Making Sense of Organisational Change – Part 1

In the workplace, we are all on the road to somewhere. Using a roadmap regarding organisational change can make that journey much easier…

In 1947, Kurt Lewin explored how change could be effected in the workplace. He came up with a static model, which in its most simplistic form made perfect sense:

In the late 1990’s, my colleagues and I looked at changing the static model to a fluid model using a very simple step – building in a feedback loop. This easily embraced change as an ongoing process:

With this very simple approach in hand, I commenced making changes in each role I was responsible for, as I moved from organisation to organisation. So, over a number of years, this saw me introduce key changes at the team level, then the branch level, departmental or divisional level and then finally at an organisational level.

Of course, I have come to appreciate in the last eight years, there is a requirement to build some further intricacies into the process. So, the organisational change model I use today, The Roadmap looks like this:

There are a number of models and theories out there regarding organisational change. Some of them, like the one I now use, are based on personal experience. Others are developed on the back of examining how people respond to different aspects of leadership and management in the workplace. We know that there is always room for improvement in how such models are developed and used. The key requirement with any successful organisational change is to establish buy-in at the very start of the process.

Join me in future posts where I will discuss the finer detail regarding how the process evolution or Roadmap works (including where the Engagement Diamond fits in to such a model)😊

6 Comments on “Making Sense of Organisational Change – Part 1”

    • Yes, some companies have transformed quickly. While others were transforming well ahead of COVID. As for myself, I had shut my office 18 months before the pandemic and commenced working from home, so when the pandemic hit, I was already well set. A very good friend of ours, who is a computer analyst for an American IT firm and lives about two hours from us on the west coast of Australia, works from home supporting computer networks remotely all round the globe. Once upon a time, he would have to fly everywhere. His wife is a librarian for the University of Melbourne, but also works remotely – 3,500 kms away from her main place of work.

      Liked by 3 people

  1. Wow, I wonder how this can be applied to today’s zoom enabled workplace. LOL. Is there going to be major changes to company structure and management style, given the fact that more work-from-home will happen and people can be spread across different continents?

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  2. Believe it or not, identifying the required changes using this model is just the same for a zoom and/or remote environment. The structure of the organisation will not necessarily change. However, one of the biggest issues is middle managers and some upper level executives letting go ie developing trust through empowering employees. Jan Carlzon proved this in the 1980s and early 1990s when he developed the concept of “inverting the organisational pyramid.” Leadership rather than management and supervision is key. Then we have how we can adopt Chaos Management by Tom Peters, but I won’t go on about that here 😅

    The research continually shows that employees going forward are pretty much evenly split on whether they now want to work from home or not. Many large corporations have offered working from home as a permanent arrangement or as a hybrid scheme eg three days at home and two days in the office. Working across different continents is not such an issue anymore. Some companies have got their on-line collaborative tools down pat. There are those tools that I use such as which are very intuitive and make collaboration in different time zones quite easy. I am not a fan of Zoom or Teams (although the latter is better).

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  3. I like that way of putting it, “Unfreeze, change, refreeze”! It makes me think about the process for replacing a malfunctioning part in machinery. First, you have to stop any active processes that might be damaged (or damage you) during the fix, then you can get in there and do your stuff, and finally you have to restart things to make sure the fix works. When it’s imagined as this big, abstract monolith of “change,” I think those kinds of updates and evolutions can seem intimidating or even impossible, when really it just takes a careful and mindful approach.

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    • You have nailed the process in one very delightful sentence, Cerid 😊 It can be explained this simply. People get it just as quickly. I can think of some of the huge organsational restructures I was involved with in the past that failed spectacularly because they never took half an hour to explain how change works (the powers that be didn’t understand it themselves). Yes, a careful and mindful approach is what is required instead of “we have restructured and you are in or out, or we are now doing things this way.”

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