Kotter (2012) argues that in the absence of a vision that guides the organisational transformation, the organisational transformation process is doomed to failure. The purpose of the vision for an organisational transformation is to direct, guide and give a proper understanding of the importance and need for it. A lack of a proper vision can increase costs and time and can lead the process of organisational transformation in a wrong direction or no direction at all.
In too many cases, before going on an organisational transformation journey, effective and continuous communication is rejected. If all the various stakeholders are not convinced through prior effective and continuous communication about an organisational transformation they will not be convinced that an organisational transformation is possible and beneficial for all stakeholders (Kotter, 2012). Kotter (2012) further identifies three patterns of ineffective communication that are commonly made before and during an organisational transformation process. The first mistake is that a committee that should drive the organisational transformation only determines a good organisational transformation vision and then proceeds to inform the various stakeholders via a few meetings and emails. The second mistake is that the head of the organisation spends a lot of time and resources on meetings to inform the stakeholders, but the other members of management and division heads are silent on the matter. That gives the impression to the stakeholders that it is a one man show and that the organisational transformation is only to the benefit of some people in the organisation. The third common error is that some executive managers still act and behave in ways that are contrary to the new vision. Lamb and McKee (2004) found that effective communication in three areas is crucial to win organisational trust and confidence for an organisational transformation. The three areas include helping employees to understand the organisation’s overall business strategy; helping employees to understand the key objectives of the business; and informing employees how the organisation is doing and how the employees’ own division/ department is doing (Lamb & McKee, 2004).
The most disturbing obstacles are the barriers in the mind of the stakeholders. The challenge is to build trust amongst employees that the barriers that existing can be overcome. The barriers may, according to Kotter (2012), include a concern about job security, organisational structure, performance appraisal system and attitude of the management. Only one barrier can negatively affect the entire organisational transformation process. Busco, Riccaboni and Scapens (2006) concur and state that employees resist organisational transformation, because of a misunderstanding and a lack of trust. In most cases the lack of trust is in management, which the employees believe, is the force behind the organisational transformation.
Organisational transformation takes time, depending on the magnitude of the organisational transformation process. The time frame for an organisational transformation will depend on its scope. Schlossberg, Water and Goodman (1995) assert that some organisational transformation processes end, but some organisational transformation processes seem never to end. Too often there is a lack of short term goals for the organisational transformation process (Kotter, 2012). This lack leads employees to give up or actively join the resistance group or individuals against the organisational transformation. Short term successes will encourage the stakeholders that the organisation is moving in the desired direction as the organisational transformation vision states. The other advantage of short term successes is that the stakeholders who resist the organisational transformation may be positively influenced about the tentative/ and or preliminary benefits of the organisational transformation for the various internal and external stakeholders (Kotter, 2012).
During the early stage of the organisational transformation process triumph is confirmed (Kotter, 2012). For a short period after the organisational transformation process is implemented the organisation claims and/or believes that the process was a success and thus have an attitude and belief that the organisation achieved the organisational transformation vision (Kotter, 2012). This means that any future recommendations and/or actions will be ignored and can hamper the effectiveness and sustainability of the organisational transformation. An organisational transformation period can take three to ten years depending on the magnitude of the process (Kotter, 2012).
Frequently management neglects to implant the organisational transformation vision decisively in the culture of the organisation. Any organisational transformation process is only successfully completed when all the stakeholders of an organisation believe and act according to the new vision and values that were aimed at with the organisational transformation (Kotter, 2012). Many organisations ignore the power and effect of organisational culture on the success of an organisational transformation. Managers are so eager to get the process of an organisational transformation off the ground while ample time is not spent on proper planning and effective communication of the process to the various stakeholders. Lastly the managers do not attend to the aforementioned issues which may lead to a complete failure of the organisational transformation process.
An organisational transformation process is very expensive in terms of monetary and non-monetary resources, depending on the size of the organisational transformation (Kotter, 2012). Organisations should thus ensure that resources are not wasted on an unsuccessful organisational transformation process. In conclusion Griffin (2014) maintains that leaders/managers underestimate the impact of resistance of stakeholders to an organisational transformation. Kotter (2012) argues that if an organisation does make the above mentioned mistakes with the implementation of an organisational transformation, the following consequences will be detrimental to the organisation and its stakeholders generally. It is worth noting that although these errors are not inevitable the consequences can be avoided or at least minimised.
3.6.2 Consequences as a result of mistakes made prior to the implementation of an organisational transformation process
Errors made prior to the implementation of an organisational transformation may have a disastrous effect on the organisational transformation process and on the organisation and its various stakeholders in particular (Kotter, 2012). Kotter (2012) states that if the new vision for the organisational transformation is not rooted in the culture of the organisation the new strategies, irrespective of how effective they may be, will not be implemented as planned. Secondly, achievements do not meet the targets set for co-operation (Kotter, 2012). This means the fundamental redesign of organisational processes takes too long and costs too much. In the absence of informed and supportive stakeholders, the process of organisational transformation will be dragged on for too long a period and the planned budget for the organisational transformation process can be exhausted. These problems occur when the organisation allows the above mentioned errors to occur.
Kotter (2012) argues that the third consequence is with an organisational transformation certain divisions/departments/staff may become absolute. The negative impact on staff morale can be detrimental to the entire process of organisational transformation, the organisation and its stakeholders. If the process of organisational transformation was not planned properly, communicated and implemented as planned, the cost will not reduce or the worse scenario is that the cost may even increases. The last consequence is that the new process will not deliver the expected results.
Schlossberg, Water and Goodman (1995) add that people in an organisation have strength and weaknesses. It is important to evaluate organisational transformation from the human angle to ensure that the process of transformation and the organisation at large benefit from these diverse strengths of the team in the organisation. Schlossberg, Water and Goodman (1995) group these strengths and weaknesses in four categories; namely situation, individual, support offered and strategies. The situation refers to the people see the organisational transformation as: positive or negative, expected or unexpected, the appropriateness of the time of the organisational transformation and the personal or reaction of others. The individual refers to what the individual can bring to the organisational transformation process, namely himself/herself. The qualities the individual offers to the process of organisational transformation should be capitalised on to ensure the success of the organisational transformation. Emotional and financial support could be given to the person in the organisational transformational process to deal with the challenges the person may encounter during the process of organisational transformation (Kotter, 2012). Strategies or a combination of strategies can ensure that the person/s, individuals deal with all the stresses associated with an organisational transformation process.
3.6.3 Strategies to ensure a successful organisational transformation
A process of organisational transformation goes through a sequence of phases. Hellriegel, Jackson and Slocun (2005) argue that the success of an organisational transformational process depends on proper planning. Hellriegel, Jackson and Slocun (2005) offer the following strategies, namely, assess the environment, and determine the performance gap, articulate and communicate a clear vision and a well-developed action plan.
The four environmental factors that usually pressurise an organisation to transform are: its customers, technology, competitors and the employees. Other factors that may trigger an organisational transformation are the change in government regulations, globalisation and actions from specific stakeholders (Kotter, 2012). To determine the performance gap refers to an assessment of what the organisation currently does and what the organisation wants to do. If organisational problems are diagnosed they will disclose the causes of the performance gaps. The articulation and communication of a clear vision should be in place to convince team members to join and to be dedicated to the vision. This vision should involve all the team members.
The development and implementation of an effective action plan will ensure that team members are informed about the goals of the organisational transformation and the instruments in place to achieve these goals. It is important when the action plan is compiled that all feasible alternatives, including its advantages and disadvantages, are considered. The action plan should be available at a very early stage to ensure that the stakeholders buy in to guarantee involvement of all the stakeholders (Kotter, 2012). Kotter (2012) states that there is always an expected resistance to transformation. It is important that all possible resistance to change should be assessed and set off by mitigation strategies. As the process of organisational transformation unfolds the process should be monitored to access employees’ reactions and results. After proper planning is done it is important to focus on the process (Kotter, 2012).
Griffin (2014) offers the following guidelines to reduce the resistance to organisational transformation, namely participation of team members in the planning and implementation of an organisational transformational process and they should be informed of the reasons for it. The team members will accept an organisational transformation more positively, because they have the opportunity to raise their ideas and opinions and accept the approaches of others (Griffin, 2014). The provision of information and education on the purpose and expected outcome of a proposed organisational transformation will reduce the resistance of team members. If open channels for criticism and comments for an organisational transformation are established and maintained throughout the organisational transformational process, uncertainty about it can be reduced. The announcement of proposed organisational transformation via facilitation prior to organisational transformation will ensure that employees have time to alter their behaviour and attitude towards an organisational transformation. Lastly, force field analysis should be used. This refers to the use of the forces that encourage organisational transformation to counteract the negative forces that may impact the organisational transformation (Kotter, 2012).
To ensure a successful organisational transformation process, Kotter (2012) recommends the following clearly distinctive stages. Firstly establish a sense of purpose about the organisational transformation process amongst all the stakeholders. In this phase the market and its competiveness are examined and potential crises are identified and mitigation actions are considered. This stage also includes the identification and discussion of major opportunities in the market which may necessitates the need for transformation. To make certain of the success in this stage all the various stakeholders should be involved while effective and efficient horizontal and vertical communication channels should be in place. Secondly the establishment of a powerful supervisory team should also be established to guide the organisational transformation process (Kotter, 2012). This stage must be driven by a selected powerful group of people who work well together, with enough authority to overcome the minimum obstacles that a group of people with less authority may experience. The group established should work together as a team. This is the group in the organisation that will be in charge of the process of transformation. This group must fully understand the purpose and process of the organisational transformation journey. Thirdly the development of a clear vision, a strategy to guide the organisational transformation process and the vision to direct the organisational transformation process should be established and strategies put in place for this vision to become a reality. The new vision should ultimately become naturally part of the organisational culture (Kotter, 2012).
Fourthly Kotter (2012) maintains that an adjusted vision, aligned with the organisational transformation process, should be continuously communicated to all the stakeholders via all possible channels. Van de Ven and Poole (1995) recommend that the wording and essence of the message of the organisational transformation process should be free of criticism and should be communicated at the most appropriate time, in the best words and tone. Fifthly, a conducive environment should be created before the message is communicated. A good time is when stakeholders do not have a busy working schedule, because the aim is to ensure acceptance of the planned organisational transformation amongst all stakeholders. Irrespective of their negative attitude towards the organisational transformation they should be informed with the aim to change their attitude positively towards the process of an organisational transformation. If all the stakeholders are not convinced and do not live up to the vision of the organisational transformation, the entire process will ultimately fail. If all the stakeholders are involved and believe in the organisational transformation they will work towards its success and sustainability (Kotter, 2012).
The sixth stages is to empowering broad based action needs to be employed to address all the current and potential obstacles, systems and structures that may negatively affect the success of organisational transformation process and these obstacles should be identified (Kotter, 2012). This is also the time that new ideas, risk taking and plans should be encouraged. Often comments, questions, issues and concerns of some stakeholders are seen as negative because they are people labelled as difficult or as simply wanting to play the role of devil’s advocate. Any issue, concern, or question should be addressed in a very serious way. This is because frequently petty issues later become very serious and may negatively affect the entire organisation’s transformation process. Stanislao and Stanislao (1983) also maintain that it is important to involve all stakeholders in the planning stage of an organisational transformation. The opinions, views, suggestions and ideas of the stakeholders should be taken into consideration. This will give a sense of participation to the stakeholders. If these suggestions, ideas and views are meaningful, recognition and acknowledgement should be given where appropriate.
Kotter (2012) claims that the creating of short term successes, during the organisational transformation process, will reap results throughout the organisational transformational process. This stage is characterised by visible improvements in performances, and the last action is to reward individuals or teams who were responsible for the gains. Stanislao and Stanislao (1983) propose that the organisational transformation process should be introduced in stages. If the magnitude of organisational transformation is large it may lead to protests on the side of the stakeholders. The features of the organisational transformation that will give the most personal benefits should be stressed and shared with all stakeholders. These benefits may be both non-financial and financial. All systems, structures and policies that are not conducive to the organisational transformation process should be changed. This stage also includes the training, promotion and even hiring of people who can implement and drive the vision (Kotter, 2012). The anchoring of the new approaches in the culture of the entire organisation is a necessity to make sure that the vision for the organisational transformation become a reality (Kotter, 2012). To ensure that the last stage is properly addressed and implemented to enhance better performance improved leadership and management is needed. The positive relationship between new attitudes and behaviours and the achieved successes of the organisational transformation for the organisation and all its various stakeholders should be rooted in the culture of the organisation.
Kotter (2012) further argues that the first four stages, discussed above, address the status quo. These stages require much effort and energy to convince people to accept organisational transformation. Stages five to seven are characterised by the introduction of many new and innovative practices, skills and methods. Group members are only willing to accept and learn the new ways of doing things, if the first four stages were successful. The purpose of the eighth stage is to make the organisational transformation part of the central values of organisational culture. The following strategies can promote a conducive environment for a successful organisational transformation process (Kotter, 2012).