Change Like Rubik's Cube (2006)
An article about the use of the Change Monitor during a merger of the social service departments of three municipalities. The merger was like looking for the solution of Rubik’s cube: everything changes at the same time and all changes are interdependent. The Change Monitor helps to discuss how the civil servants experience the changes and to find out what is necessary for completing the merger.
Original Dutch reference: Lensink, B. (2006). Veranderen als Rubiks kubus. Change, 6, 13-15.
The merger of the three municipal social services departments in northeast Groningen was the product of years of political decision-making. But on 1 January 2006 it finally came about: the municipalities of Loppersum, Appingedam and Delfzijl consolidated their social services departments into a single organization known as Intermunicipal Social Services (or ISD Noordoost for short). As the various offices had remained open for business during the planning phase, it was only on that first of January that the decision became physically tangible on the work floor. The new organization moved into a single building in Delfzijl, but everything else was supposed to remain the same. And yet that was only the first of many changes to follow. The uniform surfaces of Rubik’s Cube were in disarray. Every change is another turn of the cube. One by one, every little square ends up in a different place, and nothing is like it was before.
Shaping a Learning Process and Realizing Change: Reflection, Interaction and Cooperation through Survey Feedback (2006)
An adaptation of a previous article for the book Interveniëren en veranderen. (Intervening and changing) edited by Jaap Boonstra and Léon de Caluwé. This book appeared in connection with the 2006 annual conference organized by the Dutch magazine M&O (Management & Organisatie). The book contains interesting contributions about new interventions aimed at promoting interaction and the development of meaning during changes.
Original Dutch reference: Bennebroek Gravenhorst, K.M. (2006). Een leerproces vormgeven en veranderingen realiseren. Reflectie, interactie en samenwerking door survey-feedback. In J.J. Boonstra & L. de Caluwé (Red.) Interveniëren en veranderen. Zoeken naar betekenis in interacties (pp. 289-306). Deventer: Kluwer.
Survey research is popular in organizations. It is inexpensive and it provides an abundance of relevant information about things like how an organization is functioning or how satisfied the employees are. The results of survey research are easy to quantify and to compare. They give an idea of the current situation, of any differences between departments and organizations, and of the developments that have taken place since a previous measurement.
But what do you do once the situation in an organization has been measured? It is sad to see how much time and energy people put into survey research but then how little they do with the results. Measurement information turns out to be difficult to use, and the contribution of survey research towards actually improving problems is minor at best.
But there are alternatives. Survey feedback is a special way of working with surveys. The goal of this chapter is to show what survey feedback entails and how the intervention can contribute to organizational change. Survey feedback is a useful alternative to survey research. A clear added value of survey feedback is that the intervention initiates a learning process in which people reflect on the existing situation in the organization and then go on to develop solutions for problems together. That leads to a broad basis of support for improvements. Professional supervision from a consultant is one of the conditions for an effective use of the intervention.
Worlds of Difference: How Actors in Organizations Use and Create Issues in Change Processes (2006)
An intriguing PhD dissertation about what makes changes within organizations so difficult. While the dissertation further develops the work with the Change Monitor, it also discusses the topic of change strategy. It covers much more than just the Change Monitor and offers interesting insights into things like fixed patterns and interactions within organizations that are undergoing change.
Original Dutch reference: Werkman, R.A. (2006). Werelden van verschil. Hoe actoren in organisaties vraagstukken in veranderprocessen hanteren en creëren. Uitgave in eigen beheer.
This book deals with the question of why change processes are often so complicated and what we can do about that. Large-scale survey research shows, among other things, that change managers and employees each tend to experience change processes very differently. Different groups within organizations have their own experience of change processes, and those experiences often conflict with each other. Seven in-depth case studies reveal why that is the case and what the consequences are. Various different qualitative research methods reveal a series of fixed, self-fulfilling patterns that characterize and complicate the process of working on change. The book concludes with suggestions for intervening in deadlocked change processes.
Survey Feedback as an Intervention in Organizational Change: Effective Discussions Involving All Parties on the Basis of a Questionnaire (2005)
An article about how to structure the discussion of the results and the role of the consultant who leads that discussion. It analyses the example of how the Change Monitor helps a team at an elementary school discuss the structural change that is taking place there.
Original Dutch reference: Bennebroek Gravenhorst, K.M. (2005). Survey-feedback als interventie bij organisatieverandering. Effectieve gesprekken tussen alle betrokkenen naar aanleiding van een vragenlijst. M&O Tijdschrift voor Management en Organisatie, 59, 8-25.
Survey research is popular in organizations. It is inexpensive and it provides an abundance of relevant information about things like how an organization is functioning or how satisfied the employees are. It is an easy way to present standardized questions to large numbers of people. The results are easy to quantify and to compare. They give an idea of the current situation, of any differences between departments and organizations and of the developments that have taken place since a previous measurement. The possibility of offering surveys via the Internet helps simplify the research process.
But what do you do once the situation in an organization has been measured? It is sad to see how much time and energy people put into survey research but how little they do with the results. Measurement information turns out to be difficult to use, and the contribution of survey research towards actually improving problems is minor at best. The management has relevant information, but either doesn’t know what to do with it or simply continues on its earlier course. Employees make an effort and offer their opinions, but they see little in return and feel they have not been taken seriously. The response rate will drop in the following study, and people will start to have doubts about the effectiveness of the survey research.
But there are alternatives. Survey feedback is a special way of working with surveys. The goal of this article is to show what survey feedback entails and how the intervention can contribute to improvements in organizations. Survey feedback is a useful alternative to survey research and has a clear added value. Professional supervision from a consultant is one of the conditions for an effective use of the intervention.
Complexity and Unmanageability in Change Processes: Patterns in the Capacity of Dutch Organizations to Change (2005)
An article about patterns in the results of the survey. The article deals with, among other things, the interconnections between the configurations, the contextual factors and the choice of change strategies by change managers.
Original Dutch reference: Werkman, R.A., Boonstra, J.J., & Elving, W.J.L. (2005). Complexiteit en weerbarstigheid in veranderingsprocessen. Patronen in het verandervermogen van Nederlandse organisaties. M & O Tijdschrift voor Management en Organisatie, 59, 5-29.
Organizational change remains a complex and unruly process. Despite attempts by researchers and practitioners to better understand change processes, little extensive empirical research has been carried out with regard to problems in the implementation of changes. This study investigates organizational change at 300 Dutch organizations. The authors look at the choices that the change managers made in terms of specific change strategies. It turns out that there are considerable differences between how board members, middle managers and employees judge those strategies. The authors also look at the capacity of organizations to change by mapping out the interconnections between organizational characteristics, the approach of the change process and the perceptions of the change. They then identify five configurations in the capacity of organizations to change. These five configurations are tied to contextual factors and the choices that managers make in terms of specific change strategies. The research shows that we can only comprehend the complexity and the unruly character of change processes if we approach organizational change from multiple perspectives and take into account the choices that change managers make and the context in which changes will take place.
Process Management and Managing Change Processes (2004)
A chapter in a book dealing with process management. The chapter describes a case involving a department at Rijkswaterstaat, the executive arm of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, which worked with the Change Monitor. The organization opted for an open dialogue about all of the results. The Change Monitor is discussed as an example of an alternative to the classic management of change.
Original Dutch reference: Bennebroek Gravenhorst, K.M. (2004). Trajectmanagement en sturing van organisatieverandering. In P. van der Knaap, A.F.A. Korsten, C.J.A.M. Termeer & M.J.W. van Twist (Red.), Trajectmanagement. Beschouwingen over beleidsdynamiek en organisatieverandering (pp. 65-86). Utrecht: Lemma.
The issues at play in managing change within organizations are comparable to those involved in managing policy and policy systems. In the field of change management, developmental change is an alternative to classic top-down management. The case of a reorganization process within a department at Rijkswaterstaat serves to illustrate the practice of this alternative change strategy. The organization in this case made use of the survey-feedback methodology. Developmental change also calls up new questions. The consideration of those questions provides insights that can affect how we think about process management.
Survey Feedback: Discussing the Results of Surveys and Strengthening Change Processes (2003)
A short adaptation of Movement in Changing Organizations for the Handbook of Organization Instruments: Steering Tools for Managers. Besides providing a general description of the Change Monitor, it also offers several examples of the application in organizations.
Original Dutch reference: Bennebroek Gravenhorst, K.M. (2003). Survey-feedback. Uitkomsten van vragenlijsten bespreken en veranderingsprocessen versterken. In A.J. Cozijnsen, D. Keuning & W.J. Vrakking (Red.), Handboek organisatie instrumenten. Sturingsinstrumenten voor de manager (C1050, pp. 1-36). Deventer: Kluwer.
In medium-sized organizations, complex changes that will affect strategy, structure, culture, technology and people’s work are often difficult to bring about. Such changes are known as second-order changes and involve changing all aspects of an organization in relation to each other. This can lead to problems, especially when insufficient attention is given to the approach, the design and the progress of the change process. Management teams tend to use a design approach in which the top of the organization manages the change process in the direction of set objectives and in which there is little room for input from other interested parties.
What second-order change requires is precisely changing together, learning together and managing together. Survey feedback is an effective means of supporting such a process. Deciding to work with survey feedback means that an organization makes the strategic choice to make the connection between change, learning and management.
Movement in Changing Organizations (2002)
A handy booklet describing the background of the Change Monitor and containing numerous examples of how this intervention is used in actual practice. The booklet is recommended for organizations that are working with the Change Monitor, for example for the managers or for a monitor group. It can also be interesting for consultants and managers who want to work with surveys in other ways than is often the case in research on employee satisfaction.
Original Dutch reference: Bennebroek Gravenhorst, K.M. (2002). Beweging in veranderende organisaties. Werken met vragenlijsten voor het versterken van veranderingsprocessen. Deventer: Kluwer.
This book is intended for management consultants and those involved in other roles in guiding survey feedback in organizations. The book offers a variety of practical tips for working with the intervention. In practice, the facilitation of effective feedback is what is most difficult. An issue that many consultants who work with surveys face is how to organize the feedback in such a way that people will actually make use of the results. This is an essential question, since the intervention assumes that results of a survey study will be used to strengthen a change process and to improve the way an organization functions. If that does not happen, the survey feedback will be at best a waste of the time, money and energy of all those involved. At worst, the intervention will work counterproductively, and the observed problems will increase.
The emphasis in this book lies on the practical experiences, insights, learning experiences and dilemmas that surfaced during my research on working with survey feedback. Drawing on six projects, I reflect on my own actions while guiding the intervention, on the choices that were made, and on the consequences of those choices. This approach is one of three ways of professionalizing consultancy skills (Van Haaren, 2000). With this book I hope to transfer the results of that reflection to other practitioners. Consultants who are considering using survey feedback as an intervention can make use of this in evaluating whether survey feedback is a suitable intervention in a certain situation. It can also help them recognize the pitfalls that I encountered when I was supervising a survey-feedback intervention. The focus in that regard lies on working with surveys and with feedback. The readers are assumed to be familiar with the methodological aspects of making surveys and with their scientific background.
Convincing Cases of Collaboration: Survey Feedback for Dealing with Obstacles in Organizational Change (2002)
This PhD dissertation describes the development of the Change Monitor. One of its more important insights is how the results of the survey can be used to contribute to the further progress of the changes. It also reports on the results of six in-depth case studies about the obstacles and success factors in organizational change.
Original Dutch reference: Bennebroek Gravenhorst, K.M. (2002). Sterke staaltjes van samenwerking. Survey-feedback voor het aanpakken van belemmeringen bij organisatieverandering. Deventer: Kluwer.
Convincing Cases of Collaboration deals with the question of why change is so difficult and how that can be improved. By means of six in-depth case studies, it examines what the obstacles are in change processes. The structure, culture or technology of organizations rarely form obstacles the change. Instead, it is precisely the approach and the design of change processes that lead to problems. A difficult issue for many organizations is how people can work together during a change process. The case studies reveal how some organizations are better able to change together than others and what the effects of that are. Working together in change processes demands the efforts of all parties involved: it is precisely those efforts that will lead to a positive result. In each of the case studies, the organizations worked with survey feedback. A survey makes it possible to identify and describe the current state of affairs in an organization that is undergoing change. It is in the feedback phase, in which the results are communicated to all of the parties involved, that both the significance of those results and the opportunities for improvement are determined. Then it is up to the people themselves to undertake actions to realize the improvements. Over the course of the case studies presented, there is a development in the way of working with survey feedback. The result is a methodology that combines leading, learning and changing.
The Change Capacity of Organizations: Interpretations of Five Configurations and Implications for the Practice of Organizational Change (2001)
An article about patterns in the results of the survey. Five configurations are distinguished: innovative change, yearning change, difficult technical change, clumsy change and cynical change.
Original Dutch reference: Werkman, R.A., Boonstra, J.J., & Bennebroek Gravenhorst, K.M. (2001). Het veranderingsvermogen van organisaties. Interpretatie van vijf configuraties en implicaties voor de praktijk van organisatieverandering. M & O Tijdschrift voor Management en Organisatie, 55, 7-27.
Comprehensive organizational changes are often complex, and many organizations fail to attain the results they were hoping for. Identifying and defining an organization’s capacity to change – and using that information to intervene in a change process – can be a big help to the progress and completion of change processes. This study on change processes demonstrates the existence of different configurations in the capacity of organizations to change. The article describes and explains the configurations observed, discusses the significance of those findings, and points out the importance of communicating the research results to organizations in change.
Interview about the Change Monitor (2010)
This easy to read interview gives a good impression of the intervention and some of its basic ideas. Danielle Savage from Turner Change Management in Canada did the interview and wrote the text.
A member of the International Council on Organizational Change, a group founded and
chaired by Dawn‐Marie Turner, Kilian is also the creator of the change management
tool, The Change Monitor. Recently Danielle Savage of Turner Change Management
interviewed Kilian about the Change Monitor and bringing it to North America. Kilian
and Danielle are both members of the Change Facilitator’s Network.
Understanding failure to change: A pluralistic approach and five patterns (2009)
An article describing five characteristic patterns in terms of the obstacles to change as well as interventions for dealing with each of those. The findings are based on an analysis of Change Monitor data from over 350 organizations.
Werkman, R.A. (2009). Understanding failure to change: A pluralistic approach and five patterns. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 30 (7), 664-684.
The purpose of this paper is to understand failure to change by examining patterns of coherent structure and agency characteristics in changing organizations in specific sectors and to provide specific recommendations for intervention in these patterns. A large survey in 367 organizations engaged in different change processes and from different sectors, among employees in different positions. The paper finds that there are five patterns among changing organizations, each with their own specific problems, characteristics, and change approaches that require different interventions. Parsimony in research models and the study of overall relations between variables does not help to understand failure to change. More integrative approaches are needed that take variety among changing organizations into account. Change agents should not opt for a “one best strategy” for change but choose a contingent change approach that takes into consideration the specific characteristics of their organizations, change processes, and contexts in order to make change more successful. This paper establishes that successful change cannot be explained by one or a few variables but is contingent on an interplay of agency, structure, and contextual characteristics. Together, these characteristics form constellations that characterize different sectors. The paper provides suggestions for more successful change.
Shaping a learning process and realizing change: Reflection, interaction and cooperation through survey feedback (2007)
A chapter in the book Intervening and Changing: Looking for Meaning in Interactions (Jaap Boonstra and Léon de Caluwé, eds.) by the famous publisher John Wiley & Sons.
Bennebroek Gravenhorst, K.M. (2007). Shaping a learning process and realizing change.Reflection, interaction and cooperation through survey feedback. In. J.J. Boonstra & L. de Caluwé. Intervening and changing. Looking for meaning in interactions (pp. 261-276). Chichester: Wiley.
Survey research in organizations is popular. It is cheap and delivers a lot of relevant information, for instance about how an organization is functioning or employee satisfaction. Outcomes are easily quantified and compared. They give a picture of the state of affairs, of differences between departments and organizations and of developments with respect to a previous measurement.
But what do you do once the situation in an organization has been measured? It is disappointing to see how much time and energy is put into survey research and how little happens with the results. It seems to be troublesome to employ measurement information usefully, and survey research contributes only marginally to the actual improvement of problems.
This can be different. A special way of working with questionnaires is survey feedback. The aim of this chapter is to show what survey feedback means and how the intervention can contribute to organizational change. Survey feedback is a usable alternative to survey research. A clear added value is that the intervention gets a learning process going in which people reflect on the existing situation in the organization and develop solutions for problems together. That leads to a support base for improvement. Professional supervision by a consultant is one of the conditions of effective use of the intervention.
Methodologies for co-creating change: The power of interaction and collaboration (2004)
A chapter about the Change Monitor and other methodologies for working together in change processes. The co-creation of changes is contrasted with the view that managers want change but employees do not. The latter view turns those groups into each other’s opponents and fails to lead to effective change.
Bennebroek Gravenhorst, K.M., & In ‘t Veld, R.J. (2004). Power and collaboration: Methodologies for working together in change. In J.J. Boonstra (Ed.), Dynamics of organizational change and learning (pp. 317-341). Chichester: Wiley.
This chapter starts with presenting four explanations for the lack of effectiveness of many change processes. Reflection on these four explanations results in our focus on process-oriented change. One of the benefits of this approach is its potential to achieve commitment to change through cooperation. Subsequently, we discuss existing psychological explanations for resistance to change and then propose another view. In our view, the negative reaction to change initiatives should be understood as a response to the chosen change approach. We present an interactive perspective and try to avoid the subject object orientation in which change agents need to convince, persuade, or force change targets to comply with their goals. The main part of this chapter therefore deals with four comprehensive methodologies that can bring different stakeholders together and make them partners in change. Consecutively, we discuss survey feedback, large group methodologies, process management, and third party intervention. The chapter ends with conclusions and we discuss implications for academics, consultants, and managers who design and guide change processes in organizations.
The change capacity of organizations: General assessment and five configurations (2001)
An English adaptation of a 2001 article originally published in the Dutch journal M&O. The adaptation appeared in Applied Psychology – a prestigious international journal – as part of a special issue dealing with organizational change.
Bennebroek Gravenhorst, K.M., Werkman, R.A., & Boonstra, J.J. (2003). The change capacity of organisations: General assesment and interpreting five configurations. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 52, 83-105.
Realizing major organisational change and innovation is a complex process and many organisations do not obtain the outcomes they desire. The purpose of this study is to investigate which factors hinder or contribute to far–reaching change. These factors are sought in characteristics of organisations, and in the design and management of change processes. Altogether, we evaluate 16 aspects when assessing the change capacity of organisations. In addition, we explore underlying patterns in the change capacity of organisations. General results suggest that the change capacity of organisations is neither low nor high. This is counterintuitive and opposite to what we know about differences between changing organisations. Additional cluster analyses revealed a limited number of configurations in the change capacity of organisations. Five configurations show distinct patterns in factors that frustrate or contribute to change. We interpreted the configurations as the innovative organisation, the longing organisation, the organisation with aged technology, the organisation with a clumsy change approach, and the cynical organisation. The configurations demonstrate that focusing on multiple aspects of organisations and change processes is important to fully comprehend what hinders and helps organisations change. Furthermore, results from this study suggest that a sense of urgency is not needed for change to take place, that resistance to change is related to the management of the change process, that each conflguration requires speciflc interventions, and that configurations may be related to organisational variables as sector and size.
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