Change Management: Theory versus Practice

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Change Management: Theory versus Practice
Bouderlique, Student (Other), France, Member
I would like to make a comparison between theory and practice in change management. I am writing a paper in which I discuss the following sentence: "I smoke, I know it is bad for me, but I won't stop".
I would like to highlight the fact that theory is hard to put in practice, but I don't know how to.
I didn't find any website where I can find an answer.
Moreover, I need examples, one where a change theory has been successful in practice, and one were it was not succesfull.
I already have explained the way to change in a company, based on Lewin's process of change (unfreezing, change, refreezing), and Force Field Analysis.
Could someone help and reply a tip, idea or experience? Thanks in advance.

Change Management Process and Examples of Change
tasweer, Teacher, Pakistan, Member
You will not stop smoking because your behavior is yet to allow a defreeze/unfreeze state.
Once you are aware about the effects of nicotine in your blood, carbon dioxide in your lungs and carboxyhemoglobin in your blood you will be able to unfreeze your concept and undergo change.
A good examples of successful change management is of Kennedy's bill of rights against the movement of production-ism.

The Immediacy of Non-conformance
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
One parallel aspect of smoking and organizational change is that the consequences of NOT changing are not immediately visible or noticeable. Take a peek at McGregor's Hot Stove Rule for a practical appreciation of the need for immediate consequences of non-conformance.

Change Theory and Practice
David Wilson, Manager, Canada, Premium Member
Hi Bouderlique: I have just completed my master's thesis and I wrote that organizations and people need to be prepared for change before they can change.
Look at the following books: Great by Choice (Collins & Hansen, 2011), Built to Change (Lawler lll & Worley, 2006), Good to Great (Collins, 2001), and Built to Last (Collins & Porras, 1994).
Many change projects are doomed to fail. It's like trying to quit smoking - where you may have to try several times before you succeed.
I also think you could examine Kotter's 1996 book - "Leading Change" and the book by Liker & Franz (2011) - "The Toyota Way to Continuous Improvement."
I also like the idea that to change you have to have to relate it to mind (leadership), body (mission), and soul (vision) - do you have a clear vision, is there a guiding coalition, and do you have change leaders at the top of the organization. Regards, David.

Changing the Change Practice
Gary Wong, Consultant, Canada, Premium Member
Your smoking sentence is an example of BF Skinner's operant conditioning. Aubrey Daniels designed an applied behaviour/consequence (ABC) approach and created a highly successful consulting business. I still use his ABC approach with clients.
When I was at Ernst & Young Consulting, we were licensed to use Darryl Conner's Managing at the Speed of Change methodology. It was used to manage the people issues associated with an IT ERP implementation. With a reportedly 70% ERP failure rate in the IT industry, we began questioning our change practice. Circa 2000, we decided to shift to the positive side of change and rebuilt our change management practice around Appreciative Inquiry.
For years my paradigm was TAP - Theory, Application, Practice. It worked well in a stable world where linear, sequential thinking was acceptable. But today we face volatility, unpredictability, and inconsistent people and system behaviour. My response has been to flip the paradigm - Practice, then Application, then Theory:
- First, probe the system and observe what happens. Find the pattern(s) that emerge. The term we use is safe-fail experimentation.
- Secondly, see where else the pattern(s) apply and make sense.
- Thirdly, construct a new solution based on the pattern(s). Proclaim a new theory if you are so inclined.
You can draw some strong similarities with Action Research. This is another neat example where seemingly dissociated management fields are actually related and how useful is in helping us to connect the dots.

I Smoke, I Know it is Bad for Me, But I Won't Stop
Rick Garlick, United States, Member
David Wilson has provided some good books. I would add it starts with one person (Black and Gregersen) and a sense of urgency John P. Kotter).
- When it comes to changing something for one person, the bottom line is to find that thing that is valued above smoking. Everyone knows it is bad for you, but they choose to do it because they value the experience more and the consequence may or may not happen, and is so far removed. Think about the smoker who meets the love of their life who doesn't smoke. The smoker must quit or risk losing their love. Internally, they decided that it is worth giving up the love of smoking for something greater. No matter how much we tell people what they should do, it really comes down to an internal decision, and that scale is tipped by any number of things that are only known to the individual.
- With groups, you only need to win over a percentage of people, buy with individuals you need to be totally on target 100% of the time.
Good luck with your paper!

Quitting Smoking and Change Management
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
@Rick Garlick: excellent reaction, Rick. You made me remember my own quitting smoking 10 years ago. Why was it successful that time, and not the few times I tried it before?
The reason was simple. The last time I - the person influenced by the change - made a conscious and firm decision. You also mentioned the word "decision" 2 times.
I believe this "decision" is even more important than finding the thing that is valued above the old habit.
When someone quits smoking while making a really firm, determined, conscious decision, this helps a lot to stop your brain to beg you for a cigarette. So at difficult moments / circumstances, for example when you're at a party, and drink quite a few beers (with some good friends who still smoke), this might help you through the difficult moment.
What can we learn from this parallel for change management? At least 4 things:
#1. It is important to involve the one(s) who are crucial for the change and the one(s) that will be affected by the change in taking the decision to change.
#2. We should ensure a firm, conscious decision is taken. Don't do the participation job under #1 half heartedly! As change managers we must insist on taking the time to allow everybody to realize why the change is needed and ensuring a determined decision to make the change happen.
#3. The tougher the required change is, the more time and effort we should spend on #1 and #2.
#4. Doing so not only builds great momentum to get the change started, but more importantly it will also help the change process to survive and overcome the many obstacles that will no doubt arise.
See also Appreciative Inquiry as @Gary Wong already suggested.

I Smoke, I Know it is Bad for Me But I Won't Stop
Frank Hughes
The point is that theory is just that, and tends to be based in a Utopian environment where all the variables are known and understood.
Theory will never take into account circumstances, environment, desire, will etc, hence, why you won't stop. This is exactly the same for change management theory, also this theory can only ever be used as guidance and should always be adapted where necessary to take into account the variables that can be in play at any one time, otherwise it becomes dogma.
My guess is that if somebody did manage to follow a change theory completely to a successful conclusion, the variables would have been in their favour and I for one have never been in that situation yet.

I Smoke, I Know it is Bad for Me But I Won't Stop
Bouderlique, Student (Other), France, Member
Thank you all for your answers, I have handed my paper in, I'll see if the teachers think the same as me. Regards, Camille Bouderlique

Keep Us Updated
JC de Jong, Director, Netherlands, Premium Member
Dear MS Bouderlique, please keep us informed on what your teachers think and provide as feedback. And maybe you are willing to consider to share your paper with this community. Best regards.

Active Determination and Expectation of Organizational Change
Sokolova Tatiana, Analyst, Russian Federation, Member
@Tasweer: The case comparing with stopping smoking shows the difference between passive recognition of the fact it is bad and the active determination of a person to act for change...
All changes are results of energetic action, like exercises you do in the morning when the impulse on your mind is reflected in your body movement...
And the other problem concerns the expectation of a change which won't happen. Here I can bring an anology with the stock exchange. There we can observe a rapid track of changes. If the seller expects his bonds to rise, the buyers on the contrary expect them to fall... The question is whose expectations should God bring to life first? Often we focus only on our ego-centric desires, and don't care about other people's hopes... So, we have to learn how to notice the change, as the famous detective Dr.Watson said: "You can see, but you cannot notice it".

I Smoke, I Know it is Bad for Me But I Won't Stop
Andrew Morrell
Aubrey Daniels writings on behavior modification techniques provide some useful models of why people do or do not want to change. The PIC/NIC's classification and dimension of motivation and response are really useful.
I would not advocate trying to 'quantify' using the suggested variables, however they do offer some strategy headings to help in the structure of your arguments on Theory versus Practice.
A note of caution, Daniels was a disciple of B.F. Skinner whose work evolved in the 1930's (relying a lot on the behaviour of rates and pigeons). Therefore it is necessary to temper any conclusions with other models of motivation such as Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs et al.

The Need for Immediate Consequences (Real Results): The Situation in the Middle East
mohamed hesham khattab, Management Consultant, Egypt, Member
@Jaap de Jonge (Editor): I agree that immediate and useful results which can be seen and touched by all members in an organization are the secret of success for any suggested change.
Consider our revolutions in the middle east now: the fruits of our revolutions against political dictatorship and corruption are still absent today. Some leaders of the revolutions manage the change for the sake and for the benefit of some people only and not for all members of the society. In other words, the management of change here is false and weak and dishonest ⇒ Therefore the real change will never be done ⇒ We need immediate and honest consequences (immediate and real and honest results for all the people - not for just part of them.

Immense Changes in the Middle East
Jaap de Jonge, Editor, Netherlands
@Mohamed hesham khattab: I understand and empathize with the frustrations you and probably many people in the Middle East are currently feeling .
Unfortunately the reality is that initiating immense changes in your countries is one big thing, but implementing them and arranging whole new political, economic, legal, etc. systems is even more dificult and especially time-consuming.
The democracies in the West have not been built overnight. Let's hope people don't lose all hope and resort to extremism. Some real results will indeed be helpful to avoid that.

Change in Organizations is a Political Motivated Move
Toor, Libya, Member
Management Change or Change in Management is basically a political motivated move.
If leaders want to accept change they will change, but if they don't want it, then they will not change as we have seen in Middle east politics. The same can be seen in organizations, most of the time changing the behaviour is very difficult.

The Secret of Success for Any Suggested Change
mohamed hesham khattab, Management Consultant, Egypt, Member
Immediate and useful results which can be seen and touched by all staff members in any organization are representing the secret of success for any suggested change.. Look to our revolutions in the middle east now >> The fruits of our revolutions against political dictatorship and corruption are still absent today >> Because some leaders of the revolutions manage the change for the sake and for the benefit of some people only of the society not all the members of the society >> So the management of change here is false and weak and dishonest >> So the real change will never be done >> We need immediate and honest consequences (immediate and real and honest results for all the people not for part of them).

I saw from my personal and professional experiences in private and governmental organizations in our Arab world with my own eyes how the management of change is really false and weak and dishonest and only consists of meetings, words, dreams and also paper plans and certificates.

The big surprise in that failure in management change in the world is that you see many of the people who are responsible for leading that process are holding high doctor degrees from America and Europe, but when they return to their countries they work just for money, they do not care about the spreading of the culture of change for a better life for all of the members of their society. I see that the management of change is a holy mission for experts, consultants and managers and leaders against political dictatorship, against corruption in the governmental offices, against poverty and against the missing human rights.

The objective evidence of my view is the presently increasing number of people who can not find money, food, work, human rights, healthy housing, proper healthcare and finally can not find hope for a better tomorrow .

Management of change (as I see and believe) is not about words, is not academic degrees and is not certificates but is about actions and honest actions. The best in the West is the best for the rest . We can not solve the problems that we face by the same level of thinking who caused those problems.

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