What is change?

When I was first asked this question in class, I thought this would be an easy answer. At its most basic level, change is the process of making something different than it was before.  Positive change is the art of making something better than it was before.  From a business perspective, I kept repeating the term process improvement.  Yet, why is change so complex? Why is it oftentimes met with resistance?

I realized that change is something we can easily define in our head, but it’s not as easily planned and/or implemented in real life. Organizations are social systems. They involve people and people are complex. Changing an organization involves changing the way people do their jobs. Positive change depends upon how well an organization’s employees interact and work together at all levels of management.  Each worker, therefore, is invested in the change effort. Change also takes time. Long term and lasting change that impacts the organization’s culture cannot be done overnight. It takes time to create “buy in” from each employee. Due to the long term investment, some organizations consider change too costly and prefer short term changes that generate a quick return on investment. When in actuality, lasting change is more cost-effective in the long term. So, what makes organizational change successful?

Several success factors exist in the literature today. However, a few stick out to me. Committed leadership is probably the most important factor. Workers look to leaders during major change efforts. It’s important for leaders to remain active and supportive of the change process for others to “buy in” and get on board. Also, the idea of workers being a part of the changes they helped create is another important factor. I completely agree with Lewin’s argument that people will commit to a change they helped create. Lastly, there needs to be a planned and well-organized structure and/or program in place that involves everyone and relates to the organization’s mission. Again, the success factors sound great on paper, but are easier said than done. I’m looking forward to putting these thoughts into action as a part of this class.

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