Change Theory

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As a loan agent for a mortgage bank, the bank re-engineered our workflow in order to meet compliance with a new regulation.  Restraining forces were at play because myself and the other loan agents’ were now spending more time on regulatory tasks (and less time on productivity—i.e., actually closing loans), as well as a loss in productivity due to being trained in on the new processes.  Our team performs well, so these forces are consistent with what Robbins and Judge (2015) say: “[groups] that have been successful in the past are likely to encounter restraining forces because people question the need for change” (p. 585).  While we were reluctant to the changes, our familiarity with the industry and business culture (manifested in an awareness that regulatory compliance was not a cosmetic, arbitrary decision but an essential factor in our workflows and procedures) did help in the unfreezing process.  This is well represented by Kotter’s more detailed change model (see case example for Jaguar Motor Company),  and his first step to “establish a sense of urgency [about the change]” (as cited in Robbins and Judge, p. 586).   Corporate support (communicating the change effectively, thoroughly, and comprehensively to us) and a speedy and consistent implementation helped facilitate the change and overcome these constraints during the re-freeze stage (Hellreigel & Slocum, 2011, p. 527).  

There was relative uniformity in Rogers’ model between myself and my peers throughout the change process.  I think that in part, this is due to the unique nature of the industry; compliance and regulatory measures in finance are so integrally knit into operations and productivity that regardless of conventional resistance to change, we knew that ultimately we couldn’t close loans without using the new process.  Orr (2003) remarks that people are usually risk-averse (para 3), and that was certainly true for us—except that the risk aversion was inverse to the change continuum, making us “early adopters” of the change instead of “late majority.”  I suspect that if we didn’t appreciate the urgent and necessary nature of the changes, we would have been the late majority.

References

Hellreigel, D. & Slocum Jr., J.W. (2011). Organizational behavior (13th ed.). Cengage South-Western: Mason, Ohio.

Orr, G. (2003). Diffusions of innovations by Everett Rogers. Stanford. Retrieved from https://web.stanford.edu/class/symbsys205/Diffusion%20of%20Innovations.htm

Robbins, S.P. & Judge, T.A. (2013). Organizational behavior (15th ed.). Pearson: Upper Saddle River, New Jersey.