“Organizational Change vs. Organisational Change” – US vs. UK Perspectives on Change

Organizational change vs. organisational change – is it just a matter of spelling? Or does the US view change differently from other countries?

In this article, we’ll find out.

Namely, we’ll see:

  • Differences and similarities between change management in different countries – such as the USA, the UK, and other nations
  • Whether these differences are substantial – or if they just amount to linguistic differences
  • What the best approach to change management is – if there is one

To start with, let’s examine the fundamental issue:

Organizational Change vs. Organisational Change: Beyond the Spelling Difference

American English differs slightly from the English in some other countries, such as the UK or Australia.

One difference is in spelling: “organizational change” vs. “organisational change.”

But do the differences stop there?

Change practitioners interested in different perspectives on change management may wonder if other countries have different models, theories, and practices.

To solve this question, let’s take a look at some resources from different shores and see what they have to say on the matter.

Perspectives on Organizational Change

Here are a few essential concepts from organizational change management professionals in the United States:

  • According to Prosci, change management “takes care of the people side of change.” It is, they say, “the process, tools and techniques to manage the people side of change to achieve its required business outcomes.” Prosci has a 5-step change framework, ADKAR, that they use to effectively manage and execute change projects.
  • John Kotter, a world-famous change management expert, defined an 8-step process for managing change. Like Prosci’s approach, it is centered around motivating and engaging people. 
  • Deloitte, a firm that offers change management solutions, agrees. They say: “Our team focuses on what matters most – ensuring the employees are willing and able to change.”

In the United States, many other firms agree with this approach.

This, perhaps, is due to Kurt Lewin’s ideas on change management.

Known by many as the forefather of change management, Lewin developed many ideas that are rooted in psychology and group psychology.

His ideas went on to influence many change management processes and frameworks that are popular today.

These are designed, among other things, to reduce employee resistance, maximize employee productivity, and sustain long-term support for change initiatives.

But did these ideas remain in the USA?

Or have they also influenced change practitioners in other countries?

Organisational Change: Western Perspectives on Change

Let’s take a look at some approaches to change from other Western countries to see what they have to say.

Here are some ideas on organisational change from around the web:

“For long-term impact, organisational change must be an iterative process that focuses on people not processes, behaviours not organisational structures, and honest and open debate not corporate spin.”From the UK Government’s Civil Service Blog

“People are at the centre of many of the changes in the world of work. People professionals and HR functions are among those best placed to drive effective change.”Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development

Organisational resilience matters because “the viability and sustainability of organisations continues to be tested in a world that is constantly changing” and “organisations need to be able to absorb an event that necessitates change, to adapt and continue to maintain their competitive edge and profitability.”The Australian Government’s Organisational Resilience Website

“Most people don’t like change … However, managing change effectively can ensure your new system implementation, digital transformation, operational reform or organisational restructuring is successful!”PM Solutions Australia

“People’s capacity to change can be influenced by how that change is presented to them. If communicated poorly, people’s capacity to adapt to change can diminish – particularly if they misunderstand or resist the change – causing barriers and ongoing issues.”Australian HR Institute

Deeper research into “organisational change management” will reveal that other Western countries share the same fundamental approach to business changes.

That is:

  • People drive change
  • Effective change management is necessary to maximize the outcomes of change
  • Communication, learning, and training are crucial for the short- and long-term success of projects

Also, we often see businesses citing many of the same resources.

Other Western change management firms, for instance, often cite the “70% failure rate” statistic, McKinsey, Harvard, or John Kotter’s work.

Conclusion

Ultimately, there is little difference between “organisational change vs. organizational change.”

As we have seen, organizations, governments, and practitioners from the USA, the UK, and Australia all share the same fundamental approach.

Regardless of where you are in the West, you will likely be following a model that is centered around people and culture.

This history of change management has been built over decades, beginning in the early half of the century. So it makes sense that people in different nations will share the same approach to change.

Also – and just as importantly – Western cultures are very similar. 

It makes sense that their approach to organizational change (or organisational change) would also be similar.

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.