Change is both and natural and necessary for the healthy development of any organization. Management is constantly faced with decisions that will alter the direction of the organization. The types of change that management can allow fall into two categories: evolutionary and revolutionary.
Evolutionary change happens gradually over time. Management allows many small changes to take effect rather than relying on sudden or drastic changes. One example of evolutionary change is total quality management (TQM). The goal of TQM is to constantly monitor all business functions in an effort to improve quality whenever possible. The hallmark of TQM is consistent, incremental change that results in quality improvements. Over time, evolutionary change leads to fundamental shifts in the organization’s culture (George & Jones, 2008).
Revolutionary change is a sudden alteration of an organization’s culture or environment. Often revolutionary change is hard on an organization since individuals do not have an opportunity to grow into the changes. Revolutionary change may come about in response to rapidly decreasing performance or at the behest of managers looking to adopt the latest management fads. Although the impact of this kind of change can be jarring for established employees, revolutionary change is not necessarily a sign of faulty management. For example, a company with shrinking profits might find that its structure has become top heavy and relies on too many levels of management. Flattening the organization will result in layoffs in middle management but serve to reignite the passion of employees who are now closer to the decision making process (George & Jones, 2008).
Management fads represent a special kind of revolutionary change that has no guarantee of success. As Annie Paul (2004) illustrates, management fads often have little to no basis in scientific research. These fads are often championed by a popular spokesperson and gain momentum as insecure leaders fear they and their organizations are being left behind (Paul, 2004). The danger in these fads is without scientific evidence there is no guarantee of success, but there is a definite cost on terms of expenditure and human resources. As middle management scrambles to implement the management fad of the month, employees are distracted from their normal work flows and performance suffers.
George, J. M., & Jones G. R. (2008). Understanding and managing organizational behavior (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Paul, A. (2004). I Feel Your Pain. Forbes, 174(13), 38-38. Retrieved March 13, 2009, from Academic Search Premier database.