Over the course of the next couple of months, I plan to share some of the insights I gain through my graduate studies at Columbia College. The M.A. in Organizational Change and Leadership has been truly transformational for me so far and I hope to be able to pass on some of the lessons I am learning.
Understanding and managing organizational change are essential tasks for the success of each organization. I believe that change brings opportunity, but many organizations fear change because it disturbs the everyday routine and brings new and unknown experiences. In today’s world of technology and globalization, change is everywhere around us and we cannot simply ignore it. Organizations, including nonprofits, need to learn how to adjust their operations to differing cultures and audiences. What works with one group of clients may not work with another and therefore, the ability to change is crucial.
“Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
—John F. Kennedy
Organizational change is also closely related to organizational culture. Culture is an important aspect for each organization and is closely intertwined with all other aspects, decisions and even performance. How an organization functions or utilizes technology becomes a part of its organizational culture. That is why it is often difficult for an organization to change – because change could be a threat for the organizational culture.
Even though it is important to sustain organizational culture, it is also equally important to be committed to continuous improvement, which inevitably involves change. How organizational leaders respond to industry changes and challenges and sustain a culture of continuous improvement determines the effectiveness of the organization in the future.
Internet and social media have played a huge role in organizational change in recent years. I remember when I was a child my parents relied mostly on TV and newspapers to learn about new products or companies. Nowadays, all we have to do is type a company name in Google and we can get the information we need within minutes.
I know that change is not easy, but it is often times needed in order to avoid stagnation and lack of progress. There are many initiatives that can contribute to effective change programs, such as motivating change, creating a vision and managing the transition. I believe that one of the most important strategies is creating a vision as it describes a desired future state, or what the company strives to become. Creating a vision makes change easier because it shows team members why change is important.
Leaders are often times born during times of change because these situations create new opportunities when handled well. That is why, it is important to view change not as a threat to the organization, but also as an opportunity for growth.
Organizations that learn how to manage change become more successful in the future. This is how a good leader can make a difference – by finding an opportunity for change that will benefit the organization and by motivating team members to participate in making the change. It is important for leaders and other members of an organization to see change as a learning experience and to always look for opportunities for growth.
I, personally, feel both anxious and excited when it comes to change. I see change as an opportunity for growth so I always try to look for the positive aspects. However, change also makes me anxious because of the unknown that is always associated with it. I try to embrace change and to be open to the opportunities that life presents me. Only when we are open-minded and flexible, can we manage organizational change effectively. We can’t simply wait for ideal circumstances; we need to learn how to create ideal circumstances by adapting to change and by taking advantage of opportunities when they arise.