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Compare and Contrast the Themes and Statements in Kotter's "leading Change" and the Organizational and Management Textbook

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John Kotter, the author of Leading Change, has been observing organizations and the change process for many years. This book breaks down the eight stages by chapter and what is needed in each stage of the change to be successful in implementing a new vision for that organization.

This paper will compare and contrast the relevant themes, concepts and principles from our text, Organizational Behavior and Management, and from Kotter's most important points concerning each of the eight stages he describes in his book.

1. Establishing a Sense of Urgency

Kotter's first step states" Establishing a sense of urgency is crucial to gaining needed cooperation. With complacency high, transformations usually go nowhere because few people are even interested in working on the change or problem." (Kotter p. 36) One of Kotter's main points in this first step is the difference between a manager and a leader. Many managers do not like change. They keep to the status quo. If they have been successful (to an extent) for years just being a competent manager, they would allow too much complacency. Why would they want to change something that seems successful on the outside? On the other hand, leaders want to take action, make changes and accept that urgency as a part of making changes to improve the future of the company.

One can ask, why make change in an organization. According to the book, Organizational Behavior and Management, some of the key reasons for change in an organization include "diverse workforce, demanding customers, changes in domestic and global markets and competition." (Ivancevich p. 16) Technology is changing so fast everyday it is hard to keep up with for many organizations. Customers continually demand more value at competitive prices and many organizations are becoming true global companies. Things that might affect these changes are group behavior, conflict within the group and power and politics.

Group culture can play a large part in a company experiencing either complacency or a sense of urgency. "Can a culture be created that influences behavior in the direction management desires?" (Ivancevich p. 45) According to Kotter, pushing up the urgency level can be difficult. A cautious manager might not be able to do this but a new leader who is bold might be able to accomplish this feat. One thing that might work is a crisis such as we are now in with the state of the economy. Kotter states, "Major change is often said to be impossible until an organization's problem becomes severe enough to generate significant losses." Kotter p. 45)

Urgency can also be created by inventing a crisis situation. Both sources mentioned this point. "Programmed conflict is conflict that is deliberately and systematically created even when no real differences appear to exist." (Ivancevich, p. 304) Kotter states, "Create a crisis by allowing a financial loss, exposing managers to major weakness vis-a-vis competitors, or allowing errors to blow up instead of being corrected at the last minute." (Kotter, p. 44) This is definitely a point that both books agree upon.

2. Creating the Guiding Coalition

"A strong guiding coalition is always needed -one with the right composition, level of trust and shared objective." (Kotter p. 52) Nowadays, in today's fast paced world, new processes of decision making are key. The slower pace is gone forever. The solution according to Kotter is building an effective team that can "direct a change effort." (Kotter p. 57) The characteristics of the team as suggested by Kotter are the following; position power, expertise, leadership and credibility, leadership being the most important.

As teams are the key to this step, let us explore the team concept as discussed on Organizational Behavior and Management. The book defines a team as a "mature group comprising people with interdependence, motivation and shared commitment to accomplish agreed upon goals."(Ivancevich p. 273) The book also states seven skills that are highly desirable for team members to be effective; open mindedness, emotional stability, problem solving abilities, communication skills and conflict resolution skills.

The two books differ in some of the characteristics team members should possess to be in a successful team. This is probably due to the fact that Kotter is describing characteristics for a change management team and the text is describing teams in a more generalized fashion.

Trust is discussed extensively by Kotter. Teamwork cannot be created without trust according to Kotter. When diverse workers are brought together in a tea, trust has to be developed using specific activities. If trust is developed, you are on the right track. Without trust common goals might not even be formed or reached.

Key to both team descriptions is communication. Team members have to be able to communicate with each other effectively and also communicate the message(s) that the team is trying to convey.

Leadership is an important concept in both books. The leader can have major influence over the group or team. Problems might arise when there is no formal leader established. The right person has to be the leader if there is one. The leader should have strong leadership and management skills according to Kotter. The emphasis should be on leadership as stated in the first section of this paper.

3. Developing a Vision and Strategy

"Vision refers to a picture of the future with some implicit or explicit commentary on why people should strive to create that future." (Kotter p. 68) According to Kotter, a good vision will clarify the general direction for change; motivate people to do something in the proper direction and coordinate the actions of many people in an efficient way.

The employee(s) developing the vision should possess leadership qualities as noted in the textbook. They need to be a charismatic leader. They would have an "idealized vision highly different than the status quo." (Ivancevich p. 427) There are definite goals to be achieved and the all important vision will encompass the goals. You must also have that all important strategy to get there in the end.

A vision must have specific characteristics to be effective according to Kotter. These characteristics are imaginable, desirable, feasible, focused, flexible and communicable. The employees have to be able to picture the vision. It has to be real and also desired by the employees and others involved. Are the goals feasible and attainable? Strategy is important here and a great leader

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