Organisational Change ZAB 101 - Agribusiness Management

Jane Bennett’s achievement at Ashgrove was to turn the family's century old dairy-farming operation into one of Australia's most internationally recognised premier cheese brands, all the while using her own business as a tool for promoting Tasmanian rural industries and communities (ABC Radio Australian Rural Women of the Year 1994 – 1997).

Read more about Ashgrove and Jane's Story

Forces for change

To know what to change in an organisation (and what not to change), the leadership team must maintain their understanding of their external and internal environment: -

  • What is happening locally/nationally/ regionally/ globallyForces for change
  • To know what to change in an organisation (and what not to change), the leadership team must maintain their understanding of their external and internal environment: -
  • What is happening locally/nationally/ regionally/ globally
  • General trends versus industry/market/product-service-specific trends
  • Competitors – existing/new
  • Consumer attitudes/behaviour patterns/feedback
  • Organisational strengths and weaknesses - people, culture, reputation, strategy/structure, systems/ processes, technology, capital, infrastructure, cash flow

Learn more about the road travelled so far globally, in the story of agriculture and climate change – just one example of the forces for change

Assessing the organisations internal and external environment

When leaders in an organisation seek to understand these forces for change, they undertake an environmental assessment process using tools such as a PESTLE analysis, a Five Forces analysis and/or a SWOT analysis. Examples are discussed further here.

A Pestle Analysis examines the organisations external environment by collecting data about the Political, Economic, Sociocultural, Technological, Legal/regulatory, Environmental landscape
A Five Forces Analysis (developed by Michael Porter, Harvard) assesses the extent of competition in the organisations external markets
A SWOT Analysis is often used to summarise the organisations internal Strengths and Weaknesses, as well as the external Opportunities and Threats

Emerging global trends in agribusiness

Revisit and reflect on the following Youtube video you watched in a previous module - Tim Hunt - GM Rabobank’s Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory group - speaking at the October 2016 Nuffield Australia conference on emerging trends in global agriculture

Tim Hunt | 20 mins

As you watch, note down some examples of the emerging global trends in agribusiness that Tim Hunt discusses. These are all examples of forces for change.

Reflection Task

Question: What are some examples of emerging global trends in agribusiness that you wrote down from Tim Hunt's conference presentation?

Question: In the organisations where you work, have you seen such tools used? In your current job, if you were asked (now or in the future), do you think you would be able to make a start at organising research from an environmental scan, into tools such as those we have discussed here?

Identifying what needs to change

When an organisation’s leadership team undertakes an environmental assessment process (using tools such as a PESTLE, Five Forces &/or SWOT analysis), it is then able to start to more clearly see just how and where such changes in the external and internal environment might impact their organisation.

To identify where and how any organisational changes need to be made, an organisation’s leadership team will explore questions such as: -

  1. Do we need to change our mission, vision, overall business strategy?
  2. Do we need to change our organisational structure?
  3. Is there new knowledge/expertise we need to bring in, or existing knowledge/expertise we need to better capitalise on?
  4. Do we need to change/hire different or new people? Do we need to train/retrain/upskill/ multi-skill our existing people?
  5. Do we need to change our organisational culture & values?
  6. Do any of our policies, processes, or ways we measure progress/success need to change?
  7. Does any of our technology or systems need to change?
  8. . Do any of our products/services (or aspects of – eg. Packaging, labelling, pricing, features) need to change or be replaced? New products/services?
  9. Does any of our workflow or physical infrastructure/layout need to change so our people and processes integrate well with technology and other organisational changes planned?
  10. . Will these changes impact our value chain? How?

The organisational change plan

Broadly speaking, the framework for an organisational change plan will look similar to this example. We will look more closely at some different models for organisational change shortly.

An example of the organisational change plan framework
Reflection tasks

You may wish to map out a broad organisational change plan for the organisation where you work (or are familiar with), using the example framework provided above. You can do this in your Wordpress blog.

In preparation for the next lecture recording on organisational change, you may enjoy watching the following popular, lighthearted video about change and the different ways we deal with change

Who moved my cheese | 16 mins

Change or perish

We’ll now explore some different approaches an organisation’s leadership team can adopt, to implement their organisational change plan. Dealing with resistance to change is a very important consideration and we will take a closer look at this too.

Leaders and managers can also foster a change-ready culture in their organisation, to help build resilience and adaptability for coping with change and uncertainty, and maximise the implementation success of any organisational changes required.

But, before we delve into this topic further, let’s take a moment to think through what happens to organisations’ that don’t change, or leave it too late to change?

  • Businesses are bought out/taken over/ merged into other businesses, or closed
  • Jobs are lost or they change
  • Income and working conditions are lost or they change
  • Local communities and economies suffer
  • Peoples’ physical and mental health may deteriorate
  • New products/services/businesses/competitors may start up or expand into their market space
  • New/different jobs/small business opportunities may be created

Risk of failure

For those organisations’ that do try to change, it is estimated that only around 1 in 3 organisational change programs end up being highly successful in improving performance and equipping the organisation to sustain improvements over time (McKinsey & Company global survey results 2014)

  • People in organisations can often be the key to achieving effective change, or the biggest obstacles to success
  • Change failure can result from employee resistance to change, leadership and management behavior that does not support the change, &/or inadequate resources or budgets

In today’s fast-moving world – more-so than in any previous century or millennium - change is fast and constant. We must all be ready to embrace change.

Each of us possesses different degrees of openness to change, based on things like the context, how much control we have over the change, our cultural heritage and values, previous experiences, our personality type and whether we prefer the familiar or the novel.

But, there are ways we can improve our change readiness & the resilience and adaptability of people in organisations. These are detailed in the section below.

Reflection tasks
As you read through the list provided below, take a moment to reflect on the organisation where you work (or one you are familiar with). Do your leaders and managers do any of these things to build change readiness amongst employees? If not, can you identify any that you would recommend to them? Why? Write down any reflections in your Wordpress blog.

Some ways to build change readiness capability in the workplace

Organisational leaders and managers can build the change readiness of their people through actions such as:

  • Understanding their own role in the process as a change leader/manager
  • Role modelling the desired attitudes and behaviours
  • Getting employees involved in the change – fostering understanding and conviction
  • Developing talent and skills
  • Thinking about future issues and opportunities and factoring these into daily decisions
  • Making learning and knowledge sharing a part of everyday life
  • Actively supporting and encouraging day to day improvements
  • Ensuring diverse teams & valuing diversity
  • Encouraging mavericks
  • Managing paradox
  • Fostering innovation, protecting breakthrough ideas and integrating new technology
  • Reinforcing changes through formal mechanisms
  • Building and deepening trust
  • Creating a learning organisation & managing learning as a priority
  • Effectively responding to sources of organisational and management/employee stress & ensuring effective support mechanisms/services are in place

For many of us, particularly when faced with change that is imposed on us, reactions can be very similar to those we may experience when we are grieving.

Some of the ways that leaders and managers can build this into their organisational change plans.

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate
  • For many of us, particularly when faced with change that is imposed on us, reactions can be very similar to those we may experience when we are grieving.
  • Some of the ways that leaders and managers can build this into their organisational change plans.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate
  • Employee consultation and participation
  • Building commitment through facilitation, support and negotiation
  • Education and training
  • Developing positive relationships
  • Implementing changes fairly
  • Selecting people who accept change
  • Other – manipulation, co-optation, coercion
Reflection Task

Question: How have you reacted to change in your workplace and life?

Question: Can you identify any areas of resistance to change you have observed in yourself or your work colleagues? Add any reflections to your Wordpress blog.

Keep this front-of-mind as we now turn to some of the different models of change that are used to guide leaders, managers, change agents and employees through the implementation of organisational change plans.

Four models of organisational change

So, how do leaders, managers, employees and change agents go about implementing an organisational change plan? Some popular models for change include: -

  1. Kurt Lewin’s calm waters model
  2. John Kotter’s 8-step accelerate model
  3. Riel’s action research model
  4. The organisational development model

Work your way through the materials following, to learn more about each of these organisational change models.

Four models of organisational change

This is an oldie but a goodie, published in 1947 by Lewin, one of the pioneers of social and organisational psychology. It is still utilised today because it is easy to explain and understand what is actually quite a dynamic and complex process, particularly when so many organisational changes are imposed on (rather than proposed by) employees.

Stage 1

Unfreezing the status quo – breaking out of strongly patterned ways of viewing and interpreting events, or behaving eg. Developing and communicating a new organisational vision and values, employee participation, preparing employees for the need for change

Failure to unfreeze - Failure to unfreeze is the failure to see. Some employees will find it more difficult to see the need for change. For example, longer term employees or those who haven’t worked in many organisations may say ‘if it ain’t broke why fix it?’ Some people may also have an overly simplistic view of the past and the future, thus limiting their capacity to see different perspectives, ‘world views’, or the ‘big picture’. As well, where employees wish to maintain the status quo they may resist pressures to change. Overcoming the failure to see may be helped by leaders and managers creating a high level of contrast between the ‘old world’ and the ‘new world’, or helping employees see the key differences by creating images. Sometimes confrontation is justified, if change is necessary for survival and resistance is high.

Stage 2

Moving towards the new way of doing things – establishing new ways of understanding and behaving, and implementing the change (influenced by the level of certainty/uncertainty associated with the change, and the magnitude of the change)

Failure to move: Failure to move may result from change uncertainty, outcome uncertainty or requirement uncertainty. It is imperative that leaders and managers (and change agents) are clear about what the future will look like and what will be expected of employees. Training can be invaluable in this regard. The more employees can be involved in the change process, the more accepting they will be of the ‘new world’. Communication is therefore an essential part of any change process. Overcoming the failure to move may be overcome by leaders and managers educating employees about the desired change, clarifying the benefits of the ‘new world’, understanding what it takes to implement change, assessing the level of employee capabilities, and providing training and other tools to assist with the transition.

Stage 3

Refreezing and locking in the new way of doing things – taking actions to prevent reversion to old patterns and reinforce the change until it becomes more established eg. Change to policies, procedures, key performance targets (and what is measured), training, rewards and incentives, celebrating successes, providing support services, being realistic about adjustment time

Failure to refreeze: Failure to refreeze is the failure to finish. Quick wins, new stories and celebrations early are important, but most successful changes have taken anywhere from 7 – 10 years, according to research. The most significant organisational changes do not produce instant, positive consequences, so leaders and managers must be patient, be on the lookout to catch people doing things right, and also address any people/systems issues which arise during the change process, to ensure momentum is maintained. Ongoing communication of the change process is critical, as is acknowledging and having processes in place to manage stress and change fatigue sensitively. It is hard to sustain change over a long period. Overcoming the failure to refreeze may be helped by leaders and managers reinforcing desired behaviours, helping people see the progress of the change and repeating messages often.

Kotter's 8-step accelerate model for change

Kotter’s (Harvard Business School) research on organisations today has led him to conclude that the tried and true methods of organisational change that leaders and managers have traditionally used, are no longer working. The world is just moving too fast these days.

To overcome these challenges, Kotter developed 8 consecutive steps:

  1. Create a sense of urgency
  2. Build a guiding coalition
  3. Form a strategic vision & initiatives
  4. Enlist a volunteer army of supporters
  5. Enable action by removing barriers
  6. Generate short-term wins
  7. Sustain acceleration
  8. Institute change

Riel's action research model for change

Progressive problem solving with action research

or those who like a more scientific approach to managing planned change, action research provides this. At its core, action research is a change process based on systematic collection of data and selection of a change action based on what the analysed data shows. It is problem-centred rather than driven by pre-determined or off-the-shelf solutions or preferences.

Because managers and employees within organisations become engaged in such processes, resistance to changes is likely to be reduced.

The 5 steps of the action research model are:

1. Diagnosis

  • What is the problem or need/want?
  • Data gathering

2. Analysis

  • Problem, symptom or cause?
  • Patterns?
  • Possible actions?

3. Feedback

  • Has the right problem been identified?
  • Do the action options seem feasible?
  • Are the actions chosen likely to address the right problem?
  • Develop action and implementation plans

4. Action

5. Evaluation

Organisational development model for change

This is more of a philosophy than an organisational change model. Personal, subjective interpretations that people place on how they see and make sense of their work environment is at the centre of organisational development (OD).

Leaders and managers whose values and beliefs align with this philosophy are likely to be very open to experimenting with different tools and techniques that help shape their organisation’s culture into one that values lifelong learning, knowledge sharing, consultation and collaboration, appreciative inquiry, and more flexible workplace/job structures and processes.

Reflection tasks

Question: Which organisational change model do you think would work best in your organisation (or one you are familiar with)? Why? Add any reflections to your Wordpress blog.

Reflect on how you might build the knowledge of organisational change that we have now covered, into the change plan you may have started to map out for your organisation (or one you are familiar with). You may like to upload your organisational change plan outline to your Wordpress e-portfolio, as an artifact.


This week, we’ve explored the topic of organisational change from a number of different perspectives. Like most things in life, the effort we put into research, analysis, consultation and planning up front helps maximise implementation success and positive organisational outcomes.

Whenever people are a critical part of this success equation – as leaders, managers, change agents and employees (not to mention customers, suppliers, and local communities), some real thought needs to be given to how best to bring everyone along on that journey into the ‘new world’.

For many, change is scary and, therefore, communication, involvement, training, empathy, support and time go a long way in minimising resistance to change.

Because change is a constant in today’s world, any investment that leaders and managers of organisations make in building change-ready employees and resilient, adaptive organisational cultures, translates into more reliable, efficient, fast, and agile businesses, places to work, and leaders, managers, and employees … as well as more vibrant and sustainable local communities and economies.


If you would like to read more on this week’s topic of organisational change, the following sources have been used and may be of interest to you.

Hitt MA, Ireland RD, Hoskisson RE 2007, Strategic management: competitiveness and globalisation, Thomson SouthWestern, Mason, USA.

Johnson, S 1998, Who moved my cheese?: an amazing way to deal with change in your work and in your life, Putnam, New York.

Kotter, JP 2014, Accelerate: building strategic agility for a faster-moving world, Harvard Business School Publishing, Boston, MA.

Kotter JP 2017, Accelerate, webpage, Kotter International, viewed 27 February 2017,

McKinsey & Company 2017, ‘How to beat the transformation odds’, 2014 McKinsey Global Survey findings, webpage, McKinsey & Company, viewed 27 February 2017,

Robbins, SP, Bergman, R, Stagg, I & Coulter, M 2009, Foundations of management, 3rd edn, Pearson Education, Frenchs Forest, NSW.

Robbins, SP & Judge, TA 2017, Organisational behavior, 17th edn, Pearson Education, Essex, England.

Tim Hunt, GM Rabobank’s food & agribusiness research and advisory – emerging trends in global ag, 15 September 2016, Youtube video, Nuffield Australia, Grosvenor Hotel, Adelaide, SA, uploaded 6 October, viewed 3 February 2017,

Who moved my cheese? Full movie, 2003, Youtube video, a Spencer Johnson MD & Double Take Productions, New York City, uploaded 4 September 2013, viewed 25 February 2017,


Created with images by Conal Gallagher - "Change" • Hans - "habaneros chili capsicum chinense" • Couleur - "berries blueberries raspberries" • Moyan_Brenn - "Reflections" • Jonas B - "Reflection" • jill111 - "cherries tubs of cherries farmer's market" • Flachovatereza - "houses water south bohemia" • jackmac34 - "cart wheel agriculture" • Hans - "short disc harrow harrow short slices" • Adam Arthur - "farm fan" • 2bmolar - "Fence.Farm" • pineapplesupplyco - "pineapple field hospitality" • jarmoluk - "old books book old"

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