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Choosing Strategies of Change by Kotter & Schlesinger Essay

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Updated: Jun 24th, 2020

Problem Identification

Managing change is one of the challenges that many organisations face in the current society. The article by Kotter and Schlesinger (3) focuses on how an organisation can choose appropriate strategies for change. The world is changing very rapidly due to changes in technology and other environmental factors. Many organisations find themselves in very delicate situations where they cannot avoid change. However, problems start to arise when the employees resist change. Reiß (47) says that change is one of the inevitable events that a firm must find a way of handling. However, the problem is that many people tend to resist change because they are used to the current systems. They feel comfortable working in a familiar environment with familiar structures. When they are forced to use to change their current structures, they feel threatened because of the fear of the unknown. This may lead to failure in implementing a change strategy as employees try to stick to the old methods. Some managers always ignore the fundamental issues that lead to resistance, assuming that once the employees are informed about the change early enough, they will be ready for it. However, this is a wrong perception.

Kotter and Schlesinger (5) developed two main hypotheses for their study which they went ahead to confirm. The first hypothesis holds that informing employees about an impending change may play a little role in reducing the employees’ resistance to change. The second hypothesis holds that resistance to change is always reduced when the employees understand the relevance and concepts of change. From these two hypotheses, it is clear that when planning for a change, it is critical to ensure that the employees are taken through some form of training that will make them understand the need for, and concepts of a given change initiative. This article reveals that sometimes the management may face the challenge of introducing a new system at the pace that is necessary. Some change agents may require a slow implementation process. However, others may require a rapid response approach to avert a crisis. Many firms find it challenging to manage such rapid change requirements because they are used to gradual processes that allow the employees to understand the new system over a given period. The article clearly shows that the management may need to understand effective strategies that can be used in such cases of crisis.

The need for the study of the article

The article by Kotter and Schlesinger (4) is very relevant in today’s organisational setting. Technology is changing rapidly, redefining various concepts within the environmental setting. According to Reiß (95), despite the massive opportunities that technology presents to firms in the current society, it also brings with it a serious challenge of having to manage change. This scholar notes that this change is so rapid that only the best change management strategies can help a firm overcome some of the challenges associated with it. Many firms have failed in the market because they were unable to manage change at the right speed set by the emerging technologies. According to Cameron and Green (115), a good example of such a firm is Eastman Kodak Company. Kodak was once the leading film company controlling over 85% of the film industry in the global market (Bilgeri 67). It was seen as a giant that could not be shaken by the competitive market forces that were starting to arise. However, this was not to be the case when Fujifilm entered the industry. The emergence of digital films was revolutionary in this industry. Kodak invented this technology first, but for fear of implementing change, the management decided to wait for the future.

What the management failed to realise was that the time for digital films had come. The market was ready for this product, and Fujifilm realised this fact ahead of Kodak. In less than a decade, Fujifilm turned out to be the leading player in this industry, with Kodak struggling to remain operational. In fact, Bilgeri (75) says that the government had to come to the aid of Kodak in order to prevent it from being eliminated out of the market. A small mistake made by the management of this firm had a devastating impact that made it lose over 70% of its market shares to the competitors (Reiß 82). This is a clear demonstration of how important change is management to an organisation. This makes the article very important.

According to Cameron and Green (39), many firms have realised that they cannot ignore change within their environment. Their study reveals that many organisations in the current society are keen on the emerging trends, and are always determined to find a way of dealing with them in order to remain competitive in their operations. However, many have failed in their change strategies because of the approaches they employ. This article tries to identify the areas of weaknesses that affect various firms as they try to embrace change. An organisation must understand that change is not brought about by having new structures put in place for the implementation of new approaches. Change can only be successfully implemented if employees are involved from the initial stages, and educated on the need to employ change. This will ensure that all the stakeholders understand the relevance of change, and get committed to it as a way of eliminating resistance.

Methodology

The article by Kotter and Schlesinger (7) takes a practical approach in their methodology approach. In order to understand some of the best strategies that organisations can use to manage change, the scholars used secondary sources of data. It was important to study some of the practical cases of firms that failed in their change management strategies and those that were successful. For this reason, they reviewed some of the existing literatures in this field in order to come up with clear explanations why some of the firms failed, while others were successful. The firms also conducted a review of the performance of some of the firms that are known to be successful in managing the emerging trends in order to determine some of the strategies they use to achieve this success. In this study, it was necessary to make some assumptions.

The first assumption that the researchers made was that organisations are regularly faced with various factors, which make change a necessity. The second assumption was that the management of an organisation always initiates change. The study had some limitations, which should be noted. The first limitation is that it did not use empirical data to confirm their hypothesis. Their work was largely based on theories and a few observations that the researchers had made. However, their research has a massive potential for a future research. The article has identified approaches that may be used in managing change that is worth investigating. Although some of the findings were based on the studies conducted by credible scholars, it will be necessary to investigate their relevance in the current setting. Future researchers can use this article as a basis of conducting further research on the approaches that are necessary in managing change.

Summary and Conclusion

Organisations have come to realise that they have to find ways of dealing with resistance to change in order to achieve success in their operations. However, it is important to note that resistance to change will always exist in an organisational setting. Some people will be uncomfortable once they are informed that their organisation is just about to introduce a new system. Dealing with the resistance to change still remains one of the biggest challenges that firms are struggling with in the current society. The article highlights the approaches that can be used by the management to address this problem. The scholars say that the first thing that the management should do is to diagnose the resistance. The management can only address the issue of resistance if it understands its causes, trends, and the possible impacts on the path towards a new system. In most of the cases, the resistance to change is caused by imagined fear that may be caused by misconceptions or propaganda by some of the employees.

By identifying the understanding the genesis of the resistance, the management can develop strategies that can be used in addressing it. For instance, if the resistance is caused by fear that is misconstrued, then the management can organise for educative seminars where all the relevant stakeholders are invited to discuss issues about the new system. If the fear is caused by genuine concerns such as a possible loss of job because of an introduction of automated system, then the management will need to find a lasting solution that will address the issue of concern conclusively. Sometimes the resistance may be caused by the ignorance of the stakeholders towards a new system. If this is the case, then the stakeholders will need an educative forum where they can be enlightened about the new trend that the organisation is planning to introduce.

After diagnosing the resistance, it will be easy to deal with it in a conclusive manner. As mentioned above, several approaches exist that can be used to deal with the resistance. The first approach is to make the employees own the change initiative. In many occasions, managers would formulate policies and issue instructions to the employees on how they should be implemented. This top-down approach of initiating change is bound to yield resistance from the employees, especially if the management fails to articulate the need for change. In the current society where employees have the power to move from one firm to another looking for good working environment, managements may need to employ a bottom-up approach when initiating change. In this strategy, the management will find a way of challenging the existing system, but create a room for the change to be initiated by the employees. It will make them own the new system, creating a unique commitment amongst them. They will feel that they are responsible for the new system, and should therefore, work with the management to ensure that it is implemented. The article observes that education and communication is critical in such processes. In case the top management initiates the new system, then negotiation and agreement will be necessary as a way of reducing resistance. In extreme cases, the management may need to employ manipulation strategies, especially if the need for change is very sudden, and employees are slow in embracing it.

Student’s critique

The article by Kotter and Schlesinger (8) has successfully given an insight into the issue of managing change in the modern organisations. A critical analysis of this article reveals a number of strengths and weaknesses of the research that was conducted by these two scholars. As mentioned in the previous section of this paper, this article can form a good basis for future studies on issues about change management. However, this can only be possible if all the strengths and weaknesses of the article are clearly identified so that any possible remedies can be developed.

It may be necessary to start by analysing the readability of this article based on its intended audience. The scholars have used a simple language that is easy to understand. The flow of the message from one paragraph to the other makes it an interesting article to read. The readability of this article is enhanced by the use of short paragraphs each containing independent ideas. The researches condensed ideas into different paragraphs to enhance understanding of the concepts they present. The article also uses tables to identify some of the key issues discussed in a summarised approach. According to Reiß (95), the use of visual aids such as tables and graphs aids in understanding concepts in a piece of research. This article has used a number of these visual aids. It is important to note that despite these positive attributes, the scholars failed to have a section of the paper that defines some of the terms used in the report. It means that if someone finds a new term, he or she will have to look it up in a dictionary. The report also lacks a table of content, which is always vital in enabling a reader to have an overview of the content of the entire report.

The methodology that was used in this study was good. The researchers reviewed literatures from credible sources to help in validating their arguments. However, this study would have been more compelling if the researcher did an empirical study. The article made some claims that should have been supported by the primary data collected from firms, which are struggling to manage change. It is also necessary to identify some of the limitations of this study in addressing change management strategies. The main limitation of this study lies in the fact that it is entirely based on the secondary data. The article clearly states that the world is changing rapidly and this causes changes in various systems within the society. This means that a research done ten years ago may not be relevant today because of various changes that have taken place within the environment. It means that basing one’s research on the findings that were made several years ago may pose serious issues on the credibility and reliability of the study. The researchers should have conducted some primary investigations just to confirm that the issues identified by literatures reviewed are still relevant in the modern society.

Works Cited

Bilgeri, Alois. Change Management Masterclass: A Step by Step Guide to Successful Change Management. London: Kogan Page, 2007. Print.

Cameron, Esther, and Mike Green. Making Sense of Change Management: A Complete Guide to the Models, Tools and Techniques of Organisational Change. London: Kogan Page, 2012. Internet resource.

Kotter, John, and Schlesinger Leonard. “Choosing Strategies of Change.” Harvard Business Review 8.1 (2008): 1-11. Print.

Reiß, Michael. Change Management: A Balanced and Blended Approach. Norderstedt: Books on Demand, 2012. Print.

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