Unit 7 (Business policy and strategy)



Change management is a structured approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and organizations from a current state to a desired future state, to fulfill or implement a vision and strategy. It is an organizational process aimed at empowering employees to accept and embrace changes in their current environment.

Change Starts With a Vision 

A change effort or initiative must start with a vision. Whether change is prompted by external (political, economic, social or technological) or internal factors (policy, systems or structure), creating a vision will clarify the direction for the change. In addition, the vision will assist in motivating those that are impacted to take action in the right direction.

A vision statement tells you where you are going. It paints a compelling work of a desired future state. It can make anyone who reads it, hears it or lives it want to support, work for, give to, or in some other way be part of your organization.

Characteristics of an Effective Vision:

  1. Imaginable – conveys a picture of what the future will look like
  2. Desirable – appeals to the long-term interests of employees, customers, stakeholders etc.
  3. Feasible – comprises realistic, obtainable goals
  4. Focused – clear enough to provide guidance in decision making
  5. Flexible – General enough to allow initiative and alternative responses
  6. Communicable – can be fully explained in 5 minutes

A strategy will ensure that the vision is achieved. It is a unified, comprehensive and integrated plan that provides a “roadmap” for achieving the vision. Without a strategic plan and vision, the change effort will not be successful.

Common obstacles to change

  1. Employee resistance
  2. Communication breakdown
  3. Insufficient time devoted to training
  4. Staff turnover during transition
  5. Costs exceeded budget

According to John P. Kotter (author of Leading Change), the following are eight errors common to organizational change efforts and their consequences


  • Allowing too much complacency
  • Failing to garner leadership support
  • Underestimating the power of vision
  • Under-communicating the vision
  • Permitting obstacles to block the new vision
  • Failing to create short-term wins
  • Declaring victory too soon
  • Neglecting to anchor changes firmly in the culture


  • New strategies aren’t implemented well
  • Reengineering takes too long
  • Quality programs don’t deliver hoped-for results

Roles and responsibilities for change

Typically, there are four key roles in effecting change in an organization. They include; the Sponsor (Senior Leaders), Champion (Leader), Change Agent (Human Resources) and Stakeholder (Employees). Their responsibilities follow thus:

The Sponsor is usually the Director/Dean in the department/faculty and;

  • Has the overall responsibility for the department or faculty.
  • Is the person who has authority over the project and over the individuals who will implement the change?
  • Provides funding, resolves issues and scope changes.
  • Approves major deliverables and provides high-level direction.
  • Has a clear vision, identified goals and measurable outcomes for the change initiative.

The Champion is usually the Sr. Manager/Chair in the department/faculty that;

  • Has the overall day-to-day authority.
  • Provides the Sponsor with information about the issues and challenges.
  • Engages and involves the right people on the ground.
  • Brings the change vision to life.
  • Encourages (and sometimes enforces) new and desired behaviours.

The Change Agent is the person or group that assists the department/faculty to implement the proposed change i.e., Human Resources. Their role is to advise and guide the Champion and Sponsor throughout the change initiative and;

  • Focus on assisting, advising and coaching the Sponsor and Champion in the change effort.
  • May act in a number of roles – data gatherer, educator, advisor, facilitator or coach.
  • Has no direct-line authority to or over the Sponsor or Stakeholders.
  • Act as subject-matter-experts in the change management process.

Stakeholders are those employees who will be impacted by the change. It is critical that they are also involved in the process and understand how the change initiative will impact their current state.



Course credits:

A Practical Guide to Mergers, Acquisitions, and Divestitures Delta Publishing Company

Corporate Governance in the Boardroom: A practical perspective. A PwC Point-of-View Paper, June 2015

John, P. Kotter, Why Transformation Efforts Fail, Harvard Business Review, March-April 1995

Managing Transitions, 2nd Edition, William Bridges (1991)

Leading Change, John P. Kotter (1996)

Strategy Formulation: an intervention study of a complex group decision process. The Economic Research Institute, Stockholm School of Economics, Stockholm 1975

The Heart of Change, John P. Kotter and Dan S. Cohen (2002)

Understanding of SWOT Analysis, Dr. L M Foong

Understanding Entrepreneurship Linda J. Cox, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management revised sept 2002

Who killed change? : Solving the mystery of leading people through change, Ken Blanchard and John Britt (2009)

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