Sources of Ambiguity
Kotter and Cohen (2002) note that most people do not handle big changes well and thus when going through a transition, they tend to make mistakes that are predictable as they have not been in a similar situation before. Organizations are usually complex and unpredictable, which makes it hard to implement a new system smoothly without challenges (Bolman and Deal 2008).
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One of the sources of ambiguity is ‘We are not sure who is supposed to do what’. In this source of ambiguity, the roles are not clearly defined and there is disagreement about what each one is required to do and when. The staff turnover is also a problem as things keep on shifting as in the case of Procter and Gamble following the adaptation of a new system.
For a chance to be successful in an organization, despite any challenges that might occur, all the employees should take up roles to support the change during the process of transition. If they are not receptive, the change may not be successful. Role description and role play in the implementation of the change were the main problems that led to the failure of the new system at Procter and Gamble. A new system usually comes with a change of roles for the employees within an organization and it is natural to resist.
The pros and cons of using the ”Pockets” Model
The pockets approach was considered as a way of solving the ambiguity problem since the employees who can successfully implement a new system in an organization are not necessarily among the top executive. The pockets model is where individuals in a specific place of work come up with a way in which they can run their department in a different way it is done in the rest of the organization. They develop a better way of achieving their objectives and apply it in their area of work although previously these employees have been viewed to be against the organization yet these ideas are what form the pockets of change and should be embraced (Butcher and Atkinson 2000).
In some instances, these different ways of doing things may serve as a breakthrough for the organization. In managing the role issue, employees can be given an environment where they try and solve the problem on their own. They can be allowed to distribute their roles in their way or allocate roles on a rotator basis. This method can be used to solve the uncertainty problem on who is required to do what while these pockets could later be adopted by the institution.
Some of the pros of the pocket approach are that it will be more acceptable to the employees since the change is initiated by fellow employees and therefore it is easier for the others to adapt to the change. They might have also witnessed the department who implemented it first and since they performed well, other employees would also perform well if the change is implemented.
The division of roles and responsibilities will come from the employees and they will feel more obliged to accomplish their roles unlike when they receive orders from top management, although it will take time for these pocket ideas to spread within the organization. This will not be viewed directly as a change but as a better way of doing things. Therefore, by the time it is implemented in the whole organization, most people will have adapted to it and they will not challenge its implementation.
The cons are that once the pockets are taken up by the management and are to be implemented by them, they will be viewed as a top-down and not bottom-up approach. It is likely to face resistance from employees in the organization. The management will also be required to put in more efforts to determine which of the pockets used across the organization are ideal and they will have to choose and implement the few that meet the organization’s goals and objectives.
Allowing the employees to decide how the roles are divided among them may also pose a problem since they may not balance the work appropriately and some people may be overworked while others may be underworked. The way they will decide on who is most suited to perform which role may not be in line with the organizational requirements of assigning responsibility. They may give responsibility to people who they like the most at the expense of those who are best suited for the role. Thus, for the change of the system to be successful, the right employees should play the right roles.
This approach will also cost the organization a lot of time and money. The employees may take longer to come up with solutions and to effectively implement them since a lot of working hours and money may be lost before a strategy is agreed upon. This is unlike when there is a directive from the top which is just implemented. The pockets of change may take long to spread to a big organization like Procter and gamble and it may also lower the quality of goods and services offered.
In implementing this approach, different departments will have different ways of doing things unlike when there is a standardized approach that is adhered to by everyone. The standardized approach ensures quality is maintained across the organization more so since the company has invested in many countries and has employees from different cultures.
Bolman, G. & Deal, E. (2008). Reframing organizations: Artistry, choice, and leadership. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Butcher, D. & Atkinson, S. (2000). The bottom-up principle. Management Review, 89(1), 48-53.
Kotter, J. & Cohen, D. (2002). The heart of change: Real-life stories of how people change their organizations. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.