Business operational dynamics require an organisation to embrace changes. Variations of economy, political climate, and technological dynamics create the necessity for organisational change.
Clemenger BBDO, which is a leading advertising organisation in Australia, sought to create organisational change by implementing various changes among them being leadership structures together with improvement of the business of the organisation. These changes failed to yield the anticipated results.
The organisation faced challenges of poor customer relations and high rate of employees’ turnover coupled with poor performance in terms of profitability. Hence, the main tasks of the new CEO of the organisation were to implement changes that would give the organisation a chance to address these challenges.
Using Clemenger BBDO as the main case study of organisational changes and/or how the changes can yield success of an organisation, this paper investigates the nature and drivers of organisational change, the change process and strategy, and organisational culture.
Nature and Propellers of Organisational Change
Organisational change is driven by the need to create a highly performing organisation in terms of competitiveness. Organisational change is a continuous process aimed at addressing the need to meet the demands of continuous changes, which influence the environment of an organisation.
Organisations in all industries are interested in maintaining their levels of competitiveness for continued delivery of value to their owners: shareholders. According to Bertscherk and Kaiser (2004), “any organisation in today’s fast moving environment that is looking for the pace of change to slow is likely to be sorely disappointed” (p.395).
This means that organisations need to welcome and embrace changes that would increase their performance. Zhou and Tse (2006) support this assertion by maintaining that organisations that are reluctant to embrace change risk losing their competitive edge (p. 249). In 1990s, Clemenger BBDO lost some of the royal customers to competitors, thus prompting the company to encounter heavy financial difficulties.
Its best staff left with the repercussion of dwindled work morale. An organisation that is undergoing such difficulties is unable to deliver value to its owners in terms of increased returns on investments. Thus, change was inevitable. Indeed, Rob Morgan sought the help of Peter Biggs in the effort to create organisational change at Clemenger BBDO.
Organisational change initiates by a clear statement of business problems followed by enumeration of the contributing factors to the problems. Beer, Eisenstat, and Spector (1990) support this assertion by further stating that, after the definition of the problems, an organisation then proceeds to “reorganise employees’ roles, responsibilities, and relations to solve specific business problems” (1990, p.161).
The business problem for Clemenger BBDO was to look for innovative ways for restoring work morale for employees together with looking for ways of attracting and retaining new clientele. Although literature on organisational change contends that change strategies often fail (Van de Ven & Poole 1995, p. 513:
Piderit 2000, p.783), failure to implement change exposes an organisation to more dangers in the future (Zhou & Tse 2006, p.248). Peter Biggs considered analysing the probable changes, which while implemented would have turned the fortunes of the organisation around.
Organisations may embrace several types of change in the quest to enhance their performance. These include transformational, developmental, and transitional changes.
Through the leadership of Peter Giggs, Clemenger BBDO implemented transformational changes in the effort to enhance the contribution of leadership in organisational success and/or create an organisational culture that fosters innovation and motivation of workforce in the bid to create good customer relations.
In any organisation, according to Dunphy and Stace (1993), change is implemented in three main approaches: “consultative, directive, collaborative, or coercive approaches” (p.911). Given the factors leading to the necessity of change in Clemenger BBDO, the best approach was collaborative.
Leadership is a key propeller of organisational change. During organisational change, leadership plays the role of associating resources and opportunities together with organisational competences with anticipated outcomes of change implementation (Bass 1993, p.40).
Warrick (2011) further reinforces this position by arguing that leaders serve the principal function of establishing a teamwork culture, culture of mutual respect, effective communication, and culture for compliance to organisational standards of productive performance (p.17).
Peter Biggs endeavoured to create a culture that fosters open communication, employees’ engagement, and respect together with collective collaboration. These cultural aspects were critical in enhancing trust and workforce commitment to the goals, aims, and objectives of the organisation.
Organisational Change Processes
Peter Biggs stated that the main challenge of the organisation was that it never looked for imaginative ways of keeping it successful in changing business environment. This claim formed the initiating step for organisational change at Clemenger BBDO. Organisational change processes take several steps.
They include the creation of change awareness, identification of the area that requires change, and diagnosis of the problematic areas (Senior 2002, p.52). Propellers of organisational change proceed to reviewing and analysing all possible solutions with a particular focus on their implications in terms of the performance of the organisation in the future.
This forms the basis of reassessment of change plans before they are fully implemented. Awareness is particularly important in an organisation to mitigate the probabilities of resistance to change driven by the desire to maintain the status quo among employees (Oxtoby, McGuiness & Morgan 2002, p.310).
An organisation implementing change attracts questions of how and why it is not able to attain certain specified goals in the organisation’s visions and mission statements. This creates an opportunity for adoption of creative and innovative strategies for enhancing success.
Organisational change management has several aspects. They include “evaluation, lifecycle, teleology, and dialectics” (Ven & Poole 1995, p.525). Life cycle refers to the process of organisational growth and maturation together with decline phases. For Clemenger BBDO, the focus of organisational life cycle was to re-engineer the operation of the organisation to address issues of decline of the business of the organisation.
At Clemenger BBDO, decline was marked by reduced financial performance, deterioration of customer relations, poor motivation of employees, and increased labour turnover. Other perspectives of organisational change process are cultural changes and social cognition (Kezar 2000, p.35).
From the cultural perspectives, anticipations for changes are rested on the platforms of mutual aims, values, goals, and objectives of an organisation. Clemenger BBDO concentrated on cultural aspects, which foster the implementation of effective strategies for organisational change.
Change at Clemenger BBDO was also driven by the concepts of postmodern aspects of organisational change. Postmodernism states the significance and the role played by decentralisation, engagement, and the commitment to adapt all people to organisational change with the aim of establishing social realities.
Its relevance at Clemenger BBDO is akin to the concern that the organisation sought to promote novelty and innovation, which were the primary focus of Peter Biggs. At Clemenger BBDO, change was not only significant to the owners of the company since they would benefit from increased returns owing to the increased clientele levels but also to employees.
Organisational change is essential in an organisation since it permits people to acquire new skills and knowledge bases, exploits emerging opportunities for career growth, and/or develops creative and innovative mindsets (Nelson 2003, p.19). These merits have the implication of making an organisation perform better in the competitive market environment.
This implies that the process of organisational change is about enhancing the performance of employees via putting in place mechanisms of enabling them to achieve better outputs. However, according to Graetz et al. (2011), the transition stage in the process of organisational change creates tension between the personnel in an organisation driving change and employees.
For Clemenger BBDO, tension is manifested through concerns of employees in terms of helping in creating change by aligning themselves to new organisational culture, values, and worries of the capacity to achieve new roles within the organisation.
This issue underlines the significance of incorporating rational perspectives of organisational change in the effort to align organisational structure and change process with the business environment.
In this context, Peter Biggs endeavoured to ensure the business environment, which is characterised by turbulence, is aligned to the organisational structure and employees’ engagement efforts. Peter Biggs accomplished this goal by taking a strong leadership position on the desired direction of organisational change.
Change Strategies and Organisational Culture
Organisational culture is the heart of establishment and maintenance of motivational strategies, desired direction of the organisation and mechanisms of development of organisational commitment. Organisational culture refers to the values that are shared by all personnel within an organisation (Piderit 2000, p.785). The appropriate strategies for implementation of organisational culture are set out by cultural web (Graetz et al.
2011, p.45). Peter Biggs identified a myriad of tools, which would make it possible for the lost state of the company as the market leader in advertising to be restored. The most reliable clients of the organisation had left it hence destroying the brand position of Clemenger BBDO.
The organisational commitment was also not spared. Peter Biggs struggled to restore these lost glories of the company by creating an organisational culture that favours innovation and creativity. This means that the organisational structure and methods of leadership in the organisation needed to follow this strategy for rekindling performance of the company.
Peter Biggs set his objective as establishing a culture and organisational goals at Clemenger BBDO linking strategic plans of the organisation based on the concerns of making the organisation a market leader in advertising again.
This endeavour supports Mintzberg’s argument that strategic plans of an organisation need to aid in the creation of innovative systems in an organisation that is capable of having a long-term sustainability (2004, p.78). At Clemenger BBDO, strategic plans were deployed as channels for accommodation of unprecedented changes for the organisation. This was important in helping the company to remain competitive.
The business environment of an organisation is not static. Hence, organisations deploy innovative strategies for ensuring that they remain competitive and/or retain their market share. This calls for development of an appropriate strategy and restructuring of organisations to facilitate cultural change together with deployment of resources that are available to an organisation to enhance compliance to new changes.
As argued in the paper, Peter Biggs was successful in his identification of the problems, which had plagued Clemenger BBDO by implementing a collaborative organisational culture that fostered innovation and sharing of knowledge among customers and employees of the organisation.
This strategy was effective in restoring the status of Clemenger BBDO as the market leader in advertising in Australia. Although organisational change strategies are characterised by immense failures, the case of organisational change at BIDDO is an important benchmark for success in organisational change strategies.
Bass, M 1993, Leadership and performance beyond expectation, Free Press, New York.
Beer, M, Eisenstat, R & Spector, B 1990, ‘Why Change Programs Do Not Produce Change’, Harvard Business Review, vol. 1, no. 1, pp. 158-166.
Bertscherk, I & Kaiser, U 2004, ‘Productivity Effects of Organisational Change: Microeconometric Evidence,’ Management Science, vol. 50, no. 3, pp. 394-404.
Dunphy, D & Stace, D 1993, ‘The Strategic Management of Corporate Change’, Human Relations, vol. 46, no. 8, pp. 905-920.
Graetz, F, Rimmmer, M, Smith, A, & Lawrence, A 2011, Managing Organisational Change, Queensland, Milton.
Kezar, A 2000, Understanding and Facilitating Change in Higher Education in the 21st Century, Jossey-Bass, Washington.
Mintzberg, H 2004, ‘Ideas about Management’, Engaging leadership, vol. 4, no. 5, pp. 67-81.
Nelson, L 2003, ‘A case study in organisational change: implications for theory’, The Learning Organisation, vol.10, no.1, pp.18–30.
Oxtoby, B, McGuiness, T & Morgan, R 2002, ‘Developing Organisational Change Capability’, European Management Journal, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 310-320.
Piderit, K 2000, ‘Rethinking Resistance and Recognising Ambivalence: A Multidimensional View of Attitudes toward an Organisational Change’, Academy of Management Review, vol. 25 no. 12, pp. 783–794.
Senior, B 2002, Organisational Change, Prentice Hall, London.
Van de Ven, A & Poole, M 1995, ‘Explaining development and change in organisations’, The Academy of Management Review, vol. 20, no. 3, pp. 510-540.
Warrick, D 2011, ‘The Urgent Need for Skilled Transformational Leaders: Integrating Transformational Leadership and Organisation Development’, Journal of Leadership, Accountability and Ethics, vol. 8, no. 5, pp. 11-32.
Zhou, Z & Tse, D 2006, ‘Organisational changes in emerging economies: drivers and consequences’, Journal of International Business Studies, vol. 37, no.13, pp. 248-263.