At the recent research conference of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, University of Maine Professor Steven Ballard summarized several "failure indicators" that characterize an organizational change process that "is either not serious or not likely to work":
Implementation from the top-down. While leadership must be involved, change must develop from within, not be imposed. Broad participation is mandatory.
Unwillingness to put governance issues on the table for discussion. This is the most difficult aspect of changing to a high performance organization. If leaders don't accept a much more participatory approach to governance, the major challenge becomes redefining the role of the manager.
Expectations for quick fixes or uniformity. Participants must tolerate frustration and ambiguity.
Linear approaches to implementation. Effective change strategies are about values and people. There are no sure-fire "ten steps to success."
Specification of a rigid time period in which results are expected. Long-term commitment of the organization and its leadership is required.
Over-reliance on consultants or outside experts to implement the process. Consultants can be used to get started or to trouble-shoot, but not to steer the reform effort.
An inability to identify the customers or willingness to accept ambiguity about primary customers.
Lack of commitment to a holistic approach. Successful change strategies must reflect five factors critical to get holistic change: Commitment to customer satisfaction; a shared vision; transformational leadership that facilitates change rather than imposing control; participatory decision making; and commitment to expanding individual and organizational expertise and core competencies.
November 24, 1994
Copyright 1994 by the National Academy of Public Administration Foundation, 1120 G Street, N.W., Suite 850, Washington, D.C. 20005
Contact Info: Steven Ballard
University of Maine Center for Policy Studies
Source: The Public Innovator, Issue No. 17, November 24, 1994