Change Management Essay

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A change management plan to implement a new process in the workforce to allow for a business to provide more personalized service is needed in the retail industry (Aloysius, Hoehle, Goodarzi & Venkatesh, 2018). Brick and mortar stores must do something to differentiate themselves from e-commerce businesses, which can provide more convenience to shoppers who prefer not to have to leave their homes. In other words, brick and mortar retailers need to give consumers a reason to come in—and that reason is personalized service. This has been demonstrated successfully by companies like Best Buy, which introduced the Geek Squad to provide a service-oriented approach to consumers so as to get them physically into the store (Meyer, Shankar & Berry, 2018). This paper will discuss the topic of implementing a service-oriented approach to consumers for brick and mortar retailers as a change management plan, using examples such as Best Buy for guidance along with the Kotter 8-Step process to guide the change management plan.

The State of the Change Management Field

The purpose of change management is defined as: “to assist the organization in achieving its goals which cannot be attained with the existing organizational structure, functioning and client servicing, and to minimize the adverse effects of any changes made” (Vedenik & Leber, 2015, p. 585). There are many different old models and theories that have been used to implement change management in the past. These include organizational development theory, socio-technical systems theory, business process re-engineering theory, and processual and contextual accounts of change (Buchanan, Claydon & Doyle, 1999). However, the best change management approach for an individual company will depend on that individual company’s needs. In other words, an audit of the company will have to be performed before anything can be implemented. As Vedenik and Leber (2015) point out, “managing change is of key importance if companies or organizations want to remain competitive” (p. 584)—and part of the key to managing change effectively is to know what a company must do to compete and to differentiate itself (Trout & Rivkin, 2006).

With that said, it is possible that a generic model of change management can be adequate for managing change in a company no matter what it is engaged in. A generic model like Kotter’s 8-step model is such a one. This idea is supported by Pfeffer (2013) who indicates that there is a kind of universality to the concept of management.

Current Theories and Areas of Debate

The current theories and areas of debate on change management all boil down to two main approaches to managing change: first is the procedural model of change and second is the self modeling approach. Kotter’s 8-step model for change management is the most popular example of the procedural concept and can be applied in virtually any organization because it provides a basic, fundamental way for managers to approach both the business and the problem of change and shows how context can play a part in managing the change. This can all be seen in the 8 steps of the Kotter change model, which are:

1. Create a sense of urgency

2. Create a guiding coalition

3. Create a vision for change

4. Communicate the vision

5. Remove obstacles

6. Create short-term wins

7. Consolidate improvements, and

8. Anchor the changes

Kotter’s 8 steps are a helpful for when there is a lot of time available for planning and conceiving the appropriate course of action (Kotter, 2007). However, as Kotter (2012) also notes, there are limits to the degree that a company can spend time in the planning and conceptualizing stage and the reason for that is simply this: the Digital Age has ushered in an era of fast-moving parts, and companies cannot afford to spend endless hours in meetings. In some cases, leaders have to act fast, based on limited data—and that is where the self-model of change comes into play. Researchers debate over which is best, but the truth is that it all comes down to the need, time, and context of the individual company.

The self-model of change focuses on the role that the leader plays in managing the change. It stipulates that to effectively manage change, a leader has to have an innovative orientation and an ability to lead; a common leadership style associated with this model is transformational leadership (Warrick, 2011). In this model, the leader has to be able to communicate effectively and get workers to buy into the vision proposed for the change.
The leader is generally required to be charismatic to promote acceptance of the change. This model is especially useful in situations where a change is required urgently and waiting on higher-ups to process information and make a decision after multiple rounds of board meetings is too slow.

For the purposes of this paper, Kotter’s 8-Step model is the preferred model for change management, as it provides a general approach that can be implemented in any retail brick and mortar store (Vedenik & Leber, 2015). By focusing on customers and becoming customer-centric, retailers will need to identify potential obstacles and address them.

The Impact on the Industry

The impact of using the Kotter 8-Step plan for introducing customer-oriented process changes in retail could be so great that it could transform the brick and mortar business industry completely. This change is especially needed because the Digital Age has arrived and given consumers the ability to shop from home. To get them into the stores, companies need to offer something that cannot be obtained online—and that is customer service. And to get employees on board with providing excellent customer service, the Kotter 8-step procedural change model is perfect. As Tobias (2015) shows, however, “the brutal fact is that about 70% of all change initiatives fail. The failure of leaders to challenge themselves to change, and then model the behavior they seek in others, may be a large contributor to these failures” (p. 35). This implies that a combination of leadership change and procedural change is needed. By embarking on a new direction in the industry, the retail brick and mortar based businesses can enter into a service-oriented approach to business to help stem the tide of losing out to e-commerce.


Managing change is necessary because without change, companies grow old and stale (Walker, 2018). This was the problem Best Buy was running into in the 2000s. After slumping at the start of the 21st century facing the rise of e-commerce and web giant Amazon, Best Buy has rounded the bend and recreated itself to be appealing to consumers in the 21st century. After focusing on pricing strategy in the 1990s, Best Buy found itself losing ground to online competitors and to Walmart as prices began dropping everywhere. Understanding that the brick and mortar retailer could still offer something that Amazon and Walmart could not—expert specialized assistance and service—it revamped its strategy to be service-oriented rather than product-oriented.

Best Buy applied the customer-centric model to its retail stores, allowed managers to apply the results only approach with its sales reps, and increased its online presence so as to stay relevant in the Age of the Internet. Best Buy’s chances of staying relevant in the future years are good, so long as its Geek Squad and staff members stay abreast of the latest trends in technology and continue to offer great customer service.

Change is an action an organization engages in to introduce a new concept, method, culture, or initiative (Walker, 2018). It aims at altering the manner in which the organization operates so that it can be more effective, efficient and productive overall. Change is important in organizations because no industry or field is ever static or stagnant. New approaches are always being developed. New technology, for instance, can make old processes outdated or irrelevant. New research into how a workplace culture can be tweaked to boost morale and increase worker motivation is constantly being conducted. New ideas about how to address old issues are constantly being needed (Franken, Edwards & Lambert, 2009).

In order to know whether a change is needed in an organization, an internal audit has to be conducted. This is a process by which the organization’s processes, aims, goals, staff, production, culture, and all other aspects of the organization or evaluated to see if there are any weaknesses or areas that are acting more as obstacles to the organization’s objectives than facilitators. The internal audit can be outsourced or conducted in-house using any method of review. The important point is that no change should be implemented without there being a clear indication that a change is required. Change without justification will never be sold to workers: employees need to know why a change is occurring and the reason has to be justifiable and rationale—otherwise workers will resist it and will not support it, as Kotter made evident in….....

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Aloysius, J. A., Hoehle, H., Goodarzi, S., & Venkatesh, V. (2018). Big data initiatives in retail environments: Linking service process perceptions to shopping outcomes. Annals of operations research, 270(1-2), 25-51.

Appelbaum, S. H., Habashy, S., Malo, J. L., & Shafiq, H. (2012). Back to the future: revisiting Kotter's 1996 change model. Journal of Management Development, 31(8), 764-782.

Buchanan, D., Claydon, T., & Doyle, M. (1999). Organisation development and change: the legacy of the nineties. Human Resource Management Journal, 9(2), 20-37.

Campbell, T. A. (2014). What could have been done? Circuit City: A case study of management and employee performance failure. Performance Improvement, 53(4), 16–23. doi:10.1002/pfi.21405

Christensen, C. M., Marx, M., & Stevenson, H. H. (2006). The tools of cooperation and change. Harvard Business Review, 84(10), 72-80.

Deursen, A. & Dijk, J. (2014). The digital divide shifts to differences in usage. New Media & Society, 16(3), 507-526.

Franken, A., Edwards, C., & Lambert, R. (2009). Executing strategic change: Understanding the critical management elements that lead to success. California Management Review, 51(3), 49-73.

Gerhart, B., & Fang, M. (2015). Pay, intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, performance, and creativity in the workplace: Revisiting long-held beliefs. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 2, 489-521

Kissack, H. & Callahan, J. (2010). The reciprocal influence of organizational culture and training and development programs: Building the case for a culture analysis within program planning. Journal of European Industrial Training, 34(4): 365 – 380.

Kotter, J. P. (2007). Leading change: Why transformation efforts fail. Harvard Business Review, 85(1), 96–103.

Kotter, J. P. (2012). Accelerate! Harvard Business Review, 90(11), 44–58.

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Lyles, M. A. (2008). Appreciating cultural differences in China: An interview with Robert A. Eckert, Chairperson of the Board and CEO of Mattel, Inc. Business Horizons, 51(6), 463-468.

McGregor, F. (2004). Quality management/change management: two sides of the same coin? IATUL, 14(30): 1-9

Meyer, J., Shankar, V., & Berry, L. L. (2018). Pricing hybrid bundles by understanding the drivers of willingness to pay. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 46(3), 497-515.

Schyns, B. & Schilling, J. (2013). How bad are the effects of bad leaders? A meta- analysis of destructive leadership and its outcomes. The Leadership Quarterly, 24, 138-158.

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Trout, J. & Rivkin, S. (2006). Differentiate or die. In The marketing Gurus (ed. Murray). NY: Penguin.

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