Change Management: Investigation Is the Second Step in Managing Change
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You or a sub-set of your employees have completed the actions recommended at the first step in managing change, initiation, and have determined the general direction of the desired changes and the first steps in making them happen.
During the second step in managing change, investigation, employees explore their desired changes, the ramifications of the changes, and the needed steps to manage the changes within your organization.
In the investigation stage, the change agents (or the group of employees who are leading the change effort) gather information about the problem and potential improvements or solutions. They clarify their vision for the future after the changes have been implemented. After completing the investigation stage, participants in the change should know the answers to the following:
- The extent and impact of performance gaps or problems relative to the desired performance.
- Whether the organization is likely to attain the desired performance as a result of the change options.
- Information about alternatives for closing the gap including modifications to current systems and new technologies, processes, and systems.
- Whether identified solutions will solve the problem or improve the system.
- If outside sources are needed to assist with the planning and implementation of the identified changes.
During the investigation stage, employees who are leading and supporting the proposed changes should engage in these activities.
- Attend conferences, trade shows, seminars, and classes to explore specific options and alternatives in depth.
- Attend user groups or visit other organizations that have already implemented all or part of your planned solution or improvement.
- Invite vendors to discuss their potential solutions and products in depth.
- Continue reading about and reviewing specific technology or system solutions.
- Assess the impact of any potential changes in your organization.
- Choose an evaluation team to identify specific requirements or criteria for change, improvement, or solutions.
Additional Steps During the Investigation Stage
Several additional actions on the part of the employees who desire to implement a change should happen at the investigation stage of managing change. The employees need at assess the organization's readiness for change. They also need to identify and consider the forces that will help them drive the changes and the forces that will impede the team from making changes.
Organizational Readiness for Change
During the investigation stage, change agents or employees who support and lead the change must make a determination about how ready your organization is for change. Organizational readiness for change is determined informally through conversations, observing behavior, going on culture walks, and assessing the degree to which employees are frustrated with the current system or way of doing things.
Instruments are also available for purchase to further assess your organization's readiness for change, or resiliency, as some researchers define this characteristic.
Utilize Force Field Analysis
Kurt Lewin suggested that organizational behavior is the result of an elaborate set of forces acting upon an organization. Some of these forces are internal; others are external. Some of the forces drive the desired change and some of the forces act against the change.
For change in an organization to occur, there must be an imbalance between the driving forces and the restraining forces. This is called unfreezing the organization. It occurs in three ways:
- Increase the driving forces.
- Decrease the restraining forces.
- Decrease the restraining forces and increase the driving forces.
Often this first phase of change is the most difficult. It is hard to unlearn old and comfortable ways of doing things. After unfreezing, however, change becomes possible.
Analyzing the driving forces and seeking to minimize the restraining forces calls for much conversation at all levels of an organization. Often, when senior leaders attempt to implement change, they find that their biggest restraining force are members of their middle management team.
Thus, you need to invest significant effort at the investigation stage of change management, in helping all levels of the organization see what is in it for them to support and move forward with the changes desired. In this way, you minimize the resistance that can undermine any efforts to make changes.
See the Stages in Change Management.