Technological innovations have occurred throughout history and rapidly increased over the modern age. New technologies are developed and co-exist with the old before supplanting them. Transport offers several examples; from sailing to steam ships to automobiles replacing horse-based transportation. Technological transitions (TT) describe how these technological innovations occur and are incorporated into society. Alongside the technological developments TT considers wider societal changes such as “user practices, regulation, industrial networks (supply, production, and distribution), infrastructure, and symbolic meaning or culture”. For a technology to have use, it must be linked to social structures human agency and organizations to fulfill a specific need. Hughes refers to the ‘seamless web’ where physical artifacts, organizations, scientific communities, and social practices combine. A technological system includes technical and non-technical aspects, and it a major shift in the socio-technical configurations (involving at least one new technology) is when a technological transition occurs.
The process of Transition Management involves the implementation of change through systematic planning, organizing and implementation of change to reach the desirable future state without affecting the continuity of business during the process of change. The process of transition management begins much before the actual change occurs and the members of the senior management play the role of transition managers who support the change agent in the overall process of change. During the entire process of transition, effective communication with all the key stakeholders directly or indirectly involved in the process plays a vital role.
Buchanan & Mc Calman (1989) proposed a framework on ‘Perpetual Transition Management’, which provides crucial insights regarding what triggers organizational change and also the response of the organizations towards the change. The model proposes four key layers and the interlocking management processes which bring change in an organization. These are:
- Trigger Layer: This layer is concerned with the need identification and also the avenues for change are created deliberately and introduced as opportunities instead of threats or any crisis.
- Vision Layer: This layer involves articulation of the futuristic vision of the organization and communicating this effectively in terms of the directional strategies and the road map of action for the organization.
- Conversion Layer: Mobilising support for the realization of vision can be the most efficient approach for handling the triggers of change.
- Maintenance & Renewal: This involves bringing reforms or change in the values, attitudes and behaviours for realizing the sustained advantages of change.
The Perceptual Transition Model
Source: Buchanan, O.A., Mc Calman, J, High-Performance Work System: The Digital Experience, Rouderedge, London (1989).
The above model implies that for any change to be successful, effective planning, resources management, communication of the outcomes of change and a large-scale involvement of the management will be required in connection with the four interlocking processes or layers.
While analyzing the Trigger Layer, it is important to understand what is actually creating the need for change. It must involve clear expression and communication of the objectives of change across all the levels in an organization. In the absence of effective communication and due to poor trigger identification, people usually tend to misunderstand or develop bias towards the change and try to keep away from the process due to a perceived fear of failure. Hence, both acceptance of change by understanding its nuances correctly and acknowledgement of the need for change actually play a crucial role in the entire process. The manner in which these triggers are communicated and expressed clearly so that everyone develops a shared understanding of the opportunities, threats, risks, etc, will ultimately define the success of change in an organization.
Just like shared understanding and identification of the triggers of change help in ensuring seamless process transition, description and understanding of the vision of the organization equally, play a crucial role in determining the success of the overall process. The management must consider three criterions for deciding regarding the vision or future. Firstly, the change should provide a response to all the events which trigger change. Secondly, it involves the identification of a desirable futuristic condition of an organization involving the design, goals and products. Thirdly, it must involve stimulation and challenges.
The third Layer of conversion involves recruiting disciples and establishing the structures or needed systems and processes in place. This process may be time-consuming as it is detailed in its approach and the members involved in the process of change need to own the entire process. The managers firstly form a Planning team who are responsible for the overall process of change and secondly pay a lot of importance to the talking to people about the change in formal and informal setups in every given opportunity.
The last layer Maintenance and Renewal attempt to resolve the issues related to decay in connection with the management during a mid-term change.
The Three Components of Transition as per Ogilvie
- Endings: Letting go off the past or accepting the changed processes or behaviours.
- Transitions: The in-between stage which involves a lot of confusion, ambiguities or a state of neutrality.
- New Beginnings: Moving forward once again and focusing the energies on constructively dealing with the change.
Ending (3 D’s): This stage may be extremely painful, and it may involve multiple reactions:
Disengagement: This is the phase during which people tend to disconnect themselves from the situation and grieve for whatever was left behind in the past.
Dis-Identification: This may be expressed by the people in the form of identity crisis/clash as a result of the uncertainties involved in the process.
Disenchantment: This is the stage during which people usually don’t find any meaning or relevance due to the identity clash or change which has taken place.
Transition (3 D’s): Before accepting the new methods or practices, people usually face the stages of transition which may involve the following reactions:
Disorientation: It is the stage of neutrality where the old processes no longer exist, and the new is yet to happen.
Disintegration: This is the stage during which some people accept that the old processes no longer exist and they have to cope up with the changes. While, it is hard or difficult for few to get along with the change or transition which they usually express in the form of resistance or inhibitions.
Discovery: This is the stage during which over a period of time people start to discover the realities and work in accordance with the changing circumstances.
Beginning (3 I’s): This is the stage of Recovering and starting once again
Inner Realignment: After discovering the realities, the individuals adopt new plans and objectives, establish new priorities or goals for the future and try to develop an understanding of their new roles and its importance in an organization.
Investment: It is the stage during which individuals focus on reinvesting their energies to new methods and processes.
Internal Equilibrium: The individual’s try to attain a new state of equilibrium by adapting with the change.