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Change Philospohy

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"It doesn't matter where you are; you are nowhere compared to where you can go." -Bob Proctor.

Change is an inevitable part of life. It comes at us from all directions, both good and bad. Some change is planned well in advance, some comes without any warning, some will improve the lives of those it touches, and some will make life harder, but ultimately as time marches on, change happens. This is as true for the world of business as it is in personal lives of individuals. For business, change is even more essential to survival through years and even decades. Businesses must keep up with cultural changes, technological changes, economic changes, perceptual changes regarding services or products... and the list goes on. The changes that a business must prepare for and adapt to can be as simple as upgrading equipment or changing suppliers, or touch a much grander scale as partnerships are negotiated and sometimes separate business entities are molded into one.

Just as there are numerous changes that a business can face, there are also numerous models or philosophies on which to approach, plan for, and ultimately execute any change. What theory or philosophy that is used depends upon the nature of the change, the purpose of the business, the people affected by such change, and the time involved. One such theory of change is Lewin's Force-Field theory. This theory was developed by Kurt Lewin and it essentially describes the pressures or forces within a business that maintain its current processes and produces resistance to change, and the opposing forces that act upon or within the business to encourage change. Lewin believed that managers seeking to successfully change the climate, direction, motivation, progress, efficiency or effectiveness of a business needed to increase the forces that produced change while decreasing the forces that oppose it.

To understand the concepts of Lewin's Theory, one must understand the forces at play within a business. Consider for a moment that the "job" you needed to complete was the simple act of sitting in a chair. To accomplish this task there are two forces at work that maintain the equilibrium necessary to sit. There is gravity pulling you down to the ground and there is the strength of the chair keeping you from falling to the ground itself. The two forces act against each other to keep you seated. Just as with a business, consider now that the task is not to sit in the chair any longer but to cosmetically fall to the ground with the chair crushing beneath you. To accomplish this change one or both of the forces keeping you balanced must be changed. We can either weaken the chair, causing it to not have enough strength to keep you from falling, or increase the gravity until its force caused the chair to break. Only when one or both of these forces are altered can the change be accomplished.

The concept behind Lewin's theory is the same, the present state of the company is balanced between the driving forces (positive forces for change) and restraining forces (obstacles or resistance to change). "For change to happen the status quo, or equilibrium must be upset - either by adding conditions favorable to the change or by reducing resisting forces." (Lewin's 2012) Organizations that utilize this model will first try to determine what forces are currently keeping the organization at its present state. The managers would find out what processes, people or philosophies are most likely to encourage change towards a desired goal. At the same time they would identify those forces opposing that change. Opposition can be caused by a lack of understanding for the reason behind the change, or not seeing the benefit of the change on both a personal and companywide level.

Only once the managers have identified what forces are holding the equilibrium in place can they plan for ways to alter those forces. In most instances, the best approach for management is to effectively alter both forces, weakening resistance while strengthening the driving forces. Managers would approach this based off their knowledge of what is providing the current forces in each direction. Let us look at a simple example of how such a theory could be implemented within a business. An investor purchases a well-established restaurant within a small community and upon the final signing



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