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Choosing strategies for change
In a rapidly changing world managers need to increase their skills at diagnosing resistance to change and at choosing the appropriate methods for overcoming it
John P. Kotter and Leonard A. Schlesinger
"From the frying pan into the fire," "let sleeping dogs lie," and "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" are all wellknown sayings born of the fear of change. When people are threatened with change in organizations, similar maxims about certain people and departments are trotted out to prevent an alteration in the status quo. Fear of change is understandable, but because the environment changes rapidly, and it has been doing so increasingly, organizations cannot afford not to change. One major task of a manager, then, is to implement change, and that entails overcoming resistance to it. In this article, the authors describe four basic reasons people resist change. They also describe various methods for dealing with the resistance and provide a guide to what kinds of approaches will work when the different types of resistance occur. Mr. Kotter is associate professor of business administration at the Harvard Business School. His most recent books include Self Assessment and Career Development (with Victor Faux and Charles MeArthur, Prentice-Hall, 1978), as well as Power in Management (AMACOM, 1979). Mr. Schlesinger is assistant professor in organizational behavior at the Harvard Business School. He and Mr. Kotter are coauthors, with Vijay Sathe, of Organization (Richard D. Irwin, to be published in 1979) and Managing the Human Organization
(Dow Jones—Irwin, 1979).
"It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more douhtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things." ^ In 1973, The Conference Board asked 13 eminent authorities to speculate what significant management issues and prohlems would develop over the next 20 years. One of the strongest themes...
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