Although theories, strategies, and models do not provide explicit, practical advice, they are important tools that can help us understand our situations, identify problems, and plan solutions. Leaders often turn to such tools when faced with organizational change.
Weiner’s (2009) theory of organizational readiness for change aligns well with my personal leadership approach because I strongly believe that the first step in change is determining whether or not the organization is ready for change. Weiner defines organizational readiness as “organizational members’ change commitment and change efficacy to implement organizational change” (Discussion, para. 2). This means that members are psychologically and behaviourally ready to take action. They have a shared resolve to pursue the change and share a belief in their collective abilities to achieve the change successfully. Without organizational readiness, successful implementation of change is unlikely. In fact, Weiner (2009) states that “failure to establish sufficient [organizational] readiness accounts for one-half of all unsuccessful, large-scale organizational change efforts” (Background, para. 1).
I have been in a leadership role in various organizations as a lead teacher or teacher trainer. I have witnessed first-hand the challenge of trying to implement change among organizational members who were not ready. I believe that implementing strategies of “’unfreezing’ existing mindsets and creating motivation for change” (Weiner, 2009, Background, para. 1) would have made the members more likely to value the upcoming change and exert more effort and cooperative behaviour to implement the change more effectively. A leader who can encourage organizational readiness will have an organization that is more likely to succeed in that change.
Biech’s (2007) CHANGE model also aligns well with my leadership approach. I firmly believe in taking the time and effort for all members to understand why change is needed, what exactly the change will entail, how the change will occur, and how members will be involved. These are the first 3 steps of Biech’s CHANGE model (Figure 3-2). I have been a member under leaders who have failed to convey this information and the change has been ineffective. As a leader, I believe in being transparent when asking people to change and a great way to start is for those involved to understand why something is changing and what and how it will change. With understanding and acceptance, members’ organizational readiness will be higher, leading to more effective implementation (Weiner, 2009, Abstract, para. 2).
I am also a firm believer in Biech’s (2007) step 6: “evaluate and institutionalize the change” (Figure 3-2). Unfortunately, many organizations fail to follow through once implementation is complete. Biech states that “it is essential to encourage people and the organization to accept the desired change and to permanently institutionalize the variations” (Overview, para. 8). Omitting evaluation and institutionalization may cause the changes to veer off course or revert back to old ways. This may be caused by changes in members or management. An expensive, time-consuming positive change could be easily undone if step six is ignored.
Change is inevitable in all organizations. It can be a smooth and effective process or an expensive and chaotic one. Ensuring organizational readiness and following a thorough model, such as Biech’s CHANGE model, help leaders make decisions that lead to efficiency and success.
Biech, E. (2007). Models for change. In Thriving through change: A leader’s practical guide to change mastery. Alexandria, VA: Association for Talent Development.
Weiner, B.J. (2009). A theory of organizational readiness for change. Implementation Science, 4(67). doi: 10.1186/1748-5908-4-67