The science of change management is rapidly evolving in corporate America.
Still in its beginning phases its wise to view it from more than one
In a previous issue, we reviewed Better Change (Design News, November 6, 1995, p. 146), which offers guiding principles for firms seeking to achieve world-class performance. Changing the Way We Change: Gaining Control of Major Operational Change provides an alternative perspective on the change process and its influence on engineers.
Recurring themes. Each of the 10 chapters discusses the following to ultimately tie together the book's message:
A theory that encompasses the key elements of the process of change.
A story about a company that undergoes change and how it deals with each element. The book relates the problems, solutions, and triumphs that the vice president of engineering and others in the organization experience when they use the change elements and tools it describes.
A set of tools for handling change elements in an organization; the set includes questions, planning charts, assessment forms, and grids for data collection, among other valuable tips.
Process of change. The book focuses on the process of change in an organization, rather than on actual changes going on in its processes, structures, people, and culture.
It discusses the change process as a journey without end. The change process moves away from the present via the delta, a place that is neither new or old, and then into an unknown future.
Most organizations perceive their future to involve empowered employees, teamwork, and greater customer satisfaction. This, in turn, affects the process, structure, people, and culture in each department, and, of course, the organization as a whole as it proceeds from the present through the delta to the future.
People behind process. Next, the book identifies three groups of people involved in the change process. Sponsors set up the environment for change by identifying a mission and allocating resources to achieve it. Change agents implement the changes. Targets are the people who have to change. Various people at different levels in the organization--including top management--can, and should be sponsors, change agents, or targets as the circumstances require.
The book continues with descriptions of the three tools of change--a communication system, a learning system,and a reward system.
It concludes with a three-step implementation plan: define the future, guide the targets through the delta, and manage the change process.
The book should provide an understanding of the elements of change management (the theory), a feel for a change process from a real-world story, and a set of tools to help them participate in or set up a change management process.
*Changing the Way We Change: Gaining Control of Major Operational Change by Jeanette La Marsh (1995), Addison-Wesley Publishing Co.