Failed Organizational change

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Introduction

Studies show that a considerable number of change initiatives fail. This comes as no shock. It is common for managers to be frustrated by changes that show little or no chance of success.  This paper discusses Regency Travels. The company experienced a failure in the development of Real Time Smartphone Mobile App for Regency Travel Company.  An improvisational model for technology change management is proposed as the most suitable change model for applicable to Regency Travel. It is based on the understanding that technological change is a consecutive series of various changes, many of which are unpredictable at the start. Using improvisational change model to manage change necessitates a set of mechanisms and processes to understand the different forms of change as they occur and to react effectively to these changes.

Failed organizational change

Regency Travels and Tours is a prominent travel management company in the global travel and tourism industry.  In keeping up with industry trends in travel innovations and service offerings, Regency Travels invested in the development of Smartphone mobile application. The mobile application aimed at integrating the best services and solutions in order to culminate the vision of Regency group.  The particular aim was to address the evolving needs of travelers and render the organization competitive service quality and product range on it. The development of the website was our first large-scale venture into the software and technology sector. The successful development of mobile application would be clubbed decades of travel domain expertise that would enable the firm to continue its impressive growth and add to its prestigious list of clients in the travel market. Business trips to vacations have been made easier through mobile technologies available to travel agents and clients alike. Clients would get 24-hour access to the details of their trips from the convenience of their trusted mobile device.

The company began developing the mobile app to dramatically change the way users interacted with the brand. The rapid pace of mobile software and hardware innovation had resulted in the struggle by the organization to meet its user expectations. Many companies spend considerable time planning, investing and building an app to coordinate with their mobile strategy. The development of Regency’s mobile app failed despite the continued growth and use in the industry. The company made huge investments towards the development of the app. However, there are many factors that may have contributed to the failure of change. While the company pushed for the speedy development of the app, the development was faced by many risks and quality control issues. The top challenges faced by the company in its development can be summarized into rapid innovation, insufficient device coverage, increased complexity, lack of reliable automation, skyrocketing user expectations and testing challenges.

The fast pace of change in the travel industry put pressure on Regency’s mobile app development team to adopt rapid development. Additionally, new devices with enhancements continuously being released into the market put pressure on the developers to avoid constant update of release plans to ensure compatibility with an increasing number of variables. The external pressures compressed the release schedule. Regency did not carry out complex analysis, client-side visibility and enhanced testing during the development of its mobile app. User experience is dependent on a combination of factors including app style and network connectivity. Ensuring the quality of mobile apps requires enhanced testing during the development stage.  Regency also experienced skyrocketing user expectations.

Users quickly abandon applications with response delays. User experience is different in every stage with each contributing to the never-ending possibility of use-case issues. The company’s app was developed for the Smartphone. Evidently, there was a failure to consider other users when formulating a device coverage strategy. Thus, the mobile app would not perform well across a broad range of operating systems, mobile devices, and networks. Pre-production testing was necessary to avoid pitfalls including excessive resource consumption, poor performance, cross-platforms inconsistencies.

Testing is the key to ensuring mobile app success, and enterprises need to decide which devices to test their mobile apps by establishing the right mix to match their customers’ needs. Regency also failed to take into consideration some of the most important factors in organizational change. The company put its application at the core while leaving important stakeholders without a clear picture of what would go into building a consumer-facing application.  The adequate research was not carried out to determine the right mix of devices in the market, what new devices were coming to the market and what devices were being used by clients. Understanding the audience is important to the success of app development. This would help in strategizing use cases and features that would appeal to that audience.

Regency did not seem to have clear objectives and key results. There was some high level yet vague objectives without very specific key results that would get the company to that point.  Without definite company’s objectives, the company failed to align its diverse stakeholders around the purpose of the company.  Setting high-level or somewhat vague objectives often leads to a failure in the change process. There lacked a clear connection between results and change expectations (Reichers et al., 1997). Regency also lacked tight integration and alignment off its initiatives. The result was a massive development failure. The development of an app depends on various factors that can range from budgets and market competition.  But beyond the above mentioned factors, poor research is a common reason why regency’s mobile app development failed when launched.  Essentially, the change management program failed fundamentally because it was considered an outside-in process rather than an inside-out process that focused on change within individuals as well as the failure to focus on market and audience research.

Organizational change theory: The improvisational model

The traditional way of dealing with organizational change is to plan in order to enable stakeholders to rationally coordinate activities. Planning allows organizations to deal with challenges present in the future.  The basic assumption of traditional organizational change models is that tasks and activities can be decomposed into its different components, and each of the changes can be dealt with individually and successively. Necessary adaptations are made by considering the existing environment. The understanding of the environment allows the organization to get back on track. However, this view has been challenged in today’s organizational environment because of the requirements to interpret the environment from diverse points of view. There has been increasingly the need to craft strategies to deal with unpredicted organizational changes. Orlikowski and Hofman came up with a model that anticipates teamwork guided by shared values and shared responsibilities.

The improvisational model is different from the traditional models of change as it does not factor in a long time horizon in a stable environment.  In the traditional model, a manager is required to deal with forecasting and benchmarking. The success of the change is dependent on information gathered about different variables. The more information gathered, the more accurate the prediction about the future. However, in reality, the environment is not a stable one and is characterized by an increasing pace of change. Orlikowski and Hofman’s model treats change as an on-going process rather than a scheduled event. The model is predominantly applicable in circumstances where the proposed change is customizable and open-ended such as technology systems. As a result, it is not possible to formulate a design for the change process (Orlikowski, 1996).

Improvisational model of change does not apply to all change situations. As noted, it is suitable for complex and unprecedented change such as customizable and open-ended technologies. The model presents an alternative way of thinking about technological changes in organizations. The unconventional model is motivated by the understanding that traditional models for managing technological change are not particularly useful.  The inappropriateness of the model arises from the practice of defining a change in advance, and the organization embarks on implementing the changes as deliberated.  The change model is not particularly useful considering the more flexible, turbulent and uncertain organizational environments that many organizations face today. Thus, traditional models cannot be useful in helping realize technology changes such as mobile applications with open-ended, unprecedented and context-specific nature making it challenging to predefine the precise changes to be accomplished and to forecast their possible organizational impact.

Orlikowski and Hofman suggested the improvisation model as an alternative model of managing technological change. The change reflects the dynamic and unpredictable nature of modern technologies and organizations. The model accommodates the iterative use, experimentation, and learning over time. The model is labeled as a model of managing technological change. The suggestion is that it may enable an organization to benefit from emerging practices, evolving capabilities and unforeseen outcomes that go together with the use of new technologies in today’s organizations.The improvisational model is based on research conducted into its execution and use of open-ended information technologies. The improvisational model is based on two major assumptions. These assumptions are what differentiate it from traditional models of change. the first assumption is that changes that characterize technology implementations comprise an ongoing process as compared to an event with an end point after which the organization goes back to its initial state reasonably steady state. The next assumption is that company and technological changes implemented as part of a continuous process cannot be anticipated ahead of time (Orlikowski & Hoffman, 1997).

Based on the two assumptions, the improvisational change model takes into consideration three different types of change: emergent, anticipated and opportunity-based. The three types of changes are a reflection of Mint berg’s differences between emergent and deliberate strategies. Anticipated changes occur as intended and are planned ahead of time.  Emergent changes arise impulsively out of restricted innovation which is not initially intended or anticipated.  The implementation of a mobile app is an example of an anticipated change as it would be intended to facilitate quicker and increased interaction between a brand and its customers.

Opportunity-based changes are not planned ahead of time and are introduced intentionally and purposefully during the change process in reaction to an unexpected event. For example, as users continuously utilize mobile phones as communication devices, companies apply and leverage their capabilities in ways that were not initially planned or anticipated before the introduction of mobile phone technology. Both opportunity and anticipated based changes are characterized by deliberate actions which arise unexpectedly and typically tacitly out of the use of technology over time (Moorman & Miner, 1998).

In the same way, an improvisational model for managing technological change in organizations is not a predefined course of change planned by management ahead of time. Instead, it is based on the understanding that technological change is a consecutive series of various changes, many of which are unpredictable at the start. These changes then evolve out of practical familiarity with the new technologies. Using improvisational change model to manage change necessitates a set of mechanisms and processes to understand the different forms of change as they occur and to react effectively to these changes (Kamoche & Cunha, 2003).

Applying the model to the organizational change

The travel industry is a competitive one. The ability of a company to stay in touch with its customers is necessary to keep the business running.  Development of mobile apps is one approach that many companies in international businesses have adapted. The key to competing with other companies is customer service. Regency undertook the initiative to meet this aim and increase its competition in the tours and travel market. However, the company is an example of a failed organizational change. It is possible to apply the improvisational model to the failed change.

First, an ongoing change process calls for committed support over time to adjust both the technology and organization to use practices, shifting environmental conditions and technological capabilities. Using the Opportunity-based approach, the success of change depends on the ability of the organization to perceive and identify issues, opportunities, failure and unanticipated outcomes as they arise. The process requires attention on the part of right individuals in the company to track the application of the use of technology over time and to initiate or implement technological changes which can mitigate or take advantage of the identified opportunities or problems.

At Regency, the managers and technologists would have primarily played the role while incorporating different stakeholders into the roles.  The managers could have adjusted the structure of the company by introducing important partnerships to make possible a dynamic division of labor. Additionally, the company should have introduced intermediary role to prevail over some unexpected difficulties linked to initial change. Regency should have continuously carried out complex analysis. The fast pace of change necessitates the improvisational model for a company that desires to adopt rapid development. Continuous analysis of the market would have allowed Regency to factor in any significant changes that would affect the mobile application industry.  The capacity to recognize new devices being released in the market would have allowed the company to make constant updates to release plans to ensure compatibility with an increasing number of variables.

It would have also reduced the compromise on quality due to shortened release schedule. Continued client-side visibility and enhanced testing during the development of the mobile app would also reduce the risks associated with technological failures.  It would have allowed the collection of information related to user experiences such as app style and other changing user expectations. Mobile app development also requires enhanced testing during the development stage. An improvisational model would have allowed the company to develop a quality app that met diverse requirements.

Regency’s ongoing change also required constant adjustments to the technology itself as developers learned and gained experience with the new technology’s capabilities. Without dedicated support to execute adaptations and innovations, the constant learning in use primary to an improvisational change model would be thwarted or stalled. Rather than pre-defining the steps that required taking and then controlling actions to fit the plan, the idea would be to create an environment that facilitated improvisation. During the change process, the management would have provided an environment, support and nurtured a set of norms, expectations, and resources which would guide the constant change process. Successfully executing an improvisational change model needs an alignment of technology with the organizational context with the change model. The alignment does not occur automatically. It instead requires unambiguous and ongoing adjustment and assessment where and when required.

Resources and Mechanisms allocated to continuing support of the change process are vital. Noticing issues and events as well as tracking them as they unfold is a task that requires being owned by concerned members of Regency company. Along with the accountability, the concerned members require the credibility, authority, influence and resources to realize the ongoing changes(Tsoukas & Chia, 2002). Creating a good environment, aligning the context, technology, and change model and allocating the required resources and technology are of critical importance in the effective employment of an improvisational model given that the change process particularly represents a considerable and challenging departure from the ordinary practice in effect in the company.

The improvisational change model represents a different way of thinking about managing the development and continuing use of technologies to support the more complex, flexible and integrated processes and structures that are demanded by companies today. In comparison with the traditional models of technological change, the improvisational model emphasizes the continuous nature of technological changes as they essentially represent an ongoing process that is made up of challenges and opportunities which are not often predictable at the beginning. Regency’s case suggests that where companies are open to the capabilities presented by new technology innovations and are willing to embrace an improvisational change model, successful change processes can be achieved.

Conclusion

Regency Travels Company is an example of failed organizational change. The development of a mobile app development of Regency’s mobile app failed despite the continued growth and use in the industry. The company had initially made huge investments towards the development of the app. However, different factors contributed to the failure of change. The top challenges faced by the company in its development can be summarized into rapid innovation, insufficient device coverage, increased complexity, lack of reliable automation, skyrocketing user expectations and testing challenges.  Regency also failed to take into consideration some of the most important factors in organizational change. The company put its application at the core while leaving important stakeholders without a clear picture of what would go into building a consumer-facing application. An improvisational change model has been chosen as the most suitable for complex and unprecedented change such as the development of the mobile app. The model presents an alternative way of thinking about technological changes in organizations. The change model is particularly useful considering the more flexible, turbulent and uncertain organizational environments that many organizations face today.

References

Kamoche, K., & Cunha, J. V. D. (2003). Theory of organizational improvisation: Looking beyond. Journal of Management Studies, 40(8), 2023-2051.

Moorman, C., & Miner, A. S. (1998). Organizational improvisation and organizational memory. Academy of management review, 23(4), 698-723.

Orlikowski, W. J. (1996). The Improvising organizational transformation over time: A situated change perspective. Information systems research, 7(1), 63-92.

Orlikowski, W., & Hoffman, D. (1997). An Improvisational Model for Change Managment: The Case of Groupware Technologies. Organizations of the 21st Century, MIT, Boston, MA, 265-282.

Reichers, A. E., Austin, J. T. & Wanous, J. P. (1997). Understanding organizational change. The Academy of Management Executive, 11(1), 48-59.

Tsoukas, H., & Chia, R. (2002). On organizational Becoming: Rethinking organizational change. Organization Science, 13(5), 567-582.



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