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There can be little doubt that one of the major tasks facing organizations in the late twentieth century is managing change. Although change has always been, and must always be, an ever-present part of organizational life, many commentators believe that the pace of change and the complexity of the issues involved is greater now than ever before.
Significant organizational changes often begin slowly, are incrementally implemented and are subject to change as information is gathered concerning the effectiveness of the process. Indeed that is the approach normally espoused by those who have extensive experience in planned organizational change.
Twelve years ago when he assumed responsibility for the Northumbria Ambulance Service, Laurie Caple inherited serious problems. Not only did he have to solve those, his task then was to take the service into NHS Trust status as its chief executive. His vivid account outlines a successful approach to change management in the public sector.
Over the past 15 or so years, programs to improve corporate organizational performance have become increasingly common. Yet they are notoriously difficult to carry out. Success depends on persuading hundreds or thousands of groups and individuals to change the way they work, a transformation people will accept only if they can be persuaded to think differently about their jobs. In effect, CEOs must alter the mind-sets of their employees—no easy task.
Resistance to change has long been recognised as a critically important factor that can influence the success or otherwise of an organisational change effort. Research undertaken by Maurer (1996) indicated that one-half to two-thirds of all major corporate change efforts fail and resistance is the “little-recognised but critically important contributor” to that failure