Managing Change and Innovation

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Introduction

The paper is an analysis of organisational change at the Legal Services Commission (LSC) which was implementing a lean management program. Technological change and declining customer satisfaction were the main drivers. The purpose of the paper is to identify how best to implement organisational change through the analysis of the LSC as a case study. It will be argued that sensitivity to in-house and external climate is essential in making change work for an organization. In the study, it was found that the LSC’s style of change revolved around hard factors although greater employee involvement could boost the outcome of this change. Systematic innovation should also be engrained into the company so as to yield maximum outcomes.

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Description of change at the Legal services commission (LSC)

The organisation chosen for analysis is the Legal services commission UK. It is a government funded organisation that focuses on assisting ordinary citizens to access legal aid because they cannot afford it. Starting from 2008 to date, the Commission has been implementing a lean management program centred on minimising wastage, boosting customer service provision, enhancing productivity and continuously improving rate of service delivery. The change was instated by first assessing what needed to be done; provider surveys were carried out and consultations made. Thereafter, the company carried out a process overhaul where electronic data substituted most paper work, undue correspondence was eradicated and team meetings held in order to keep identifying areas that could be improved.

Drivers for this change

Anderson and Anderson (2002) have identified seven major drivers of change in their drivers of change model. They felt that this model was essential in formulating a story as to why change is necessary and these include:

  1. The environment: This consists of one’s external forces and these may be social, political, economic, technological, demographic, natural and governmental. In the case study (implementation of lean management at the LSC), three major environmental factors necessitated change: technological, governmental and economic forces. Most organisations in the legal industry were embracing the benefits of technology in data management, record keeping and the like. This company needed to move with the times. Since the legal services commission is a government affiliated organisation then it is directly affected by it. The government had made a decision to minimise support offered to such organisations and this would necessitate a change in the way the company was operating. Economic constraints probably propelled the government to act in such a manner.
  2. Marketplace requirements: For the legal services commission, consumers needed greater efficiency as wastefulness tended to impede access to legal consultation by most clients. The commission had very long queues of consumers waiting for them. Also, solicitors would have to repeat the process of filling forms as it was complicated and rarely done well. Speed delivery and the need for quality were crucial components of the company’s marketplace requirements.
  3. Business imperatives: The Company needed to make continuous improvement a part of its culture as it was lurking behind in terms of meeting consumer needs. Consumer needs were always changing but the company’s rate of improvement was not.
  4. Organisational imperatives: Poor financial and technological resource usage propagated a reorganisation.
  5. Cultural imperatives: The Commission rarely involved lower level employees in decision making and this was hampering their success.
  6. Leader and employee behaviour: The existent organisational culture was such that it placed a lot of emphasis on day to day challenges rather than on long term organisational imperatives. This minimised job satisfaction amongst employees.
  7. Leader and employee mindset: Here underlying beliefs and assumptions determine how one behaves and how the entire organisational culture becomes. To this end, the prevailing mindsets as the Legal services commission was hindering their success as most employees often took for granted the manner in which they utilised their resources.

Style of change management used

Sirkin et al (2005) assert that most change management initiatives fail because a number of organisations place too much emphasis on soft factors rather than hard ones. They explained that soft factors include aspects of organisational culture such as communication and transformational leadership. He claims that such an approach creates problems because it is very daunting to change those soft factors. Alternatively, hard factors can be easily measured and analysed; hard factors are those issues that have the ability to directly affect project outcomes. By dwelling on hard factors, businesses can change project outcomes by analysing those outcomes and by communicating their importance to stakeholders. Sirkin et al (2005) created the DICE model which identifies four factors that are crucial in project success: performance integrity, project duration, additional effort given by employees to enact the change and staff and management commitment to change. It can be said that the LSC employed this style of management to carry out their change. They placed most attention on these hard factors. The company ensured that staff and management were committed to the change prior to its commencement. This was done by making them see the need for those changes. Additionally, extra effort offered by staff in order to make the change was evident as seen by their idea sharing, data handling and client interactions. Project duration was a key aspect as the company implemented a long term project with consistent reviews – this is a better model than a short project with improper reviews. Consequently, that style of management was followed to the letter.

How resistance to change was managed

Since the company has done a good job of involving staff members in their change initiation efforts, there wasn’t much resistance made by employees. Most of them understood the benefits that would emanate out of lean production and they took it well. Nonetheless, as Stace and Dunphy (2000) point out, resistance to change will always be a part of the process, the only difference is that the extent of this resistance will vary depending on the scale of change enacted. In the scale of change model, four major types of organisational change have been identified (fine tuning, modular transformations, incremental adjustments and corporate transformations) each with its own kind of resistance. Fine tuning involves departmental level change done in order to realign departments with processes, people and structures. Incremental adjustments involve minor adjustments made by organisations in order to align with their external environments. Modular transformations involve reengineering a company’s divisions. Corporate transformation involves the entire company. In the case of the legal services commissions, the entire organisation was involved in the process consequently; it can be asserted that their change fell in the corporate transformation scale of change. Stace and Dunphy (2000) further argue that this is often necessary in order to pull back the company to its strategic direction and is quite forward looking. However, this type of change is one that is likely to solicit plenty of resistance from organisational members. Most employees at the LSC had grown accustomed to carrying out their tasks in a conventional way. This need to continuously review their work was not taken very positively as most of them were eager to maintain the status quo. However, continual interactions with management and positive outcomes in service delivery minimised these levels of resistance as it caused employees to realise the effects of lean production. They would also be engaged in less work and this freed them up to perform their core function; an aspect that was readily welcome.

Appropriateness of the change and ways in which the change may be improved

Duck (1993) argues that most companies fail in instating organisational change because most of them concentrate on specific aspects of the change and fail to look at the holistic picture. To this end, they can be likened to a series of surgeries trying to correct several body malfunctions without proper coordination. At the end of the day, such a patient’s problem may not be corrected as too much shock will have been created. Duck (1993) therefore believes that the underlying goal in any change process is to get employees to think strategically, recognise patterns and view opportunities. To a certain extent, the company under analysis recognised the latter author’s insight. They tried their best to ensure that staff members took ownership of the improvement process. Also, the company aligned its just in time model and the total quality management efforts with their strategic aims. Consequently, they were heading in the right direction. However, it can be argued that most employees merely dwelt on elimination of wastefulness. They did not tie this to the main organisational strategy of offering services efficiently to their clients. Additionally, during TQM, employees were not as empowered as they ought to have been; the commission merely instated a suggestions scheme where ideas could be suggested and be forwarded to top management for review. Consequently, employees were not given the final say yet this is an essential component of successful organisational change management. Furthermore, Hemp and Stewart (2004) suggest that successful corporate transformations are those ones that get to the grassroots and collect views from all employees as was the case with IBM in 2003. The Legal services commission did several surveys of what their providers thought, but they did not get to the heart of their operational processes – the employee. Their opinions on flaws and strengths of the firm would have been instrumental in curving out the best method for effecting change within this firm. Bettencourt and Ulwick (2008) also believe in a revolutionary idea known as job mapping. This entails determining everything consumers need from a firm and then breaking this down into processes that can be carried out by a firm. The Legal services commission would have achieved better results if it did this.

How innovation can become a more central concern to the Legal services commission

Most appropriate choices for the lifecycle stage of the organisation

The legal services commission is currently at the bureaucratic stage of their lifecycle. It should be noted that companies usually go through four stages as explained by Dunphy and Stace (2000). These include the entrepreneurial stage, collective, formalised and elaborated stage in ascending order of simple to complex. The first stage is characterised by survival as a motivator while the others are labour based, bureaucracy based and team based respectively. In the case of the legal services commission, it can be argued that it should really be on stage four i.e. the elaborated stage rather than on the formalised stage which is where it chooses to be currently. An analysis of its history, customer base and service offerings indicate that the fourth stage is the most plausible. As asserted earlier, the company takes suggestions made by employees on quality improvement and then takes them to top management for approval. However, in order for this company to function, it must acknowledge that its stage of the life cycle necessitates a different approach to change. In other words, the use of teams can bring out very effective innovative ideas. Interpersonal skills have already grown so this would work well for them. Conversely, the use of a watchdog style is characteristic of bureaucratic system which serves to impede innovation. Additionally, a team based approach contributes towards simplified information systems which can allow a firm to see where it is going in terms of innovation.

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Type of innovation (product, process, operational)

The legal services commission had carried out a process based and operation based type of innovation. However, there are a number of areas that still need improvement as one works their way around this matter. Iyer and Davenpourt (2008) argue that companies ought to emulate internet giant Google in understanding how to make effective operational innovations. Google got to the top because of their ability to exercise strategic patience. The Legal services commission needs to embrace this by foregoing minor short term benefits. It should also build its infrastructure around innovation by using ideas from third parties. Lastly, organisational design needs to reflect innovation in their job descriptions so that employees can feel as though they are not merely doing their company a favour but are carrying out part of their core functions through innovation. Members of most government based organisations tend to fear failure. A large number of them opt to comply rather than make breakthroughs. However, this is actually the reason why such firms are bogged down with inefficient, long client lists and other problems. Legal services commission needs to cultivate an atmosphere of positive chaos and failure since it is user failure that leads to learning. Lastly, Iyer and Davenport (2008) affirm that data can be used to create inspiration for innovation of companies’ processes by providing members with objective analyses of decision making since most innovative ideas tend to be by products of improvise. This will imply that the company can mitigate the chaos created from breakthrough decision making by offering standards by which ideas can be judged.

Operational innovation also has the ability to alter the way a business is performing because of devising new ways of doing work. Hammer (2004) believes that operational innovation took Walmart to the next level; it led to Dell’s as well as GM’s and IBM’s success. Therefore, the Legal services commission needs to think outside the box and do what no other company in the legal arena has tried; this could be revolutionary.

How to systematically generate innovative concepts and other aspects of innovation

Drucker (1985) affirms that successful innovations are not haphazard; they must be done in a systematic fashion. Here, four areas ought to be identified and they include market and industry changes, process needs, incongruities and unexpected occurrences. The legal services commission should be sensitive to industry changes that can assist in determining its innovative path. It should continuously look at new areas in process requirements and then seek innovative ideas there. In terms of unexpected occurrences, the company should quickly embrace these areas and work towards improving them instantly.

Conversely, Edmondson (2008) offers his take on how systematic generation of innovation can be encouraged. The Legal services commissions needs to make their staff feel safe by rewarding learning processes and not punishing them for failing. Process guidelines can also be another pathway as these standardise knowledge processes. Collaborative decision making and data collection processes are other areas that can provide the legal services commission with opportunities for innovation.

Conclusion

Change management is different from other business functions because models that work perfectly in other areas may fail here. Consequently, organisations need to adopt different approaches to change and innovation. At the heart of this process is identifying areas that need change; doing so with all organisational members and in the right frequency i.e. continuously. This will ensure that innovation contributes towards transformation of the organisation.

References

Stace, D. & Dunphy, D. (2000). Choosing Change Innovation Tools. Beyond the boundaries. London: McGraw Hill

Anderson, L. A. & Anderson D. (2002). Identifying the drivers of your change. Urango: Being First Inc

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Sirkin, H., Keenan, P. & Jackson, A. (2005). The Hard Side of Change Management. Harvard Business Review, 109-18. Web.

Hemp, P. & Stewart, A. (2004). Leading Change When Business is Good. Harvard Business Review, 61-70. Web.

Daniel Duck, J. (1993). Managing Change: the Art of Balancing. Harvard Business Review, , 71(6), 109-18. Web.

Edmondson, A. (2008). The Competitive Imperative of Learning. Harvard Business Review, 60-67.

Drucker, Peter F. (1985). The Discipline of Innovation. Harvard Business Review, 95-100. Web.

Hammer, M. (2004) Deep Change- How operational Innovation Can Transform Your Company. Harvard Business Review, 85-93.

Bettencourt, L. & Ulwick, A. (2008). The Customer-Centred Innovation Map. Harvard Business Review, Apr, 109-114. Web.

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Iyer, B. & Davenport, T (2008). Reverse Engineering Google’s Innovation Machine. Harvard Business Review, 59-69. Web.

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BusinessEssay. (2021, December 13). Managing Change and Innovation. Retrieved from https://business-essay.com/managing-change-and-innovation-report/

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