What Internal Forces create a need for change?

by Sree Rama Rao on March 4, 2010

In addition to the external forces noted previously, internal forces can also stimulate the need for change. These internal forces tend to originate primarily from the internal operations of the organizations or from the impact of external changes. (It is also important to recognize that these changes are a normal part of the organizational life cycle).

When management redefines or modifies its strategy, it often introduces a host of changes. For example, following the deregulation of the petroleum industry in 2002, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) a government owned company, undertook an organization redesign exercise to contend with the challenge of private competition. The organization’s strategy had to change to bring in greater customer focus and responsiveness. This entailed a host of organization wide structural changes, including changing from a functional to a divisional enterprise with strategic business units, de-layering the hierarchical organization and empowering the employees in decision making.

How can a Manager serve as a change agent?

Change agents: A person who initiates and assumes the responsibility for managing a change in an organization.

Changes within an organization need a catalyst. People who act as catalysts and assume the responsibility for managing the change process are called change agents.

Any manager can be change agent. As we review the topic of change, we assume that it is initiated and carried out by a manager within the organization. However the change agent can be a non manager for example, an internal staff specialist or an outside consultant whose expertise is in change implementation. For major system wide changes, internal management will often hire outside consultants to provide advice and assistance. Because these consultants are from the outside, they can offer an objective perspective that insiders usually lack. However, outside consultants may have inadequate understanding of the organization’s history, culture, operating procedures and personnel. They are also prone to initiating more drastic changes than insiders which can be either a benefit or a disadvantage, because they do not have to live with the repercussions after the change is implemented. In contrast internal managers who act as change agents may be more thoughtful and possibly more cautious because they must live with consequences of their actions.

Two views of the Change Process:

We often use two metaphors to clarity the change process. The calm waters metaphor envisions the organization as a large ship crossing a calm sea. The ship’s captain and crew know exactly where they are going because they have made the trip many times before. Change surfaces as the occasional storm, a brief distraction in an otherwise calm and predictable trip. In the white water rapids metaphor the organizations is seen as small raft navigating a raging river with uninterrupted white water rapids. Aboard the raft are half a dozen people who have never worked together before, who are totally unfamiliar with the river, who are unsure of their eventual destination, and who as if things weren’t bad enough are traveling in a pitch dark night. In the white water rapids metaphor change is a natural and managing change is a continual process.

These two metaphors present distinctly different approaches to understanding and responding to change. Let us take closer look at each one.

Calm Waters metaphor:

A description of traditional practices in and theories about organizations that likes the organization to a large ship making a predictable trip across a calm sea and experiencing an occasional storm

White water rapids metaphor:

A description of an organization, compared to a small raft, navigating a raging river.

Intel’s new CEO Paul Otellini is a change agent. Otellini wants to expand Intel’s focus beyond microprocessors that power personal computers by launching new products in the fields of consumer electronics, wireless communications and healthcare. Otellini restructured Intel by forming business units for each product area and cross functional teams to develop new products. Otellini hopes that these and many other changes at Intel will lead to breakthrough innovations.





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