Types of Organisational Change

All in all, there are three types of organizational change, unless you want to segment this into obsessive levels of nuance, which I don’t recommend actually doing. When faced with changes to an organization, you will find yourself having to go down one of three paths, and as a change manager, you’ll want to think about this before you form your management strategy and choose or design your model, because it greatly effects how you would be effective with these.

So, we’ll go through all three basic types of organizational change, discuss their nature briefly, and demonstrate some aspects of how it affects strategy and model handling. This will give you another good angle to come from, for choosing your strategy throughout.

So, let’s begin. This won’t be complicated.

#1 – Structural Change

IMPORTANT: Article was ordered with organizational misspelled – false keyword density reading!

In complex organizations, restructuring is not an uncommon necessity. Reassigning responsibilities, redefining hierarchies, or redefining departments and relationships can be a tenuous thing, because people get used to the structure as it is.

This isn’t as much about unfreezing resistance as it is damage control as the organization slows down from not knowing its connections that well once more. A model like Kotter’s tends to work well for these.

#2 – Process Oriented Change

Altering, replacing or refining a process such as using software, performing any given task, or altering regulations is another common thing in modern business especially.

This one’s kind of a fifty-fifty when it comes to what its hurdles are. It can often be met with resistance, but not as much as the third type, meaning Kotter’s model works well here too, if infused with a tiny bit of Lewin to get the ball rolling.

This is probably the most common and recursive type of change in an organization, as technology, now, causes it to be unending.

#3 – People Centered Change

This is the hardest one to pull off, and it’s the one where people can be the most stubborn. People centered change is all about altering attitudes, motivations, philosophies and corporate culture to meet a new set of standards.

Clearly, this can be met with even unintentional habitual resistance, and it is this kind of change where Lewin’s focus on unfreezing rings the truest. However, Lewin’s old model is too old and basic for direct application, so where the second type was all Kotter with a splash of Lewin, in this scenario, you may find yourself using Lewin as a glass to pour Kotter into.

These are the most common and broad types of organizational change seen in an organization. It’s easy to talk about IT-centered change and policy-related change etc. as their own big categories, but in fact, those are all within the domain of a bigger change type, as are pretty much all others. Knowing these types of organizational change, and what defines them helps you to first figure out what your biggest, most common obstacles are likely to be, going by common experience with all things within that situation’s domain. This gives you a good idea of kinds of training, change models and relationship building you will probably need, to make the changes effectively.

Christopher Smith
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.
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