Definition Of Change Management As An Organizational Capability Management Essay

Able and How, an international management consultancy firm, specialises in helping clients solve their communications, change and people issues. The project saw the light when the group was working on a growth strategy for Rio Tinto . It was then that the group made a recommendation that said that the massive organization needs to have a capability to manage change and adapt itself to the volatile business environments in order to grow by 100% in the next 3 years!!!

Problem Definition

The tinkering over the recommendations lead the group to question, whether they can create a definition of change management as an organizational capability? If yes, whether there are any reliable and credible ways of assessing and benchmarking the same? The long term goal of the group is to create a sort of ranking system that would rate organizations’ on their ability to manage change or adapt itself successfully to the changing environments.

Search for the Solution

It was the combination of challenge, vagueness of the idea and the knowledge of the expertise at Cass, which lead to Able and How coming to Cass and specifically to Veronica Hope Hailey to help with project.

Literature Review:

The rapid changes in the business ecosystem create pressure on organizations to implement change initiatives to meet the demands of the stakeholders. Of late, the frequency and magnitude of change has increased. If anything one was to look at as a indicator of this, it would be the Fortune 1000 list of companies. The list shows that between 1973 and 1983, 35% of the companies in the top 20 were new, and this has increased to 60% when we compare the figures for years between 1993 and 2003. This indicates that increasingly more businesses are dealing with / managing changes in their organizations to stay ahead. At this point, one pertinent question that comes to our mind is what is change management?

Change management, as defined in the Business and Management dictionary, is the coordination of a structured period of transition from situation A to situation B in order to achieve lasting change within an organization. Change management can be of varying scope, from continuous improvement, which involves small ongoing changes to existing processes, to radical and substantial change involving organizational strategy. Change management can be reactive or proactive. It can be instigated in reaction to something in an organization’s external environment, for example, in the realms of economics, politics, legislation, or competition, or in reaction to something within the structures, processes, people, and events of the organization’s internal environment. As a proactive measure, an organization might undergo change in anticipation of say, unfavourable economic conditions in the future. (Bloomsbury Business Library – Business & Management Dictionary 2007)

Change management is a well-known and respected means to deal with budget cuts, volatile requirements, and other non stationary core reasons for project failures. The definition of change management includes at least four basic aspects: (1) the task of managing change, (2) an area of professional practice, (3) a body of knowledge, and (4) a control mechanism. Change can either be programmatic and planned or can be emergent, driven by unforeseen external events (Carl and et al, 2010).

Boomer suggests that both academics and practitioners see change management capability as a strategic advantage and view change as a control mechanism, which typically results from standards, policies and processes. He goes further to define that as a body of knowledge, change management consists of methods, tools and techniques (Boomer 2008) to successfully manage the transition from one state to another.

A lot of research work has taken place in this area, especially in the academic world. If one were to search for “change management”, in the past 20 years, in the business source complete, one could find that there are 2515 results in the category of academic journals out of a total of 4309. Moreover, the importance of the industry can be highlighted by the presence of the number of consulting firms with sophisticated tools and techniques to help clients manage change. However, even recent studies show that approximately 70% of all planned organizational change initiatives fail (Eaton, 2010). This leaves us wondering why??

The study done by Beer and Eisenstat in 2000, does talk about the top 6 ‘silent killers’ of a change initaitive. They are

Top-down or laissez-faire senior management style

Unclear strategy and conflicting priorities

An ineffective senior management team

Poor vertical communication

Poor coordination across functions, businesses or borders

Inadequate down-the-line leadership skills and development

(Beer and Eisenstat, 2000).

A lot has been talked about in the academic literature and in practioners world of the prescriptive way to overcome these issues, however, not much has been done to identify the causal effect of these and the failures of change initiatives thereafter. As identified by Pellettiere, one of the main causes for these failures is the lack of a thorough diagnostic investigation in an organization’s readiness and risk for a planned change. By a thorough diagnostic investigation, he intends to include both an external as well as an internal analysis using some form of an assessment to determine the need to change as well as an organization’s readiness and risk involved in a planned change. He did identify that organizations have a tendency not to conduct a thorough internal analysis but rather have a propensity to initiate quick-fix solutions, sometimes ignoring the context, when implementing a change initiative (Pellettiere, 2006).

As such, there have been numerous efforts to develop a scale to assess an enterprise’s managerial or organizational capabilities to change. Before we go an talk about a metric, let us try to define an organization’s capacity for change.

Organization’s Capacity to Change

When an organization undergoes a change, new organizational solutions have to be decided upon; product programs must be modified; positions must be reallocated; routines and policies must be revised; employees training programs need to be planned and implemented; and so on (Meyer & Stensaker 2006). This requires a lot of effort.

As such, as highlighted by Meyer and Stensaker (2006), organizations that have a capacity for creating multiple change processes in order to create sustainable change must not only have the ability (resources and capabilities) to change the organization successfully, they must also have capability to maintain daily operations and implement subsequent change processes. They defined change capacity as ‘the allocation and development of change and operational capabilities that sustains long term performance’ (Meyer & Stensaker 2006). An organization’s capability in managing change should ensure that change should happen without destroying the well-functioning aspects in an organization or adversely affecting subsequent changes. This requires both capabilities to change in the short and long term as well as capabilities to maintain daily operations (Meyer & Stensaker 2006).

Gtaetz and Smith define it as a firm’s ability in initiating, managing and implementing critical changes in organizational structures and development processes (Graetz and Smith, 2005; Self et al., 2007). These refer to a firm’s ability to launch and implement large scale changes to develop organisational capabilities for rapid adaptation, flexibility and innovation (Graetz and Smith, 2005; Yanni Yan, Ding & Mak 2009).

This definition of change capability does give us an impression that the capability is a static advantage. It can be set in place by having the right processes and structures. If it is so prescriptive then why does it happen that there are organizations that are better off at changing because of some unknown factors. The answer to this was found in the extension of the RBV and the intersection of the same with change management capability.

Savory (2006) attempted at extending the RBV concept and distinguished the terms resource, competence and capability. He defined resources as factors that are owned and controlled by the organization or available through alliances and other external relationships whereas competence is “the ability to use the resources to an acceptable level of performance towards a desirable purpose”. Further, he defined capabilities as “the ability to operate a specific configuration of an organization’s set of resources” and dynamic capabilities as “the ability to reconfigure both the use and coordination of a specific configuration and the development of new configurations of resources, according to changes in the organization’s environment and strategic direction” (Butler, 2009).

Dynamic Capability

We know the key ingredients of a successful planned change comprise of leadership, visioning, teamwork and communication, but in dynamic environments on the other hand, change can hardly be planned ex ante in a detailed and distinct manner. The most severe disadvantages of planned change can be seen by large losses in the short-term, a high probability of a relapse, issues coming up as an result of limited foresight, unadjusted takeover of best practice from a different context, ignorance of key contingencies, a possible implementation lag that makes change already outdated before completion and a lack of suitability for large-scale change matters (Weick, 2000; Burnes, 2004). One especially severe drawback for hypercompetitive environments is that planned change represses innovative behaviour and, thus, rejects the important innovators, innovations and adaptive processes for this context (Weick, 2000; Biedenbach & Söderholm 2008).

These drawbacks have encouraged us to think of the proactive, emergent change. Such an approach supports experimentation, is sensitive to local contingencies, open to shortened and tightened feedback loops from results to action, is comprehensible and managable. However, also within emergent change there are some drawbacks such as due to its incremental nature the speed of change which is slow, outcomes might be too small and, thus, more appropriate for exploiting opportunities than countering threats. Weick (2000) suggests that such an emergent change, in general, is most suited for operational level change than a major strategic change, which however can be built up incrementally through smaller emerging changes. Moreover it is because of the diffuse and less focused character of emergent change that it is less likely to deliver a transformational shift (Weick, 2000; Biedenbach & Söderholm 2008).

When we talk about organizational change capacity, it cannot be an activity performed in order to improve operations or products once the change has been implemented. Instead, it is an inherent and continuous ingredient of the firms’ activities that need to be incorporated as a capacity of regular operations. Organizational change is thus ‘upgraded’ from being a one-off and unique activity, to a strategic capability of the successful companies in hypercompetitive or turbulent environments (Nadler and Tushman, 1999; Meyer and Stensaker, 2006; Biedenbach & Söderholm 2008). Flexibility and creativity, as per rhe Mckinsey Quarterly (april 2009), are very important for a successful organizational change.

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These all lead us to think that there exists some kind of dynamic capabilities in an organization that would enable it to proactively change to the external environment. Teece et al. (1997) define dynamic capabilities as “firm’s ability to integrate, build, and reconfigure internal and external competences to address rapidly changing environments”. In other words, independent of the line of business, technology applied or markets served, dynamic capabilities point to the ability to constantly change in order to respond to environmental changes, to overtake competitors and to maintain competitive advantages (Biedenbach & Söderholm 2008).

The dynamic capability is an extension of the static resource based view, which fails to explain firms’ competitive advantage in changing environments (e.g., Priem & Butler, 2001). As a result, Teece and colleagues proposed the dynamic capabilities framework to fill that gap. Teece et al. (1997).

It seems that the concept dynamic capabilities was the one most suited for developing a theory on organizational capacity to change because of the focus of the theory on the organizational processes that enable growth and adaptation in changing environments (Eisenhardt and Martin, 2000; Teece et al., 1997). Moreover, such capabilities are grounded in organizational learning and managerial capabilities, the former, because organizational learning both leads to dynamic capabilities and is a dynamic capability (Zollo and Winter, 2002) and the latter as managers play crucial roles in developing organizational capabilities (Teece et al., 1997). The dynamic capabilities have actually taken up a strategic stage and subjugated the operational capabilities as ‘zerolevel’ capabilities, being the ‘how we earn a living now’ capabilities (Winter, 2003; Dixon, Meyer & Day, 2010).

Organization Capability for Change

When we talk of a construct that would enable us to measure an organization’s capacity to proactively change, one is lured to think of 3 antecedents, viz. organizational ambidexterity, environmental uncertainty and relative performance.

Ambidexterity, which means doing 2 things at the same time, when extended to an organizational context, refers to the ability of organizations’ to achieve alignment in their current operations while also adapting effectively to changing environmental demands (Gibson and Birkinshaw, 2004). As conceptualized by Ghoshal and Bartlett (1994) ambidexterity builds on the 4 interdependent attributes, which are discipline, stretch, support, and trust. Discipline encourages individuals to voluntarily strive to meet all expectations generated by their explicit or implicit commitments. Stretch tempts members to voluntarily strive for more, rather than less, ambitious objectives. Support refers to the collective action of members to lend assistance and countenance to others. Finally, trust induces members to rely on the commitments of each other (Gibson and Birkinshaw, 2004).

They argued that an organization needs to foster discipline and stretch to encourage individuals to push for ambitious goals, but it also needs support and trust to ensure that this happens within a cooperative environment. In terms of “the yin and yang of continuous self-renewal” (Ghoshal & Bartlett, 1997): “a balance between a pair of hard elements (discipline and stretch) and a pair of soft elements (support and trust)” (Gibson and Birkinshaw, 2004).

To understand the meaning of environmental uncertainty, another antecedent to the change capability, we need take each word at a time. Uncertainty, which is defined as an individual’s perceived inability to predict something accurately because he/she perceives himself/herself to be lacking sufficient information to predict accurately or because he/she feels unable to discriminate between relevant data and irrelevant data (Gifford, Bobbitt,& Slocum, 1979). The word environmental when attached to the term uncertainty, suggests that the source of the uncertainty is the organization’s external environment. This uncertainty stems from the components of the environment (e,g, suppliers, competitors, government, distributors, consumers, etc) in which a company operates.

Milliken (1987) said that the decision makers need to not only understand the particular source of “environmental uncertainty”, but also understand the type of “environmental uncertainty”. While specifying the source of uncertainty he refers to the domain of the environment which the decision maker is uncertain about (eg. competitors or suppliers). The type of uncertainty focuses on delineating the nature of the uncertainty being experienced. This could of 3 types, State uncertainty, Effect Uncertainty and Response uncertainty. State uncertainty refers to the inability in understanding how components of the environment might be changing. Effect uncertainty is defined as an inability to predict the nature of the impact of a future state of the environment on the organization. Response uncertainty’s definition acknowledges the lack of knowledge of response options and/or the inability to predict the likely consequences of a response choice (Milliken, 1987).

One of the reasons to construct a scale to measure an organization’s capacity to change is to help the firm gain a competitive edge. This would mean superior performance. A firm’s performance depends on its strategy, but as per Bourgeois, (1980) the lack of consensus on means is more troublesome than disagreement on ends (final strategy). Also, a firm’s performance is affected by its organizational structures (centralised or decentralised), adaptive entities and decision problems (decomposable or non -decomposable) (Siggelkow and Levinthal, 2003).

Based on the aforementioned 3 concepts, a new dynamic capability called ‘organizational capacity for change’ (hereinafter referred to as ‘OCC’) was developed by Judge and Elenkov (2005). They conceptualize OCC as a “dynamic organizational capability that allows the enterprise to adapt old capabilities to new threats and opportunities, as well as create new capabilities”. More specifically, it is defined as the “dynamic resource bundle comprised of effective human capital at varying levels of a business unit, with cultural predispositions toward innovation and accountability, and organizational systems that facilitate organizational change and transformation” (Judge et al., 2009).

OCC is defined as a meta-capability that enables an enterprise to regain or remain competitive with other enterprises through effective leadership, adaptive cultures, resilient employees, and an organizational infrastructure conducive to change. As suggested, it is different from Cohen and Leventhal’s (1990) ‘absorptive capacity’. Absorptive capacity “focuses exclusively on “organizational routines and processes” while OCC focuses not only on the organizational routines and processes but also takes into account leadership talent and employee attitudes (Zahra and George 2002; Judge et al., 2009).

Another construct that comes close to the OCC is the ‘organizational readiness for change’ (Armenakis, Harris and Mossholder 1993),as both constructs deal with the organization’s receptivity to change and organizational resilience. However, organizational readiness for change is focused exclusively on employee attitudes toward change, while OCC examines employee attitudes, leadership capabilities, and organizational infrastructure for bringing about change. In essence, OCC presents a comprehensive and ‘as such, OCC is a ‘bigger’ and more encompassing concept than absorptive capacity or organizational readiness for change (Judge et al., 2009).

Having defined the Organization Capacity for Change, let’s see how this has been developed as a construct in the organizational sciences that can be used by executives to prepare for and enhance their organizational change process, or for scholars to study the organizational change process.

Building Blocks of the OCC Construct

The construct was developed by an inductive process of assessing the works of several academics and practitioners in the area of organizational change over a period of 20 years. The construct has defined eight distinct but inter-related dimensions relating to the issues of “human capabilities, formal organizational systems/processes and informal organizational culture” (Judge and Douglas, 2009)*. [An earlier version of this paper was accepted for the 2006 Academy of Management Best Paper Proceedings for the Organization Development and Change Division.]

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Sl. No.

Dimension of OCC

What does it mean?

Referred Work


Trustworthy leadership

“Ability of senior executives to earn the trust of the rest of the organization and to show organizational members the way to meet its collective goals”

(Barney and Hansen, 1994)


Trusting followers

“Ability of the non-executive employees to constructively dissent with and/or willingly follow a new path advocated by its senior executives”

(Kelley, 1992)


Capable champions

“An ability of an organization to attract, retain, and empower change leaders to evolve and emerge”

(Kanter, 1983)


Involved mid-management

“The ability of middle managers to effectively link senior executives with the rest of the organization”

(Floyd and Wooldridge,



Innovative culture

“The ability of the organization to establish norms of innovation and encourage innovative activity”

(Kotter and Heskett, 1992)


Accountable culture

“Ability of the organization to carefully steward resources and successfully meet pre-determined deadlines”

(Ulrich et al., 1999)


Effective communication

“The ability of the organization to communicate vertically, horizontally, and with customers”

(Oshry, 1996)


Systems thinking

“The ability of the organization to focus on root causes and recognize the interdependencies within and outside the organizational boundaries”

(Kilmann, 1991)

Not only have Judge and Douglas (2009) designed the construct, interestingly they have found significantly positive relationship between OCC and financial performance of companies. This co-relation lends support to the contention that OCC is a strategically important organizational capability, and that it may be a source of competitive advantage. This capability assumes all the more importance when the “perceived environment uncertainty” is high (Judge and Douglas, 2009).

Judge and Douglas (2009) have attempted to make OCC construct as robust and relevant as possible by refining it while surveying 3,725 employees within 161 organizational units in a wide variety of industries during the period of 1999-2005. While they do intend to help leader’s in one of the most difficult aspects of leading organizational change initiatives, which is the ability to diagnose and develop the organization’s capacity for change (Bossidy and Charan, 2002), their study is not void of shortcomings. Neither does it take into account the size of the change nor does it measure the effects of the “specific nature” of the environment changes. The study is not free of regional bias, as all the findings are validated in a North American context.

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Moreover the construct has references to studies that are out-dated, the oldest one done in 1983. A lot of research has been taken place in each of the dimensions in the recent years. It will be worth exploring / expanding the ideas of the construct in the light of latest works.

New findings

Trustworthy Leadership:

The construct talks about trustworthy leadership, but it will be worth understanding what attributes make leadership trustworthy. Ingenhoff and Sommer (2010) identified the 4 different dimensions that influence the degree of overall of trust, namely ability, integrity, benevolence, and information quality. They also identified trust as being significantly important for a company’s ongoing success, as it strengthens the long-term relationship between stakeholders and the company (Ingenhoff and Sommer, 2010).

Trust, which is correlated with greater information sharing, has been identified to reduce transaction costs. It is unique as a governance mechanism and also creates value in the exchange relationship (Dyer and Chu, 2003). Croonen, 2010, through his studies strengthened the findings of Brockner and Siegel, 1996; Krishnan et al. 2006; Mishra and Spreitzer, 1998 who have considered fairness as an important element of trust and says that it should be shown more often.

Trusting followers:

When subordinates trust their managers, they are willing to provide benefits in the form of extra effort toward job performance and OCB and should have more favourable attitudes toward the exchange relationship and be more willing to maintain it (Dirks & Ferrin, 2002; Konovsky & Pugh, 1994; Mayer & Gavin, 2005).

Every leader’s top priority should be to establish trusting relationships in order to drive productive working environments, as a study by the Institute for Organizational Performance has revealed that “trust” alone predicts 46% of the difference between low and high performers (Mercurio, 2005). For this, it is not only sufficient for senior managers to be able to demonstrate that they are trustworthy, but also they have to trust their subordinates. Such trust-building practices involve exchange of information and the empowerment of employees (Cummings, 1983; Deluga, 1994; Folger & Konovsky, 1989; Whitener, 1997). This does puts the manager in a more vulnerable position and organizations should help managers learn to use these procedures wisely (Brower, 2009).

It has been identified that effective followers play significant roles in “fostering leadership and organizational effectiveness”. Trusting followers leads to very effective employees, but requires the leaders put forth leadership over their specific area of work and requires honest upward communication. Such followers need to be dependent, loyal and co-operative (Agho, 2009).

Capable Champions

When we talk of capable champions, what skills and abilities are we referring to? In his book, The Change of Champion’s Field guide: Strategies and Tools for Leading Change in the New Era, Ulrich says that the winners in turbulent times will be the ones’ who are good at “understanding the environmental and technological contingencies and leveraging them to the advantage of the organizational performance and excellence”. It has been found that good change managers are very good at envisioning. They can see the future they want to create, the short and long-term wins they want to achieve. They are completely aware of the dynamics involved in developing adaptability, team-learning and responsiveness within the organization to achieve the desired win (Khan, 2006).

We all know that change in an organization takes in 3 phases and each phase requires specialized skills. The table below gives a summary of same and has been adapted from the study done by Warrick, 2009 and the book Exploring Strategic Change by Veronica Hope Hailey and Julia Balogun (2008).

[Refer to book by Veronica .. ]

Stage of Change

Role played by the Change Champion

Skills Needed



Developing a change mindset

Providing visionary leadership

Involving key stakeholders and building commitment

Well informed and cognizant of the issues and opportunities and knows how to get things done



Working with teams

Working with people

Networking and getting the right people together



Planning and managing the change process

Making things happen

Motivating people

Developing feedback mechanism to evaluate and monitor progress

Persevering until the change succeeds

(Warrick, 2009)

For a successful change, change champions are required to create a creative culture, manage diversity, empower employees, maintaining organizational integrity, establish a just and fair reward system, create an environment of trust and inclusion that will really empower leaders and proponents of change to deal with any change process. Some additional skills are the use of appreciative enquiry, intuition and creativity (Khan, 2006; Warrick 2009).

Involved Mid Management

When we talk about line managers, researchers say that they can be of 2 types, the realists and the humanists. Realists are goal orientated and focus on getting things done, which includes things like developing a plan and a budget for the work and ensuring that the deadlines will be hit. On the other hand humanists, as the name suggests, focus on the people aspects-for example, making sure everybody understands and is committed to the plan, and figuring out how to handle any resistance to the plan (Axelrod, 2007).

Axelrod (2007) further suggests that to get things done in an organization, one needs to bring together both the perspectives in his / her thought process and make it an all encompassing approach by moving beyond “the usual suspects” to include people who care about or stand to be affected by the initiative, people with relevant knowledge and expertise, and people whose authority is touched by the work.

All change efforts need some element of fresh thinking and ways to overcome resistance. It has been found that innovative solutions can be obtained by including people with diverse points of view. Also, by bringing resisters, detractors, and other troublemakers onboard, one can reduce the resistance as it reduces the chance of stirring up trouble and distrust from the outside and might even convert the detractor to an instrumental team member (Axelrod, 2007).

Axelrod has suggested some steps, for an involved middle management in a change effort. They are

Keep the vision for the project front and center.

Remind people what’s going to be different as a result of your collective efforts.

Give them regular progress reports about what’s been achieved so far.

Listen and value to the subordinates’ inputs.

Communicate and celebrate the closure is very important too.

(Axelrod, 2007).

Innovative Culture

Change is intended, amongst other reasons, to foster innovation and as suggested by Judge (2009), it also is one of the pillars that supports and organization’s capacity to change.

How do we foster innovation in an organization? The answer lay in leaders ability in fostering and developing innovation among their followers by having a vision and mission that encourage ideas from their workforce and actively seeks input from all departments and across all levels. It means giving followers the freedom to make decisions. This act enables employees to try out new ideas in a conducive environment and challenge themselves with a new way of thinking. With the ability to add to the work process, employees will begin interacting in a way that supports innovative ideas and influences the future of the business. It has been prescribed that with proper leadership training, accountability, and daily communication about leadership’s responsibilities to foster creativity and trust, mid-level managers can rise to the standards necessary to inspire innovation and grow the next generation of innovative leaders (Agin and Gibson, 2010).

When we talk about a culture, what would attributes would define an innovative culture? Daniels, 2010, discovered that innovative workplaces share six cultural characteristics. They are



Context rich

Information feed innovation. It would lead to a culture which ensures free-flowing communication so that innovators can draw on a rich background and perspective.

Customer close

Key to innovation lies at creating customer value. This requires systems and processes that encourage deep commitment to connecting with customers’ expectations, needs and wants.

Confidence building

Confident leaders actually pave the path for innovators as innovative ideas aren’t introduced or executed by people who are fearful, tentative, or waiting for confirmation.


Encouraging people to think in terms of “why?” “why not?” and “what if?” leads to new understandings.


Resting on past success does not drive innovation. Cultures that encourage people to reach for new heights inspire innovative results.


Innovation is a team sport. People must work together in informal networks or sanctioned teams to generate and implement new ideas.

To cultivate a culture of innovation, leaders should make it a strategic priority and put in place systems and processes that encourage and implement change (Daniels, 2010).

Accountable Culture

Anderson has identified that ambiguity kills accountability. So managers should define clear expectations for their subordinates, including minimum performance standards, and attach appropriate consequences. Simply setting standards doesn’t lead to an accountable culture. Employees must be provided with tools and resources, which includes training, prompt feedback on performance and personal coaching. After having clearly defined expected outcomes and consequences, established timelines and provided the tools to succeed, managers should let their employees do their jobs. It cant be stressed anymore how important this aspect is for an accountable culture. Many good people leave organizations because they aren’t allowed to make decisions, take action, or initiate changes on their own. Stressing accountability keeps everyone sharp and provides clarity for expected results Anderson, D. (2006).

Researchers have pointed out that people resist accountability because of three primary fears: fear of blame, fear of failure, and fear of success (Samuel and Chiche, 2005).

Effective communication

“Companies that communicate with courage, innovation and discipline, especially during times of economic challenge and change, are more effective at engaging employees and achieving desired business results”, Towers Watson, 2009/10, Communication ROI Report.

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To communicate with courage means to be able to honestly tell employees what matters to them most.

Explaining employees how they can make a difference to the business, while maximising the use of limited resources by trying to reach new audience in real time and also aligning the communication to the business and the customers, is innovation in communication.

Discipline with respect to communication requires a company to have a documented communication strategy, as has been found that high performing companies are 2-3 times more likely to have a communication strategy as compared to a low-performing one (Towers Watson, 2009/2010).

It can’t be emphasied any more that in a change program, organizations should communicate regularly and be clear about the need for change and its benefits for employees and also the progress to implementation. Effective communication is a two-way process, so there should be channels to listen out for concerns and comments.

“Effective communication helps engage employees, and that has positive implications for productivity and the bottom line”. 61% of companies that are highly-effective communicators report that their managers are effective at dealing openly with resistance to change, compared with only 18 % of low-effectiveness communicators. Similarly, 64 % of highly-effective communicators report that their managers are effective at addressing the needs and concerns of their current employees, compared with only 22 % of companies that don’t communicate as effectively (Towers Watson, 2009/2010).

This leaves us thinkg what constitues effective communication? The list of 5 guidelines, that follows, is a good place to start with and every message delivered to your employees should adhere to these guidelines:

1. Complete: The messages should be able to stand alone, with no missing information. They should tell people how to respond. It is true that at times one might have to send out partial information, during some crisis situation when information flow is particularly slow and incomplete. It is advisable in such a situation to keep the employees updated what whatever information you have and also update them with what you are waiting for and how you will update them.

2. Accurate: Every piece of communication should go through three checks; spelling, grammar and facts.

3. Compelling: The message needs to be something of interest to the audience. It should address basic questions like; How will the audience benefit from listening? What will happen if they do not?

4. Consistent. In order to builds trust and create a sense of reassurance, it has been suggested to use same communication channels and have the same people deliver certain types of messages

5. Personalized. Add relevance to your messages by asking “What can I do to make this message appealing to my audience?”

(Communication Briefings (2010)).

Systems Thinking

Systems thinking encourages us to plan and implement change with a holistic view. Professor Colin Carnall, expert of change management at Cass Business school, has identified the inability of senior managers to think of the bigger picture as a reason for the failure of major change initiatives. On any given day, any organization has a significant number of change initiatives, initiated by different leaders, going on simultaneously and this leads to a over burden on the limited resources and the employees get confused by the cacophony of the messages or motives behind each of the initiative (Carnall, 2010). Not only is holistic thinking needed, but also, an organization’s ability to learn.

In living systems, learning is a biological imperative, as learning results in adaptation, alignment, renewal, and survival. It should be the same for complex organizations operating in today’s environment of threat, challenge, and opportunity. People in an organization can be classified as learning, but what about the organization’s ability to learn? It has been suggested that organizational leaders create the conditions that encourage people to learn in a systematic matter and result in improved results in the individual and team performance. This takes time, skill, and commitment and would require organizations to hire people who are inquisitive, open to feedback,

ready to make changes, and not afraid of criticism.

A set of simple, but profoundly introspective questions has been drawn up to help professionals in an organizations take a systematic inventory of their learning assets.

They are

How well do we scan the environment for information about our business?

What information do we collect regarding the experience of our customers with our products or services?

Are we collecting sufficient relevant data on the performance of our core work processes?

Is there a sense of urgency for us to learn?

Do we seek solutions from within, or do we consult with outsiders?

Are our mechanisms for disseminating data to one another adequate?

How much experimentation is appropriate for our company and industry?

Are we willing to pilot new ideas?

Do we promote and otherwise reward people for learning?

It is the organization’s demonstrated commitment to ask and answer these questions and make the necessary investments in learning systems that will earn it the distinction of being called a learning organization (Andreadis, 2009).


We assume that the construct is valid and covers most of the aspects of a capacity for change. Using the dimensions of the construct as the building blocks for our research, we do seek to analyse, in retrospect, a change program at the HR depratment of Rio Tinto called the “One Rio Tinto”. We would try to see to what extent do we have the various dimensions of the contruct playing a part in the change effort. We would want to also find if any of these elements were missing in the change effort. Since this is an exploratory study, we are open to finding out new dimensions to refine the construct. It would be really interesting if we do find that all the elements are present and still the change project was a failure.

Research Methodology:

The entire research has been structured to follow the deductive route as there is lot of existing research in this topic and also there is a preferene and familiarity of the method within the practitioner’s community. Inductive method could not have helped us much because of the lack of sufficient expertise and practical knowledge of the subject area.

The study tries to build on tsome credible piece of work done in the US. Since the study is quite new and has not been tested in context of continental Europe, we have tried to take an exploratory approach and are open to not only validating the concept but also discovering some new insights that will help refine the model. Our study in no ways would neither be descriptive nor explanatory of how the individual dimensions of the construct play a part in the change capacity.

We are aware of the research strategies like experiement, surveys, case study, action research, grounded theory and ethnography (Saunders et. al, 2007).

Experiments are good for establishing causal links and we, through our study, do not intend to establish how each of the 8 dimensions of the construct affect an organization’s approach to manage change, hence we rule out this approach.

Action research, charaterised by subsequent cycles of diagnosis, planning, execution and evaluation, is well suited for projects wherein the researcher is actively involved with the study. In our case, since we are evaluating actions in retrospect using the experiences of other, this strategy is not suited.

Grounded research and ethnography, are very good research strategies but for the inductive research method. Since our work is trying to build and extend using the deductive approach, we plan not to use these methods.

This leaves us with 2 research strategies most suited for the kind of task that we are undertaking. They are surveys and case study. Since our research is deductive and exploratory, we need a considerable amount of data in a short span of time and we want answers for some specific questions, such requirements are ideal for a survey. Since we are focusing on an event of the past and trying to understand the ramifications of the same in its context, a case study approach, which involves the empirical investigation of a particular contemporary phenomenon within its real life context using mulitple sources of evidence, is also used.

The kind os sampling used for the purpose of our research is purposive or judgemental as the sample size is very small (less than 10) and we want to get as much qualitative data as possible from the people who have undergone this change. No other method, offers the benefits of this sampling method.

Due to the nature of our work, secondary data analysis plays a role, though not as important as the primary data analysis does. We are trying to study the One Rio Tinto change project and it will be very helpful for use to understand the context of the change program, its goals and objectives and how was it perceived by its employees. To have a richer knowledge, we took the route of analysing the documentary secondary data that has been published with regards to this initiative. Survey based secondary data is not very useful for our case because of the lack of the kind of work done earlier. Apart from helping us formulate unobtrusive, comparative and contextual data, such an analysis helps us in reducing our requirement of additional resources and due to the prior experience, it might help us make new discoveries by probing our interviewees during the interview sessions on things that might be contradictory to whats stated.



Limits of the study:

The sample selected for the study cannot be taken as representatitve of all the departments of the company. Neither can we say, without sufficient further studies, that the same can be said about the other HR departments at the different companies.

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