Political Dynamics, Elements of Planned Change

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As shown in Figure 8.2, managing the political dynamics of change includes the following activities: assessing the change agent’s power, identifying key stakeholders, and influencing stakeholders (Cummings & Worley, 2015).

The first task is to evaluate the change agent’s own sources of power. This agent may be the leader of the organization or department undergoing change, or he or she may be the OD practitioner if professional help is being used. By assessing their own power base, change agents can determine how to use it to influence others to support changes. They also can identify areas in which they need to enhance their sources of power (Cummings & Worley, 2015).

Having assessed their own power bases, change agents should identify powerful individuals and groups with an interest in the changes, such as staff groups, unions, departmental managers, and top-level executives (Cummings & Worley, 2015). These key stakeholders can thwart or support change, and it is important to gain broad-based support to minimize the risk that a single interest group will block the changes.

Influencing Stakeholders involves gaining the support of key stakeholders to motivate a critical mass for change (Cummings & Worley, 2015). There are at least three major strategies for using power to influence others in OD: playing it straight, using social networks, and going around the formal system. Figure 8.2 links these strategies to the individual sources of power (Cummings & Worley, 2015).

Application 8.3: Developing Political Support for the Strategic Planning Project in the Sexual Violence Prevention Unit shows how Minnesota’s sexual violence prevention unit recruited external and internal stakeholders into the strategic planning process. They used the social networks of people with clear interests in the subject to support the planning and implementation of change.

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This chapter is devoted to a description of the different elements of a planned change process that the OD practitioner must address to successfully implement change. While not all of the elements will need to be addressed in all situations, practitioners should routinely check each one during planned change. In addition, the chapter begins to address the key concern of leadership (Cummings & Worley, 2015). Each of the phases of change can and should be linked to student’s understandings and beliefs about what effective leadership is all about.

Figure 8.1 illustrates activities related to an effective change process (Cummings & Worley, 2015).

Motivation is a critical issue in starting change because ample evidence indicates that people and organizations seek to preserve the status quo and are willing to change only when there are compelling reasons to do so. The second activity is concerned with creating a vision and is closely aligned with leadership activities. The vision provides a purpose and reason for change and describes the desired future state (Cummings & Worley, 2015). The third activity involves developing political support for change. Organizations are composed of powerful individuals and groups that can either block or promote change, and leaders and change agents need to gain their support to implement changes. The fourth activity is concerned with managing the transition from the current state to the desired future state. It involves creating a plan for managing the change activities as well as planning special management structures for operating the organization during the transition (Cummings & Worley, 2015). The fifth activity involves sustaining momentum for change so that it will be carried to completion (Cummings & Worley, 2015).

Consider a change you have gone through. Where all of these activities included in the change process? If not, which ones? Which one would you say is most critical?

Cummings, T. G., & Worley, C. G. (2015). Organization development & change (10th ed.). Cengage.

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