and maintaining a positive outlook.


Cultural Change

Today, the significance of culture within an organization and its substantial impact on performance is widely acknowledged. Understanding how to manage cultural change necessitates grasping the various ways culture develops (Shine):

  • General evolution occurs when an organization adapts to the environment.

  • Targeted evolution of teams/subgroups in different environments.

  • Evolution resulting from the cultural insights of leaders in an organization.

  • Guided evolution results from encouraging people to learn from each other.

  • Planned and managed cultural change through an orderly committee and task force system.

  • Partial or complete cultural change resulting from a change of leadership.


To achieve successful cultural change, several recommendations are proposed:

  1. Always link the change to the vision, mission, and goals.

  2. Create a sense of urgency and emphasize the need for change.

  3. Think with the eyes of the shareholder.

  4. Recognize that the "how" is just as important as the "what."

  5. Build on existing foundations and innovate from there.

  6. Establish supportive mechanisms.

  7. Act as a role model.

  8. Cultivate a community of flexible and focused leaders.

  9. Insist that everyone, not just human resources, shares ownership of changes.


Additional recommendations based on field experiences (case studies) include:

  • Refine the understanding of the need, as people may not fully comprehend it.

  • Prioritize focus and clarity.

  • Provide supportive coaching and training for both managers and employees.

  • Recognize that commitment cannot be developed solely through emails.

  • Leverage new teams to create new opportunities.

  • Initiate change by aligning with the business strategy.

  • Avoid excessive planning; allow flexibility.

  • Capitalize on existing cultural strengths.

  • Involve as many people as possible, as deeply as possible.

  • Implement processes and standards that support the desired behavior.

  • Exercise patience, acknowledging that organizational change occurs at a measured pace.

  • Acknowledge the difficulty of breaking existing molds, requiring substantial effort.

  • Emphasize that supporting individuals is not merely a "soft" aspect; practical issues are involved.

  • Lead cultural change with a focus on the business aspect.

  • Encourage creativity and explore new ways of accomplishing tasks.


Process Computing Change

Information systems have become an integral part of everyday life in recent years. However, despite the sophisticated nature of these systems and high expectations, reality often falls short. The technology's capability to deliver surpasses our ability to utilize it effectively. This discrepancy is evident both generally and specifically in the realms of knowledge management and business intelligence (ML). To comprehend the process of managing computing change, whether process-based or supportive, it is crucial first to understand its potential:

  • Flexible response to variable production of services and products.

  • Analyzing the market differently based on collected information and producing new products and services accordingly.

  • Serving customers in a novel way over the Internet.

  • Creating new channels for connections and organizational types.


For improved management of information systems integrated into the business aspect, a three-stage process is recommended:

  1. Establishing a task force comprising senior and junior business managers and CIOs responsible for aligning information systems strategy with organizational strategy over the next five years. Prioritize essential capabilities in information systems to achieve the objectives above.

  2. Conducting an audit to comprehend the added values of information systems while seeking input from diverse employees.

  3. Creating a multi-year work plan to bridge gaps, allocate resources, and define responsibilities and timelines for implementation.


To align information systems professionals more closely with business needs, it is suggested to guide them in acquiring specific knowledge and skills:


Knowledge:

  • Understanding how organizational changes occur.

  • Identifying motivators for action.

  • Recognizing sources of objections to change and strategies for handling them.

  • Familiarity with change management processes and supporting management styles.

  • A broad understanding of various business processes.

  • Comprehensive knowledge of the culture of change and its impact.


Skills:

  • Coaching managers to promote change management.

  • Participation in multidisciplinary team workshops.

  • Persuading individuals outside their professional field.

  • Managing customer and shareholder relationships.

  • Mapping collaborative processes.

  • Effective communication in the client's language.


Additionally, two methods for building information systems closer to the business aspect are proposed:

  1. Business Process Re-engineering (BPR): Analyzing core business processes and building organizational activity and information systems around them.

  2. Socio-technological design: Constructing technologies that offer flexibility to users and define only the critical minimum, solving problems close to their occurrence.


Davenport presents his doctrine regarding information in the organization:

  • Most valuable information for people in the organization is on something other than computers.

  • Managers prefer information from people, adding context to systems.

  • Detailed and complex information is less likely to induce behavioral change.

  • Information does not need to be uniform; room for flexibility is essential.

  • An organization's knowledge of its core business area reduces consensus on a standard definition.

  • Information sharing depends on trust and participation.

  • Efficient use of information systems requires face-to-face communication skills.

  • People are crucial sources and integrators of information, and any information mapping should include them.

  • There is no information overflow; if it is genuinely helpful, the appetite for it would be endless.


Carrer provides three recommendations for CIOs in planning their strategy:

  1. Spend less

  2. Follow the organization; don't lead it.

  3. Focus on weaknesses and problems rather than opportunities.


Implementing these recommendations will bring information systems personnel closer to the organization and vice versa.

bottom of page