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Thursday, January 18, 2018

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Is Change Really Necessary?
Carole Little

May, 2010

I ran across some information that may be helpful to us as we navigate change in the workplace. Just as human beings go through life stages, organizations experience similar transitions.  The Five Life Stages of Nonprofit Organizations:Where You Are, Where You're Going, and What to Expect When You Get There by Judith Sharken Simon and J. Terence Donovan (May 2001) may help understand where we are at. Simon and Donovan describe the five stages as:


I.   Imagine and Inspire

II.  Found and Frame  

III. Ground and Grow

IV. Produce and Sustain

V.  Review and Renew


     Depending upon the number of years your organization has been in business, it might be at anyone of the above mentioned stages. The organization I work with has been serving the community for 27 years and can be most likely be described by Stage V, Review and Renew. "In this stage, the organization is reinventing itself in some way, shape, or form through a process of review and renewal. The primary question is 'What do we need to redesign?' It can be a time of large or small, exciting or stressful, but always necessary, change.  Advocates of the chaos theory state that it is necessary to promote chaos in order to create new patterns of behavior."(Simon & Sharken, pp.6)


     Just as individuals go through drastic changes and are thrown into chaos-career changes, divorce, death, illness, bankruptcy, etc. and eventually work through them and come out stronger, organizations experience the same symptoms. 


     In order to come out stronger, the entire organization needs to work together to recognize a number of issues. First, if the leadership is a proactive, dedicated, caring and focused group of individuals committed to the mission as well as the safety and security of all who enter its doors; to that end, decisions are made taking the former into account.


     Sometimes when change occurs, an organization may cycle back to an earlier stage for example from Stage Five: Review and Renew to Stage IV: Produce and Sustain. This is healthy and without necessary change an organization may find itself in the last stage - Decline and Dissolution where an organization is forced to shut its doors.


     So for those who are still trying to understand how the recent changes in your organization will affect you personally, please know that change is necessary, not always comfortable, but for sure a healthy organization proactively takes the much needed steps to produce and sustain its reason for being.


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