A third advantage which is held by the current situation concerns the proclivity of all systems to remain stable. When we change any part of the current system in order to make this part more efficient, more responsive, more humane or more profitable, then we can expect that other parts of the system also will have to change—even if they currently are working in an acceptable manner. Unless the desired change is trivial, it will set up ripples (if not tidal waves) in other parts of the system that often will not be fully appreciated by members of these parts of the system. Consequently, unless a change effort is truly system-wide in scope, it will tend to meet with local resistance. Even a systemic change effort will bump up against resistance from other neighboring systems, for no one system is an island—rather it is always one component of an even larger meta-level system. From this perspective, one begins to fully appreciate the pessimism of many organizational theorists about the prospects for real, lasting change.
Why then is any change effort begun? It is begin because, in some essential way, the current situation is intolerable. It is better to try something than to accept the current circumstances as givens. Thus, the impetus for change is persuasive and enduring. We embark upon planned change, typically, because the alternatives—no change and haphazard change—are unacceptable.
Initiating the Change
What occurs when the change has been initiated? First, things are disrupted. An unfreezing process is essential to any planned change effort. At the individual level, we can speak of the transitional periods or psychic limbo states that intercede between more stable periods in the lives of adults. During each transitional period some fundamental assumptions are questioned and the existing life structure is reappraised. Previously dismissed options and possibilities for change in oneself and in one’s world are now given credence. For the first time, we hear voices from other rooms in our psychic structure and consider profound changes in the way in which we encounter our world.
Whether engaged in organizational unfreezing or personal transitions, people are forced to adjust and learn when first initiating change. This is often a painful and consuming process. Participants in the change understandably begin to focus more on their own coping and their own learning than they do on the task at hand. They become introspective: old memories, hopes and fears often are evoked as people being changed seek out the stability of the past amidst the new values and behaviors. The old boundaries between home and work often are broken, as are many interpersonal constraints and traditional role differences (teacher and learner, young and old, male and female). Many change efforts will open up new perspectives that seem on the surface to have little to do specifically with this change. Change processes and learning often are not very discriminating.Download Article 1K Club