Diagnosing Problems of Change Process
Diagnosing that change is necessary for the organization in an uncertain environment is only a starting point. For example if you are a physician and found that a patient has a fever. Without diagnosing that which infection is causing the fever can lead to the wrong treatment by you. Initiating changes that do not improve the underlying problems is sometimes worse than making no changes at all.
Managers are required to avoid premature conclusions about causes. Instead, they must obtain information from various sources. If possible they can compare the information to uncover consistent patterns or trends; and, most important, they can try to determine what are the most likely causes. The end result of a comprehensive analysis of this type should be an accurate, valid diagnosis of what, and who, needs to change.
The Change Process
One of the most enduring, simple, and yet comprehensive frameworks of the change process was proposed by psychologist Kurt Lewin. He argued that change, whether personal, team or organizational change, went through three distinctive phases: unfreezing, movement and refreezing. Let’s discuss here the first phase of Organizational Change i.e., Unfreezing.
Unfreezing: Phase 1
Most of the changes are preceded by something other changes. Usually, that “something” is success. In other words, individuals, teams, or companies have a history of doing the right thing and doing it well before a change is needed. In general, the longer a previous “right thing” has proven itself successful, the more likely people are to want to hang on to it.
Change is typically stimulated when something is anticipated to change or actually changes in the environment (external or internal). Simplistically, the change in the context causes the previous right thing for the past to become the wrong thing for the future.
For example, suppose you had the pattern of making decisions on your own without seeking input from subordinates or employees. This pattern of decision making worked for you for many years because the decisions you faced as a manager were fairly routine type. And in part because you had all the knowledge you needed to make the decisions without seeking the input of others. Your individual decision-making approach was right, and you were good at it. Then something happens. The nature of your company’s customers changes. They require much more sophisticated products. These new products involve technologies that are new to you.
You now need to involve others more in decision making because you don’t have all the information or answers yourself. The environment has shifted and what used to be the right thing for you has now turned to be the wrong thing. However, you are still very good at it. A similar pattern can happen at the organizational level, so, managers are required to seek suggestions from subordinates before making decisions.