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gari jenkins

Everything that is born reaches a peak before the decline. But organisations do have the option to renew themselves and thereby avoid the inevitable decline.

Handy recalls a story of the "Road to Davy's Bar"-" . . if you pass Davy's Bar, you've gone too far !!", and from it draws the conclusion that:

    "........by the time you know where you ought to go, it's too late to go there, or, more dramatically, if you keep on going the way you are, you will miss the road to the future"

    (Handy, 1994, p 49)

Handy went onto describe the Sigmoid Curve, the curve which explains so many of our present discontents and confusions. The curve describes the ups and downs of one's life, or of a company, or even of an empire. The secret of continued personal growth is to start a new Sigmoid Curve before the old one begins to peter out. As Handy explains:

    "The right place to start that second curve is at point A, where there is the time, as well as the resources and the energy, to get the new curve through its initial explorations and flounder-ings before the first curve begins to dip downwards"

    (Handy, 1994, p. 51)

The best place to start a new growth curve is at a point before the peak of the old one. Unfortunately, identifying the peak is difficult and many organisations leave it to too late. They try renewal when the decline has started. Sometimes this works, but the attrition rate for organisations that attempt renewal at the downside of the curve is much higher than that for those that begin renewal before the peak.

Unfortunately it is not easy to know when the J section of the curve will end and the top S section will begin. During the J phase, its very difficult to push for change. Prevailing attitudes are: Why rock the boat or the belief that if everything is fine, were obviously doing the right things. The J phase is a period of exponential growth that, when resources are limited, is always followed by the S phase.

With changes occurring so rapidly all round the world, organisations today just cannot hope to hold on to their pre- eminent positions unless they continually renew themselves every two-three years. The days when companies had massive cost and product advantages that enabled them to rule the roost for several decades with little or no change, are gone forever.

Today, more than ever, the truth is that nothing is static: processes, products, services, everything is changing and is in a constant state of flux. Today's best operating practice is tomorrow's dinosaur. How many of the In Search of Excellence companies are still benchmarks for their industries? As John Harvey Jones says, There is never a perfect business simply one that is temporarily better than its competitors. Managers, as individuals, tend to see their job responsibility as being required to take decisions, maintain productivity, to oversee, to supervise, and hold a team together. The current realities dictate that they need to do all of the above as well as be the prime instruments of change and mobility. In the coming few years, change management will be the most sought after managerial skill.

Change Mgt

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