This week is the last week of classes of the third term of my first year as an MBA student. After returning to school from spring break, I’ll begin my final three classes of the year: Consumer Behavior, Creativity for Business Leaders and Operations Management. Two of those classes are electives, but the only elective I’ve taken so far is Understanding Organizational Change.
The centerpiece of Understanding Organizational Change was a computer simulation for which the class was divided into groups to implement a change at a fictional company called GlobalTech. The company needed to transition from a government contractor to a commercial company, but there were varying levels of support and agreement among the employees. Some saw the need for the change, others felt it was unnecessary. These feelings generally ran among departmental lines, and several of the departments distrusted each other.
Thus, before beginning the change simulation, my team had to engage in rigorous planning, as well as “interviewing” GlobalTech employees to determine who were the change’s champions, helpers, bystanders and resisters.
One key part of the planning was making sure the change steps were implemented in the correct order. For example, my team ultimately had to fire a GlobalTech employee who had become a significant resistor (complete with an animation of him being escorted out the building). This action significantly increased our buy-in score. But, as we found later, if we had fired the employee early in the change simulation, it would’ve had a negative impact. Because the overall buy-in was much lower at that point and the employee was less-established as a resistor, firing him at that time would’ve lowered company morale and had a negative effect on our buy-in score.
Interestingly, although our change plan was flawed (we didn’t select the ideal change team), we learned the importance of sticking to our original plan. The only time we took a negative step was also the only time we deviated from our plan. Despite this, we achieved an overall change buy-in of 63 percent, highest in the class.