The Art of Managing Change

Reflections on the art of managing change.

The pace of change in the contemporary business world can be daunting. New technologies and platforms keep emerging – and with them new markets, new business models and, often, new competitors. With that in mind, this issue of MIT Sloan Management Review includes a number of articles that focus on different aspects of managing and leading change in business.

In “How to Change an Organization Without Blowing It Up,” Karen Golden-Biddle offers an alternative to the kind of dramatic – and often traumatic – large-scale change initiatives that attempt to shake up an organization but may yield few beneficial long-term results. Instead, Golden-Biddle advocates for a more moderate approach to change that involves engaging a company’s employees in looking for disconnects between how work is done – and how it could be done.

Then, in “How to Use Analogies to Introduce New Ideas,” Christopher B. Bingham and Steven J. Kahl explore how companies can use analogies to help make unfamiliar ideas – such as new technologies – more familiar and thus more readily accepted. Interestingly, they note that it’s important not to get too caught up in any one analogy – and that, as a new technology evolves, so should the analogies a company uses to describe it.

Other articles in this issue look at how companies change to better serve their customers. In “When One Size Does Not Fit All,” David Simchi-Levi, Annette Clayton and Bruce Raven describe how Dell realized that it needed to change its supply chain strategy as its business diversified. James C. Anderson and Marc Wouters, meanwhile, researched how companies can gain insights that cause them to change their offerings – and sometimes even their business models – by learning from their customers’ customers.

Finally, “What the Future May Bring,” John Sterman’s review of the book 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years, contains hints of changes companies will need to adapt to in the years ahead, as climate change, resource use and population growth negatively affect the natural environment we all live and work in. Sterman points out that 2052‘s author, Jorgen Randers, concludes his book with a plea to all of his readers to help make his forecast for the future less gloomy by helping create a better future than the one Randers is predicting.

That’s a call to change that none of us in business should ignore.

Martha E. Mangelsdorf
Editorial Director
MIT Sloan Management Review

P.S. Speaking of change, MIT Sloan Management Review will be launching a new version of our website, sloanreview.mit.edu, during the first quarter of 2013. We’re pretty excited about our new look, which will feature responsive web design and an improved reading experience – and I think you will be, too.