Running head: YOUNG CHANGE AGENTS 1
YOUNG CHANGE AGENTS 3
Consulting Proposal #2: Young Change Agents
BMAL 504-B01 – Leading Organizational Change
Consulting Proposal #2: Young Change Agents
Defining the Problem:
Amy Middelburg and James Shaw were brought on to support PwC’s partnership with AIESEC, a company they were recruited from. Presenting issues were different at both companies. The budget was smaller at their former company along with the former positions held were leadership roles. At PwC the duo are almost at the bottom, in a larger organization, and are facing issues with bureaucracy. Coming in, Middelburg and Shaw were concerned about company image and contemplating the differences they wanted to make from a global aspect through environmental consciousness. They explored the vision and values of PwC and were not satisfied about the results of the research conducted. The young team resolved to propose to Keith Bell, PwC supervisor, some very bold changes for the organization to consider. They believed that it would be good for the company to move from just being profit driven to having concern about relationships with the environment, business partners, clients, and the public (Jick & Peiperl, 2011). There is an obvious dilemma presented. There are great risks and rewards to their proposal that upper management senses early. As a result of their aversion to risk and balance wrought from normal routines reluctance is high regarding concrete implementation plans. Upper management has to wrestle with the reluctant idea of allowing new minds to lead such a magnanimous change and the possible consequences versus continuing business as usual. Middelburg and Shaw were motivated by skills that they learned about corporate responsibility at AIESEC. The main idea that everything else centered around was sustainability. The team’s plan was threefold: economic, social, and environmental. The proposal gained the support of supervisor Bell. The proposal was forwarded to top management and eventually other key people inside and outside of the firm.
Diagnosis of Current Situation:
The chief concern about fostering radical change is if the change being considered is realizable and going to lead to early measurable wins or successful battles. If the change is slow and stalling it could lead to drastic profit losses and setbacks. The organization’s morale can be hit hard and the confidence and esteem can be negatively impacted. Implementing the change that the young team envisions is furthermore a challenge because the company would be taking on great responsibility and relying on others to maintain the new image that this young team proposes. Others involved in the company or have interest in it will take on a greater role, including stakeholders, partners, staff, clients, and suppliers as well as the wider community. The rationale is that action would result in long-term value, increased loyalty (staff/clients), reduced likelihood of negative image by regulators and non-governmental organizations, and increased operational/financial effectiveness (Jick & Peiperl, 2011). The team also believed that success with implementation could also likely contribute to improved global market stability (Jick & Peiperl, 2011). The challenges the young team faced were that PwC was always concerned about the bottom-line, senior management liked the proposal and invited them to meetings, but there was not any concrete action, and showing the “daily dudes” that the project was essential enough to moving forward with implementation (Jick & Peiperl, 2011). The daily dudes were those in the organization that had got used to daily routines and were so stuck in their ways it would be difficult to unglue them to these new attitudes and positions (of fresh faces) that are by-products of naivety and spunky, innovative employees. Hindrances that the team faced was that they were mere consultants not executors, their ideas were very radical and extreme, and executive action covertly thwarted their plans (Jick & Peiperl, 2011). The higher-ups told the team that the plans were good but did little more than that to ensure that meetings and discussions about sustainable development was a waste of time (Jick & Peiperl, 2011). Good moves that the team made were networking, met an old executive at PwC at a AIESEC conference, and they recruited talent that could potentially help them get a plan of action and some reachable change in place (Jick & Peiperl, 2011). It is becoming obvious that major change and transformation are necessary that will put PwC out front in integrating sustainability in relation to their industry and setting a global standard while strengthening and improving an array of interconnected relationship. Currently, due to economic, social and cultural, and environmental shifts, it is crucial for PwC to make some change towards becoming environmentally conscious – that both sides agree with.
By recognizing a need for a shift in order to meet new demands, attitudes, and preferences, PwC will experience economic success, retain reputability, and influence by taking deliberate steps towards integrating systems and sustainable development. As PwC recognizes a need for organizational change it will implement strategies to improve public image and corporate responsibility. The young agents of change recognizes a need to change work processes, culture, relationships, and how to implement values that will be worked out in practical terms while taking a look at refocusing away from strict revenue margin goals. Recommendations would follow these outlined ideas in an informal to structured model. Furthermore, the company has great potential for reaching the proposed values and outcomes with the resources the company already has on hand to be a global frontrunner. With the added support of stakeholders, partners, staff, clients, and suppliers as well as the wider community, PwC will have a greater chance at succeeding.
The collective culture needs to improve where teams are brought together through the middle in order to resolve conflicting agendas and work towards real implementation, a concept that Barry Oshry refers to as the powerful “middle space” (1991). In the middle space there is an opportunity to see a variety of views and mediate the bottom and top of the system. Different levels within the organizational system have to be integrated. The team has to be even-minded and not cynical about who is responsible for whatever difficulties, real or otherwise imagined, within the system. Although it is important to understand what parts are contributing to lack of effectiveness and progress towards goals and objectives, what is even more important is to not blame people but focus on problematic situations that occur from human interaction and master them (Oshry, 1991). These keen situations offer a chance to properly see roles and offer and implement solutions to be more effective, and less unpleasant, unnecessary feelings and experiences will disappear. The real challenge that the middle space presents that can render the most competent powerless and deflate self-esteem is being “caught between conflicting agendas, perspectives, priorities, needs, and demands” of various organizational levels (Oshry 1991, p.449). The power in the middle space is where the team begins to empower others at different levels without placing self in the middle as much as possible. In other words, the team acts as a coach or mediator and can bring the top and bottom together to discuss issues or work out what they need instead of burning themselves out.
The ability to build good relationships is one of the most powerful leadership assets. Believing that someone else—especially your leader—cares about you and believes in you is also a potent motivator (Ellis, 2013). A good leader/follower relationship strengthens the results of the organization. When empowerment is peaking, leaders are facilitating inspiration that contributes to the followers embracing the vision for themselves out of their own desire (Drew, 2013). Senior leadership can have the recruits come to the meeting and express the views originally presented and what else they can do to reinforce existing and new ideas to the top. Additionally, the team can use information to form ideas for solutions and then take bold steps (take initiative) to assume leadership roles of the top and the bottom (Oshry 1991). Personally, I have not attempted to manage such change.
Yet, in this situation persistence and patience are the keys to successful integration and implementation. I would offer support between two parties until strong peer relationships are built with colleagues, replacing poor interrationships that used to lead to poor systems within the organization. Oshry recommend that by recognizing and avoiding “demons” or faulty thinking about people and steer clear of pointing the finger but work together and make each other aware of each other’s roles will strengthen the system for change initiatives for real meaning and substance (1991). Also, other levels of the organizations will understand the system better as a whole, cast out doubts of the possibility of integration, and shaping situations instead of being shaped by them (Oshry 1991). By doing so, the team will bring value to the system and have a sense of worth (Oshry 1991).
Certain processes within the system of individuals must be reexamined as much as has already happened. Then, a major part of moving forward is involving new change agents’ ideas while introducing and implementing sustainable development moving forward. PwC should build teams and begin discussions and outlining ways to introduce new methods of recycling, reusing waste as much as possible, and removing waste in a safe way in respects to the environment as a start. In the beginning stages while experimenting with the possibilities, meetings should spell out concrete outlines for change.
There will be teams – think-tanks of people, including country managers, students, new recruits/interns, corporate social responsibility (CSR) teams, community etc and meetings held accordingly as teams are the most functional structured way to usher in tangible change. The values would be made public and the CSR teams would review and measure goal progression and report to the executive branch of the organizational system. A recent study explains that “teams have ability to dynamically shift shared goal orientations” (Alexander & Van Kippenberg, 2014, p. 423). It is important for organizations to capitalize on teams in order to stay relevant in today’s business environment. Community meetings should be held to help with implementation and monitor progress. Monthly meetings will be held to evaluate progress and get feedback from the public. Everyone should share the torch along with the team of middle managers. This critical team of employees will hold regular meetings with other employees on their team to relay new messages and monitor and evaluate progress. Companywide meetings will convene at least four times a year to motivate those involved in the change progress and reward greatness.
The company will move to enact actions that do not degrade resources. There will be attitude/lifestyle shifts, linking bottom with top employees to bridge the gap and have discussion that is meaningful for change initiatives. The teams would discuss environmental, social, and economic issues and propose concrete solutions, changing internal processes – increase recycling, conserve energy and waste management by reducing use by 25%. For example, getting new bathroom equipment and fluorescent, motion-sensor lights installed would be examined. During this process, PwC would also monitor gains and losses monthly and evaluate how the new implementation of sustainable development is correlated and impacting the bottom-line.
Since young change agents do not have much experience there are other qualities that make up for the deficiency or at least is extremely helpful to have in absence of experience. Great agents of change are able to inspire and offer a glimpse to a promising reachable future place. O'Bryan (2013) points out that in order to compete in the workforce and maintain their positions, young change agents must possess other essential skills. Complimentary skills that great change agents should develop include: “Critical thinking and problem solving; Collaboration across networks and leading by influence; Agility and adaptability; Initiative and entrepreneurialism; Effective oral and written communication; Accessing and analyzing information; Curiosity and imagination” (as cited in Wagner 2013). I would recommend developing and implementing these skills in young change agents very soon after recruitment not to make robots but to allow the leaders of tomorrow to cultivate essential marketable skills.
There is value in new recruits and interns that are bold enough to take steps for change where there may be need for change. Junior employees can do the things that executives oftentimes do not have the time to do, such as research, report, and organize, while executives can get things implemented with discussion with colleagues who respect them and their authority (Jick & Peiperl, 2011). The freshness of young, new change agents is often underestimated, yet valuable. For organizations operating in today's world, wisdom is never more important. A great show of wisdom that leaders exhibit is through investing in the development of junior members of the organization. This is a form of senior leadership demonstrates caring which will strengthen the bonds between employees, but it is also strategic in that it ensure the leaders of tomorrow are equipped to replace the leaders of today when the time comes (Intezari & Pauleen, 2013).Oshry’s ideas about the middle space have merit and an insightful guide to follow when found in a situation similar to the middle that he proposes exists within organizational systems. The team could have given up and felt that they were not getting anywhere and the proposal was a waste of time as many would have, but they preserved with patience. They each brought something to the table that added value towards reaching progress. Two heads are better than one and a cord of three strands is not easily broken (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). With different audiences, varying approaches, from proposing how to implement to showing how the new values would set PwC from competition, measurable wins are important. These victories are crucial near the beginning of implementation because a company with a record (of stability and risk aversion) like PwC’s will likely pull back from implementation that has results that are not manifesting early signs of effectiveness unless it can be convincingly shown that long-term outcomes are of superior focus. Eventually, given the chance to meet with the real change-makers, the team built credibility and gained support from the top and change began to look like it was finally materializing.
Alexander, L., & Van Kippenberg, D. (2014). Teams in pursuit of radical innovation: A goal orientation perspective. Academy Of Management Review, 39(4), 423-38. http://dx.doi.org/10.5465/amr.2012.0044
Drew, J. (2013). The 10 C’s of great leaders. Journal of Accountancy, 215(6), 33-5.
Ellis, L. (2013). Understanding your leadership balance. Journal for Quality & Participation, 35(4), 4.
Jick, T.D., & Peiperl, M.A. (2011). Managing change: Cases and concepts (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Irwin/McGraw.
Intezari, A., & Pauleen, D. J. (2014). Management wisdom in perspective: Are you virtuous enough to succeed in volatile times? Journal of Business Ethics, 120(3), 393-404. doi:10.1007/s10551-013-1666-6
O’Bryan, C. (2013). Agent of change. Knowledge Quest, 41(5), 24-5. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1355895167?accountid=12085
Oshry, B. (1991). Converting middle powerlessness to middle power: A system approach. In Managing change: Cases and concepts (3rd. ed., pp. 448-61). New York: Irwin/McGraw.