Effectively implementing strategic change is critical for improving organizational performance. Explain reasons why strategic change programs fail and discuss the critical issues that need to be addressed when implementing change programs
Successful implementation of strategic change programs is crucial in the performance of any organization as well as its competitive advantage. However, it is surprising that most organizations do not realize the 60% potential of their strategic change programs as most of the programs end up failing. Some of the reasons causing such failures are discussed.
One of the main reasons that organizations fail in implementing strategic change is the lack of connecting the strategic vision and successful program implementation, as well as the lack of a model of management that can manage the change process. Additionally, lack of management tools for bridging the gap between these elements causes failure. When the gap exists, there can be no harmony within the organization since people might not even be working towards the same goals. This happens due to lack of free flowing communication among all levels of the organization.
The other cause is the unseen resistance to change within the organizational culture. Many managers do not have good processes or change management for addressing this issue. When the organizational culture is resistant to change, it is hard to achieve success in implementing a strategic change program since it is not received well. This happens when employees are not involved in the strategic program as well as lack of understanding the change program. When employees are involved in creating the strategic change, they tend to unite and work towards its achievement (Franken, Edwards and Lambert, 2005, p. 54).
Finally, lack of taking into account the impact of change to those affected within the organization contributes to the failure. In any strategic change, there are those who are affected. When they are not taken into account or their issues addressed, the change may not be successful. When there is no clear process to manage the change achieved, those affected are left hanging and do not realize the benefit of the change. This requires clarity and communication as well as articulation and management of the process.
Several issues need addressing when implementing change programs in order to achieve success. One of the critical issues to address during implementation of strategic change is coordination of the elements of change. The most crucial issue to address when implementing change is the ability to coordinate the elements in the execution of change such as information. For instance, one element such as establishing accountability as well as governance for each change programs provides information for executing each of the change program identified. Therefore, each employee needs to be fully aware and informed of the changes taking place in order to participate. Communication is one of the crucial elements to consider (Franken et al., 2005, p. 52).
Engagement of all the workers within the organization is yet another crucial factor considering that strategic change is supposed to be a process and not an event. In any process, the main factor is the people, and it is necessary they are included if change is to occur. Innovation is crucial to the success of strategic change programs. Change requires new things implemented. Therefore, the organization should encourage innovation and allow taking of risks. Some changes require innovative ideas in order to implement. Otherwise, it would only mean improving rather than achieving real change. This allows creation of new strategies as well as means of achieving them.
Describe what you understand vision to be and discuss the role of strategic leadership in shaping the strategic direction of an organization
Every leader in an organization as well as employees has a vision. For instance, Nelson Mandela’s vision was to see South Africa without apartheid. Every person in life has a vision of what things ought to be in the future. A vision is a broad picture of how things re supposed to be or should be in the future. For instance, one can have a vision of how the organization ought to treat its employees or do business. A vision is any futuristic picture of how things should be. Many people do understand this. However, what is mostly talked about but never understood is how to make this vision a reality. Many people will have grand visions but never achieve them. Therefore, leaders of any organization ought to prove to their workers that their visions are achievable and should direct them towards achievement of such visions.
Strategic leadership has a crucial role to play in shaping the strategic direction of an organization in accordance to its vision. Strategic leaders need to create and adopt a vision for the organization and work towards achieving it, which subsequently means shaping the direction of the organization (Fuller & Green, 2005, p. 23). The vision dictates where the organization should be headed. Therefore, it communicates the direction of the organization. When the vision is well-communicated t the whole organization, employees will join the leader in an effort to achieve it. The leader should ensure that all employees in the organization understand the organization. During its creation, leaders should create in a way that engages the imagination, as well as the energy of the employees. The main role of leaders is creating and bringing together human energy towards achievement of a vision.
After creating and communicating the vision of the organization to the employees, leaders need to set goals and objectives that will achieve this vision. Vision only become a reality when the leaders narrow the focus of the organization through goals and objectives that later direct them in the formulation of a strategy. The leaders should set measurable goals and objectives as well as achievable. They should balance between the ability of the organization as well as the skills available. Too high goals might discourage the employees while easily achievable goals might reduce the potential of the company to realize its vision. In order to encourage goal-attaining behavior, leaders need establish reward systems that encourage employees to achieve the goals and objectives (Fuller & Green, 2005, p. 21).
After setting goals and objectives, strategic leaders need to design strategies aimed at achieving the set goals and objectives. This is where the strategic leaders ask how the firm or organization is going to achieve the set goals and objectives using the available resources. This also means carefully choosing what should be done when and what should not be done now. It is a matter of making choices of what activities to undertake with the available resources in order to achieve the goals. The leader needs to formulate strategies that can be understood and adopted by the employees.
After creating the strategies, the leader’s role in shaping the direction of the company now remains as to execute the strategy. This is yet another huge and crucial role of the leader. It is also one of the toughest roles to achieve (Fuller & Green, 2005, p. 33). In order to implement the strategy, the leader needs to align the goals, objectives and strategy to the vision and ensure understanding by the employees. It requires building an organizational culture as well as capability in order to execute the strategy. For instance, Southwest Spirit is a culture of fun in flying customers to their destinations. The company adopted this culture in order to encourage the employees by treating them well before treating the customers (Fuller and Green 2005). The strategy should also be aligned to the culture of the organization in order to make it acceptable to all employees.
After these roles, the only role remaining on the leader is constantly evaluating and reviewing performance in order to realize any weaknesses that would require changing. This allows the leader to have a clear view of whether the organization is moving towards achievement of its goals and objectives that will subsequently lead to achievement of the vision. Through these roles, the strategic leaders shape the direction of the organization toward achieving its vision.
“Culture to an organization is what personality is to an individual.” Illustrate the nature of corporate culture and discuss the process and difficulties of effectively changing corporate culture
Hauroo cites, “the term ‘corporate culture’ often refers to the set of values, assumptions, beliefs, attitudes, experiences, and the relationships between individuals and functions that define the way the organization conducts its business,” (2009, p. 5). In actuality, it refers to the perception how things within an organization are conducted. The corporate culture influences the behavior of employees within an organization as well as how they relate to each other as well as the senior management. This can be considered the personality of the organization, which determines how employees conduct business or tasks within the organization. In this regard, it is easily observable by an outsider as opposed to an internal or employee of the organization. It should be noted that it is a powerful tool within the organization and those who do not fit could find themselves at constant conflicts with the other employees (Hauroo, 2009, p. 32). The corporate culture plays a vital role in establishing the organizational culture, and it is exceedingly crucial in achieving of organizational goals.
The process of changing a corporate culture is not easy and requires devotion by the whole organization. The corporate culture starts at the top of the organization or from the leaders of the organization. This makes it quite tough to change the culture since habits and beliefs do not die easily. However, anything is achievable. In order to change the organizational culture or corporate culture, the employees have to understand and see the greater value of changing. In many cases, corporate culture changes after significant events occur such as going bankrupt, losing sales or such issues. The process of changing organizational culture involves three steps.
The first step is first understanding the current organizational culture. One needs to understand how things currently operate in order to understand the need for change. Ones it is understood, people could realize some of the reason as well as areas that contribute negatively towards the success of the organization. The second step of the process is deciding where one wants it to go, or defining a direction for it. This involves defining the details of how one would like things to be done within the organization considering the corporate culture defines how things are done. For instance, if it was a culture that bosses within the organization should not be questioned, then this could be changed since it does not allow other people to have their say in the organization. After defining where the culture should go, the final and toughest step is for people to change their attitude and behaviors. In order to change the corporate culture, people have to change their behaviors and adopt the desired behaviors according to the new set culture (Hauroo, 2009, p. 45).
What makes it hard to change corporate culture is the fact that it is created over time and becomes a comfort zone to all the members of an organization. Very few people would be welcome to get off their comfort zones. More so, behaviors developed over a long time and accepted by almost everybody in the organization become a habit, which is hard to kill. It requires a considerable effort to change the habit as well as beliefs of how things are done. Getting people to change their behavior makes it even more difficult to change the corporate culture.
Additionally, many people are resistant to change and are afraid of the impact. Such people pose another difficulty in changing the corporate culture. For instance, the example of leaders being unquestioned provided above means that after changing the corporate culture, such leaders’ words will not be final, and workers can have their say. If not interpreted well, a leader might be afraid that his or her juniors could be better than he could be. Such leaders might want the status quo to remain. Such factors make it difficult to change the corporate culture within an organization (Hauroo, 2009, p. 27).
Franken A, Edwards C and Lambert R, Executing Strategic Change: Understanding the Critical Management Elements that lead to Success, California Management Review, 51(3): 49-73.
Fuller, N J and Green J C, 2005, The Leader’s Role in Strategy, viewed April 3, 2013, http://gbr.pepperdine.edu/2010/08/the-leaders-role-in-strategy/
Hauroo, R, 2009, Organizational Behavior: Corporate Culture, viewed April 3, 2013, http://liamofmauritius.wordpress.com/2009/04/22/organisational-behaviour-corporate-culture/