Philosophies of Organizational Change
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Philosophies of Organizational Change

Aaron C.T. Smith and Fiona M. Sutherland

Philosophies of Organizational Change explains the assumptions that drive different perspectives on organizational change management. The book describes and examines the myriad philosophical interpretations of change, revealing how and why managers confront change using so many competing methods. Each philosophy introduces the reader to the key theories used to diagnose organizations and prescribe change interventions. The book critically evaluates the arguments underpinning organizational change approaches and shows how they lead to different techniques and tools for practical change.
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Chapter 3: The rational philosophy: 'changing plans'

Aaron C.T. Smith and Fiona M. Sutherland


3. The rational philosophy: ‘changing plans’ INTRODUCTION The impetus for change may be obvious or subtle, arriving in forms as varied as strategy failure, technological innovation, financial necessity, market variation, competitive pressure and political activity. The cause provides a context from which responses can be formulated. Change methods also reflect indirect and arbitrary factors such as the quality and strength of leadership, the timing, resource availability, access to technical knowledge, and existing systems. However, knowing what to change does not avert change failure. In fact, most leaders introduce change programmes with a clear appreciation for the problem, a strong commitment to its resolution and a definitive path for intervention. Yet, the research suggests that more often than not, something still goes wrong. At the most basic level, change means altering or modifying something; a procedure, a policy, a capability or something more simple, and substituting an alternative. Managing change requires a systematic approach that needs both organizational and individual involvement, and where formulating the change method falls to organizational leaders as the chief strategists (Adcroft, Willis and Hurst, 2008). There can be no separating change and strategy; their link is intractable and inevitable. Determining which method of change to adopt presents an organization with the options of multiple personalities, like reading Machiavelli for the first time. Does one accept the ostensibly republican sentiment found in The Discourses, or should one adopt the counsel given to absolute rulers in The Prince? Each appears to contradict the other. In reality, Machiavelli gives...

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