Introduction

The report explains about the problems which were there in the Transport Engineering Division of Ascension PLC in 2012 and how they overcome those problems by appointing a new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jak Wamer who was well-known for better change management strategies and process in the industry. Ascension PLC provides maintenance services of tracks, signaling, and transportation engineering services through its Transport Engineering Division (TED). Further, they undertakes large projects to improve the profitability. There were facing serious survival problems in 2012 since there were no proper system or process, no proper work allocations or ownership of work or acceptability practices, poor interaction with customers and internal staffs, poor coordination among staffs and increase cost of operation. Due to above mentioned reasons customers started to create negative perception regarding the entity and the Ascension PLC had to loose major contracts which gave them significant revenue. All these negative vibes forced Ascension PLC to change the CEO and appoint Jak Warmer as a new CEO. The report discusses how Jak Warmar has implemented strategies that improve the performance of the Ascension PLC and how he dealt with resistance when he was implementing completely new strategies in the Business. The report initially explains how the Ascension PLC uses Balogun and Hope Haileys Change management model and Lewin’s fore field analysis to manage the change. Further, the author use Johnson’s Cultural web model to compare and contrast the culture of the TED before the change and the after the change. Finally the author evaluates the change process using Kotler’s 8 change steps model.

Change Management

Strategic Change Context at TED

Strategic change is must when the business environment and circumstances demand that. Businesses need to strategically alter or change themselves to cope up with changing or dynamic business environment. Normally, survival of a business depends on how fast a business is react to change in business environment. Businesses need to change quickly if the existing business culture or set up is not suitable to improve the business performance. According to the Balogun Julia and Hope Hailey (2008) most of the business entities failed in managing change in their business. The business entity must understand the entire existing processes in the business in terms of their strengths, weaknesses, efficiencies and inefficiencies to recognize the area or parts or division which requires change. As the case suggests that in 2012 there are heaps of factors or sources which led to inefficiencies in the business process and performance at Transaction Engineering Division at Ascension PLC. The major factors can be summarized as follows,

  • Not Suitable process or systems were implemented in the business.
  • Senior management was not listening to staffs or not willing to work together with them in order to increase the performance.
  • Poor customer interaction led to loose many lucrative projects.
  • There were no clear ownership of work and accountability in the business.
  • Little knowledge sharing with less transparent work culture.
  • Management did not adopt to new information systems though managers in other division adopted to it has produced good output.
  • Continuous increase in the cost of production or operation due to above mentioned sources of inefficiencies in the business.

These were the concerns and reasons which put significant pressure on the top management to take radical changes through appointing the Jam Wamer as a new CEO. Jam Wamer identified main sources of inefficiencies and designed strategies to improve the performance of the business and author explains strategies that Jam Warmer used to implement changes in the light of Balogun and Hope Hailey’s change management model and the Lewin’s change management model. The author discuss how the Jam Warmer can apply Balogun and Hope Hailey’s change management model to manage the change in the TED division in Ascension PLC. The change implementation process must fit to the existing organization strategic context in order to have proper and successful change in the business (Julia, 2001).

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Figure 1 BALOGON AND HOPE HAILEY’S

Scope
  • The TED division is not in a position to accept the radical changes it seems. Due to these changes only TED division will be affected.
Preservation
  • To implement the changes the TED need get rid of few existing culture related to relationship with customer and employees and they have remove few senior managers or staffs who are not suitable for the changes.
Diversity.
  • Assess the impact of changes in other divisions cultures in Ascension PLC
Capability
  • The entity has many talented staff who are capable of performing well
  • Better Managerial and leadership skills of CEO Jam Wamer.
Capacity
  • There are sufficient human and other resources to implement the change though they few concerns regarding finance.
Readiness
  • Staffs are aware of change and they desperately need of changes in the business.
Power
  • Jam Wamer has open door policy where all can talk to him and the autonomy will be given for staffs to carry out the tasks.
Time
  • 3year plan divided in to 3 phase.
Change Path
  • Requires radical change and implementation
Change Start point
  • Change need to be implemented from bottom to top with the participation of both staffs and top management
Change Style
  • Participative Style
Change Roles
  • Led by CEO and Delegates to other Key senior managers

The CEO Jam Warmer has studied about the existing internal environment of the business and found that that there are many staffs thinks that the change is vital or important for them and further they are aware about the importance changes and which indicate the readiness to the change in the TED division. Further, there were very good people though the previous management did not manage them well and the Jam Warmer decided to manage them well and ensure that the entity has sufficient and capable resources to implement the pan successfully. The Jam Warmer identified that poor interaction with the customers and poor coordination and team sprit among the existing work force were the major reason for the loosing competitive position in the market. Jam Wamer decided to have open door policy and which indicated that he was willing to listen customers and the employees and which in turn helped them to create good trust on the management. Further, employees had the clear idea regarding their works and they were held accountable for things they perform and Jam created a working environment where all the staffs can freely talk regarding their work matters and share knowledge with other staffs and all decisions and actions were transparent and this was motivated them to perform well and improve the team spirit and the coordination. Jam uses participation leadership style to implement the change since it is important for him to take the contributions from all of the staffs in the entity to make this change implementation success.

2.2. Lewin’s change management model or Force Field Analysis

Lewin’s states that one should view current situation as being maintained by certain conditions or forces(Lewin 1943). Lewin defines field as “a totality of coexisting facts which are conceived of as mutually interdependent (Lewin 1946). Further, Lewin states that a field was in a continuous state of adaptation and that change and constancy are relative concepts (Lewin 1947).

Force field analysis (Lewin) සඳහා පින්තුර ප්‍රතිඵල

Figure 2 Lewin’s Force Field Model

Driving forces
  • Improved performance, winning new contracts, higher customer ratings, improvement in profitability.
Restraining Forces
  • Few workers not willing to change

The Jam has identified many driving forces which encouraged the change in the Ascension PLD – TRD division. Successful change implementation process will give higher customer ratings and will improve the performance and quality of the service offer by the entity and all will help to win new contracts and to outperform the competitors in the market. There are few workers who are not interested in the change since they are not willing to sacrifice the facilities they enjoying at the cost of Ascension. They can motivate these types of staff by explaining the unfavorable consequences that may exist due to the present situation and this known as unfreezing. Further they stabilize the change by providing attractive rewards for the staffs and this is known as refreezing (http://kfknowledgebank.kaplan.co.uk).

2.3. Cultural Web

Cultural web represent taken for granted assumptions of an entity and the management must consider existing culture of an organization when they implement new strategies (Johnson, G and Scholes K 1998)

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Figure 3Cultural Web: Johnson’s

Stories and myths
  • Jam is well known for successful implementation changes in the business
Symbols
  • There are no significant changes took place regarding the logo or uniform in the TED division during this implementation process
Power structure.
  • De centralized Power structure now and previously kind of Decentralized
Organization structure
  • Significant changes took place in management structure
Control system
  • Employees were held liable or accountable for the works they do and proper incentives systems were in place to motivate staffs
Routines and Rituals
  • Changed in according with the structural changes
Paradigm and values
  • Improved due to participation style and open door policy.

The moment the Ascension PLC appointed Jam Wamer as new Chief executive officer he was the topic among the staffs at TED division for his good past track record in successful implementation of change management strategies. Jam Wamer has sufficient knowledge and experience particularly in implementation of change management strategies. This was one of the key strengths TED division had when they preparing for the change. Previous CEO was negligent and who was not monitoring or analyzing what was going on the business and the staffs did not have positive perceptions or thoughts regarding the previous CEO which their division had. Jam Wamer did not change the existing name or logo or other characteristics of the business organization and therefore symbols remained unchanged in the TED division in 2014 and in the 2012.

The Jam has significantly change the power structure from the centralized to decentralized structure. Previously power was centered or retained with few senior managers or only in top level managers and due to this most of the staffs did not have freedom or chance to perform well in the organization. However, under the new leadership staffs have all the freedom and the authority or power to do what they want. Jam systematically delegate the power and authority to employees while delegating or allocating works to the staffs. Jam delegated sufficient power or authority to staffs for them to perform assigned tasks by the superiors. Jam Wamer reorganized entire management structure down to supervisory level and which enable everyone to engage in the jobs and further, Jam removed the whole layer of the management and which assist him to create flatter organization structure with more developed responsibility for the staffs. Further, Jam decided to merge all the small business units and this helped them to eliminate middle level management fees. Further, by reducing senior management by 50% increase or improve overall profitability of the business.

There was less fear related to redundancy among the staffs and they have a good environment any senior level managers after implementation of the change strategies by the Jam Wamer. They did not have good environment or friendly environment to challenge senior level managers when the senior level managers not perform well in the organization.

Proper control system in place by assigning identifiable jobs to the relevant suitable employees and superiors are in a good position to monitor the works of subordinates since the Jam Wamer move all the managers out of their private office to open shared space where all the employees can communicate the with their subordinates or colleagues on a regular basis and they were physically close to each other.

There were no direct information were provided in the case regarding the rewards for the employer and therefore author assume that by providing attractive rewards to employees the management intend to improve the performance and by monitoring them intend to rectify errors and to improve the quality of service provided by the business. Further, author assume that there were few changes to the roles of the workers and the way in which It should be carried out with these structural changes carried out by the Jam Wamer. It is important to mention that with these above mentioned structural changes and the participation style of the Jam Wamer and his willingness to listen to employees and the customers will significantly change the existing cultural paradigm of the entity since there were very closed policy was practiced by the previous CEO in the Ascension PLC and he was not willing to listen to his employees and poorly interacted with the customers. These significant changes in culture may lead to paradigm shift in the entity and few may resist the change or this cultural shift in which case the Jam Wamer must use suitable resistant management strategies to control it.

2.4. An Evaluation Change Process

According to the Kotter (2012) change process should have following 8 steps,

  1. Create Sense of urgency: push and motivate others to go and win
  2. Creating guiding Coalition: Create teams with suitable people to lead the change
  3. Developing a change vision: Clearly communicate how future will be differ from the past after the successful implementation of change.
  4. Communicating new vision for buy in: enable everyone to understand the change vision of the entity.
  5. Empowering Broad-Based Action: Removing barriers in the work environment for the employees to do their works in the best way.
  6. Generating short term wins: creating success
  7. Don’t let up: Should not leave or stop the progress until job is completely done.
  8. Make it stick: New practices included in the culture and every one should feel that the new culture is superior to the old one.

Step one: Create Sense of urgency

The Jam Wamer managed to encourage and motivate their existing staffs to make change by demonstrating his positive and high quality leadership skills in very early stage of the change process. It was mentioned most of the staffs and related managers are motivated to support and implement the changes which were suggested by the Jam Wamer and this indicates how well the Jam Wamer has urge others to support the change.

Step Two: Creating guiding Coalition

The Jam Wamer has given heaps of attention on the work force in order to make the change process success. He has systematically united all the staffs under one goal and one team by make necessary changes in organization structure and office layouts and which were already explained in the report. All were given freedom to perform what they intend to do and they have given the opportunity to challenge the senior managers and given sufficient power and authority to perform their assigned tasks. All these were motivating employees to perform well and to support the change process in a well manner and enable them to lead the change process as well. Further, the good leadership was in place to lead the change.

Step Three and Four: Developing Change vision and communicating new vision for buy in

The vision must be clearly communicated to all the employees in order for them to understand the nature of the changes that the management intends to implement and this helps the staffs to understand the importance of the change for the survival of the TED division. The Jam has been communicated his vision through his aggressive initial strategically vital moves such as reducing the work force and changing the structure etc… Further, by making transparent decisions and by giving priority for employees Jam has communicated his change visions. Further, two way communication was promoted among the staff and customers.

Step five: Empowering Broad-Based Action

This is refers to the act of removing the barriers in the work environment in order for the employees to perform well in the organization. The Jam Wamer has developed the policy to remove barriers for employees to contact and communicate him regarding work matters. This has enable the employees can discuss with him find solution to problems that they face in the work environment. Further, they people who are not supportive and not suitable for the change has been removed by the Jam Wamer and has given sufficient power in order to perform the allocated tasks. All these were not available under previous leadership and these were motivated the employees significantly and they were ready to give their fullest support to make the change process success.

Step Six Generating Short tern wins

The Ascension PLC manage to get top ratings from the customers and customers has started to believe the services provided by the Ascension. Further, the employees started to work with proper coordination and the good team spirit and fear and threat of closure disappeared among staffs, public and managers.

Step Seven: Don’t let up

The management should not stop the process till they completely done with the change process. The Jam Wamer did not give up the process till they achieve the expected outcome or improvements from the change process.

Step Eight: Make it stick

The new changes made by the Jam Wamer has been reflected by the new culture of the organization and these were appreciated by the staffs and due to successful implementation process they had experienced following in the 2014,

  • Top customer ratings
  • 8 out 10 categories Ascension were ahead of its competitors
  • Nominated as a “Network Rail Supplier of the year” for 2013/14.
  • Improvement s in turnover
  • Started to win more new contracts

 

 

Conclusion

The Ascension PLC was struggling in the market due to severe inefficiency problem which arose due to poor leadership practices were used by the leaders. After the appointment of the new CEO Jam Wamer with his experience and knowledge in change management the Ascension PLC started to recover from its worst position that it experience till to date. The Jam has made changes in organizational structure and further reduce the management staff by half in order to support change management process and to improve the profitability of the organization. Further, he has used participation leadership style and encouraged more knowledge sharing culture and more transparent practices by making necessary changes to the old system and setups in the business. Further, fortunately, the Ascension had many talented senior managers with them and which helped the new CEO to execute his change management strategies efficiently.

Main difference between the old organization set up and new one is that in the new set up or new culture employees has freedom and sufficient power to perform their task where as in old one they did not have such freedom or power. Further, New CEO was willing to listen employees and maintained good relationship both with employees and the customers. Further, the Jam has executed his strategies and plans in a manner in which that improved the performance and competitive position of the business in the market place and this was supported by the high customer ratings, winning of new contacts and nomination for the award. Therefore, the author conclude that the Ascension PLC has successfully implemented its change process.

Reference

  • Balogun, Julia, Hailey, Veronica Hope, & Johnson, Gerry. (2008). Exploring strategic change: Financial Times/Prentice Hall
  • Johnson, G and Scholes K 1998 “Exploring Corporate Strategy” Pearson Education (5th edn.)
  • Julia Balogun “Strategic Change” Management Quarterly Part 10 January 2001 “Faculty Of Finance And Management”
  • Kotter, J. (2012). The 8-Step Process for Leading Change
  • Zugriff am: 19.03.2013. Verfügbar unter: http://www.kotterinternational.com/our-principles/changesteps
  • Lewin, K. (1943–44). ‘Problems of research in social psychology’. In Cartwright, D. (Ed.), Field Theory in Social Science. London: Social Science Paperbacks.
  • Lewin, K. (1946). ‘Action research and minority problems’. In Lewin, G. W. (Ed.), Resolving Social Conflict. London: Harper & Row.
  • Lewin, K. (1947a). ‘Frontiers in group dynamics’. In Cartwright, D. (Ed.), Field Theory in Social Science. London: Social Science Paperbacks.
  • http://kfknowledgebank.kaplan.co.uk/KFKB/Wiki%20Pages/Managing%20strategic%20change.aspx