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Abandoning Change for Change’s Sake

Blog: The Knowledge Economy

Change as previously stated is inevitable. How it manifests itself can bee seen as being either good or bad. Businesses do have a choice on the outcome. Any change will impact the business in some degree. Multiple changes will have multiple impacts and like ripples in a pond can and will interact with one another.

As all changes have consequences, when managing change, developing an understanding of what the consequences may be is paramount.

All too often it appears that change has occurred just for the sake of change. Ostensibly there may be a rationale such as ‘drive down costs’, demonstrate business innovation or a desire to ‘shape the market’. Because of the ripple effect the bigger picture needs to be explored.

Change examples

– A business restructures its organisation.

Experience has shown that an organisational restructure (or perhaps I should use the term down-sizing) often has consequences that are (but should not have been) unexpected. In shrinking the workforce a business will often lose valuable and irreplaceable Intellectual Capital. It does not make a lot of sense to shed essential, skilled resources only to have to hire them back at a higher rate of pay than they previously enjoyed. Similarly moving personnel into roles outside of their areas of expertise can introduce issues of dissatisfaction and frustration.

– A software application is tweaked.

How often have you been presented with an upgrade to a software application that you regularly use. It has been ‘enhanced’ with new features that you don’t want and/or had removed features that you found invaluable. Software manufacturers too often make changes that detract from the software’s overall value. User Interfaces may be changed in such a way that renders the software less than useful. Perhaps more steps have been introduced into the process to do the same thing but ‘Oh it looks so pretty’. Similarly as a feature list grows so does the complexity. It’s great to be clever but don’t be ‘too clever’. It can backfire. There must be an optimal point beyond which the software loses its value to its user. When this line is crossed a customer may be lost.

– Products and Services are added or removed from sale.

Shaping the market by changing the available product mix can alienate customers who have relied on products and services that have previously been available or become disenchanted with what is being offered. Products and services need to support the consumers requirements. Change in order to establish market presence can leave you without a market at all. Change because ‘we (the business) know best’ can be disenfranchising.

In each case above the rationale used by a business to validate the need for change may have been reasonable but the consequences of implementing the change may not.

When change or changes are contemplated it is essential that their full impact be assessed. Having an understanding how the ‘ripples’ will manifest themselves can lead to changes in the way that change will be facilitated. With better understanding the nature of any proposed change may alter.

Change will occur but there must a compelling reason to traverse one change path rather than another. A business should choose its change path based in providing maximum value to all stakeholders.

If the real objective of change is to to provide the business enterprise with a a cost efficient set of products and services that meet the true needs of of their consumers then ‘Change for change’s sake’ must be abandoned.

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