Ten Tasks of Change: Demystifying Changing Organizations

Ten Tasks of Change: Demystifying Changing Organizations

by Jeff Evans, Chuck Schaefer, Terry Evans
     
 

The days of predictability and stability in organizations are gone. In today's world of rapid change, agility is a defining characteristic of successful, high-performance companies. In this environment, say Jeff Evans and Chuck Schaefer, it is essential that the ability of an organization to work at change be institutionalized. In Ten Tasks of Change, the authors

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Overview

The days of predictability and stability in organizations are gone. In today's world of rapid change, agility is a defining characteristic of successful, high-performance companies. In this environment, say Jeff Evans and Chuck Schaefer, it is essential that the ability of an organization to work at change be institutionalized. In Ten Tasks of Change, the authors offer a whole-systems approach to change as work and present you with a model for dealing with rapid and intentional change in the twenty-first-century organization.

Bridging the gap between theory and practice, Evans and Schaefer link their approach to the basic organizational capability of planning and managing work. They give you a logical framework for:
* Thinking through the objectives of the work of change
* Planning the activities to achieve those objectives
* Using a selection of best-practices principles to accomplish them
* and much more.
By positioning their approach within the context of work, they allow organizations to utilize existing competencies of planning work and working plans.

The book is organized around the ten tasks of the framework, with each chapter corresponding to an individual task and outlining the work required in it. You'll see, for example, how to first appreciate the situation and identify the areas required to create a business case for change. You'll discover how to generate a leadership network through which local leaders can begin forming individual visions for the future-which will ultimately enable the larger organization's change. And the book explains how to formalize the system and process thinking into a design, complete the design, manage the transition, and maintain continuous process improvement through action learning.

The Authors

Jeff Evans practices in the area of organizational capability and human system development. Evans's work has included large-scale change at all levels of organization, both domestic and international.

Chuck Schaefer is a long-time professional in the field of organization systems development and high performance organization. His extensive experience in practice and at university includes both the private and public sector at levels from frontline work teams to major company redesigns.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"With the Ten Tasks approach we made a huge leap in capability, with a manageable level of disruption. We have since decided to apply this system on another technology application, which should indicate it's value to our organization" (Dave Reeves, vice president, Chevron Products Company)

"The Ten Tasks of Change is a must-read for anyone engaging and leading organizational change work." (Adrienne Seal, senior organizational effectiveness consultant, The Clorox Corporation)

"Bridges the theory and practice of organizational change. Individuals at every level of the organization will benefit from the clear concepts outlined in this book." (Elizabeth Thach, associate professor, school of business, Sonoma State University)

"Will be particularly useful to managers and executives-demystifies change processes by framing them as work tasks. A useful addition to the change literature." (Edwin C. Nevis, consultant, author, president of Gestalt International Study Center)

"Those who truly want to build commitment for new major initiatives, would do well to use the Ten Tasks as a guide." (Rick Maurer, author, Beyond the Walls of Resistance and Building Capacity for Change Sourcebook)

"By peeling off the change jargon, the authors allow the reader to understand what needs attention and to practice logical, concrete, realistic steps to accomplish organizational change." (Gerald V. Miller, president, Gerald V. Miller Associates)

"Delivers as advertised. Use this book as a guidebook and understand these tasks, and organizational change will be better understood, and more importantly, achieved." (Kevin Eikenberry, president, Discian Group)

"...the authors state that their aim is to bridge the gap between theory and practice...they have certainly succeeded..." (Professional Manager, November 2001)

"Chapter provide an easy, pragmatic approach to achieving the basics of tasks of the framework presented by the authors." (Library Bookwatch, 1/02)

Booknews
Specialists in organization systems offer an approach to change linked to the basic organizational capacity of planning and managing work. They provide a logical framework for thinking through the objectives of change, planning activities to achieve those objectives, and selecting principles to accomplish them. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780787953454
Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
04/02/2001
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.35(h) x 1.01(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

Chapter Zero

To some people "Chapter Zero" may sound a little odd. We have given that title to this opening chapter for two reasons. First, the first step in your organization change work is in Chapter One, the next chapter. Chapter Zero picks you up at "ground zero," what you need to understand about the material in this book before you address that first step. Chapter Zero gives you the overall framework around which this book is formed and the critical beliefs about people and organizations facing change that underpin all of what you will read here. Second, it is titled Chapter Zero simply so that the following chapter titles can match the numbers of the change tasks they address, Chapter One addresses Task I, Chapter Five addresses Task V, and so forth.

About Changing Organizations

Changing is what organizations do, not what you do to them. Changing is the continuous process of an organization attempting to align itself with shifts in its marketplace and with the realities of its external financial, physical, social, political, and technological environment. It is the organization's drive to synchronize purpose, process, structures, people, information, rewards, and management systems within itself and within an integrated outside world.

Organization change can be complex because organizations are complex. Guiding successful intentional change can be puzzling and difficult because the organization is held in place by networks of established interrelationships among its environment, its processes, its structure, and its people. Whether an imperative for change comes from business needs, technological opportunities, mismatches in structural alignment, or the nature of the organization's people, for the change to be lasting, all aspects and interrelationships of the affected networks will have to change. We'll talk more about this "work system" view of organizations in the next chapter and throughout the book.

In yesterday's world, major organization change was often experienced as a cataclysmic eruption one hoped would only happen every millennium or two. In today's more complex, dynamic world, organization change is ongoing work, not just a one-time "catch up" event. Being an agile change artist is as critical for success as being a reliable producer. Successful change is required for survival. Changing more responsively and effectively than one's competitors is required to prosper.

About the People in a Change Situation

Changing organizations are complex because people are complex. People tend to objectify their work. They experience it as separate from themselves, something "out there" that they examine and "work on." They may engage their work with passion, but they still tend to see it as something apart from themselves, something they "do" rather than who they are. A change situation replaces the microscope with a mirror. The prospect of change confronts people with the reality that they are not separate from their work, that in a deeper sense they are what they do and they are defined by how they do it. The task of self-reflection is more complex than the task of objective problem solving. The work of changing organizations is not only about finding a way to apply a logical process to a non linear reality, but it is also about setting the conditions within which people are willing to do research on themselves.

The Work of Changing Organizations

Conventional wisdom tells us that changing our organizations is very difficult. That's because we built them in a complex way, not because change is mysterious and unfathomable. Changing an organization is hard work because organizations, and the people who inhabit them, are designed to provide stability. When we put our organizations together, we are looking for predictability. We know we may have to be nimble in a fast-moving marketplace, but at the same time we want to be sure that promises made will be promises met. Our work systems are designed to "ingest" variance without losing control of the process. We pay our people to pursue the objectives tenaciously in spite of the odds. We struggle with change, not because our organizations aren't agile, but because they are so agile in order to stay on course and avoid the rocks in the roadway. Organizations are hard to change because the organization designers before us and the managers who followed them have done their jobs so well.

Changing organization may be hard work, but it doesn't have to be mysterious. In this book, the work involved in changing organization is modeled as "The Ten Tasks of Changing Organization," illustrated by the ten activity bars in Figure 0.1.

The overlapping bars in the model signify that, although the tasks flow sequentially in concept, the work addressing any one task will continue concurrently with the work associated with previous and subsequent tasks as the process unfolds. Picture the overall Ten Tasks as a cascade of activity, like a step-down waterfall, where each level feeds the next and each builds on the flow from before. As a change unfolds, you must cycle over and over through the essence of all of the tasks as you drill down into the details at different levels of the work system or open up change in different parts of the organization. This is what we mean by saying the process of change may be approached logically, but it is not linear.

The Ten Tasks is not a "methodology" and not a step-by-step process for managing change activities. It is more useful when seen as an overarching checklist of what to pay attention to as you apply your own logical thinking to accomplish the change. An analogy is the early computer game called Dungeons and Dragons. I never got the hang of it, but my son was pretty intense about it. As I understand, you are given a general idea about a journey and a bundle of weapons and tools that you can apply as you run into the unexpected beasts of the passageway, the bottomless pit, the unseeable door, the unclimbable wall, and so forth. If what you try doesn't work, you adjust your tactics and try again. As you learn and succeed, you progress and are given more tools and weapons and more insight about how to apply them to the next unexpected challenge, and the challenges just keep coming and coming. Stewardship in changing organization is a little like playing Dungeons and Dragons. The Ten Tasks gives you an overview of the path and some good ideas (your weapons and tools) to work with. The bad news is that only you can figure out how to apply them, using your own and your colleagues' best judgments, as the adventure unfolds and the specific challenges come up.

The chapters in this book address each of the ten tasks in order. Chapter Eleven provides a checklist of the work to be undertaken during each task. It can serve as a memory jogger, helping you as you work your way through your change effort. Or you can hand it to another person as a quick outline to guide discussion about where you have been, what has and has not been accomplished so far, and where to go next...

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"With the "Ten Tasks" approach, we found out how to combine leadership vision, workforce engagement and process change into one comprehensive system. With it, we made a huge leap in capability, with a manageable level of disruption. We have since decided to apply this system on another technology application, which should indicate it's value to our organization." —Dave Reeves,vice president, Marketing,Chevron Products Company

"The "Ten Tasks of Change" is a must read for anyone engaging and leading organizational change work." —Adrienne Seal, senior organizational effectiveness consultant, The Clorox Corporation

"Bridges the theory and practice of organizational change. Individuals at every level of the organization will benefit from the clear concepts outlined in this book." —Elizabeth Thach, associate professor, school of business, Sonoma State University

"Will be particulaely useful to managers and executives- demystifies change processes by framing them as work tasks. A useful addition to the change literature." —Edwin C. Nevis, consultant, author, President of Gestalt International Study Center

Read More

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