Change Management. Changes usually affect all employees in your organization and require intelligent approaches. Whether it concerns internal changes (new work processes, structures or systems) or changes that are prompted by the environment (increased competition, new legislation, technical development, shrinking markets). The ability to respond adequately to these changes largely determines the success of your organization.

Viperty offers support in change processes and combines 'harder' techniques (LEAN management, Prince-2 Project management, INK model) with extensive knowledge in the field of the 'softer' human side (Thijs Homan/ Rob van Es, the colors of de Caluwé, Management drive, etc.)

The meaning of a change

Thijs Homan (1) has developed an interesting body of thought in which giving meaning to a change is central. He calls this the 'inside of organizational change'. He contrasts this with 'the outside of organizational changes', which he describes as everything that is taken towards a group of people to change them. This therefore concerns all change meetings, impulses via intranet, 'roadshows', etc. that are used in this context. The core of Homan's message is that real change does not come about by exclusively deploying the above-mentioned change initiatives. As a change agent you will have to influence the meaning that people give to the change. And that is difficult, because giving meaning does not follow a tightly ordered process…

What often happens in practice is that the desired change is still discussed cautiously and exploratively in so-called 'change meetings' (as in the case). The real conversation takes place after the meeting. Then a process arises in which subgroups of confidants together give meaning to the change. Each subgroup has its own view of reality. And so there are (often already within a department) differences in the way in which people view a change. Varying from: 'what nonsense all this again, it will probably yield nothing' to 'finally something is being done, we all have to put our shoulders to the wheel'. All this takes place as a self-organizing (chaotic) process. The trick is to give direction to this process as a change agent. You want to influence this process of giving meaning, or as Homan puts it: 'organizing chance'.


4 flight paths for change management according to Thijs Homan

Thijs Homan lists four different approaches for change management in his book Organizational Dynamics. He does not believe in a cool foie gras change management style (pushing down the throat) with slogans such as: 'Manage, get something in your head, put the message down, motivate people, we will communicate it, make agreements up front and roll it out.' In his book he explains the principle of change and also why foie gras management does not work in these situations.

He uses two dimensions to characterize change activities:

(a) planned change vs. change spontaneously
Change activities are often part of a planned process; it is about 'planned change'. According to Homan, change management is similar to project management: making a situation analysis and diagnosis, drawing up a change plan with clear objectives, milestones, results and times and 'rolling out' or 'implementing' that plan. This approach assumes that the organizational reality is planable, predictable, manageable and manageable. Homan states that 75 to 80 percent of changes in organizations are spontaneous changes. 'Spontaneous' in the sense that people themselves give meaning to what they observe (which can be the assignments and plans of the management) and they decide themselves whether to 'convert' any meanings into new behaviour. Confession is therefore the intervening factor for behavioral change. The planned-spontaneous dimension concerns the extent to which changes in organizations are (centrally) controlled or occur spontaneously (emergence).
(b) monoval vs. polyvocal.
The dimension monoval vs. polyvocal is about the question of who is in charge of the organization. This is not about who is formally in charge, but about which constructions of meaning coexist and how these constructions interact. Monovocal means that one set of reality constructions is dominant in an organization or part of it. There is only one voice, one all-determining vision. (…) Polyvocal is the exact opposite. Apparently there are many more voices than just the one dominant one. Many more meaning constructions and many more images about what is going on in the organization, what is important and what is not.' The voices influence the behavior of those who 'interpret' these voices (the organization as a polyphonic whole). Planned monovocal change management: Classic planned change process with an emphasis on planable change (content, the 'what' is central). The management comes up with a change plan and the voice of the management is dominant. Management's perceptions of reality are assumed to be 'true' and it is implicitly expected that the other members of the organization also agree with and adopt these definitions of reality. Participatory elements in the change process can occur, but are then an attempt to create support for the ideas of the top. Planned-polyvocal change management ('participative change' or 'infrastructures for learning'): change managers understand that their reality constructions are certainly not a perfect solution and space is explicitly made within the change process for the input of other perspectives (so that a broader and deeper insight is created) in the problems that give rise to the change and in the opportunities and threats involved in the change process). The input of knowledge and practical experience from the organization in the design of the change goals increases the substantive quality.

Spontaneous polyvocal change management

The meaning given by the people themselves is the motor of the actual change (i.e. not the planned change). A change in perceptions of organizational reality is necessary for concrete changes to take place. How one looks at reality is the result of a social interaction process, in which spontaneously formed groups of people come to an agreement about what is going on (the real and the good). When you consider an organization as a collection of loosely fixed 'islands of meaning' (informal groups with which people identify themselves and whose members collectively and continuously construct their reality), there is not one uniform overarching organizational reality, but there are many different local realities. The way in which people view reality within their 'own' island of meaning determines what they do. “Because some members of such islands start experimenting with something, pick up an idea from outside the organization, or whatever, it can happen that within certain islands new visions arise on the work, the customer or the organization. When such a vision is adopted by the other members of the group, this can, for example, lead to a different organization of the work process or to a different attitude towards certain customers. Change therefore occurs locally.' Spontaneous monovocal: the local islands of meaning are not located in a vacuum, but can touch each other, creating opportunities for the development of new meanings. New cross connections and related meaning constructions can arise from spontaneous interaction between islands of meaning. At an organizational level, this may mean that at some points 'collective' meanings come to the surface that originate from a relatively limited group of islands of meaning. In this way, clusters of meaning can spontaneously grow from a collection of 'loose' local meanings, whereby the polyvocality 'densifies' to a certain degree of monovocality.

Source: Organisatiedynamica, Theorie en praktijk van organisatieverandering