Purpose – For half a century, experts have offered leaders a standard model of how to transform organizations. It involves unfreezing them, developing a clear picture of the future, managing to make the picture a reality, and then changing systems to support the new ways. However, studies have shown that transformation does not always follow this script. This paper aims to look at four alternatives. Design/methodology/approach – This paper reviews more than 50 well documented transformations and compares them to both the standard model and non‐mainstream ideas about transformation Findings – The paper offers a guide to five distinct, reproducible ways of radically altering organizations: the standard model process (“holism”), transformation through the ambidextrous form, transformation through acquisition/restructuring, the Collins “Good‐to‐great” process, an improvisational transformation process. Hybrid approaches are discussed. Research limitations/implications – Providing a comprehensive guide to corporate transformation is a problematic undertaking. The authors could not review every case study of transformation, so they cannot say with certainty that their list of documented transformation methods is all‐inclusive. However, their survey gave them good reason to believe these are the five best‐documented transformation processes. Practical implications – The paper explains the important advantages of each approach to transformation that make it appropriate for particular purposes. Originality/value – When organizations need radical change, leaders need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of all five well‐documented alternative paths to transformation.
Strategy & Leadership – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 9, 2008
Keywords: Organizational change; Change management; Acquisitions and mergers
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