Monday, June 02, 2008

Plausible Effective Change Models for Yahoo & Microsoft Merge

Effective Change Models for Managing Merging Organizations with seemed Conflicting Cultures

By John Manuel K.

This study surveys different change models & how to understand and managing change facing two conflicting cultures in the verge to be merged. For effecting the abstraction, I have named these two corporations with seemingly opposite & conflicting cultures as: "AAA" & "OOO"

Change alone is Unchanging

Heraclites AKA Heraclitus (c. 535- c.475 BC.)

As a result of the identification of many potential conflicting cultural factors between the AAA and the OOO Corporations, and enacting the role as the AAA Director of the Fulfillment Applications of the information department, I became aware of the need to study effective change models not only to manage the merging process between the AAA and the OOO corps., but also to create and strategic plan that it will use to optimize the whole merging process. As a major milestone for creating such a strategic plan, this study starts by exploring three organizational change models, by identifying situations in which their application will be most effective, and finally, by analyzing advantages and/or disadvantages in following these models.

Opposition brings concord.

Out of discord comes the fairest harmony.

Heraclites AKA Heraclitus (c. 535- c.475 BC.)

The Meaning of Change

I understand change as a “flux”, or a process and not as a final product or as a specific result that is manifested before our consciousness as a result of our instantiation of this process under our observation, with the purpose to study a determined object(s), as in here the purpose of study is about organizational Change models. It is a cyclical, episodic or periodic study indeed.

In the first chapter, “the purpose”, of his book [by the way the young Hillary Clinton (our next President), would have had written her thesis about this author]: “Rules for Radicals,” Saul D. Alinsky (1971) wrote: “Change means movement. Movement means friction. Only in the frictionless vacuum of a nonexistent abstract world can movement or change occur without that abrasive friction of conflict.” I assume this quote personifies well what is about to happen between two cultures which seem to have some many ways of doing things differently, as the AAA and OOO corporations: but we are conducting this research to be better equipped to managing an effective change.

It feels lacerating, but as the record shows, if we do not consider the human factors and culture the merging process will be erratically implemented with serious repercussion not only in the morale of the staff but also in our performance and lost of market value, instead to have positive outcome. It would probably defeat the merger’s purpose.

In this regard, I prize the inputs of Jerry (Gerald) Weinberg who has written many books combining seemed equidistant subjects as technical software development and human factors in improving productivity, this is a sort of software anthropology.

In an interview Weinberg explained how he realized the importance of people transformation in the Software Development of Technical organizations, and how this perception lead him to study the work of Virginia Satir, who, Weinberg, indicated that she is often referred as “The Columbus of Family therapy” and how her Satir’s work forms the basis of Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP), basically Weinberg state during this interview what it was his main “discovery”: “…The Software team works together to produce software; the family works to make new people …” (Dorset House Publishing, 2006). Thus, as implausible as it may sound, Weinberg also ‘confessed’ in this interview that he learned more about effective programming from Satir that from any other person in his life (Dorset House Publishing, 2006). Weinberg’s research supports our newly gained understanding that human factors are of primary importance for technical organizations, especially when they are facing an eminent cultural clash as again it seems to be the case with AAA and OOO.

Change Models

Organizations are made by people, thus Virginia Satir estates, “Change happens one person at a time” (Smith, 2006). Weinberg further states that the Satir Change model implies, “… one day at a time, one choice at a time …” (AYE conference, 2006). The whole point is that the organizational change occurs in the individuals, theretofore, in every choice, in every day, in every transaction and the integration of all his “micro-changes”, I will dare to state, quantum changes, will effect and affect a systemic change in the organizations.

Some outcomes will and can be anticipated properly but others that should/could be anticipated, perhaps might be ignored, or not addressed accordingly and thus chaos could and will be the unexpected guest of an otherwise avoided situation. Returning once more to Weinberg writes: “Change is a long-term process, but a living organization lives in the immediate present. Thus, without careful management, long-term change is invariably sacrificed to short-term expedience(Research Triangular Park, 2006). In this regard, I would rather be effective than efficient.

Thus we can see that organizational changes start at the level of each individual, each transaction, each choice, at everyday, as matter of fact multiple of these changes happens simultaneously, some are perceptible and some are not. As a company in its way to be merged with a company like OOO with antagonistic culture we at AAA must understand some main organizational change models to assist us to put our upcoming merger at easy. There are three main types of organization change models: top-down; transformational leadership; and strategic approaches (Kinsman & Laporte, 2006).

The Satir Merger Model

Figure 1 Satir Change Model

As we can see, the Satir Change Model above (Figure 1), is centered on the tenet that improvement is always possible. Virginia Satir developed this model to assist people to improve their lives by transforming the way they see and express themselves. In this way this change model is transformational in nature. It is a five-phase change model (see Figure 1) displaying the effects each phase has on emotions, cognitive, behaviors and physiology. According to Satir using the principles of this model facilitate how organizations or group process change and how to assist other organization or groups in processing change as well.

This model could be applied in any situation: Before, during and after the completion of the merger. For instance, the phase 1, called the “Late Status Quo” represents AAA culture as is right now, a people-oriented, family like environment whereby there is a sense of belonging, staff knows what to expect, how to react, and how to behave. There are policies and these policies are known and well accepted within the organization (Satir, 1991).

In the second phase, known as “resistance” in this model, the OOO culture is depicted as the “foreign element”, this is the conflict for AAA staff and a probable source of uncertainty, doubt, and discomfort. The Satir Change model allows the understanding of how the situation would appear for the staff since their stability is going to be compromised by the OOO and its conflicting culture. Restless behavior and some another resistance tactics can be developed among the staff as a mechanism of defense. Is in this phase that this model prescribes to assist employees to become aware of their reaction of denial, avoidance or blaming by opening up to others staff members.

I the third phase, in this model: the chaos, the merge eventually has happened and this phase discovers the unknown, because for more plans that management could make always there are many details that remain unknown to us, and for such “obscure.” There will be employees that could feel nervous after the loss of some of their counterparts because the merger and they probably will develop symptoms of anxiety and other characteristic of the sorts. This phase should be expected by managers as erratic periods and also as an opportunity for assisting staff to search for beneficial relationships with the “foreign element” the new staff and culture from OOO. This is the stage where under Satir Change model transformation happens (Weinberg, 1997).

In Phase four, i.e. the integration, the staff of AAA will encounter at least some positive attributes in OOO and in consequence new projects and relationships will be implemented rapidly and with positive energy, and thus we arrive at Phase five: New Status Quo, whereby change have been assimilated, the Merger have been completed and a new environment has emerged and a new sense of accomplishment and enhancing possibilities are permeating this new organization that has been derived from the Merger of AAA and OOO (Satir, 1991).

The advantage of this model is that provides to us proven ways to deal with the entire process of the merger, The Satir Change Model simplifies the scenario of how people react when face change, as in this case a merger, and what management needs to do about in each phase or stage of the process. I hardly see any disadvantage, only that requires a lot planning and support from management since is very granular and its focused in many dimensions, including the physiological reactions of the individuals. I would gladly use this model because it seems to be centered on transforming cultures by assistant each staff member to adapt to the pressing demands of doing so.

Nadler-Tushman Change Model: Key Variables

This model observes how change is managed or face, according to the extent in which change(s) can be anticipated, thus there are two types of changes: Anticipatory changes are planned changes based on expected situations. Example: Insurance needed for Paintings in the Exhibition and reactive changes: Changes made in response to unexpected situations. What decisions you make when you were alone at home and suddenly you fractured your femur and fibula by accident? (Kritner, 2004).

The Nadler and Tushamn model provides the following steps:

1) Identify the problems and Situational analysis - Get support of key power groups

2) Demonstrate leadership support of the change

3) Use symbols / Create identification w/ the change and appearance of a critical mass of support

4) Build in stability

5) Surface/create dissatisfaction w/ the current state

6) Obtain the appropriate levels of participation in planning/implementing change

7) Reward desired behavior in transition to future state

8) Provide time and opportunity to disengage from current state

9) Develop and communicate a clear image of the future state

10) Use multiple and consistent leverage points

11) Use transition devices

12) Obtain feedback about the transition state and evaluate success

This case Model primary advantage is that considers also what we could do when facing unexpected changes, as we know for this merger we need a flexible yet a structure model that guide us in the process, this modes does just that by providing opportunities for disengagement and also using multiple leverage points. One of the best situation to use this model is during the implementation phase when new rules or policies are going to be applied to newly created groups and projects has been formed within perhaps same or new departments. The disadvantage is the amount of time that will take to analyze, and for planning the strategic plan to facilitate this merger.

Models of Action Research: Cummings & Worley Model et al

The majority of research is aimed to create knowledge; action research is a way to conduct studies which engages in both: taking action and creating knowledge constituting a theory of action (Coghlan & Brannick, 2001, p.xi). Organizations use action research models to learn how to change significant aspect of its system by involving their members to actively study their own behaviors, from here action research shows the new knowledge emanated from the self-reflection of the participants on the whole research process.

Many actions action research models exist, all of them includes in their definition as iterative, collaborative, and change effort that involve needs analysis, plan of action based on the needs analysis, implementation of the plan of action and finally evaluation of the process. I identified four of this models Cummings and Worley Model, Burke’s Adaptation of W. L. French classic 11–step Model, Frohman, Sashkin and Kavanagh’s Seven-Phase Model and Pearce and Robinsons Six-Step Model. The entire aforementioned models are very similar but the most notable or the one that is more referred, in my literature review, is the Cummings and Worley Model (Cummings & Worley, 1991, p. 155) here is the well delineated stages:

1) Motivating Change creating readiness for change and overcoming resistance to change

2) Creating a Vision - Describing the Core Ideology and Constructing the Envisioned Future

3) Development political support -- Assessing Change Agent Power and Identifying Key stakeholders and Influencing stakeholders.

4) Managing the Transition - Activity Planning and commitment planning and management structure.

5) Sustaining Momentum - Providing Resources for Change and Building a Support System for Change Agents and Developing New Competencies and Skills and Reinforcing New Behaviors

The Cummings and Worley model takes in account the anxiety and other emotional factors introducing in its first “prescription”: Motivating change by creating readiness for change, very interesting concept, it includes leadership because it compel to create a vision a core ideology, in this sense is also a transformational change mode. And takes in account the power by identifying key people, I think that this model also is applicable for the merger, especially in the planning and commitment for facilitate the merger by creating appropriate structures of management to sustain development into a new culture.

There are many advantages, in using this model principally; it is straight forward, as it appears to be easy to follow, and on the other hand, few disadvantages can be noticed about this model, perhaps is too compact and lack of specificity to anticipate unknowns.

In closing we have idenfied tree change models: The Satir Change, Nadler & Tushman, and the Cummings & Worley Change model. We have explored situations in which they can be utilized and finally, we analyze each model, according to their advantage or disadvantages in following these models.


Alinsky, S. D. (1971). Rules for Radicals. New York: Random House.

Anderson, P. & Tushman, M. L. (eds.) (2004). Managing Strategic Innovation and Change - a Collection of Readings - Second Edition. New York: Oxford University

AYE (Amplifying Your Effectiveness) Conference. NoMoreResolutions. Retrieved January 25, 2006, from

Burke, W. W. (1982). Organization development: Principles and practices. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman.

Coghlan, D., & Brannick, T. (2000). Doing action research in your own organization. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Cummings, T. G. & Worley C. G. (2001). Organization Development and Change - Seventh Edition.Mason, OH: South-Western College Publishing - Thomson Learning.

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