Why does managing change matter?

Published on January 30, 2022   10 min
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Hello. I'm Richard Dunford, Professor of Management in the UNSW Business School at UNSW Sydney. Today, I'm going to address the issue of why does managing change matter.
Change is going to happen whether you like it or not. No one wanted COVID-19 but it happened producing major implications worldwide for organizations in most industries. Similarly globalization, social media, digital commerce, artificial intelligence and climate change all continue to change the environment in which organizations operate. Change is often associated with large well-established organizations. However organizations don't have to be large for the management of change to be an issue. Many of today's best known businesses made a significant shift in their focus early in their life. Did you know that Instagram began as Bourbon an app with a range of functions that included identity check posting of plans as well as photo posting and sharing. However believing that the future lands simplicity. The founders soon changed to focus just on the most popular feature, photo posting and they rebranded as Instagram. Twitter began as Odeo, a platform for discovering and subscribing to podcasts. However when Apple announced that iTunes would include a podcasting platform, Odeo changed to become a microblogging platform and rebranded as Twitter. Finally YouTube. It began as a dating site that gave people the capacity to upload videos of themselves talking about what they were looking for in a partner. However following an underwhelming response its founders changed YouTube to being a platform onto which people could upload videos of any kind. One possible course of action for an organization in response to changes in the environment is to do nothing. Sometimes doing nothing is the outcome of misreading threats. For example Joe Kennedy Chief Executive of Pandora was dismissive of Spotify as a threat. Tom Anderson the founder of MySpace stated that he wouldn't single out Facebook as a concern. Microsoft CEO Steve Bohmer describe Google as not a real company it's a house of cards. Doing nothing is really likely to be an ideal response. Doing nothing will almost certainly not stop those external changes nor the ability of those changes to have an impact on those organizations whose managers choose to do nothing. The impact of a change in the business environment is likely to be magnified if one's competitors do respond and by so doing are able to take advantage of opportunities opened up by the change. If we accept the proposition that doing nothing in the face of changing business environments is rarely likely to be the best course of action attention turns to both what the organization needs to change and how the change is going to be brought about. That is change needs to be managed and once something is managed that managing can be done well or it can be done badly. That is managing change does matter. Managing change can be reactive or proactive.