Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Everything evolves around changes. This is true in connection with the other three keywords, as it is the one that binds them all together. None of them would be interesting if the teams, the culture, ethics and society was always the same. It is human nature# to be curious to explore, challenge the existing and search for better.

The most important changes are those around a unit#. The ones that are agreed on internally are just as important as those stemming from an external source, as these need to be accepted in the same way that change from an external source needs to be accepted. The difference between the two is simply that changes from external sources usually surprise the unit in focus.

Changes affect the environment that we practice in, whether this is our work environment where we practice our job, or it is a school environment where we practice our learning. Human nature which was mentioned earlier, comes into play once more. We seek the new and exciting, and yet we still want the comfort of everything being the way it usually is. This way we can build habits, work out routines, set a culture, agree on standards, ethics and work together in units. We do this to optimize the outcome of our practice. This statement ironically leads to the next one, that stem from human nature: This is also why we apply changes.

As highlighted already in this paper; “everything evolves around changes”. This is true for the models that are commonly used to describe units. This is including how they team up, what their culture and ethics are and how they innovate.
The models origin from a series of scientists throughout the ages, with focus on both individuals and units as a whole:
Freud and Mazlow describing basic human requirements to their surroundings. Mintzberg, who took a practical approach with a company in focus and described the different types of units or organizations within an organization. Kotler, Hofstede and Gesteland who all focus on cultures in a more broad perspective, mostly relevant in relation to the culture of a country#, but applicable elsewhere.

Changes are interesting because they affect us, directly and indirectly. This is true whether they are foreseen or unforeseen, or from internal or external sources. The main difference between the sources being that we can influence internal sources directly, while external sources are more ‘out of reach’.
Influences from changes can be ‘put in boxes’, like below, to easily get an overview of where a change originates, and take appropriate action according to possibilities at available.

Unforeseen changes matrix

Direct change
Indirect change
External source
Example: Tax increase.Example: A lot of rain during harvest leads to low outcome increasing prices of wheat in supermarkets.
Internal source
Example: Your husband ate the pie you made.Example: Your guests will be disappointed that they did not get any pie because someone ate it.

Foreseen changes matrix

Direct change
Indirect change
External source
Example: Removal of productExample: Lack of interest from customers
Internal source
Example: Too expensive to produceExample: Lack of product = lack of customers because their only interest was that one produce

As we can see from the examples above, changes appear in many different shapes, and the reaction are even more diverse, as no one reaction is the same. Both unforeseen and foreseen changes are relevant in a business environment. We can prepare for foreseen changes, just as well as the unforeseen. The ability to adapt to changes is what in marketing is referred to as agility, a term that fits very well in this connection. Another approach to better describe this is Geert Hofstede’s Uncertainty Avoidance Index, which describes how exactly how easily we adapt to changes.

How change affects us
And why is the text in the right side of the post all of the sudden? Read on.

The two lines above will most likely have made you stop for a moment, and wonder why the text was in the right, and not the left side. The change was unexpected as we, as students and teachers have a culture that dictates certain formalities when writing assignments to be handed in. Reactions to changes, or as in this case, incorrect formatting, vary depending on the agility of the reader. No matter what however, there is always a reaction to an action#. As opposed to the law of physics settled by Newton, the reaction is not always equal the to the action.

The same is true for changes in an environment, there is always a reaction.

The Hawthorne studies pioneered this in a corporate environment, where the simple change was that they told the employees they were looking for areas to improve. Without any further actions, knowing that they were being watched, employees increased productivity. The main change here was that the otherwise unnoticed factory workers were suddenly in focus, the increased attention for their labor caused a change in their culture.
The culture before they were being watched, was similar to that of the students at the IBC today. There is a set of rules regarding adequate operation of computers. However, when not monitored, these rules are broken by the students using the school computers and Internet connection to play games and visit websites that are not school related. Just like the students, workers at Western Electric’s factories in Hawthorne close to Chicago, USA, back in 1927-32 did not follow the company guidelines completely until they were aware that they were being watched. Here we return to human nature once more: We tend to seek the new and exciting, which does not lie within the perimeters of routines, habits, culture and ethics.

A way to better understand the mechanics of changes is to use The Change Circle#. It describes change from when a unit is first exposed to a change in its environment or practice, to the point where the change is accepted and everything, aside from the change, is working as usual. All changes go through this circle that is split into 6 (7 with the danger zone) phases, each describing a phase that a unit must go through before the change is fully implemented in its practice.
This is where it starts to get interesting when talking about change, because this is where we get a better idea of what to do, or not to do, when changes occur. It is also where the management of a company can prepare for how changes will influence its employees.

How this should done depends heavily on the change to implemented, the environment surrounding the unit and the culture. This requires knowledge of and about the change, the the environment in which it is to be implemented, the units affected and the culture and ethics of these parts.

Here we can return to the beginning of the post and continue reading.

Copyright (c) 2011- Makey Consult. Please use the following as a source if citing this post: ""Change" by Anders Gerlev Hansen for Makey Consult. www.makey.biz"