Getting into the nitty gritty of change

This blog is 4 of 6 in this series of blogs that focuses on developing a change management strategy to help your organisation transition to an Enterprise 2.0 model of operation.


Change management does have a number of established methodologies and toolkits that you can use as part of your change management strategy. The problem in change management is in choosing and coordinating these methodologies and toolkits. Human behaviour is complex, so you need to be able to assess your environment and choose the right ‘bag of tricks’. This blog describes in more depth change architecture, and change foci in order for you to get an understanding of which set of tools and methodologies you should choose as part of your strategy.


Planned change

Planned changes are based on Lewin’s (1952) force field theory advocating a basic three steps functional process. These three steps include the Unfreezing, Moving and Refreezing steps. The basis for Lewin’s models is that a new behaviour can only be learned when an existing behaviour is perceived as inadequate in the new existing environment. Thereby change can be described in general and ordered steps. The planned change management approach is usually taken when an organisation undergoes transformation and the timeframe is defined.

Emergent change

Emergent change is seen as a process whereby the organisation continuously improves the
organisations capability in order to match the demands of the outside environment (Hackman and Wageman, 1995). The emergent approach is based on the assumption that change will occur in a mostly unstable and unpredictable manner. Change will not occur in a series of linear events but will play out differently through the interaction of multiple variables. Under these conditions Total Quality Management (TQM) models are usually adopted as part of the change management strategy.

Contingent change

The contingent approach rejects ‘the one best fit’ approach. The contingent approach advocates that an organisation must align their resources according to the contingencies that they face. Because each organisation has a unique set of organisational variables the change approach is dependent (contingent) on these factors (Dunphy and Stace, 1993). These different variables can include any of the internal and external variables that make up the organisation. The model adopted in these circumstances is usually a mash-up of a number of strategies.

Below is a matrix where you can score against some predefined criteria to help you understand which architectural change model to choose.


Table 1.0 – Types of Change Management programs and their focus

Table 1.0 essentially shows, if you are going to try to modify individual behaviour you implement programs that focus on the individual. If the target of the change program is group dynamics, you implement change programs that focus on the individuals and the roles they play in groups. If the focus of the change program is about the organisation, you have to implement change programs that focus on the individual, group dynamics, the culture of the organisation i.e. conversation, the structure of the organisation, and finally pressures from the external environment. A change management program is about making all of these programs work in alignment. You are not going to motivate your staff to change if they do not have the personal skills, key influencers are against the idea, the school can not logistically support the change, or the external pressure does not have legitimacy. You have to get all of these right at the same time to increase your chances of change.

Lets briefly address each of these criteria.

Individual change – this means you have to put in place an education program, and good policies that will support your teachers in use. You will have to listen carefully to teachers and administrators negative comments and have key people in place to objection handle. You can not let negative conversation grow and take on a life of its own. Be aware of conversations that are not taking place openly e.g.

The value of an individual to an organization is what they can do for organization and who they know. The thought that knowledge workers would fully impart what makes them valuable to their organization seems to be not in the interest of the individual.

Group change – Using Kotter’s model of change management, you will need to ensure that you have key people in your organisation that can act as influencers. Their job is to guide conversation. Stakeholders also need to understand how there work role will be influenced by the new changes. Make sure you are clear about this in your knowledge transfer programs.

Cultural change – In a nutshell a culture change is about back-grounding old conversation and thought, and fore-grounding new conversation and thought. It takes a skilled communicator and mediator.

Organisational Change – What are the structures in your organisation that are preventing the change. Some of these things can be easy to solve, such as internet filters. Other can be more difficult i.e. heirarchial structures. If these structures prevent an effective Enterprise 2.0 implementation they need to be addressed. A word of warning however, not everybody has the capacity and capability to change overnight. Plan out realistic timeframes for these structural changes.

Environmental Change – Is the environmental change i.e. Enterprise 2.0, a legitimate change for your organisation? One way of getting legitimacy is by defining the business problems in your school. Can social media tools solve this business problem.

“In most organizations, the starting point is technology, to be followed by a search for problem. If a suitable problem is not found then something is invented. This is the wrong way of approaching any problem. The right way is to start with a business problem and search for the best way to solve that problem. The search may lead to specific web 2.0 technology or it may lead to some other solution which is better than using any web 2.0 tools”.

In this blog I have provided information about change architecture, and how to focus your change strategies. This information provides a grounding so that you can now start to choose some change management models as part of your change management strategy. In the next blog I will present some change management models, for each of the change foci.


About whellmuth

Working with the education software industry to build software with standard arhitectures that allows schools to have extensible and well integrated technologies. Member of Software QLD. Member of Microsoft advisory board on cloud computing. My doctorate specialises in Software Architecture in the Education environment. My Master Research specialised in IT change management.
This entry was posted in Change Management, Enterprise 2.0, Strategic Planning. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Getting into the nitty gritty of change

  1. Pingback: The language of change. | Wayne Hellmuth

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