Research from Dr Michael Butler at Aston
Governments are seeking the holy grail of “achieving high performing public services, delivered at the lowest price, while maximizing participation.” The same is true in business for which the equivalent mantra is “achieving strong growth whilst delivering strong results and maximising stakeholder satisfaction”. New research suggests that there are two levels of change within an organization and that these two levels continuously interact. One is more mechanistic and operates at a surface level while the other is more organic and takes place at a deeper level. However, unless both sets of processes, the mechanical and the organic are considered during implementation, the management of change is likely to fail.
Whilst complexity thinking is a term with which most are familiar, receptivity may need explanation. Receptivity for change refers to an organization’s readiness to respond to the change challenges coming from both outside and inside the organisation, to an organisation’s ability to synchronize appropriate internal organisational practices to meet threats and opportunities.
Beginning at the organizational mechanistic level of change, four receptivity factors are recognised as interconnected:
A second level of change occurs when several novel management processes are introduced at the same time:
Any change should be understood as occurring in self-organizing systems. Success in this process impinges upon the adaptive abilities of the organisation and individuals within them. Adaptive capability is therefore extremely important for all stakeholders. Complexity and receptivity offer a novel view on the process of organizational change. While stakeholders work to reduce the complexity of implementation, receptivity offers an explanation of change in the language of traditional management processes.
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