The Problems of Managing Change

The Problems of Managing Change

Enid Mumford (Manchester University, UK)
Copyright: © 2003 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-118-6.ch001


Managing change of any kind requires effective problem solving. This is especially the case when the change involves designing and implementing new work systems or rethinking current organizational structures. We know that problem solving is a difficult and complex process, yet too often it seems to be limited to a fast decision to do something followed by a series of actions which intuition suggests will achieve the desired result. This is very similar to shooting in the dark. There is no way of knowing that the proposed actions will lead to a solution or even that the problem can be solved. The alternative, whenever possible, is to create a well thought-out, logical path to a desired result. Effective problem solving requires the control of “entropy.” Entropy is a term used by physicists to describe energy that exists but is unavailable for productive use. When applied to problem solving it can be described as energy that is time-wasting because it is not being used to good effect. The word covers inappropriate strategies and actions that make little or no contribution to solving the problem. Energy of this kind can lead to chaos. The problem becomes increasingly confused and insoluble and ideas on how to deal with it become more and more clouded and uncertain (Mumford, 1999). The first message of this book is that effective problem solving requires an avoidance of inappropriate or redundant activity and its replacement by efficient and ethical strategies so that appropriate goals are both set and met (Mumford, 1999).

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