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Leadership and Organizational Change Cheat Sheet (DRAFT) by [deleted]

Organization Life Cycle Changes

This is a draft cheat sheet. It is a work in progress and is not finished yet.


Today's business world is highly compet­itive, thus change must be a naturally occurring activity in a growing organi­zation. The way to survive is to reshape to the needs of a rapidly changing world. Resisting change is a dead-end street . . . for both the leader and the organi­zation. Customers are not only demanding excellent service, they are also demanding more. If you do not supply it, your compet­itors will.

Organi­zations are reshaping themselves to become more agile and flat to meet their customers' needs. Top organi­zation leaders know they cannot throw money at every problem and workers need to be highly committed and flexible.

Organi­zat­ional Life Cycle


Organi­zations normally go through four main changes throughout their growth (Klepper, 1997):
Formative Period — This is when a new organi­zation is just getting started. Although there is a founding vision (the purpose of the organi­zat­ion), there are no formal defini­tions. This is just as well because there should be a lot of experi­men­tation and innovation taking place. These changes of creativity and discovery are needed to overcome obstacles and accomplish breakt­hro­ughs.
Rapid Growth Period — Direction and coordi­nation are added to the organi­zation to sustain growth and solidify gains. Change is focused on defining the purpose of the organi­zation and on the mainstream business.
Mature Period — The strong growth curve levels off to the overall pace of the economy. Changes are needed to maintain establ­ished markets and assure maximum gains are achieved.
Declining Period — This is the rough ride. For some organi­zat­ions, it means down-s­izing and reorga­niz­ation. To survive, changes must include tough objectives and compas­sionate implem­ent­ation. The goal is to get out of the old and into something new. Success in this period means that the four periods start over again. Failure means the end of the organi­zation is near.

For some organi­zations the four periods of growth come and go very rapidly, for others, it may take decades. Failure to follow­-th­rough with the needed changes in any of the four growth periods means the death of the organi­zation.

Cycle of Acceptance

Change Acceptance

Throughout periods of changes, leaders need to concen­trate on having their people transition from change avoidance to accept­ance. Five steps accomp­anying change (Conner, 1993):
Denial: Cannot foresee any major changes.
Anger: Aversion at others for what they're putting me through.
Bargai­ning: Working out solutions to keep everyone happy.
Depres­sion: Doubt and worry set in.
Accept­ance: Reality sets in, change or die.

Leaders Can Help

Leaders can help the change process by changing their employees' attitude from avoidance into accept­ance. This is often best accomp­lished by changing avoidance questions and statements into acceptance questions. As a leader, you need to emphasize action to make the change as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Further Compli­cations

Change is further compli­cated as it does not always produce a direct adjust­ment. Each employee's attitude produces a different response that is condit­ioned by feelings towards the change.

When change is introd­uced, each employee's personal history and social situation at work will produce a different attitude towards that change. You cannot see or measure attitudes, but what you can see and measure is the response towards that change:
Change + Personal experience (nurture) + Social situation (envir­onment) = Attitude + Response

Although each person will have a different response to change (personal experi­ence), they often show their attachment to the group (social situation at work) by joining in a uniform response to the change.

Despite each person wanting something different, such as place more demands, ignore the change, work harder, etc.; the need to belong to a group often sways indivi­duals to follow a few indivi­duals ("we are all in this together.” Sometimes the response towards change is influenced mostly by personal experi­ence, at other times it's swayed by the social situation.