Saturday, June 30, 2018

Discussing Change Models, Diagnostic Instruments, and Specific Change Interventions, Part 1

The synthesis between selected change models, identification of appropriate diagnostic instruments, and utilization of specific change interventions should allow a leader to effectively intervene, facilitate, and support change.  Intervention Theory (Argyris, 1970) posits, “to intervene is to enter into an ongoing system of relationship, to come between or among persons, groups or objects for the purpose of helping them” (p. 115).  This understanding allows the effective change leader to seek to clearly understand the problem and need for change.  While the rationale and motivation often ranges from helping followers make their own decisions about the kind of help they need to coercing followers to do what the change leader determines is necessary for them to do, the change leader should assist “any system become more effective in problem solving, decision making, and decision implementation in such a way that the system can continue to be increasingly effective in these activities and have a decreasing need for the change leader thereafter” (p. 117). 

A basic condition of Intervention Theory (Argyris, 1970) is the need for valid information because “without valid information, it would be difficult for the client/individual to learn and for the interventionists to help” (p. 118).  A second basic condition assumes the intervention should be designed and executed to promote discreteness and autonomy, which promotes the necessity for free, informed choice.  Lastly, Argyris believed commitment to the learning and change processes must be more than temporary but rather “durable in the sense that it can be transferred to relationships in and out of their immediate sphere of influence” (p. 118).  As a result, a leader proficient with change models, diagnostic instruments, and specific change interventions would be more capable of promoting these conditions. 

When planning to identify either a change model or succession plan, consideration of an ecological perspective, supportive of the interconnectedness of stakeholders and organizations, exhibits prudence and wisdom.  Six components posited by Lester and Parnell (2002) should be considered when developing a subsequent change implementation plan, especially for a family business.  The effective change leader creates a compelling vision, provides continuous communications, creates a climate of selfless effort, provides the appropriate top-down support and role modeling, and relates the needed change both to the future and to the past.  Throughout the process, the effective change leader needs to engage the major stakeholders involved in the change.

Regardless if a transformative or a gradual change is being considered, understanding the role of stakeholder groups is crucial.  Stakeholders include customers, employees, their unions, employees, the organization’s shareholders, its partners, community groups, regulatory bodies, and the competition.  Chapman (2002) notes engagement with stakeholder groups around the opportunities and goals of the change process can yield mutually beneficial results.  Minimally it can help build trust because to establish trust channels for communication and dialogue throughout the change process need to be realized.  Clear communication and greater trust often produces more openness and support for the change process.

After analyzing a multitude of change management efforts, Kotter (1995) proposed an eight-step process model for effectively guiding organizations through major changes.  This well-known model focuses on both initiating and implementing change at a strategic level.  Kotter posits the eight activities are jointly necessary while individually insufficient to bring about and sustain change.  For those seeking an alternative to change models, Connell’s Prezi (2011) graphically illustrated and exemplified the Mento, Jones, and Dimdorfer’s (2002) 12-step framework for change: 

Step 1: The idea and its context

Step 2: Define the change initiative

Step 3: Evaluate the climate for change

Step 4: Develop a change plan

Step 5: Find and cultivate a sponsor

Step 6: Prepare your target audience, the recipients of change

Step 7: Create the cultural fit —Making the change last

Step 8: Develop and choose a change leader team

Step 9: Create small wins for motivation

Step 10: Constantly and strategically communicate the change

Step 11: Measure progress of the change effort

Step 12: Integrate lessons learned

 The 12-step framework implements many tenets of previous change models.  Yet, Mento, et al., (2002) note “the 12-steps are not to be regarded only sequentially, but also as an integrated, iterative process to enable change” (p. 58).  As such, it is a normative change model. 

A normative model is prescriptive.  As such it evaluates alternative solutions to the question, "What is going on?" A normative model either suggests what needs to be done or identifies how things should be operationalized based on a prescribed standard or approach.  By contrast, descriptive models only describe proposed solutions without actually evaluating them.

French, Bell, Jr., and Zawacki (2005) researched the management of change and effectiveness of instruments available for identifying and diagnosing problems.  They cite seven basic methods for collecting information initially explicated by Fordyce and Weil (1979).  The methods were rank ordered by degree of confrontation:
  1. questionnaires 
  2. interviewing,
  3. sensing,
  4. polling,
  5. collages,
  6. drawings, and
  7. physical representation of organizations.

 By their general nature, questionnaires are relatively impersonal since respondents remain confidential.  By contrast, physical representation is highly confronting.  French et al., (2005) suggest “the more confronting the method, the richer the response and the stronger the impulse to change” (p. 162).

                As we are learning, the process of change requires a thoughtful, systemic approach.  While the researched change models, assessment tools, and change interventions identified and discussed herein are widely utilized, there are others yet to be explored and evaluated. During part 2 of this discussion next month, we will review benchmarking, the balanced scorecard, and dialogue.  Benchmarking allows identification of best practices that can then be adopted, implemented, or replicated.  The balanced scorecard and dialogue are two of the most utilized intervention models.

To cite:
Anderson, C.J. (June 30, 2018) Discussing change models, diagnostic instruments, and specific change
       interventions, part 1. [Web log post] Retrieved from

Argyris, C. (1970). Intervention theory and method: A behavioral science view. Reading, Mass.:
Chapman, J. A. (2002). A framework for transformational change in organizations. Leadership
        & Organizational Development Journal, 23(1), 16-25.
French, W., L., Bell, Jr., C., H., Zawacki, R., A. (2005). Organization development and   
        transformation: Managing effective change (6th ed.). NYC: McGraw-Hill
Kotter, J.P., (1995) Leading change: Eight ways organizational transformations fail. Harvard Business
       Review 73(2), 59-67.
Lester, D. L., & Parnell, J. A. (2002). Aligning factors for successful organizational renewal.
         Leadership & Organizational Development Journal, 23(2), 60-67.
Mento, A. J., Jones, R. M., & Dimdorfer, W. (2002). A change management process: Grounded in
       both theory and practice. Journal of Change Management, 3(1), 45–59.


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