Change is an inevitable constant in companies. Some organizational change is stimulated through external influences including economic, technological, cultural, political and social forces. Change can also originate because of employee or manager behaviors and needs. Regardless of the change catalyst, different types of organizational change models can be categorized in a variety of settings. Types of change models vary in intensity, impact, cost and complexity. For example, some may take more time to implement and can face strong resistance from employees. Understanding change models can help small businesses and large corporations plan and manage their organizations more efficiently.
Modified Change Model
Modified organizational change models transfer existing knowledge and experiences to gain support for another action. Familiarity -- a key component of modified change models -- leads to increased likelihood of compliance from employees. For example, retail stores regularly may extend hours for a holiday season or sale; meanwhile, managers may use the extended schedule to conduct an unscheduled inventory audit. Since employees are used to the idea of extended hours for special events, communication is not complex. This temporary change is easy to manage and employees are less resistant to the idea of working more hours on short notice. The modified change model demonstrates simplicity, compliance and influence. This holds the lowest degree of cost, complexity, resistance and time to implement.
Inventive Change Model
Organizations may seek to advance original and groundbreaking concepts. Advanced concepts are inventive when they can change industry standards. The inventive change model is moderate in complexity, implementation and cost. Using existing challenges or problems, new solutions can be adapted to evolve practices. Inventive solutions can gather excitement because they are novel, but implementation is difficult because there are no examples to reference. Therefore, a moderate sense of uncertainty, resistance and unexpected costs must be managed. New technology is a common cause of inventive change in organizations. This type of organizational change is demonstrated by the replacement of typewriters and word processors by computers. Computers fulfilled the need to share and store information, but originally required costly hardware acquisition and extensive employee training to learn programming skills. Computer use in organizations challenged the status quo and faced resistance by employees accustomed to typewriters, word processors and paper filing systems. Computer integration was an inventive change model because it was a new solution to existing organizational needs, implementation was moderately complex, and it changed operational standards in virtually every industry.
Radical Pioneering Change Model
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Radical pioneering is a change model that can completely restructure the foundation of any practice, industry or organization. This is the most complex, most expensive and most volatile of all types of change models. This carries a high-risk, high-reward component, but can threaten management, employee and industry legacies. An example of radical pioneering is Henry Ford's invention of the Model T automobile. This radical change uprooted the foundation of 18th-century transportation means such as horse and carriage. The automobile became a phenomenal concept continually imitated through modified and inventive change models. Within an organization, radical pioneering may be viewed in the form of how a company designs its infrastructure, operations or even communication practices.
Regardless of the change model needed, managers should consider a three-step process for managing change. First, create awareness by establishing key success measures that define the activity or need for change. This is an educational process used to influence attitudes, beliefs and the environment to set the stage for welcoming change. Then, implement the change through continued education, support and examples. Managers can lead by example and establish reward systems for compliance. Finally, the change is managed continuously through learning activities, positive reinforcement and demonstrating stability. In this stage, managers can refer to the key success measures established in the first step to reinforce the proposed change.
Since 1999, Christina Callaway has written and developed marketing communications programs for a range of small businesses, start-up ventures and Fortune 500 companies. She is also a speaker and trainer specializing in integrated communications.