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Cronologia di Change Management

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Theory and Practice of Change Management


History of Change Management

Historical Perspectives

This section identifies some of the key theories that have influenced change management thinking over the past 100 years.

By examining the manner in which change management has evolved over the past century, the unit aims to emphasize that change management has always evolved throughout history and may continue to do so throughout the next century.

Change Management Throughout the Twentieth Century

Click on the corresponding decades to read about the dominant method in change management during that period of time:

Scientific Management (1910s)

This method of change management promoted change as part of achieving efficiency due to better performing the task. Employers having specific responsibilities for achieving better performance and the method encouraged the scientific selection, training, and development of workers.

Taylor, who laid the foundations of the Scientific Management sought to achieve change by using the ‘carrot and stick’ approach - by connecting performance to rewards.

The Individual Perspective School (1920s)

This method of change management believed that change could be achieved by changing the behavior of individuals.

Human Relations School (1920s)

This method of change management believed that change could be achieved by changing informal roles and norms and understanding the attitudes and feelings of workers.

The Group Dynamics School (1930s)

This method of change management believed that change could be achieved by changing the groups and teams, rather than the individuals.

Bureaucracy (1940s)

The bureaucracy method of change management believed that change could be achieved through adherence to procedures, policies.

It also maintained that rationality, uniformity, and consistency in management lead to equitable treatment for all employees.

Leadership (1950s)

The leadership method of change management stressed the importance of groups having both social task leaders; differentiated between Theory X and Y management.

Decision Theory (1960s)

The decision theory method of change management suggested that individuals “satisfice” when they make decisions. It maintained that participation in decision-making is an enabler of change.

Socio-technical School (1960s)

This method of change management believed that change introduced through technology and groups was superior.

Systems Theory (1970s)

The systems theory of change management saw organizations as open systems with inputs.

The theory maintained that change could be achieved by carrying out transformations, outputs, and feedback.

Contingency Theory (1980s)

The contingency theory of change management stated that change could be successful and drive the organization forward, if there is a fit between organization processes and characteristics of the situation.

Chaos and Complexity Theory (1990s)

The chaos and complexity theory viewed organizations as complex adaptive systems.

It maintained that the effects of change difficult to predict and placed emphasis on creating the conditions for beneficial change to occur.

Complex Adaptive System vs Chaos and Complexity Theory

The dominant method of change today is known as the Complex Adaptive System (CAS). This method of change is loosely based on the Chaos and Complexity Theory which was in use during the 1990s.

While certain similarities exist between the Complex Adaptive System and the Chaos and Complexity Theory, they are different from each other in many ways.

In 2001, Olson and Eoyang compared both systems against each other, we will now examine the results of their research.

Complex Adaptive System vs Chaos and Complexity Theory (Continued)

Click on the numbers below to see the differences between the Complex Adaptive System and the Chaos and Complexity Theory.

Chaos and Complexity Theory

Few variables determine outcomes.

Complex Adaptive System

Innumerable variables determine outcome.

Chaos and Complexity Theory

The whole is equal to the sum of the parts (reductionist).

Complex Adaptive System

The whole is different from the sum of the parts (holistic).

Chaos and Complexity Theory

Individual or system behavior is knowable, predictable and controllable.

Complex Adaptive System

Individual or system behavior is unknowable, unpredictable and uncontrollable.

Chaos and Complexity Theory

Causality is linear: every effect can be traced to a specific cause.

Complex Adaptive System

Causality is mutual: Every cause is also an effect, and every effect is also a cause.

Chaos and Complexity Theory

Direction is determined by design and the power of a few leaders.

Complex Adaptive System

Direction is determined by emergence and the participation of many people.

Chaos and Complexity Theory

Relationships are directional.

Complex Adaptive System

Relationships are empowering.

Chaos and Complexity Theory

All systems are essentially the same.

Complex Adaptive System

Each system is unique.

Chaos and Complexity Theory

Efficiency and reliability are measures of value.

Complex Adaptive System

Responsiveness to the environment is the measure of value.

Complexity of Change

Having read this far you will no doubt realize that achieving change in an organization is a complicated process that depends on a wide variety of factors.

However if you wish to achieve change, it is important to not be disheartened by this. Anyone who has ever achieved change has operated in similar situations and change, though difficult, is achievable.

Olson and Eoyang also set out some of the questions you need to be asking if you are to lead successful change in a Complex Adaptive System, we will examine these next.

Change in the Complex Adaptive System

Click on the numbers below to read the questions you need to be asking if you are to lead successful change in a Complex Adaptive System.

Question

What minimum specifications will lead to productive outcomes?

Leadership Role

Set few specifications by identifying what needs to be addressed and leaving others to decide how to proceed.

Question

How can I help? What do you need?

Leadership Role

Distribute control - empower others.

Question

What do we need to do to meet the deadline?

Leadership Role

Generate a sense of urgency.

Question

What’s missing? What can’t we ignore?

Leadership Role

Monitor and regulate the pace of change.

Question

Why are we here? What makes us unique?

Leadership Role

Set the organizational direction.

Question

How else might we think about this?

Leadership Role

Explore contradictions, encourage different viewpoints.

Question

What do you really think? Why do we have to do it like that?

Leadership Role

Raise tough questions.

Question

What are you holding back?

Leadership Role

Accept a certain level of internal conflict and differences.

END of UNIT


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