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Thursday, October 20, 2005

Large Scale Organizational Change: Look Before You Leap!

I am often asked, “Should organizational change be done quickly or slowly over time?” and “Should management attempt large radical changes or small incremental changes?” The safe answer is, “It depends.”

The literature on organizational change identifies two general types of changes: first-order change and second-order change. First-order change gets less attention because it is less dramatic. It is incremental and evolutionary in nature. We see first-order change today in organizations in the form of quality improvement programs (e.g., TQM or Six Sigma). First-order incremental change is also important after large-scale, organization-wide, second-order change.

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