Change is a life process that is as old as humanity. Change is necessary for adaption to ever-changing circumstances that include environmental, social and economic dynamics. People change when the prevailing situation can no longer allow for survival. Change must also be managed or otherwise, it may turn a disaster in itself. Change management involves a thoughtful planning and careful implementation of the processes and events aimed at attaining a new status. It involves consulting with the people who will be affected by the process. Involving people in the process of change on the onset will permit a smooth transition. This will grant them to prepare for the changes and reduce resistance to it. The changes should be measurable, realistic and achievable and must be well understood by all the participants (Michael & Mahoney, 1991)
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There are a number of models for management change that have been advanced recently. They include Lewin’s Change Management Model, Mckinsey seven-S Model and Kotter’s 8 Step Model. Each organization must adopt a model that best suits the change that needs to be undertaken. Lewin’s model was developed by Kurt Lewin in 1950. His observation was that most people wanted to work and operate in areas they considered as safe. He anticipates a scenario where people are not prepared to change. In order to address the issue, he proposed three stages of development. The first was to deal with resistance to change, to which he proposed thawing or what can be referred to as unfreezing. This involves breaking the existing structures and habits that are considered unwanted. The process could be easily achieved through motivation. The next stage is the transformation period and is the main activity. This is achieved through the introduction of new desired processes and practices that call for leadership and reassurance. The processes are introduced gradually under the guidance and observation of the management to make sure that the process is flowing as desired. Monitoring and evaluation are required to ensure that the process is on course. The final stage is refreezing, which involves reinforcement of the newly accepted methods. This makes the business stable through the operation of the new guidelines. Lewin’s model is still in use currently despite the fact that it is time-consuming and requires patience. However, it is still a preference for many businesses (Schein, 1996)
Mckinsey 7-S Model was developed by Tom Peters, Anthony Athos, Robert Waterman and Richard Pascale in 1978. They identified seven factors that can be applied together as change agents. This design covers all aspects of the business. The 7-S’ represents shared values, strategies, structure, systems, style, staff and skills. The benefits of this model are that it is an effective tool to diagnose and understand an organization. It provides a guideline to be adopted in organizational change, it integrates both rational and emotional components and offers a unifying factor in addressing the issues of development. The model, however, has some disadvantages in that when one part changes, all the other parts must change since they are interrelated. The model also ignores differences in various units and is also a complex process. The experience of using this model has always resulted in failure (Higgins, 2005).
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Kotter’s Step Change Model was developed by Prof. John Kotter from Harvard University. He presents change as a campaign tool that the management must sell and convince employees into buying it. The model utilizes eight measures that present change, as an urgent event that requires being undertaken. A team dedicated for change is then put in place. The change direction will then be communicated, and every team member is empowered to undertake change. This will be achieved through the development of short-term objectives that must be followed until the change is permanent. The advantages of this model are; that it is easy to implement and it focuses on the preparation of the accepting change and allows for an easier transition. The model is, however, rigid in that the steps cannot be skipped and that it is time-consuming (Kotter & Cohen, 2002).
There is a relationship between business process management and change management. BPM provides for methods and support for the necessary change, but it is not changed in itself. It can be seen as an art for managing change. The role of BPM involves two factors namely the people or employees and planning. Both BPM and change management are geared towards attaining one goal, that is, increase the performance of the company. Change management, on the other, hand, supports the organization in achieving its business goals and objectives through transformation processes. A good knowledge of BPM and change management strategy is important in business management. The change management categories focus on the process change, structural change and cultural change. The process change targets the workflows and processes used internally with the aim of improving efficiency, reducing wastes and improving the quality of services or products. Structural changes deal with the organizational structures, the functionality of the functional units, reporting structures and promoting integration. The social changes target shifting the attitudes and behaviors of the business. The three methods of change, when combined, produce the desired results (Kettinger & Grover, 1995)
In conclusion, businesses intending to introduce change must undertake research to establish the critical areas that will undergo a change and choose carefully the method that can be employed efficiently without disrupting the operations of the business. Early training and development of employees is one way of involving them so that the desire of adopting the change is inbuilt before the commencement of the change exercise. The management must be prepared for any undesired eventualities that may come as a result of the change.
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