Levels of Change & Intervention

Changes can happen and/or impact, within an organization, on four different  levels (see graphic below.)  There can be one or several levels affected by a Change. It is important to understand the levels a change impacts, as they are the base for appropriate measures and interventions.

Individual or team changes (levels 1 and 2) are changes within the system (organization), changes on  level 3 (organization) are changing the system itself, while changes on level 4 (relevant context and environment) impact the wider system an organization is operating in. (for example the segment, market or industry)

Today the necessity and therefore ability to respond to changes on level 4 (context, environment)  has reached a new quality. Modern communication increases, as the uncertainty of future questions (market, environment and society) are rising and likewise the need for organizations to find the appropriate answers on all these levels.

Organizational changes usually have their origin from level 2 to 4. The appropriate Change Interventions can take place on all 4 levels.

  • Changes at a higher level always affect the lower levels.
  • Changes at a lower level can but do not have to affect the higher levels.
  • Interventions at all effected levels can but must not be appropriate (it needs to be decided)

Individual Level

At the end, every changes no mater on which level always impact the individuals. [EG. global warming; a bankruptcy of a company; a new IT system, a new team set-up, a new job etc.] Change usually is seen as a threat and therefore leads to fear and resistance. The Resistance of an individual towards a change depends on two factors:
1. Does someone feel affected by the change? No | Yes go to 2nd
2. If yes, is it perceived positive or as negative [a threat/a loss] ==> Fear / Resistance? Often there is a big discrepancy between the felt impact and the real impact on a person. Unfortunately as long as we deal with human beings, we have to deal with what is felt, the emotions not with what is “real”. [e.g. in a Carve Out the individual feels: life derails, lose control of life, company betrayals, fear for one's existence, paralysis etc.] Therefore people need time to digest, get used to and see / reflect what the impact will be. Processing time and the possibility to actively process is the key in times of rigorous change. On the individual level we look at who is/feels affected in which way by changes and how can the individual be supported to manage / handle it appropriately? [Skill building? Processing of challenging situation? Coaching? …] Read more about Coaching

Group / Team Level

Changes often affect groups or teams, this can happen from the outside or from the inside. They have to adapt to new situations, processes, systems and tasks. They are set up, composed newly or ceased; they are transferred to somewhere else … Severe changes inevitably create dynamics in the team/ group which are likely to affect it’s communication, interaction and cooperation in the in & outside. [e.g. Impact of Carve Out on Group/ Team: of no worth to organization, structures are breaking, team focus declining, stress level rising, conflict level rising, co operation level declining...] How to support groups and teams appropriately before during and after the changes is the matter here. If groups / teams need to change, then individuals need to change too (see Individual Level).

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Organizational Level

Sometimes entire parts of or even the entire organizations need to change. These are normally the severest changes that can happen. [E.G. impact of Carve out on Organization: massive organizational insecurity, Alienation although still part of the old organization, insider/ outsider question, cut interfaces / processes, new systems and procedures...] If the organization changes, teams / groups need to change and therefore individuals. How to support the organization and the relevant groups / teams appropriately during the changes is the matter here. As numerous interventions on different levels need to be orchestrated the use of Change Architectures becomes a necessity. This kind of organizational change usually goes along with changes in attitude or culture and is both, complex and long term. Read more about Consulting

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