Organizational Culture and Change

The Relationship between Culture and Change

An organisation’s culture includes the beliefs, values and norms that determine the operations and management of the company. Organisational culture determines the ways of doing things in the organisation (Burnes, 2005) Therefore, it affects the company’s ability to change effectively. A company with a flexible organisational culture can adapt easily to waves of change. However, in most cases the norms and values may lead to rigid processes, policies and procedures which are difficult to change. Burnes (2005) suggests that organisational culture creates a mutually reinforcing system which binds different parts of the organisation and causes resistance to change effectively.

Changes within an organisation are often determined and communicated from the top leadership. The effectiveness of these changes depends on the ease with which the culture in the entire organisation may adapt to the changes. Leadership tools, management tools and power tools may be used to enhance effective change in an organisation. Leadership tools include vision, mission and value statements while management tools include definitions, control and measurement tools (Denning, 2011). Power tools such as punishment and coercion may also be used to implement changes as a last resort. These tools work effectively to implement changes if the organisational culture can accommodate such changes (Denning, 2011). Organisations need to appreciate changes and be ready to develop new skills and experience with new changes in the organisation. Culture determines the values and norms that enable employees to appreciate or reject changes. Good communications from the management can break the cultural resistance of change. Therefore, culture has a significant influence on the effectiveness of change.

Incremental vs. Quantum Change

Incremental change is a smooth gradual change that occurs slowly over a long period of time while quantum change is a radical change that occurs fast within a short period of time. Barbara Waugh prefers incremental change to quantum change because she believes that fruitful transformation begins with small steps. She argues that deep-seated change can only be achieved through small incremental improvements. This can be achieved by helping people to achieve small but important goals.  Managers who prefer quantum change tend to focus on the desired results of change rather than the process of achieving change (Sundarasaradula et al, 2005). Gradual improvements help the company to change the attitudes of its members and gain support from the entire organisation. On the other hand, quantum change is likely to face a lot of resistance. Therefore, Waugh git it right by suggesting that incremental change is better than quantum change because it changes the entire processes and gains support from all stakeholders in order to enhance effective change in the long run.

You Don’t Manage Change, you create the conditions for it

By saying that you don’t manage change but create conditions for it, Barbara Waugh meant that leaders should guide his or her followers to implement change. In other words, leadership tools of change are more effective than management and power tools of change (Erakovic and Powell, 2006). The leader of change should just communicate the vision, mission and the need for change and leave the employees to work through their own means to achieve the desired change and goals. The leader should also provide knowledge, resources, motivation and other factors that create a good environment for others to implement changes.

People should understand why they are changing in order to change. They do not need to be coerced into making changes because such a change will not be sustainable. For example, a change manager may encourage people to change by explaining to them the importance of change and building a strong relationship based on trust and understanding for a sustainable change (Abramovici et al, 2010). Therefore, creating an environment or conditions for change throughout the organisation is the most important element in initiating change within the organisation.

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