The Theme of People
NOTE: This is the second in a series of Weekly Briefings on nine major themes for implementing organizational change found in academic journals. We are looking for clues to answer the question, “Why do some men’s discipleship programs succeed while others languish or fail?” For now, I leave it to you to apply these general summaries to your men’s discipleship program. You can also apply the themes more broadly to change your business, your church, or even your family.
The next theme in organizational change is having the right people. Collins (2001, p. 13) found that having the right people was even more important than having the right idea. He noted the Good to Great companies made sure to get the right people on the bus—even before deciding where they wanted to go.This theme, of course, extends to the leader positions already discussed, and to the staff of the organization. Factors related to this theme found in the literature will now be introduced.
Capability. Tasking capable people with the planned organizational change initiative is a factor of implementation success (McNish, 2002). Capable people must be recruited, trained, given incentives, and supported by policies (Okumus, 2003).
Commitment. In the same way commitment is important for leaders, so it is important for all personnel levels in the implementing organization. Therefore, it is important to have patience with personnel so they can develop motivation over time without being pressured for early results (Repenning, 2002). It is an essential factor to build support with all key opinion leaders and other influential staff to achieve a critical mass of support (Rogers, 1995; Kotter, 1995). Initial resistance can be overcome through dialogue (Houston-Philpot, 2002). Good relationships are a key to good implementation (Johnson, Hayes, Center, & Daley, 2004).
Expectations. Staff understanding what is expected of them is a factor for successfully bringing about organizational change (Freedman, 2003; McNish, 2002). Failure to communicate expectations to key staff was not found to be a major implementation problem in one study (Alexander, 1985). However, this could have been because management had done an effective job in communicating expectations.
Culture. An important success factor is to create a culture of tolerance, psychological safety, and reflection that values working together (Ayas & Zeniuk, 2001). The implementation of a continuous improvement program depended on creating psychological safety to dialogue on touchy subjects (Beer, 2003). Developing the needed culture and skills was found to be a factor when implementing continuous improvement programs (Beer, 2003). An implementation of organizational change should consider what impact the new strategy will have on the existing and new culture, and what effort will be required to change the culture (Okumus, 2003).
In summary, recruiting and equipping the right people is a major theme when discussing how to bring about organizational change. Related factors include tasking capable, committed people who understand what is expected from them. Those people must be trained with the skills required to implement the change. Creating a culture that offers psychological safety for people to dialogue about their reservations is a key factor of implementation success. Next, the theme of the right idea will be reviewed.
For the glory of Christ and no other reason,
Alexander, L. (1985). Sucessfully implementing strategic decisions. Long Range Plannning, (18)3, 91-97.
Ayas, K., & Zeniuk, N. (2001). Project-based learning: building communities of reflective practitioners. Management Learning, 32(1), 61-76.
Beer, M. (2003). Why total quality management programs do not persist: the role of management quality and implications for leading a TQM transformation. Decision Sciences, 34(4), 623-642.
Charan, R. & Colvin, G. (1999). Why CEOs fail. Fortune 139(12), pp. 68-75.
Freedman, M. (2003). The genius is in the implementation. Journal of Business Strategy, 24(2), 26-31.
Houston-Philpot, K. (2002). Leadership development partnerships at Dow Corning corporation. Journal of Organizational Excellence, 22(1), 13-27.
Johnson, K., Hays, C., Center, H., & Daley, C. (2004). Building capacity and sustainable prevention innovations: a sustainability planning model. Evaluation and Program Planning, 27(2), 135-149.
Kotter, J. P. (1995). Leading change. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
Kotter, J. P. (1996). Leading change: why transformation efforts fail. Harvard Business Review, 73(2), 59-67.
Kotter, J. (1999). Ten observations. Executive Excellence, August, 1999, 15-16.
Kotter, J. P. (2001). What leaders really do. Harvard Business Review, 79(11), 85-96.
LeBrasseur, R., Whissell, R., & Ojha, A. (2002). Organisational learning, transformational leadership and implementation of continuous quality improvement in canadian hospitals. Australian Journal of Management, 27(2), 141-162.
Miller, D. (2002). Successful change leaders: what makes them? what do they do that is different? Journal of Change Management, 2(4), 359-368.
McNish, M. (2002). Guidelines for managing change: a study of their effects on the implementation of new information technology projects in organization. Journal of Change Management, 2(3), 201-211.
Okumus, F. (2003). A framework to implement strategies in organizations. Management Decision, 41(9), 871-882.
Repenning, N. P. (2002). A simulation-based approach to understanding the dynamics of innovation implementation. Organization Science: A Journal of the Institute of Management Sciences, 13(2), 109-127.
Zaleznik, A. (2004). Managers and leaders: are they different? Harvard Business Review, (82)1, 74-81.