In a changing world, change management processes become physiological, for individuals, social groups, or organizations. However, what are the basic characteristics of the change? What are the effects of these characteristics? What are the cognitive limits that impede the perception of change? When the change is perceived and interpreted, how will the organization deal with the change process? This study seeks to answer these questions by referring to organizations more so than to individuals. Three fundamental characteristics of current change will be identified, for simplicity’s sake called: 1) acceleration, 2) interdependence, and 3) the prevalence of the symbol. For each of these, the consequences for awareness of and adjustments to the change will be presented. The more complex the change is, the more necessary it is to have models to perceive and interpret it.
Unfortunately, there are a number of cognitive limits that impede an understanding of the change, the most evident of which are: a) the lack of systemic thinking, b) the inability to perceive sudden changes, c) the inability to observe changes which are too slow, and d) the tendency toward one-way observation. Faced with the complexity of change, which is increasingly viewed as an equilibrium-impeding disturbance, the ability of organizations and social systems to survive for a long period of time depends on the ability to produce a countervailing change of the vital processes in order to achieve new equilibrium states. From this perspective, three forms of change in organizations will be considered that involve: 1) operational programmes; 2) organizational structures; and 3) culture, and cognitive, and behavioural models. A model is proposed that integrates these three forms and highlights their “motor wheels”.
|Keywords:||Change Management, Systems Thinking, Wheels of Change, Cognitive Limits|
Chair of Business Administration, Faculty of Economics, Department of Management Research, University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy
Department of Business Management "Riccardo Argenziano", University of Pavia, Pavia, Italy
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