Can Organizational Change Lead to Extinction?

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Can Organizational Change Lead to Extinction?
David Wilson, Premium Member
Is change better if it is revolutionary (i.e. fast and experimental) or evolutionary (slow and steady)? Will change ever result in an "extinction event" for an organization because it was either too revolutionary or too evolutionary?

Change Need not Be an Extinction Event
Bomo Albert-Oguara
The only thing that leads to organizational extinction is when organizations due to management inertia fail to spot changes or react slowly to changes in the market place in a strategic manner.
Incremental changes in themselves require routine decision activities in the organization. Doing this means changes in customer relations, accounting(account receivable, credit policies etc), sales, Human Resource Management processes, responding to changing customer demands.
Revolutionary changes are fundamental in nature. They are game-changers. They either make or break the organization. Change is either exogenous or endogenous, whichever way, the firm must respond. Managing these forces in a balance is what makes the organization an astute one to be admired as competitive.

Evolution or Revolution? It Depends.
Kathryn Dodds, Member
Evolutionary or revolutionary change? I have seen both be successful and both be unsuccessful. It depends on the other organizational factors and competing initiatives that will affect those who will experience the change.
Evolutionary change should be carefully planned to ensure we allow people time to adopt the new skills and other change plans introduced in addition to assessing the effectiveness of the change on the business before shuffling the deck again.
Revolutionary change takes so long that we may encounter missed opportunities. There is room for a fine balance between evolutionary and revolutionary approaches. That said, those of us who manage change should continually work with the organization to help increase capacity and flexibility for change so we make it possible to drive evolutionary change in an organization.

Evolution or Revolution
Stuart Bell, Member
Like Kathryn I have seen both with success and failure. Interestingly many times the perspective that is promoted is the opposite of the leadership actions in executing!
In my view extinction arises when change, irrespective of the chosen method, moves a business away from its lifeblood - the customer. Without customers you have nothing! Many great companies changed their way to oblivion by forgetting about the customer.
You must manage both internal and external aspects of change and remember that many times it is the person who is in actual contact with the clients who conveys what the change impact is - and few companies keep the entire organisation "on message" and aligned in words and actions.

Evolution or Revolution
Bjoern Strecker
Due to constant development of dynamic business processes, change managers are obliged to react on changes in the company´s business status.
Recognizing strategic disadvantages in comparison to competitors implies an immediately reaction of the top-management.
Every initiated change is an ad hoc "revolution" which follows an evolutionary development in the company. If there are no weak signals recognized, there is no reason for strategic changes. Most of our change management partner start reacting after problems have been detected. Even setting up early warning systems do not lead to an desirable understanding of prevention. So all changes are revolutions, some of lower importance some of higher. But all have one in common, they must be developed by process to be fully integrated in the existing business structure. This is evolution and it almost always follows revolution.


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