Change Management Articles

Corporate Culture Research Paper

Organizations have grown far more sophisticated and skilled in their ability to execute the integration process. The one area where companies still struggle, though, is in merging disparate cultures. This is the black box of integration, the most complex problem that executives encounter in M&A.

PRITCHETT, LP surveyed 130 executives and their responses offer important clues for cracking the code on culture in M&A. Here’s what the data indicates:

  • Most culture...
Something Has To Go

Jobs seem to grow more complicated every year.

Employees are expected to carry a heavier workload, meet higher quality standards, and pick up speed at the same time. It’s a foolproof formula for stress.

Since organizations are under so much pressure from changes in the outside world, though, we can’t look forward to any letup. More work keeps landing on fewer shoulders. Customer expectations keep going up. And ever stiffer competition means we have to move faster and faster...

Does A Low-Stress Work Environment Serve Your Best Interests?

How safe is it really to assume that a low-stress work environment serves our best interests?

Let’s say we push for a slower pace of change . . . less pressure to perform . . . a more relaxed, low-keyed atmosphere in general. And let’s say we prevail. Top management cuts us some slack.

Chances are we enjoy some temporary relief. Our stress level drops, and maybe we point to that as proof that the organization made the right move. . . .

The World's Market Is Fast Becoming a Free For All

The technology of the Industrial Age gave us mechanical muscle and motorized speed. For example, cotton gins, conveyor belts, tractors, trains, drill presses, trucks, sewing machines, jet engines, and such.

By comparison, the technology of today’s Information Age gives us computerized brains and electronic speed. Work is becoming still less physical and more mental . . . we do less with our hands and more with our heads. The trend is toward “smart...

The Age of Instability

The winds of change keep blowing harder. Hitting more people. Reshaping all kinds of organizations and altering how they operate.

Business, government, educational institutions, notfor-profit organizations, the military—you name it. Change, as far-reaching as it is rapid, is cutting across all sectors of the economy. All classes of society. All continents. All cultures.

Just think back over the past year. How many organizations expanded rapidly . . . revamped their their...

Progress Keeps Picking Up Speed

Progress keeps picking up speed. The complexity of our world keeps increasing. The rate of change keeps accelerating.

In fact, change is sort of like a giant pinball machine where we keep adding several more steel balls every few minutes. They ricochet faster and faster. The game constantly grows more complex, the challenges multiplying moment by moment. Before long, we’re simply forced to alter our style of play. Otherwise, the game will overwhelm us.

It’s important for us to...

Communicate More Demanding Standards Of Performance

Exploit the Instability

It is important not only to survive during the instability created by the merger or acquisition but to thrive on it, to exploit the upheaval. Managers commonly react by attempting to stabilize the organization during the transition, seeking to return things to normal. But this is an impossible task as well as a wasted opportunity. Instead of spending energy on a fruitless pursuit of normalcy, management should use the transition...

Change Naturally Creates An Information Vacuum

Somebody once said, “The more unpleasant the message, the more effort should go into communicating it.” This point is worth keeping in mind as you’re trying to push change.

Most major change initiatives run into public relations problems rather quickly. People see and hear things that disturb them. They’re disappointed by all the problems that always seem to arrive well ahead of the successes. As usual, bad news drives good news away, so people disregard much of that which actually...

Don't Discount The Part You Play

There’s this notion in complexity theory called “the butterfly effect.” It’s about how complex adaptive systems—like companies, weather patterns, stock markets, etc.—can be powerfully affected by very small, remote influences.

Edward Lorenz, a meteorologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote about it in a paper which raised the question, “Does the flutter of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?”

His point: Small acts can have huge...

Don't Be Surprised When Culture Counterattacks

As far as corporate culture is concerned, “change” is the dirtiest word in the dictionary.

It’s culture’s nature to believe deeply in itself, and it shows absolutely no sense of humor when people attempt to redesign it.

In Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress, Harrison and Huntington discuss how difficult it is to find something that “can substitute for disaster in stimulating cultural change.”

You’re dealing with a self-righteous, heavy-handed...

Create A Culture Where People Are Rewarded For Disturbing The Peace

Change, by its very nature, is destructive. It gets messy. It causes confusion. That bothers a lot of people. They warn against change, or argue for taking it slow and easy so nothing gets broken. If they get their way, the organization has to tiptoe around, try to be neat, and not hurt anybody or upset people. Eventually, such a culture gets the organization in big trouble.

A culture that’s unwilling to break things can’t move fast. If it tries to salvage everything, it ends up...

The Challenge Of Culture Change In M&A

The biggest obstacle to successful merger integration is conflicting corporate cultures. The disturbing statistics of merger/acquisition failures document the problem: Between one-half and three-fourths of the deals that are done never measure up to original expectations.

The companies find they can’t live together. Sometimes they stay together, only to fight and feel miserable because their organizational values and lifestyles are incompatible.