Chapter 1: Preparing for high impact change: the critical role of experiential learning and practice
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This book is intended to help prepare change leaders – at all organizational levels – to effectively deal with the myriad challenges inherent in the process of organizational change. While it has literally become a well-worn cliche that organizations and their management face unrelenting demands for change (Kerber and Buono, 2018), the simple reality – which is not so simple in terms of its impact on organizational life – is that the majority of change efforts fall well short of their intended goals. Despite a literal avalanche of research and managerial attention devoted to conceptualizing and empirically testing an array of change management practices (see Abrahamson, 2000; de Caluwe and Vermaak, 2002; Jamieson et al., 2016; King and Wright, 2007; Kotter and Cohen, 2002), successful organizational change often remains an elusive quest. Unfortunately, many of our educational efforts to develop the capabilities of students and early career executives to successfully deal with the subtleties, nuances, and complexities of organizational change similarly tend to fall well short of the need. Thus, in a “back to the future” spirit, this volume seeks to confront this challenge by resurrecting a powerful hands-on, immersive pedagogy: high impact change-related simulations and experiential exercises. Effective organizational change involves a combination of understanding, learning and unlearning, and practiced behavior as part of the underlying conceptualization, formulation, and implementation processes. The book presents a series of exercises – each with background context, explicit directions, facilitator suggestions, and debriefing guidelines – that promote learning and developing readiness for change, from preparing people for change, understanding and managing resistance, grappling with cultural confines and confusion, dealing with communication challenges, and coping with change-related obstacles, to seeking buy-in for the change. Emphasis throughout the book is placed on developing change-related competencies.

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