How well do you respond to change? Review the Who Moved My Cheese? change concepts as quoted from the 8th edition of the Shockley-Zalabak text. If possible, obtain and review a copy of the book Who Moved My Cheese? by Johnson and Blanchard (1998).Having cheese makes you happy.The more important your cheese is to you, the more you want to hold onto it.If you do not change, you can become extinct.What would you do if you were not afraid?Smell the cheese often so you know when it is getting old.Movement in a new direction helps you find new cheese.When you move beyond your fear, you feel free.Imagining yourself enjoying new cheese even before you find it, leads you to it.The quicker you let go of old cheese, the sooner you will find new cheese.It is safer to search in the maze than remain in a cheeseless situation.Old beliefs do not lead you to new cheese.When you see that you can find and enjoy new cheese, you change course.Noticing small changes early helps you adapt to the bigger changes that are to come.Move with the cheese and enjoy it! (Johnson & Blanchard, 1998)Optionally conduct Internet research about how Johnson’s change concepts have grown into a multimillion dollar corporate enterprise. Then based on the textbook and optional additional research:Share any experiences or insights you may have related to this popular organizational change.Share personal ideas and insights related to the above change concepts.Is there a difference in your response when change is unexpected and when you plan for the change? What makes the difference?
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The Realities of Innovation and Change
For several years a best-selling book, Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson (1998),
dominated popular literature with its simple story of change. Johnson used the metaphor of
cheese to illustrate what people want in life, whether in an organization or any other setting. The
story characters encounter unexpected changeâ??their cheese is moved. The underlying message
in the story is that change happens (someone keeps moving the cheese), and it is important to
anticipate change. The message also advocates adapting to change and even enjoying the
process. Many research-based reports also support the notion that change is all around us and
what matters is not whether we encounter change, but how we respond. Think for a moment
about your personal response to change. Is there a difference in your response when change is
unexpected and when you plan for the change? What makes the difference?
John Kotter (2012), a leading author writing about change processes, considers turbulence and
disruption to be one of todayâ??s greatest challenges for leaders. Kotter contends, â??We canâ??t keep
up with the pace of change, let alone get ahead of it. At the same time, the stakesâ??financial,
social, environmental, politicalâ??are rising. The hierarchical structures and organizational
processes we have used for decades to run and improve our enterprises are no longer up to the
task of winning in this faster-moving worldâ? (p. 46). Robert Safian (2012) explains, â??â?¦ the
dizzying velocity of change in our economy has made chaos the defining feature of modern
businessâ?¦..historic advantages of scale and efficiency run up against the benefits of ability and
quick course correctionsâ? (p. 98). Safian coined the term â??Generation Fluxâ? to describe
individuals who can thrive in this chaotic and changed environment. According to Safian,
Generation Flux is â??â?¦ a psychographic, not a demographicâ??you can be any age and be
GenFlux. Their characteristics are clear: an embrace of adaptability and flexibility; an openness
to learning from anywhere; decisiveness tempered by the knowledge that business life today can
shift radically every three months or soâ?¦â? (p. 98).
Clayton Christensen and Michael Overdorf (2000) identify three factors which affect whether
organizations can innovate and change: resources, processes, and values. Resources are people,
money, information, technologies, and a host of other factors. Processes are â??â?¦ the patterns of
interaction, coordination, communication, and decision making employees use to transform
resources into products and services of greater worthâ? (p. 2). Finally, values refer to culture and
the principles which guide action. Christensen and Overdorf describe how these factors are both
capabilities and disabilities when faced with change, â??As long as the organization continues to
face the same sorts of problems that its processes and values were designed to address, managing
the organization can be straightforward. But because those factors also define what an
organization cannot do, they constitute disabilities when the problems facing the company
change fundamentally. When the organizationâ??s capabilities reside primarily in its people,
changing capabilities to address the new problems is relatively simple. But when the capabilities
have come to reside in processes and values, and especially when they have become embedded
in culture, change can be extraordinarily difficultâ? (p. 5). Christensen and Overdorf go on to
make a distinction between sustaining innovation and disruptive innovation. Sustaining
innovations are evolutionary changes that make existing products or services which stakeholders
already value perform more effectively. Disruptive innovations create new markets through the
introduction of new products or services. Many organizations can respond more quickly to the
need for sustaining innovation than when disruptive innovation becomes part of the environment.
Organizations regularly introduce new products and services, some of which are sustaining
innovations. By contrast, disruptive innovations can literally challenge organizational survival.
The move in photography from film to digital capture is but one recent example of disruptive
technologies literally changing the face of an industry. Digital photography has replaced the
multi-decade dominance of film in less than a single decade.
Malcolm Gladwell, in another popular best seller, The Tipping Point (2002), made famous a
concept previously researched in sociologyâ??the concept of change associated with tipping
points. Tipping points have been described as important thresholds or boiling points that propel
the rate of change. (As we will describe shortly, tipping points often are the result of disruptive
innovations.) According to Gladwell, tipping points occur when there is a critical mass fostering
change. As Gladwell explained:
Sharp introduced the first low-priced fax machine in 1984, and sold about 80,000 of those
machines in the United States in the first year. For the next three years, businesses slowly and
steadily bought more and more faxes, until, in 1987, enough people had faxes that it made
sense for everyone to get a fax. Nineteen eighty-seven was the fax machine Tipping Point. A
million new machines were sold that year, and by 1989 two million new machines had gone
into operation. Cellular phones have followed the same trajectory. Through the 1990s, they
got smaller and cheaper, and service got better until 1998, when the technology hit a Tipping
Point and suddenly everyone had a cell phone. (p. 12)
Many believe the issue of global warming and its impact on all types of organizations hit a
tipping point in 2007. The economic influence of India and China is said to be a tipping point in
the distribution of world power. Organizations have internal tipping points. New competition,
employee discontent, ethical abuses, and crises all can contribute to rapid occurrence of tipping
points, requiring response to and planning for change.
Others argue planning for continuous change is part of a â??persuasive â??managerialistâ?? biasâ? that
positions change as necessary (whether it is or not), thereby masking the use of power vested in a
few rather than in more broadly participatory processes (Zorn, Page, and Cheney, 2000).
Regardless of the underlying rationale for change, most organizations support planning for
continuous improvement or change. Organizational development (discussed later in this chapter),
benchmarking (finding best practices in industries or specific areas of work), and reengineering
(changes in work processes and structures) are but a few of the planned change practices that
occur in todayâ??s organizations. How change is handled, the amount of change, who participates
in deciding what to change, and a host of other issues are part of the pervasive pace of change
that almost all of us experience.
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