Rethinking the change project

Authored by: Theodore Taptiklis

The Routledge Companion to Organizational Change

Print publication date:  October  2011
Online publication date:  October  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415556453
eBook ISBN: 9780203810279
Adobe ISBN: 9781136680908


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What occurs in our public service is a paradox of dynamic paralysis – we appear to be in a process of development and transformation but in reality are in a state of extended suspension of action.

This occurs because as we seek to enhance our ability to build an effective state machinery, we identify the problem in the structures of our organizations. So what do we do? We restructure. We create new posts, shift people around, and shunt out of the way those we believe are not delivering. We advertise new or existing posts; we put acting managers in positions in the interim. We try to sort out the funding issues; we go through the slow process of attracting new people, often from other government departments, creating new vacancies in those departments and perpetuating an endless cycle of vacancies.

Finally all the posts in the new structure are filled. A few people have resigned, feeling uncomfortable or sidelined in the new structure, having been shifted too many times just as they were settling into their positions and finally feeling equipped to deliver. A new management structure is in place. It immediately conducts a review. This indicates that the organization is not equipped to fulfill its mandate. What they need to do is – wait for it – restructure. And so the cycle begins again.

(Lewis Rabkin, Don’t Just Think Outside the Box, The Cape Argus, 27 August 2009)

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