Everyone likes when the status quo stays easy and comfortable, but in the business world, complacency can kill. The companies that innovate and elevate their game are the ones who usually command the biggest market shares. Inevitably, business disruptions occur, and when they do, organizational culture can change. However, even if it’s a seemingly negative catalyst causing the disruption, the good news is that there can be big advantages of organizational change.
Catalysts for Organizational Change
Business does not happen inside a vacuum. It is beholden to laws, dependent on customers and affected by measures completely outside its domain. When disruptions come, businesses have three choices – give up, cope with it or fully embrace the opportunity to change so they thrive.
One case study for the benefits of organizational change taught by the University of Southern California Master in Communication program took place in Canada. In 2014, the government ordered all health care facilities to adopt integrated patient electronic medical records. When faced with either doing the bare minimum to meet the law or going all the way, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario fully bought in and embraced the changes.
They signed a contract with Epic, who provides ambulatory health care software, and they went entirely paperless with the help of tablets. As a result, the entire hospital became more efficient. Doctors ordered tests quicker and received results quicker, and patient care improved – a testament to the positive effects of change in an organization.
Events that can provoke change include:
- Catastrophe: Natural disaster, fire, accidents, extreme weather
- Laws: Regulations and laws can change, making compliance mandatory
- Competition: New competition can force a re-evaluation of a company’s place in the market
- Regime shift: New owners and new management can compel change from the rest of the company
- Environment: Economic collapse, changing cultural mores and an influx of new markets/population can all induce a need to change
Benefits of Organizational Change
Change is scary, but change is good when it causes companies to rethink how they operate, find ways to increase efficiencies, explore new market opportunities and so much more. Among the many perks of organizational changes can be:
- Innovation: In adapting, it’s possible to find new income strategies or create new products that can bolster the bottom line and grow the company.
- Diversification: When seizing whatever opportunities may come out of a changing playing field, a company may find itself having to pursue new markets, new partners and/or new audiences. It may be a struggle at first, but if successful, the company may find itself on even more solid ground than before.
- Improved communication: Being forced to change can make management seek input from team members who are normally overlooked. By inviting participation, communication can improve, and it can also spark increased teamwork.
Embracing Change for Good
As companies face obstacles like having to implement change due to external forces, it’s easy for employees to panic if they feel the company's been backed into a corner for whatever reason. Overcoming those obstacles, though, can help the company grow stronger not just from a market standpoint but also thanks to improved morale. When a company proves to be resilient, employees have increased optimism for job security and greater respect for management, which can ultimately reduce turnover.
Also, having to adapt to market forces means potentially unearthing new talents and leadership from existing employees who may step up to take on new roles as the scenario progresses. By listening to employee ideas and suggestions, it's possible for management to discover who's been overlooked and underutilized for too long.
Being forced to change can really be one of the best things to ever happen to a company, but it all comes down to whether the management proves to be innovative and adaptable when that's needed.
Steffani Cameron is a professional writer who has written for the Washington Post, Culture, Yahoo!, Canadian Traveller, and many other platforms. Some writing projects have included ghost-writing for CEOs and doing strategy white papers. She frequently writes for corporate clients representing Fortune 500 brands on subjects that include marketing, business, and social media trends.