Organizational development is a set of behavioral science based theories, values, strategies and technologies aimed at planned change of the organizational work setting for the purpose of enhancing individual development and improving organizational performance through the alteration of organizational members on the job behaviors (Jex, & Britt, 2007. ) Organizational change is necessary if the organization is to remain competitive. Social Psychologist, Kurt Lewin, developed the force field analysis model to help us understand how the change process works.
One side of the force field model represents the driving forces that push organizations toward a new state of affairs. There are driving forces in the external environment such as globalization, virtual work and a changing workforce. Within these external forces, corporate leaders create driving forces within the organization so the organization anticipates the external factors. Internal originated forces are difficult to apply because they lack external justifications, so effective transformational leadership as well as structural change mechanisms are necessary to legitimate and support internal driving forces.
The other side of Lewins model represents the restraining forces that maintain the status quo. Restraining forces are commonly called resistance to change (McShane & VonGlinlow, 2008), because they appear as employee behaviors that block the change process. Stability will occur when these two forces are equal with each other but in opposite directions. The main reasons people resist change is fear of the unknown, breaking routines and incongruent team dynamics.
According to Lewins force field analysis model effective change occurs by unfreezing the current situation, moving to a desired condition and then refreezing the system so it remains in this desired state. Unfreezing occurs when the driving forces are stronger than the restraining forces. This happens by making the driving forces stronger, weakening or removing the restraining forces, or a combination of both (McShane & VonGlinlow, 2008) Creating urgency, which represent the driving forces for change, will push employees out of their comfort zones.
Many of top management leaders will buffer their employees from external factors and the result is the employees do not understand the need for change and will resist. Employees need to feel an urgency to change; which occurs by informing them about competitors, changing consumer trends, impending government regulations and other driving forces (McShane & VonGlinlow, 2008) Another way to fuel the urgency to change is by putting employees in direct contact with customers. Dissatisfied customers are a compelling driving force for change because of adverse consequences for the organizations survival and success.
Exposing employees to external forces can also strengthen the urgency for change, but a leader needs to begin the change process before problems come knocking. Creating an urgency for change when an organization is riding high requires a lot of persuasion and influence that helps employees visualize future competitive threats and environmental shifts (McShane & VonGlinlow, 2008) Effective change requires more than making employees aware of the driving forces. It involves reducing or removing the restraining forces.
There are six ways to overcome employee resistance, communication, learning, employee involvement and stress management. American Industrialist Andrew Carnegie once said take away my people and soon grass will grow on the factory floor, take away my factories but leave my people and soon we will have a new and better factory. ( Library of Congress, 2009) Organizations are not buildings, machinery or financial assets; they are the people in them. Organizations are human entities, full of life, sometimes fragile, always exciting.