1. Explain Lewin’s classic “unfreezing, changing and refreezing” model.
In accordance to Lewin, there are three stages of change process in organizations. First stage is called unfreezing. Basically the main condition of this stage is a realization that organization vitally needs change and that the previous organizational behavior is not effective enough.
Then, during the next stage that is called changing, new behavioral patterns are being created, management and employers are discussing promising improvements in the activities and policies of the organization. At this stage leaders develop a vision for the future and compare the current position with a position they want to achieve. (Edgehouse, Edwards and Gore. 2007)
Finally, the last stage of Lewin’s classic model is refreezing. All the improvements and new strategy are implemented and established in organization. This last stage of change fixes these changes and makes them work.
Yukl (2010) indicates that it is crucial for an organization to go through all of the indicated stages; otherwise the change will not be successfully implemented.
Besides it, we need to mention about two types of action that support the process of change. Lewin states that there are two different approaches. First strategy makes an emphasis on forced process of change (providing a change from a position of power). Second strategy is based on restraining forces reduction (in other words, its targeted on the opponents of change). The final choice of the strategy that helps to implement the changes in organization depends on the specific conditions.
2. What is your understanding of how culture influences what can be an effective change strategy?
In my opinion, corporate culture has a deep impact on the change strategy, because, simply speaking, a corporate culture is the set of believes that defines the general strategy of this organization. Culture constantly influences all of the processes in organization; therefore development and implementation of the change strategy aren’t exceptions.
First of all, the successful implementation of change depends on the decision making policies, on the leadership style, on the management’s principles.
Leaders’ approach to the organizational values, their priorities and concerns form the pattern of employees’ behavior. These established values will help to implement the change or on the opposite will make this change’s implementation impossible.
Programs and systems used by organization, rewards system and personnel policy may also influence an effective change strategy. (Yukl, 2010)
Design of organizational structure (it may be centralized or decentralized) influences change strategy via processes and values.
It should be noted that the culture of communication and spreading the information are quite important forces as well. An attitude to a change in organization will depend on the way it is announced, discussed in an official and nonofficial ways.
As an interesting example of important role of the corporate culture in the process of change I would like to mention J. Randall and his book “Managing Change/Changing Managers”. Author describes the process of transformation of Proctor & Gamble from an old fashion organization with traditional values to a market leader.
As a first step its management recognized that “you can’t be old fashioned and be successful in the markets in which we compete” (Randall, 2004). So in order to become successful this organization had to change its corporate culture and reorganized many structural departments and processes.
3. Is having a “vision” just an academic or public relations concept rather than a real tool in delivering change?
Vision is rather not a practical, but strategic tool, and it’s not just an unreal concept. But, of course, the main requirement to the vision is that it has to be realistic and absolutely credible. (Yukl, 2010)
Harper (1998) insists that a strong future orientation is vital for a change and mentions General Electric’s Jack Welch quote on importance of having a vision for the company’s future: “If you can’t articulate your business vision, if you can’t get people to buy in, forget it. You won’t be successful.”
In your opinion, what is biggest challenge in vision creation? What is the most important condition that top management should take into account for it to be fulfilled?
The biggest challenge while creating a vision is to have a clear sense of the company’s and market’s future. Because change about “futuring”, and not about just develop plans (Harper, 1998).
A really talented leader feels the market situation and organization’s strong and weak sides, understands the trends and is able to create a successful future for his organization. Company’s executives should look over the horizon and analyze an environment correctly in order to understand the destination where the firm should be headed (Harper, 1998).
Sometimes it happens that the change strategy is not going to be changed, because it’s a complicated thing for management, even in the case if a crucial environmental event happens. Of course, the results of the process of change may not be satisfying in this situation.
Therefore management’s ability to forecast the future ensures that organization will be able to form a future by itself.
While thing on a company’s vision, management should examine industry’s trends and it’s way of evolution in the next five years. Also they need to define their future competitors and the range of skills and capabilities that their organization needs to start to develop in order to be a market leader in the future.
Edgehouse, M., Edwards, A. Gore, S. (2007), Initiating and Leading Change: a Consideration of Four New Models, The Catalyst. Volume: 36. Issue: 2.
Harper S.C. (1998, May-June), Leading Organizational Change in the 21st Century, Industrial Management, Vol. 40
Randall, J. (2004), Managing Change/Changing Managers, Routledge
Yukl, G. (2010), Leadership in Organizations, Global Edition (7th Edition), Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, Pearson Prentice-Hall Inc