Then what are the most essential learnings from your 20 years of dealing with and researching change?
Michael Jarrett:Good question. Let me try to highlight them. First, external factors are often the driver for change, but how organizations respond is the critical factor. Then, too, the managerial capabilities of companies help determine organizational responses; so, the change leadership at the top, middle and bottom is something to be audited and bolstered.
I’d also note that organizations with greater levels of internal dynamic capabilities have a source of competitive advantage as they can adapt more easily. Again, the more locked into the status quo, the more cumbersome any company becomes when it tries to convert a desire to change into real action.
But I should add a caveat or two. Radical change is not the answer for everyone. It’s important to gauge how much change is needed. Incremental and process changes work in relatively stable environments. The invention of the transistor shook the entire electronics industry. The kind of change your own company is facing may not be that profound, and so you must not overreact to change. High-change organizations do better in volatile environments than their lower-change counterparts. In stable environments, the differences are not as significant. Over 20 years, I have seen some organizations face change and succeed; and I have seen some organizations confront change and remain inert. Those who banked on inertia to propel themselves into the future are no longer around. [src pdf]