Change Comes in Two Flavors

23 Jun


Guided, incremental changes in processes. Examples are continuous quality improvement, Six Sigma, TQM, Lean etc.  Such change is well understood, and effective organizations often introduce and manage this type of change to drive improvements. Larger leadership-driven changes are related to this category of purposeful, initiated change.

The best examples here would be leadership of cultural change. When carried out organically, these change strategies have a fair to good chance of succeeding. However, large, extra-cultural changes such as acquisitions and mergers usually fail.

Unpredictable, disjunctive change where there is a switch in some aspect(s) of the business environment that introduces new opportunities and/or threats. Prospectively, these are difficult to identify, but appear obvious after the fact.  This type of change is disruptive, and new losers and winners often emerge.  Having the ability to sense the change and the flexibility to make rapid adjustments may be the keys to success in this situation.

Interestingly, this type of change may happen rapidly or slowly. Consider the rapid demise of the wind-up watch versus the slow motion train wreck that is General Motors.

Here is something to reflect about when you are considering change

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One Response to “Change Comes in Two Flavors”

  1. Margie Harvey June 28, 2010 at 5:29 am #

    Thanks John, great link on the US Post Office change initiative!

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