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Essay: Disruptions that cause transformational change in an organisation

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  • Published: 17 September 2015*
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According to the textbook there are three main types of disruptions that cause transformational change. The first mentioned are industry discontinuities which are ‘sharp changes in legal, political, economic, and technological conditions that shift the basis for competition within an industry’ (Cummings and Worley, 2008). The second are product life cycle shifts which are change that occur during the life cycle of products that entail diverse industry approaches. Finally, there are internal company dynamics which are any deviations in attrition in top management, business mass or business portfolio approach. In instances where either type of disruptions occurs the success and even existence of an organization is in jeopardy. Leadership must utilize of transformational change to counteract these disruptions and get their organization back on track. (Cummings and Worley, 2008).

Regrettably, it usually takes these severe situations before business leaders will begin to initiate change. These types of changes are categorized as radical and systemic since the enterprise has been fundamentally transformed as a whole. Senior Executives implement hurried transformational change within the foundation of the design and culture in an organization. ‘Cultural resistance is likely to slow many advances, from the speed at which traditional offices evolve into networking environments with virtual teams, to the rate at which new collaboration tools flatten corporate hierarchies’ (Economist Intelligence Unit, 2012).

The speediness of completion is so that the change will not be susceptible to potential opposition by organization members or interfere with typical office and social politics. At the end of the day, this effort should have a motivating effect on employees. The goal is that they choose to embody the new culture and head in this new direction paved for the organization by leadership. (Cummings and Worley, 2008). According to Clayton Christensen and Michael Raynor in the Harvard Business Press Chapters ”disruptive impact must be molded into strategy as managers shape the idea into a plan and then implement it’ (2003). This is the appropriate procedure when an organization encounters a disruption. In the case that leadership does not react quickly enough, transformation change will take an unreasonable amount of time if at all. As mentioned above, speed or promptness is so essential for effectively countering upcoming disruptions. (Cummings and Worley, 2008).

There have been studies conducted to support this theory and claim an organization operating under this high sense of urgency will be able to attain seamless progress in less time which ensures a competitive advantage over other companies in the industry. That advantage is critical for all business aspects. ‘Successful new-growth builders know – either intuitively or explicitly – that disruptive strategies greatly increase the odds of competitive success’ (Christensen and Raynor, 2003). This statement reemphasizes how powerful disruption can be for an organization. Disruption is likely the most powerful instigator of change in terms of motivating leadership. (Cummings and Worley, 2008).

Change is driven by Senior Executives and Line Management because structural change is a complex matter for only an organization’s leadership team to handle. It is leadership’s responsibility to explore, develop and implement that type of transformational change necessary for the circumstances. Those appointed in management are not always skilled in implementing a transformation in which case organizations have the ability to outsource an expert to perform such processes. Michael Tushman and Beverly Virany claim that ‘Most firms in the industry require a new set of executives to bring forth the organizational changes necessary to cope with major shifts in the environment’ in their article (2002). We can assume that outsourcing experts in transformation change to be a positive step for an organization. This tactic may even give the business a competitive advantage over other in the industry. (Cummings and Worley, 2008).

There are three significant roles for the management team with regards to transformation change. Firstly, leadership team should be able to envision the new tactical direction. Then they need to precisely communicate and explain the vision to lower management. Once the vision is conveyed, the in house leaders or outsourced experts should set new levels of criteria that challenge employee performance. Another element of envisioning is to enhance employee emotions regarding the change. They should induce both a sense of proudness in employees based on past performance as well as ignite eagerness for the new structure of the organization. (Cummings and Worley, 2008).

The second role of the leadership team is to create an environment of excitement and energy for the transformation change. They should also be embodying all the characteristics and behaviors that require other employees to exemplify. This is leading by example which is a necessary attribute of a great leader. James Kouzes and Barry Posner indicate that ‘Leaders take every opportunity to show others by their own examples that they’re deeply committed to the values and aspirations they communicate’ in their issue The Leadership Challenge (2008). This type of leadership will encourage others to take on the demonstrated characteristics by management. (Kouzes and Posner, 2008).

The change management team’s third role is make the necessary tools and resources for overcoming extensive change available to those that need them. It is advantageous for them to also provide incentives to aid in the effectiveness of reemphasizing the new desired conducts of organization members. ‘Simply measuring performance often improves it. But rewards and recognition will reinforce values as well’ (Kouzes and Posner, 2008). By this statement, the leadership team should take responsibility improving performance by openly measuring performance of those involved in the change as well as offering some type of reward incentive. Both methods will ensure progress in terms of motivating employees. (Cummings and Worley, 2008).

Although there are many different types of corporate culture there are four basic elements that exist within the different levels of awareness. The first is artifacts, which are on the surface of awareness. Examples of artifacts are things and actions that can be observed such as the physical structure of the business, employee behavior, office design, apparel, language and sound, procedures and more. There can be some degree of ambiguity as to the significance of a specific artifact when a business performs an analysis of their culture. One step deeper in cultural awareness is norms. Norms are proper procedures for how organizational members should act in various circumstances. They are associated with unwritten ethical guidelines. (Cummings and Worley, 2008).

The next, the second deepest level of awareness is values. Values are standards set by the management team for employees to abide by when working towards the goals of the company. These standards distinguish what is essential for every member to be aware of and follow. Within the deepest level of cultural awareness are basic assumptions. Basic assumptions are acting out of natural human nature. The relationship between members and the fundamental level of respect for others are both basic assumptions. The textbook defines culture as ‘the pattern of artifacts, norms, values, and basic assumptions about how to solve problems that works well enough to be taught to others’ (Cummings and Worley, 2008). Understanding each level of cultural awareness and elements involved at each level will allow leadership to utilize culture as a resource for transformation change. This is most beneficial given the weight culture has on the whole change strategy process.

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