In top heavy management environments it would be fair to say that change is about executives who want to be seen as innovative and reformative leaders, prepared to do what it takes to continually improve the profit margins of the organisation. In public shareholder organisations, change is also about power. It is about servants who want to be seen to be in control; It is about boards of governance who tend to maintain financially conservative status quo's; It is about dominating global politics with positively positive messages about change.
Human change is the sixth extinction. It is human population explosion and shrinking "resources". It is the rise of the technological elite. It is Seth Godin's and his Purple Cow. It is engineering advances designed to increase profits and human redundancies.
Conservative organisational change is about letting employees know that what they did yesterday now sucks, and what they are about to do today will improve the tomorrow. Yes, change is the optimistic ripple effect that always promotes pessimism in people who believe that the optimism of today means tomorrow is going to be worse.
That worse is generally about unemployment. Unemployment means people fight each other to remain employed. It means less reduced purchasing power which equates to less money for luxury goods and services. The non-sense of corporate change is any growing belief that human resources are expendable. On an earth with more human resources than ever before, why would an organisation want to increase unemployment potentials by not employing them? Is it not well known that unemployed people don't have the funds to pay for the increasing returns business investors want? The more unemployed there are in a trading place, the less fish there are biting on advertising hooks. Growing unemployment also means more opportunities for economic depression. Is this what organisational change is all about? Facilitating economic depressions with mechanical and technological change initiatives and reforms? My guess is that those implementing corporate changes will say it is not. My guess is that business people seeking change are simply trying to do their best to stay ahead of the 'game'; But whose game is who playing? The scenario of a new CEO wanting to change the order of the organisation so s/he doesn't have to change the way they've always done things might be the game. Stakeholders pushing for increased returns in decreasing markets might be the game. Whatever the game under pining organisational change, it always seems to begin with impacting the smaller income earner first. The little person who is paid to keep the business maintained while constantly learning then implementing something new. Sadly modern organisational change is not only about who has the power to load change bullets, but also fire them. Again simply, organisational change represents capitalist power and money and the rest is about the sociology of who is going to do what work, why, when and how.
In May 2013, online business reporter Michael Janda revealed official statistics that showed banks, credit unions and building societies had grown profits, not from better marketing, but from better cost cutting accounting. This is reasonable I feel considering banks are all about saving money. Yet, there is a moral balance sheet at the end of all change practices, as well as a financial one, and unemployment can lop-side income revenues when unemployment grows too much. I guess another way of considering this is the
The parable of the broken window that was introduced by Frédéric Bastiat in his 1850 essay Ce qu'on voit et ce qu'on ne voit pas (That Which Is Seen and That Which Is Unseen). Basiat's essay demonstrates how opportunity costs, as well as the law of unintended consequences, can affect economic activity in ways that can also be described as a moral ripple effect.
Marvin Brown of Santa Clara University says that:
"more often than not, discussions about ethics in organizations reflect only the "individualistic approach" to moral responsibility. According to this approach, every person in an organization is morally responsible for his or her own behavior, and any efforts to change that behavior should focus on the individual. But there is another way of understanding responsibility, which is reflected in the "communal approach." Here individuals are viewed not in isolation, but as members of communities that are partially responsible for the behavior of their members. So, to understand and change an individual's behavior we need to understand and try to change the communities to which they belong."
Social researchers Andre Nijhof and Olaf Fisscher of In Dealing with Ethical Dilemmas in Organizational Change Processes, revealed that while managers 'strived' to achieve fair and morally responsible solutions in dilemma situations, they did not defend moral arguments. Instead they defended strategic ones where working for the good of the organisation was considered a better option than the moral good of sub-ordinate employees. In other words employees looked out for the moral good of the employees who had the power to not look after the moral good of their subordinates. Sounds like unethical conduct was the preferred option of the employees surveyed.
In 2001 Enron Corporation, a huge gas pipeline company, collapsed due to scandals and 'un-ethical' leadership. A key reason why Enron failed was due to a set of values that employees had to agree to and executives quietly did not have to agree to, so the executives did not. This do as I say but not as I do amounted to communication deficits about what the organisation valued. This coupled with other important facts, was the reason why Enron went bankrupt. Korean Journalist Wee Heesun reported that
"smart CEOs will realize that an honest, transparent, and trustworthy culture can also bolster employee morale and ultimately guard shareholder value."
Will they? I think not everyone in an organisation, including CEO's and stakeholders, have the well being of the organisation at heart. Not everyone in the organisation believes in teamwork, no matter what they might say; not everyone desires to seek and achieve company profits with the well being of their associates and colleagues in mind. While trust may be a key communication tool promoted in all organisations, its deficits can test the mettle of employee loyalties when change is in play. In 2013, change seems to be being hailed as the active verb messiah for all supposed corporate ailments. Yet, how many identified ailments can a verb messiah heal?
Welcome to the astonishingly modest world headquarters of Mars, the third-largest private company in the U.S. with earnings of around $33 billion. Mars employs 72,000 people. It meets about 200 million consumer transactions a day. It is still 100% family-owned. Employees, while not shareholders, thrive. Once they get a job with Mars, they stay, proudly calling themselves Martians. Some families can claim three generations of employees. The 78-year-old woman who runs the in-house candy shop at the plant in Slough, England, has loyally worked at Mars since the reign of George VI -- more than six decades. The demographics of the Mars workplace in the U.S. is almost entirely non-unionized. Women constitute 38% of the managers. The vending machines dispense free candy all day long. Employees have great latitude for advancement, both within their divisions and in the larger Mars ecosystem. The company prizes the idea of developing cross-division talent. Almost 27 years ago Jim Price, who's now the site-quality and food-safety manager at the chocolate plant in Hackettstown, began his Mars career as a janitor in a boutique chocolate operation in Henderson. Nev, his supervisor urged him to attend community college at night and Mars paid for Jim's tuition and books. If "you ask some companies for their mission statement, they have to pull it out of a drawer," Jim said
"Here you just have to look around."
Mars is a company that resists human resource redundancies in favour of constantly improving their product target markets. It does this by shying away from public shareholder investment interests in favour of taking care of the 'family'. What I think this says about organisational change is it pays to not embrace the status quo of modern change practices. A status quo that says that public trading pays dividends. Working independently of stock markets, Mars thrives. In 2013 Mars will open its $250 million Topeka facility creating another 200 full time jobs without laying off a single employee: And Mars is exceedingly transparent to its employees and not to the public. The company displays on big flat-screens its current financials: sales, earnings, cash flows and factory efficiency's. The data disclosure is designed to motivate employees whose bonuses are based on the performance of their respective divisions. Mars does not enforces change, but communicates changes every single day. All employees get the same message from the guys up top so there is no question about who is running the show. This alleviates any potential pussy footing around by line executives who may have their own agendas. This simplifies communication and elevates all employees to the social status of company stakeholder. It may be argued that Mars isn't exactly democratic, yet they have managed to continue to grow their market share with their employees as opposed to without them. Employee loyalty in the Mars brand is fierce. I guess the question to ask is how fierce loyalty needs to be to be successful in the market place. I think Mars not only demonstrates the moral and ethical benefit of defending privatisation, but also demonstrates how honest communication and faithful employee retention practices supports brand loyalty. Mars appears to have succeeded where other companies have failed. They seem to have succeeded in achieving organisational change without the support of the public stock market and human resource unemployment practices. The Mars brand appears to present be a fine corporate example of what organisational change is all about; People and their money. © Chris Tyne, 2013.