“Organization structure refers to the division of labor as well as the patterns of coordination, communication, work flow, and formal power that direct organizational activities. An organization structure reflects the organization’s culture and power relationships” (McShane, 2005). Organizations in essence create structure in order to facilitate the control of the actions of their employees as well as the coordination of activities.
There are three components to structure; the degree to which activities are differentiated (complexity), how rules and procedures are utilized (formalization) and where the power of decision-making authority lies (centralization). These three components combined make up the organizational structure. Some organizations are rigidly structured in one extreme and at the other extreme are those organizations which are loosely structured (Robbins, 1989). Additionally, there are two design categories of the overall structure of an organization; mechanistic and organic developed by Tom Burns and G. M.
Stalker in their study of electronics firms in the United Kingdom (Burns, 1961). The mechanistic design is a traditional style that relies on authority and the hierarchy is defined explicitly to facilitate coordination. An organic design is one in which there is less rigidity and more flexibility with coordination achieved through frequent communication and adjustment as needed (Robbins, 1989). Change management is a systematic approach that involves a course of action in moving from a current state of condition to a future state within the organizational structure. Change is inevitable and one of the most difficult aspects of life.
In the process of change exists, adaptability, flexibility and conformity. Hence, where there is change, there is growth. Lewin’s Change Management Theory One of Kurt Lewin’s favorite saying was, “If you want to truly understand something, try to change it” (Potter, 1993). Chart 1 listed below represents Lewin’s force field analysis model on change. On the one side is the driving the push the organization towards a change and the other side is the restraining forces which maintains the status quo. This is the resistance to change that organizations encounter when trying institute a new state (McShane, 2005).
“Lewin considered that change ensued from the competition between driving and restraining forces” (Potter, 1993). Hence, as change is instituted, there are forces that drive the change and facilitate it while other forces form resistance to the change. Therefore, achievement of the change can be accomplished by decreasing the resistant forces and increasing the facilitating forces. In today’s world which is characterized by rapid change, the impact of change on an organization’s life is necessitated by the tumultuous and challenging environments in which they operate (Potter, 1993).
Lewin’s force field change model is described as effective change occurring by unfreezing the current state of affairs, changing or moving to the desired state, and refreezing the situation so that the change remains within the desired state. Unfreezing is concerned with producing a position of disequilibrium between the driving and restraining forces, implementing the change, and refreezing when the organization is aligned with the desired behaviors (McShane, 2005).
On a simpler note, Lewin’s theory involves preparing the people for change with a focus on getting them to let go of what is familiar, taking the necessary steps to implement the change and finally returning the organization to stability that is based on the new structure. If an organization’s unfreezing behavior stage is unsuccessful, there will be an increase in conflict and tension in the organization as well as a stronger push of resistance to the change. If an organization fails to refreeze behaviors, people being creatures of habit will revert to past patterns.