What do we mean by this? Organizational changes often do not get off the ground or they do not achieve the desired goals. We like to manage complex changes. But is this really possible?
How an organizational scientist unravels and influences change processes of course it is important to formulate a goal or result at the start of a change process.
And of course it is not always possible to realize projects within the set time and budget, because reality often turns out to be much more unruly than originally thought. But a clear goal or result does give direction to a change process and ensures that everyone knows where the organization wants to move towards.
The implementation of a change process, however, partly depends on the sense of urgency and how urgent and relevant it is to change. Is the reason for change “outside pressure?” Is there a conflict? Do we want to improve or do we need to innovate? Or should we even adjust our organizational principles? All this partly determines the speed of the necessary change.
The more clearly the desired result/goal can be described and the more familiar with the way to achieve this, the easier it is to define the change process in phases and steps. But this is often not the case, which is why the diagnosis phase is of great importance for an organizational scientist. In this phase, you try to look at reality from different perspectives and, together with the client, try to puzzle out the question behind the question in order to thoroughly understand the situation and problem.
However, this does not mean that there is endless time to investigate, analyze and re-examine. We consultants are there to help clients reduce their complexity and keep pace in the process.
But the implementation of the change plan and the implementation phase are also important. Are we going to apply interventions once or are several cyclic processes of successive interventions necessary? Are we going to focus clearly on the result or on the process? These are all kinds of considerations that influence the approach.
And yes, we do use all kinds of models for that. And of course we know that a model is only a ‘limited’ representation of reality, but it helps to look at the problem. It is precisely our strength to compare different models and to know when you can apply which model. Looking at a situation multiple times helps to keep attention for the unruly reality. And that is difficult when it comes to human behavior that can influence change processes in all kinds of ways. Behavior that is influenced by a clear or unclear vision & strategy, personal motives, all kinds of assumptions and beliefs, by group pressure and by power games in organizations.
To what extent can people then still be influenced and can an organization still be made?
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