Planned Change

Introduction of Planned Change

Change is inevitable in the life of an individual or organization. In today’s business world, most organizations are facing a dynamic and changing business environment. They should either change or die, there is no third alternative. Organizations that learn and cope with change will thrive and flourish and others who fail to do so will be wiped out.

The major forces which make the changes not only desirable but inevitable are technological, economic, political, social, legal, international and labor market environments. Recent surveys of some major organizations around the world have shown that all successful organizations are continuously interacting with the environment and making changes in their structural design or philosophy or policies or strategies as the need be.

According to BARNEY AND GRIFFIN, “The primary reason cited for organizational problems is the failure by managers to properly anticipate or respond to forces for change.” Thus, in a dynamic society surrounding today’s organizations, the question of whether a change will occur is no longer relevant.

Instead, the issue is how managers cope with the inevitable barrage of changes that confront them daily in attempting to keep their organizations viable and current. Otherwise, the organizations will find it difficult or impossible to survive.

Meaning of Change

Unlike other concepts in organizational behavior, not many definitions are available to define the term “change”. In very simple words we can say that change means the alternation of the status quo or making things different. “The term change refers to any alternation which occurs in the overall work environment of an organization.

” To quote another definition “when an organizational system is disturbed by some internal or external force, change occurs frequently. Change, as a process, is simply the modification of the structure or process of a system. It may be good or bad, the concept is descriptive only.” From the above definitions we can conclude that change has the following characteristics:

  • Change results from the pressure of both internal and external forces in the organization. It disturbs the existing equilibrium or status quo in the organization.

  • The change in any part of the organization affects the whole of the organization.

  • Change will affect the various parts of the organization at varying rates of speed and degrees of significance. Changes may affect people, structure, technology and other elements of the organization.

  • Change may be reactive or proactive. When change is brought about due to the pressure of external forces, it is called reactive change. Proactive change is initiated by the management on its own to increase organizational effectiveness.

Forces for Change of Planned Change

There are several factors both internal and external which affect organizational functioning. Any change in these factors necessitates changes in an organization. The more important factors are as follows:

External Forces

The external environment affects organizations both directly and indirectly. The organizations do not have any control over the variables in such an environment. Accordingly, the organization cannot change the environment but must change itself to align with the environment. A few of these factors are:

  • Technology: Technology is the major external force that calls for change. The adoption of new technology such as computers, telecommunication systems and flexible manufacturing operations has a profound impact on the organizations that adopt them.

  • Marketing Conditions: Marketing conditions are no more static. They are in the process of rapid change as the needs, desires and expectations of the customers change rapidly and frequently. Moreover, there is tough competition in the market as the market is flooded with new products and innovations everyday new method of advertising is used to influence the customers.

    Today the concept of consumerism has gained considerable importance and thus, the consumers be treated as kings.

    Moreover, the competition today has some significant new twists; most markets will soon be international because of decreasing transportation and communication costs and the increasing export orientation of the business.

    The global economy will make sure that competitors are likely to come across the ocean as well as from across town. Successful organizations will be those that can change in response to the competition. Organizations that are not ready for these new sources of competition in the next decade may not exist for long.

  • Social Changes: Social and cultural environment also suggests some changes that the organizations have to adjust for. There are a lot of social changes due to the spread of education, knowledge and a lot of government efforts. Social quality e.g. equal opportunities for women, and equal pay for equal work, has posed new challenges for the management. The management has to follow certain social norms in shaping its employment, marketing and other policies.

  • Political Forces: Political environment within and outside the country has an important impact on business, especially transnational corporations. The interference of the government in business has increased tremendously in most the countries. The corporate sector is regulated by a lot of laws and regulations. The organizations do not have any control over the political and legal forces, but they have to adapt to meet the pressure of these forces.

    In our country, the new economic policy has liberalized the economy to a large extent. Many of the regulatory laws have been amended to reduce the interference of the Government in business. An organization is also affected by world politics. Some of the changes in world politics which have affected business all over the world are e.g. the reunification of Germany, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait and the break of the Soviet Union.

Internal Forces

Internal forces are too many and it is very difficult to list them comprehensively. However, major internal causes are explained as follows:

  • Nature of the Work Force: The nature of the workforce has changed over the passage of time. Different work values have been expressed by different generations. Workers who are in the age group of 50 plus value loyalty to their employers. Workers in their mid-thirties to mid-forties are loyal to themselves only. The youngest generation of workers is loyal to their careers.

  • Nature of the Work Force: The nature of the workforce has changed with time. Different work values have been expressed by different generations. Workers who are in the age group of 50 plus value loyalty to their employers. Workers in their mid-thirties to mid-forties are loyal to themselves only. The youngest generation of workers is loyal to their careers.

  • Nature of the Work Force: The nature of the workforce has changed with time. Different work values have been expressed by different generations. Workers who are in the age group of 50 plus value loyalty to their employers. Workers in their mid-thirties to mid-forties are loyal to themselves only. The youngest generation of workers is loyal to their careers.

  • Change in Managerial Personnel: Change in managerial personnel is another force that brings about change in an organization. Old managers are replaced by new managers which is necessitated because of promotion, retirement, transfer or dismissal. Each manager brings his ideas and way of working into the organization.

    Informal relationships change because of changes in managerial personnel. Sometimes, even though there is no change in personnel, their attitudes change. As a result, the organization has to change accordingly. Changes in the organization are faster when top executives change. Change in top executives will lead to important changes in the organization in terms of organization design, allocation of work to individuals, the delegation of authority, installation of controls etc. All these changes will be necessitated because every top executive will have his style and he will like to use his ideas and philosophies.

  • Deficiencies in Existing Management Structure: Sometimes changes are necessary because of some deficiencies in the existing organizational structure, arrangement and processes. These deficiencies may be in the form of an unmanageable span of management, the larger number of managerial levels, lack of coordination among various departments, obstacles in communication, a multiplicity of committees, lack of uniformity in policy decisions, lack of cooperation between line and staff and so on. However, the need for change in cases goes unrecognized until some major crisis occurs.

  • To Avoid Developing Inertia: In many cases, organizational changes take place just to avoid developing inertia or inflexibility. Conscious managers take into account this view that an organization should be dynamic because any single method is not the best tool for management every time. Thus, changes are incorporated so that the personnel develops a liking for change and there is no necessary resistance when major changes in the organization are brought about.

Level of Change Programmes

The various types of change programs may be classified into individual-level change, group-level change and organizational-level change.

Individual Level Change

Individual level changes may take place due to changes in job assignment, transfer of an employee to a different location or the changes in the maturity level of a person which occurs over a passage of time. The general opinion is that change at the individual level will not have significant implications for the organization.

But this is not correct because individual-level changes will have an impact on the group which in turn will influence the whole organization. Therefore, a manager should -never treat the employees in isolation but he must understand that the individual level change will have repercussions for the individual.

Group Level Change

Management must consider group factors while implementing, any change, because most organizational changes have their major effects at the group level. The groups in the organization can be formal groups or informal groups.

Formal groups can always resist change for example; trade unions can very strongly resist the changes proposed by the management. Informal groups can pose a major barrier to change because of the inherent strength they contain.

Changes at the group level can affect the workflows, job design, social organization, influence and status systems and communication patterns. The groups, particularly the informal groups have a lot of influence on the individual members of the group. As such by effectively implementing change at the group level, resistance at the individual level can be frequently overcome.

Organisational Level Change

The organizational level change involves major programs which affect both the individuals and the groups. Decisions regarding such changes are made by the senior management. These changes occur over long periods and require considerable planning for implementation. A few different types of organization level changes are:

  • Strategic Change: Strategic change is the change in the very basic objectives or missions of the organization. A single objective may have to be changed to multiple objectives. For example, a lot of Indian companies are being modified to accommodate various aspects of global culture brought in by multinational or transnational corporations.

  • Structural Change: Organizational structure is the pattern of relationships among various positions and various position holders. Structural change involves changing the internal structure of the organization. This change may be in the whole set of relationships, work assignments and authority structure. Change in organizational structure is required because old relationships and interactions no longer remain valid and useful in the changed circumstances.

  • Process-Oriented Change: These changes relate to recent technological developments, information processing and automation. This will involve replacing or retraining personnel, heavy capital equipment investment and operational changes. All this will affect the organizational culture and as a result the behavior pattern of the individuals.

  • People-Oriented Change: People-oriented changes are directed towards performance improvement, group cohesion, dedication and loyalty to the organization as well as developing a sense of self-actualization among members. This can be made possible by closer interaction with employees and by special behavioral training and modification sessions. To conclude, we can say that changes at any level affect the other levels. The strength of the effect will depend on the level or source of change.

Managing Planned Change

A planned change is a change planned by the organization; it does not happen by itself. It is affected by the organization to achieve something that might be difficulty. Through planned change, an organization can achieve its goals rapidly. The basic reasons for planned change are:

  • To improve the means for satisfying the economic needs of members

  • To increase profitability

  • To promote human work for human beings

  • To contribute to individual satisfaction and social well-being.

In introducing planned change, the basic problem before management is to handle it in such a way that there would be necessary adjustments in various forces. For this purpose, the manager who has to act as the change agent has to go through a particular process. The planned change process may comprise the following three steps:

Planning for Change

The first step in the process of change is to identify the next change and the area of change whether it is a strategic change, process-oriented change or employee-oriented change. This need for change can be identified either through internal factors or external factors. Once this need is identified, the following general steps can be taken:

  • Develop New Goals and Objectives: The manager must identify what new outcomes they wish to achieve. This may be a modification of previous goals due to a changed internal and external environment or it may be a new set of goals and objectives.

  • Select an Agent of Change: The next step is that the management must decide who will initiate and oversee this change. One of the existing managers may be assigned this duty or even sometimes specialists and consultants can be brought in from outside to suggest the various methods to bring in the change and monitor the change process.

  • Diagnose the Problem: The person who is appointed as the agent of change will then gather all relevant data regarding the area or the problem where the change is needed. This data should be critically analyzed to pinpoint the key issues. Then the solutions can be focused on those key issues.

  • Select Methodology: The next important step is selecting a methodology for change that would be commonly acceptable and correct. As the human tendency is to resist change, employees’ emotions must be taken into consideration when devising such a methodology.

  • Develop a Plan: After devising the methodology, the next step will be to put together a plan as to what is to be done. For example, if the management wants to change the promotion policy, it must decide what type of employees will be affected by it, whether to change the policy for all the departments at once or to try it on a few selected departments first.

  • Strategy for Implementation of the Plan: In this stage, the management must decide on the ‘when’, ‘where’, and ‘how’ of the plan. This includes the right time of putting the plan to work, how the plan will be communicated to the employees to have the least resistance and how the implementation will be monitored.

Assessing Change Forces

The planned change does not come automatically; rather many forces in individuals, groups and organizations resist such change. The change process will never be successful unless the cooperation of employees is ensured. Therefore the management will have to create an environment in which change will be amicably accepted by people.

If the management can overcome the resistance the change process will succeed. In a group process, there are always some forces that favor the change and some forces that are against the change. Thus, equilibrium is maintained. Kurt Lewin calls it the “field of forces”. Lewin assumes that in every situation both driving and restraining forces influence any change that may occur.

Driving Forces are those, forces, which affect a situation by pushing in a particular direction. These forces tend to initiate the change and keep it going. Restraining Forces act to restrain or decrease – the driving forces. Equilibrium is reached when the sum of the driving forces equals the ‘sum of the restraining forces.

There may be three types of situations, as both driving and restraining forces are operating:

  • If the driving forces far out weight the restraining forces, management can push, drive forces and overpower restraining forces.

  • If restraining forces are stronger than driving forces, management either gives up the change program or it can pursue it by concentrating on driving forces and changing restraining forces into driving ones or immobilizing them.

  • If driving and restraining forces are fairly equal, management can push up driving forces and at the same time can convert or immobilize restraining forces.

Thus, to make the people accept the changes, the management must push driving forces and convert or immobilize the restraining forces.

Implementing Change

Once the management can establish favorable conditions, the right timing and the right channels of communication have been established the plan will be put into action. It may be in the form of a simple announcement or it may require briefing sessions in house seminars to gain the acceptance of all the members and especially those who are going to be directly affected by the change. After the plan has been implemented there should be an evaluation of the plan which comprises comparing actual results to the standards.


Investortonight requires its writers to base their articles on primary sources. This includes government documents, data, direct observations, and interviews with industry leaders. Additionally, we also incorporate research from reputable sources when appropriate. Our editorial guidelines detail the standards we maintain to ensure unbiased and accurate content.

  • Greiner and Schien, Power and Organizational Development.

  • D. Nadler, ‘The Effective Management of Change’, in Handbook of Organizational Behaviour.

  • Tripathi P.C., Organisational Effectiveness and Change, Sultan Chand and Sons.

  • Nilanjan Sengupta, M.S. Bhatacharya, R.N. Sengupta. Managing Change in Organization.

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