Organizations do not change!


October 26, 2014 by Greg Wisniewski

The need for change management is driven by the need of change. The world is in flux and some serious authorities of change management world are questioning, if the strategy is still wise thing to focus on since the business world is moving so fast, that it is nearly impossible to keep up.

Before we define why to change let’s define what is it “the change” and what change management is about.

The simplest definition is that a change is a process of moving from “as is” situation to “to-be” situation having in mind that organizations do not change but people do.

Change management therefore is a toolbox with a set of tool and processes to manage people to change behaviour from how they do now to new, desired, expected state to achieve certain benefits.

There is always a reason for change:

The reason can be:

  • Technological – some technologies are replaced by other i.e. traditional photography replaced by digital etc.
  • Customer demand driven – if customers like to order from home and then have the goods delivered then the industry is trying to fill this demand. If they like to pay with cards then retailers shall allow it…etc.
  • Market conditions, legal constrains – if there is new law forbidding current practice then to apply it you need to change. Restrictions towards tobacco it terms of packaging, content apply to producers while the marketing, layout limitation impact the distributors etc.
  • Competition related – re-actions to competitor’s moves on the market – if ma competitor released smart watch then I need to as well, I cannot be worse, if he implemented self-scanning tills at checkout then I need to follow not to fall behind etc.
  • Resources, costs – the availability of resources used to produce the outcome

Organization has no other choice than…


The root of the problem is that it is not the organization which changes. It is people.

Although the reason for change can be clear to the organization (people who steer it), it might not be equally visible to the employees focused on everyday duties rather than long-term strategy and market research.

Why to change – is the first reaction of everybody who is in his/her comfort zone and as well the number one reason for over 70% change initiatives failures. People who drive the change – or at least should – do not have convincing answer to this question. They fail to create the urgency to go through the change process.

Unbelievable, but in case when change is quite often about surviving not only about pursuit of new opportunities this still happens.


Organizations do not change – People do – Get ready to answer “WHY question” first!

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5 thoughts on “Organizations do not change!

  1. mtaylorsp says:


    Good point that people change, not organizations.

    We find the ‘case for action’ comes from one or all of three sources – Current Performance, Internal Drivers and/or External Drivers.
    – Current Performance: what we are doing is just not good enough.
    – Internal Drivers: even though it’s fine today, we’re going on an M&A rollup so we’d better get even better (as one example of an internally induced driver)
    – External Drivers: as you point out, customers and competitors, plus the typical PESTEL set – political, economic, social, technological, environmental, and legal.

    If it’s not in there, there is no reason to change.



  2. I agree that it is people and no organizations what really changes. However, I believe that if people in charge of the organization do not induce changes in the organization itself, prior to try to change people, they will make a big mistake. Every organization requieres a mimimum equilibriun in difrerent aspects of the organizacion: Human Resources [capability knowledge and experience] – organizational structure [posts, level of authority and responsability] – Internal control [specially processes and internal policies] – technologycal information – systems for decision taking – etc. I find very often that when a minimum equilibrium does not exist in this and other aspects of the organization, almost everything we would like to do is a cordial invitation to failure.


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