The rapid rate of change in the world of management continues to escalate. New government regulations, new products, growth, increased competition, technological developments, and an evolving workforce compel organizations to undertake at least moderate change on a regular basis. Yet few major changes are greeted with open arms by employers and employees; they often result in protracted transitions, deadened morale, emotional upheaval, and the costly dedication of managerial time. Kotter and Schlesinger help calm the chaos by identifying four basic reasons why people resist change and offering various methods for overcoming resistance. Managers, the authors say, should recognize the most common reasons for resistance: a desire not to lose something of value, a misunderstanding of the change and its complications, a belief that the change does not make sense for the organization, and a low tolerance for change in general. Once they have diagnosed which form of resistance they are facing, managers can choose from an array of techniques for overcoming it: education and communication, participation and involvement, facilitation and support, negotiation and agreement, manipulation and co-optation, and both explicit and implicit coercion. According to the authors, successful organizational change efforts are characterized by the skillful application of a number of these approaches, with a sensitivity to their strengths and limitations and a realistic appraisal of the situation at hand. In addition, the authors found that successful strategic choices for change are both internally consistent and fit at least some key situational variables.
Source: John P. Kotter, Leonard A. Schlesinger, Harvard Business School, March-April 1979 (revised 1991)