Managing Organizational Change

One of the roughest things any organization, manager, or worker has to deal with is change. In our modern economy, change is rarely a far-off issue. Change is often going on every day and either you keep up with it or your company becomes obsolete. Managing Organizational Change by Palmer, Dunford, and Akin provides a variety of solid techniques to help people deal with and get through those changes.

I've run my own web-based company for over ten years now, and I have definitely seen the pace of change ramp up to almost insane levels. I took this college class in order to try to get a handle on managing those changes. I found this book to be quite valuable in learning the material. I find it fascinating that some other reviewers claim this is "useless theories" - when I could directly correlate many of the things they discussed with things I had seen over the years. I suppose it could be if a person was a young 18 year old student that they might not see how these types of items relate to the real world. They think of change as a discrete issue that starts, goes on for a while, and then ends. In my experience change is never that neat and tidy, and the chapters of the book help break down all of the various issues into chunks that can be addressed.

As the book lays out, yes you can TRY to plan for a change. However, the different theories help to explain that in some cases changes are simply outside of your control and the best you can do is try to hang on and deal with things as they come at you. Yes, you build back-up plans and forecast - but none of us are 100% accurate at fortune telling. There will always be unplanned-for side effects. Learning to cope with those is incredibly important.

Also, as much as one could try to lay out communication plans to encourage others to buy in, the results can never be completely planned for nor can one necessarily get everyone to buy in. Life is messy. Change is often chaotic. That needs to be understood and accepted. The best laid training and "indoctrination" still will not reach everyone, and that is normal.

I love many of the case studies presented here. They help make the message clear that change is all around us, it is constantly ongoing, and even the best trained individuals can struggle to find a path through it. We see their successes and failures and draw from them.

If I have an issue here it's with the aged language in some of the case studies. It's interesting because there are several competing feelings in my mind here. First, I don't like it when college books update every year just to force students to get the latest version. So I do appreciate that this book isn't doing that. And also, I like reading case studies from various timeframes to see how change management has altered over the years. But with that all being said, sometimes the way a case study is presented feels silly. One line reads "MySpace may next disrupt music" as if MySpace is an up-and-coming force, when it is already a distant past item. Another area says: "The challenging question: 'might MySpace become too big and broad and successful to be cool?'" Again, it's funny to see that as a quote. It would be fine to have a MySpace case study as an example, a moment in time, but to actively ask "could MySpace get too big" really dates the content.

Still, the information is quite valuable, and there were many sections in here which actively helped me in my current management tasks. If you're trying to cope with change in your organization - and really, I would be hard pressed to think of any industry which is NOT going through change right now - then my guess is that the book would help your ability to navigate the issues.

Well recommended.

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