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Culture leadership and power the keys to organizational Change General Motors IBM and Sears three companies facing a need for dramatic change that have already tried but failed at major change efforts Judging from what Ive read about these three companies in the business press recently Im inclined to believe they are unaware of the current ideas on organizational change--including the successful efforts of many large corporations---that have been appearing in the change literature The most important idea of all for companies like GM IBM and Sears is that those pushing for organizational improvement--whether they are external members of the board major investors or top executives--must deal with cultural and behavioral obstacles to change Specifically attempts at organizational change must consider three key features of organizational life the firms culture the leadership of the change effort and the existing network of power In this article I discuss first the importance of dealing with organizational culture My key point here is that rather than changing culture directly management must work with and through the existing culture to transform the organization Whether the culture itself changes is secondary the important objective is to improve the company The role of leadership in organizational change is my second key topic Here I build on the discussion of organizational culture to reveal 1 the role of leadership in dealing with culture and 2 the form that leadership needs to take For example based on recent research we know that top management--and not some team of consultants--must lead the change effort We also recognize certain key leadership actions that can help those efforts succeed Third I discuss the need to consider organizational power and the related topic of politics in organizational change efforts This topic largely ignored in the literature until recently is now recognized as central to any organizational improvement effort Goals are accomplished in organizations largely through the use of power and politics so it seems fairly obvious that
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