Managing Change and Innovation in Gillette Company

Introduction

Change and innovation are closely connected issues aimed to improve organizational performance and competitiveness. Creative and innovative acts consist of two basic elements. The first element is new ways–new in that they are different from the established ways of doing things. Second, they must produce better results. Being both different and better is essential to generating creativity and innovation. Therefore, creative and innovative activities challenge established ways by being new and different and produce better results when they are evaluated in terms of established values. Creative and innovative management involves three different constructs: creative management, innovative management, and creative and innovative management. Creative management is much the same as the first element of a creative and innovative act–new ways. The main problem faced by management is resistance to change and innovation caused by fear of change and the personal attitudes of employees.

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Change and Innovation in Gillette

Change in Gillette Company

The Gillette Company is a leading division of Proctor and Gambler specialized in personal care and household products. In this company, creative management consists of new ideas, new directions, new methods, and new modes of operation. Innovative management is much the same as the second element of creative and innovative activities–better results. Innovative management is involved with those innovation processes that implement creative ideas and move successfully in new directions. “The concepts “planned change” and “managed change” refer to changes that are deliberately shaped by the organization members (managers, consultants, groups). What distinguishes between the two concepts is the type of people they refer to (Hage, 1999). “Planned change” usually refers to how experts, outside or inside the organization, can help the organization cope with difficulties, and to plan and implement desired changes” (Levy and Merry 1986, p. 3).

Change and Motivation

To optimize the contribution of innovation to the overall organizational objectives of Gillette, management must be protected from minor or major disturbances in the internal and external environments that do not impact the management and innovation. Long-term research, the hallmark of change and innovation, cannot be disturbed by short-term changes in priorities. On the other hand, the structure of the innovation organization must be flexible enough to detect and leverage long-term changes or changes that have long-term impacts on the organization. Change is considered the management of change, and, as such, must welcome changes and must attempt to leverage them for the benefit of the organization. That contradiction of the requirement for protection of change from external disturbances yet be a flexible structure to accept and leverage these changes is a challenge for change and is designed to increase creativity and innovation (Sherman and Garland 2007). A strategy used in change to prepare for change is the use of forecasting, which is used to determine systematically the path of current technology, the initiation of new technologies based on what is known in the present to make decisions today that will impact the technological future of the organization. As Gillette technology changes or is forecast to change, the new strategies also have to take into consideration changes forecast for the environments, changes in the organization, changes in the industry, and changes in people. The rates of change for environments, technology, organization and people are different, and this creates imbalances that can result in disturbances of varying magnitudes. The speed of change in descending order is as follows: Technology, Environments, Organization People. The task of the R&D manager is to deal with all these factors that interact in an interdependent fashion, which also complicates the analysis. The management of changes in change, viz. the management of change, is not a linear process but an iterative process, sometimes logical and rational, sometimes intuitive, and not always predictable. Management of the interfaces, internal and external, of change, is making decisions under more uncertainty than in other functions of the organization (Hage, 1999).

Reactions and Resistance to Change

Reactions to Change

Change and innovations are often resisted and rejected by the staff. The sense of self-esteem is the magnitude to which one values oneself and one’s abilities. It is positively related to the sense of competence. It is also influenced by how other people in the organization view the individual. A feeling of low self-esteem results in a magnified resistance to change and a blind following of group decisions relative to these changes. Values are deeply rooted beliefs that have a strong influence on the acceptance or rejection of new knowledge or innovation (Sherman and Garland 2007).

Values System

When the information obtained runs contrary to the values of a scientist, the information will be considered a priori suspect and will be dismissed. Individual scientists have different values; thus meaningful communication might not be operational in a change organization. If the values of the innovation group are more or less similar in all the individuals in the organization, there will be a common ground for communication and acceptance of new knowledge. If the cohesiveness of the group requires the same set of values for everyone, however, there will be a loss for the organization in accepting the knowledge that could be critical. Depriving the organization of new knowledge because it does not fit a set of “normal” values of the group is counterproductive and dangerous for a change organization (Hage, 1999).

Fears and Threats Caused by Change and Innovations

Fear of Change

Fears, anxieties, and insecurity will result in low motivation and self-esteem. Generally, a manager of innovation and change in Gillette has to deal mainly with threats to self-image and self-esteem. If a scientist feels very secure in the current environment, resistance to change will increase. When the whole organization feels threatened, it will close ranks and present a united resistant front to the outside. This can be illustrated by the behavior of the community when discussions in Congress indicate that cuts in funding are contemplated. The reaction of the scientific community is generally swift, preemptive, vociferous, and not commensurate with the potential cuts in fundings. For an individual, the feeling of threat-perceived or real will be either productive, with the individual accomplishing what is demanded, or counterproductive, with very real old-fashioned sabotage. The magnitude of the threat and the nature of the threat-personal or generic-will dictate the individual’s responses (Jansen, 2000). A certain level of fear might result in improved performance or acceptance of changes, but generalized threats will be less productive than personalized threats in terms of acceptance of changes. Many employees resist changing afraid of unknown and new job equipment. Lack of skills and knowledge, lack of training and management support are also a cause of fears and anxiety (Sherman and Garland 2007).

Skills Shortage

If new information or knowledge threatens the employees’ self-image or self-esteem, there will be a tendency to distort that information to fit one’s expectations. These scientists will tend to be selective in their search for new information to validate their preconceived notions and keep their psychological equilibrium (Sherman and Garland 2007). For a manager of change, a strategy to avoid these distortions is to give critical assignments to teams rather than to individuals. In some organizations in the healthcare industry, it is customary to give the same assignment to two different people or teams to avoid filtration of information. Generally, this is done without the knowledge of the different individuals or teams. This practice is not recommended because invariably it is brought to light and can be very counterproductive (Jansen, 2000).

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Inconvenience and Threat of Interpersonal Relations

Attitudes

Attitude and behavior are generally used interchangeably. However, they are different. There is a difference between what a person says (attitude) and what a person does (behavior). Attitudes emphasize the development of self-insight and the removal of threats to the ego. Attitudes allow for self-identity maintenance and enhance self-image. Attitude changes are complicated because they are dependent on the change agent attempting to introduce the changes, and how the change agent influences the individual. These changes of attitude can be introduced through a combination of rewards and punishments. Changes in behavior can be the result, but the change in attitude might not be present (Jouve, 2002).

Psychological Issues

This psychological variable is a mixed blessing. On one hand, group decision-making to tackle a difficult change problem will be facilitated by group cohesiveness. On the other hand, too much group cohesiveness can impair the communication, dissemination, and acceptance of new knowledge by other groups in the organization. This predicament can be useful in the formation of project teams composed of scientists from different groups working together to solve a problem. The cohesiveness of one’s normal group must be transferred to the project team temporarily to be able to achieve the objectives of the project. The cohesiveness of a group can interfere with the group’s acceptance of changes, and individual resistance may be replaced by group resistance. A strategy that can be used to remedy that predicament is to prepare the group before the introduction of changes that the manager of change knows will be resisted by the group (Sherman and Garland 2007). Group discussions and involvement in the decision-making about the implementation of changes will result in less resistance of the group to the needed changes. Intervention by outside forces to introduce a change in a group will be less effective than internal intervention by a “loyal” and trusted member of the group. The strategy is to select an influential member of the group to be trained to introduce changes likely to meet resistance from the group (Jouve, 2002).

Reducing Resistance to Change

Trust

In Gillette, the managers of change and innovation make such a determination. Since the manager of change cannot control the hidden agendas of each member of the group, the strategy is to develop a climate of trust within the group and a process of decision making that is fair, honest, and acceptable to all members of the group (Jouve, 2002).

Information-Seeking Behavior

There are two types of information-seeking behavior that an employee can call upon. One is to rely on local sources of information that include peers, subordinates, friends, or supervisors. The danger for change and innovation for Gillette is that there is an in-breeding of information and a tendency to operate as a closed system. Complete reliance on cosmopolitan sources will also be counterproductive. Extremism in the pursuit of knowledge is not a viable strategy, and the manager of change will have to balance the two methods. Information overload is another issue that must be handled with some urgency. In addition, the cost of information is high-and the benefit of obtaining that information must be compared to the cost of obtaining it (Levy and Merry 1986).

Coherence and Conformance

Conforming to a group will be a function of the feeling of acceptance as well as the degree of acceptance of the individual by the group. Weak acceptance of the individual by the group will result in the scientist being able to introduce new ideas and information to the group and perhaps even increase the level of creativity and innovation of the group. However, if the acceptance of the individual by the group is very strong, the likelihood that the individual will tend to conform to the norms of the group will increase, with a reduction in innovative and creative solutions in the group as a consequence. A very cohesive group, in times of crisis, will have a higher probability to accept changes as a group for the benefit of the overall organization. Some managers of change have suggested that when one wishes to introduce changes in change a crisis must be manufactured. Such a strategy might be successful under certain conditions, but it is suggested that it not be tried too often (Mclagan, 2002). Friendships among scientists in a group will be a factor in the acceptance of changes by the group. The social relationships in the group will reinforce cohesiveness and conformity. However, too much social integration within a group will tend to result in the rejection of new ideas or the acceptance of changes based purely on social ties. The strategy is not to break the various friendships within the group but to introduce new blood to the group and even welcome some mavericks to reduce complacency based on too much familiarity (Levy and Merry 1986).

Discussions and Involvement of Employees

A change group performance can be most effective if feedback on performance is given to individual members of the group than to the group as a whole. When both individual and group performance feedback is given it positively impacts the subsequent performance of the group. Task performance feedback appears to be very effective if it is not delayed. Delayed feedback will not affect the subsequent performance of the task. Interpersonal feedback is given by peers and friends. It is generally immediate but does not seem to improve the subsequent performance of the task. Immediate feedback by a supervisor has a direct impact on the performance of the task. Unfortunately, interpersonal feedback appears to be much more common in change groups (Mclagan, 2002).

The decision to implement must be followed immediately by a plan to phase the technology in an orderly and planned way. If the transferred technology is a drastic change, the resistance to its implementation will increase, and it may be necessary to develop special programs to familiarize the employees with the new technology. A useful and effective strategy is to start the formation of employee study groups with employees most likely to accept the new technology to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the new technology (Sherman and Garland, 2007). The idea is to persuade these employees and then to let them proselytize the nonbelievers in the organization. Creativity and innovation are often the victims of organizational structures such as the reward system that is applied uniformly, although functions such as change will respond to incentives other than those appreciated by marketing or manufacturing functions (Sherman and Garland 2007).

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Leadership as a Strategy to Overcome Resistance to Change

The leader in a large change organization must delegate. The problem is that delegation of authority to scientists might not be appreciated by the scientists, and acceptance depends on the level of trust between the manager of change and the scientists. As this level of trust increases, the scientists will be more apt to accept the delegated duties (Hage, 1999). Acceptance of delegated duties and authority will also depend on the ability and readiness of the scientists to carry out these tasks. It is therefore necessary for the manager of change to ensure that delegation is made only to scientists who are capable of accepting it and discharging it properly (Sherman and Garland, 2007).

The situation is also complicated by the fact that there are built-in conflict situations between change and the other functions of the enterprise. Conflicts between change and general management are much more important from a strategic point of view since these conflicts will surely impact, favorably or more often unfavorably, resource allocations to change. A low-grade conflict can put some stress on the members of a change group with the idea that a little bit of stress can be a catalyst for new ideas and innovative solutions. This is because some competitiveness exists among scientists in change that can be triggered by stress. The strategy for a manager of change is not to start conflicts within the change to obtain more innovations, but rather to identify and nurture existing conflicts that could trigger innovation. It is, of course, important that close monitoring of the conflict be carried out to ensure that it does not degenerate into a full-blown conflict that could become destructive (Senior, 2001).

Level Resistance to Change

Strategies that a manager of change can use include selecting new hires who more or less fit with the demands and objectives of the organization, and communicating to the new hire the expectations of the organization, the role that the scientist is expected to play, the position of the scientist in the organizational structure, and giving feedback about expectations and performance as needed. Prevention of a conflict situation can also be managed by the development of a climate of trust and by assigning to the new hire a mentor who will facilitate the integration of the new scientist into the change group with a minimum amount of conflict (Senior, 2001). The issue of conflicts within an individual for long-term employees is more complex and requires different strategies. Internal conflicts can be of larger magnitude and duration, and possibly very severe. Using veteran scientists to mentor new hires can somewhat reduce the inner conflicts. Another strategy is to encourage the veteran scientist with this type of inner conflict to become active in professional organizations, especially in leadership positions (Sherman and Garland 2007). The belief system approach helps managers communicate the imperative to change because it relies on two-way communication in a one-on-one format. When the imperative to change is not clearly understood by an employee, the approach allows for further clarification to ensure understanding and acceptance, and it creates a safe environment for emotional reactions to change to be expressed and dealt with.

Conclusion

In Gillette, communication is the key to motivation and performance improvement. Though this conclusion may seem obvious, rarely do managers think about it consciously, and even more rarely do they put it into practice. If they did, a great many of the motivation and performance problems that plague today’s business organizations would evaporate on the strength of surprisingly simple solutions. The objective of this tool is to identify what truly motivates the employee and to determine what kind of work environment would match his or her personal preferences as closely as possible. For example, some employees enjoy a fast-paced, ever-changing work environment, while others prefer jobs that are characterized by harmony, predictability, and routine. To uncover this information, the Preferred Motivation Environment asks the employee a series of questions that become progressively more sensitive and require increasingly more disclosure. Some questions are designed to identify the good things the manager does that motivates the employee, as well as the bad things that inhibit motivation and performance, and they explore what the manager might do differently to create a more motivating work environment. Other questions prompt the employee to reveal his or her most private job-related fears and insecurities so that the manager truly understands the person that he or she is trying to accommodate.

References

Hage, J. T. (1999) Organizational Innovation and Organizational Change. Annual Review of Sociology (1), pp. 597.

Jansen, K. J. (2000). The Emerging Dynamics of Change: Resistance, Readiness, and Momentum. Human Resource Planning, 23, pp. 53-55.

Jouve, B. (2002). Innovation without Change? German Policy Studies, 2 (1), 1-4-.

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Levy, A., Merry, U. (1986). Organizational Transformation: Approaches, Strategies, Theories. Praeger Publishers.

Mclagan, P.A. (2002). Success with Change. T&D, 56, p. 44.

Senior, Barbara. (2001). Organizational Change, Capstone Publishing.

Sherman, W. S., Garland, G. E. (2007). Where to Bury the Survivors? Exploring Possible Ex Post Effects of Resistance to Change. SAM Advanced Management Journal, 72; 52.

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