The Change Formula

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Slide 1

The Formula for Change was created by Richard Beckhard and David Gleicher and is sometimes called Gleicher's Formula. This formula provides a model to assess the relative strengths affecting the likely success or otherwise of organizational change programs. Beckhard, R 1969 Organization Development: Strategies and Models, Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA. It is a simple yet powerful tool that gives you a quick, first impression of the possibilities and conditions to change an organization. Historically, the change quotation can be seen as a major milestone for the field of Organizational Development. Organization Development has expanded gradually over time, in response to the needs of employers who not only want to move their organizations forward in terms of business objectives, but also in terms of employee engagement, as today's employers now understand the connection between employee involvement and organizational success. The move to employee involvement in change, and the use of internal or external consultants to manage reactions to change, represents a shift in thinking from earlier management theory, such as Frederick Winslow Taylor's scientific management approach, which became known as Taylorism. This "command-and-control" approach drew a sharp line between managers and employees. The underlying philosophy was that "workers work, managers think." Taylor's method was a reflection of the times, i.e., the industrial age with its factories, unions, and assembly lines - environments that needed tight management control. Taylor's view was eventually complemented (replaced) by the human relations movement, as organizational psychology and group dynamics evolved, paving the way for more worker involvement and benefits, and the theory of worker motivation.

Slide 2

The Change Model Formula (Change Equation) is: Δ = D x V x F > R Change = Dissatisfaction x Vision x First Steps > Resistance to Change It is important to note that the three components must all be present to overcome the resistance to change in an organization: Dissatisfaction with the present situation, a Vision of what is possible in the future, and achievable First steps towards reaching this vision. If any of the three is zero or near zero, the product will also be zero or near zero and the resistance to change will dominate.

Slide 3

The formula begins with the Delta symbol – which is the universal symbol for change.

Slide 4

The first variable that comprises the formula is the notion of Dissatisfaction. People do not change when they are happy with their situation. They change because they are unhappy with it.

Slide 5

The second variable is Vision – having an idea of the new desired state of affairs one wants to move toward. In other words, just be unhappy and dissatisfied with your current state of affairs does not provide the sufficient energy impulse for one to change their conditions. They have to have some picture – however murky – of where they would rather be.

Slide 6

Interestingly, according to the formula just being dissatisfied and having a vision of a new desired state of being itself is not enough to propel one to make changes in their life. A third ingredient is needed and that is some degree of clarity on the first few steps one would take to realize their Vision. The specific concrete steps to get one from point A to point B need to be mapped out in a rudimentary action plan. In organizational change, establish not only the future state desired but also the details of the journey. Delineate the details of the transition, the numbers of people affected, what the universe of stakeholders look like, likely obstacles, and so on. You’ll find that the implementers are far more comfortable following a game plan – and even deviating from it, if necessary – than proceeding with no game plan at all.

Slide 7

To recap: Three factors must be present for meaningful organizational change to take place. These factors are:D = Dissatisfaction with how things are now;V = Vision of what is possible;F = First, concrete steps that can be taken towards the vision. If the product of these three factors is greater thanR = Resistance, then change is possible. Because of the multiplication of D, V and F, if any one is absent or low, then the product will be low and therefore not capable of overcoming the resistance. To ensure a successful change it is necessary to use influence and strategic thinking in order to create vision and identify those crucial, early steps towards it. In addition, the organization must recognize and accept the dissatisfaction that exists by communicating industry trends, leadership ideas, best practice and competitive analysis to identify the necessity for change. It is important to note that the three components must all be present to overcome the resistance to change in an organization: Dissatisfaction with the present situation, a Vision of what is possible in the future, and achievable First steps towards reaching this vision. If any of the three is zero or near zero, the product will also be zero or near zero and the resistance to change will dominate. Some documentation also refers to the resistance to change as the cost of change. It is then subdivided into the economic cost of change (monetary cost) and the psychological cost of change. What this tries to demonstrate is that even if the monetary cost of change is low, the change will still not occur should the psychological resistance of employees be at a high level and vice versa. What this allows managers to do is to isolate the actual problem areas of change and develop unique strategies specifically designed to resolve the correct form of resistance.

Slide 8

There is a generally accepted notion that holds that people resist change. I’ve found that to be totally untrue. Every day, people adapt to, adjust for, and anticipate change in the form of roads closed, surprises from their family, organizational shifting of priorities, cancellations, abrupt requests, and so on. If people were so reluctant to change, we’d all be on heavy medication. Change is the universal norm, and it is both omnipresent and accepted. What people do resist, however, is ambiguity. Some changes do not involve ambiguity, such as a highway detour that puts one of familiar, though less-traveled streets. Or a work shift that involves a sudden trip, but to a site often visited. Other changes produce significant ambiguities: a road detour that takes one to completely unfamiliar territory or a sudden trip to a new country, new client, or new problem. In organizational change work, most people can relate to the picture painted of the future organization, and all people are intimately familiar with where they are today. But the journey to that new future is likely to be highly ambiguous and unclear.

Summary: Jim Troxel explains "The Change Formula" for LL435: Understanding Personal and Organizational Change.

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