Read the following scenario on Jack’s Dilemma from Ch. 8, “Resistance to Change,” of Managing Organizational Change: A Multiple Perspectives Approach:
Scenario: Jack’s Dilemma
Jack White is the newly appointed general manager of the pet food division of Strickland Corporation. He has completed a strategic review that has convinced him that the division needs to undergo rapid and substantial change in a number of areas, given the recent strategic moves of key competitors.
Although Jack is new, he is familiar enough with the company to know that there will be significant resistance to the changes from a number of quarters. He also suspects that some of this resistance will come from people with the capacity to act in ways that could seriously impede successful change.
Jack reflects on the situation. He believes that it is important to introduce the proposed changes soon, but he also recognizes that if he acts too quickly, he’ll have virtually no time to have a dialogue with staff about the proposed changes, much less involve them in any significant way.
One option is to act speedily and to make it clear that “consequences” will follow for anyone not cooperating. He certainly has the power to act on such a threat. The risk, Jack knows, is that even if no one shows outright resistance, there’s a big difference between not cooperating and acting in a manner that reflects commitment. He knows that he needs the cooperation of key groups of staff, and that sometimes “minimum-level compliance” can be as unhelpful as resistance when it comes to implementing change. “But maybe I’m exaggerating this problem,” he thinks to himself. “Maybe I should just go ahead with the change. If people don’t like it, they can leave. If they stay, they’ll come around.”
But Jack is not sure. He considers another option. Maybe he should spend more time on building up support at least among key groups of managers and staff, if not more broadly across the organization. “Maybe,” he reflects, “the need to change is not quite as immediate as I think. I just know that I’d feel a whole lot better if this consultation could happen quickly.”
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