Organizational Change: Reflections On Seminar Activities

Discussion and Reflection on Seminar Activities

Reflective portfolio is a set of writing activities that helps to develop a summary of the insights as well as experiences gathered through academic discourse and practical experiences (Chamblee et al. 2015). The portfolio is helpful to assess the extent to which an individual is engaged in practical or field work and the ability to implement theoretical knowledge in a practical context. It uses a reflective strategy of writing in which the students can look back upon their experiences, relate them to their theoretical understanding and develop practical based knowledge which can support their competency and develop the skills as a professional (Domac et al. 2015)

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In the context of business management studies, reflective portfolios are an indispensable tool that supports growth and development of the professional, enable active and self paced learning from the experiences and further knowledge and understanding (Spieth and Lerch 2014). This helps a professional to grow within the organization, develop competency, and diversify or increase the roles and responsibilities in the organization, helping to achieve career objectives, thereby supporting both professional as well as personal development (Bierwolf 2017). The aim of this portfolio is to reflect upon my academic discourse on seminar activities through which key learning themes have been identified, which have been used to understand how to apply and integrate the learning into professional practice. 

The seminar helped me to develop my understanding of Organizational Change; what are the causes and triggers for change in the organization; the nature of change, the complexities and challenges that are associated with organizational change; how culture, ethics, politics and power influences change and strategies to manage change in the organization (Burnes 2009).

During the introductory phase of the module activities, I was introduced to the concept of change in the organization, which included the main reasons that influences or triggers the need for change. I also learnt to analyze whether organizations have the capacity to plan for all types of change, and realized that it was not possible for organizations to be prepared for every types of change in the system (Burnes 2009). Changes that are triggered by ineffective processing or planning, lack of leadership and communication and difference in agendas can be planned for through the preparation of effective leadership, development of good communication plan, clearly outlining the company’s agendas, training of people and developing efficient plans for organizational processes (Carnall 2018). However several changes that are triggered by cultural differences, inefficiency of the management or leadership and change caused due to external factors or influences such as political, legal, environmental, social or cultural factors are hard to be prepared for, and thus requires planning on a case to case basis on hindsight (Grey 2008). Additionally, in the introductory phase I was able to learn about the impact of the change on individuals and organizations and how a resistance towards change can influence the functioning of the organization on the long and short term (Grieves 2010).

After the introductory phase, I was able to delve into more details regarding organizational change process. While learning about the organizational structures I was able to understand the concept of structure in the organization, and how flexible and control structures differed from each other (Myers et al. 2012). I engaged in series of conversations with other students, mentors as well as employees of different organizations to understand what they perceived about organizational structure and thus develop my concept and understanding of these terms (Carnall 2018).

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Once I was able to develop my understanding of structure of an organization, I was introduced to the concepts of planned and emergent changes. I engaged in activities that helped me understand about strategies of communicating planned change as well as emergent changes in the organization and the importance of such communication strategies (Senior et al. 2010). This helped me develop my own opinion and perspectives of communicating change on a planned or emergent themes and how best to involve all stakeholders in the process of planning for a change in the organization (Grieves 2010).

More detailed discourse ensued when I was introduced to the ideas of complexity, chaos, determinism and voluntarism approaches in the understanding of an organizational culture (Eisenhardt and Bhatia 2017). These concepts elaborated on the internal and external factors of uncertainty that are experienced by the organizations or might be experienced in the future. Understanding of the uncertainties, both existent and future helped me learn about the strategies that can be used to overcome these challenges. It also helped me to understand how to differentiate between challenges and threats, which was an important topic for several discussions during the module (Bennett and Borning 2017). After this, I was introduced to the concept of organizational culture, how it was significant in the organization and how the culture in the organization can influence organizational change.

The forth component of the module was on the role of power and politics in the organization and how it affected the culture in the organization thereby influencing organizational change. While understanding the concept of power in the organization, I learnt who has the authority to make important decisions in an organization, which has the responsibility of sanctioning these decisions and the implications of unsanctioned decisions on the organizational process and culture (Benn et al. 2014). I was also introduced to the concept of a ‘whistle-blower’ and how they can contribute towards the organizational process and also support organizational culture and change. Understanding about ‘whistle-blowers’ also introduced me to a potential scope for ethical dilemma that an organization can face in the scenario when they are not sanctioned by the authorities. Additionally, I also learnt about a change agent and how they fit within the ethical and moral dilemmas associated with organizational change management as well as with the politics and power distribution in the organization (Senior et al. 2010). This helped me understand the importance of consent and cooperation between change agents, organizational authorities and whistle blowers. Such understanding also led to several questions in my mind such as who can be considered to be right or wrong in the decision making process and whether all the commands or requests from individuals from such positions be carried on unquestionably (Myers et al. 2012).

The fifth segment of the module helped me understand about lean management as well as hard and soft systems. Developing an understanding and comprehension about the tool of lean management impressed upon me its importance of managing operational change and ensure success in an organization. Learning about hard systems, such as the IT infrastructure, software systems as well as processes and procedures followed in the organization helped me understand how such systems were vital in the normal operations in the organization (Siebert and Martin 2016). While learning about soft systems such as the management approaches and interactions between the employees or peers helped me understand how such interaction influences the culture of the organization and thus the process of change management (Burnes 2009).

The sixth segment of the module helped me understand the role played by people in the organization, which increased my knowledge on how their work influenced the organizational culture and how they can be used to implement the process of change (Zhao  et al. 2016).

The seventh segment introduced me to the strategies for managing personal transitions such as management of stress and emotions. I learnt about the concept of emotional intelligence and was engaged in group activities in which I was able to demonstrate my ability to use emotional intelligence to decipher others points of view and their emotions (Asnawi et al. 2014). Additionally, I was also introduced to three important theories such as the ability model, the mixed model and the trait model to understand and assess the strengths and weaknesses of individual (Mayer et al. 2016). This was an addition to the already taught models of SWOT and PESTLE, which were pivotal to reinforce my ability to analyze scenarios to identify their potential strengths and opportunities among individuals as well as the organizational environments (Ho 2014; Arnaud and Mills 2016). The module helped me understand about stress, differences between eustreess and distress and how the stress is related to organizational change, as well as understands how individuals generally cope up with the stress of organizational change.

The eight modules were on mergers and acquisitions, which are a major form of organizational change, why such strategies are used and their significant to the organization. I learnt how such activities can influence or affect the organizational culture and how conflicts, domination, separation and blending influenced the processes of organizational mergers (Grieves 2010; Anderson 2016).

The last module introduced me to the concepts of 21st century understanding of organizational change where we participated in workshops on sustainable change. The workshop helped me understand the strategies of contingent change and its importance, and the factors that influence sustainable change such as the external and internal environments. I also learnt how globalization also influenced change in an organization and also created challenges within the organizational culture (Burnes 2009; Carnall 2018; Myers et al. 2012).

Progressing through the modules and through engagement in the workshops and seminars, I was able to identify five important and significant themes that were related to organizational change such as Strategy Theme, Leadership Theme, Capabilities and Resources Theme, Initiative Management Theme and Culture Theme (Alvesson and Sveningsson 2015; Siebert and Martin 2016; Burnes 2009). Discussed below are three of these themes that I found to be the most significant and useful:

Strategy Theme: This theme comprised of three important domains: development of change vision, formation of a model of governance and assessment of the impact and readiness for change. During the seminars I had to prepare presentation on effective methods of developing a vision of change that can motivate and orient employees towards the need for change, developing a model for governance which can be used to direct the process of change, and understand strategies that helps to assess the impact of the change or measure the readiness of the organization for the change (Chang2016; Grey 2008).

Leadership Theme: This theme comprised of five domains: sponsoring the process of change, communicating with the employees and understanding their perceptions, involving the employees in the process of change, motivating them and managing the resistance against the change. This theme helped to understand the role of a leader to facilitate the process of change in the organization (Hayes 2018).

Culture Theme: This theme has two important domains: developing an understanding of the organizational culture and developing a plan for the organizational culture that can support and facilitate organizational change. This theme focuses on the significant or important of the organizational culture in the context of change and its management (Alvesson and Sveningsson 2015; Al-Ali et al. 2017).

Some of the most intriguing ideas that I came across while learning about organizational management during my modules were: the role of the leader in the process of change; importance of the organizational culture in the facilitation of change; strategies to communicate planned and emergent change in the organization, significance of challenges and threats towards change, significance of authorities (such as whistle blowers, independent reviewers and management) in organizational change; significance of emotional intelligence in change and the models of emotional intelligence used to understand other’s emotions; association of mergers and acquisitions with organizational change and the impact of the environment (internal and external) on the organizational culture and change (Grieves 2010; Burnes 2009; Myers et al. 2012).

Role of the leader: While going through the modules and working on the assignments and case studies (such as the Shawn Fanning Case and Pfizer Case) I was able to learn the important role a leader can play to usher change in the organization. A leader can motivate and involve people in the organization towards the change communicate the organizational objectives and understand the perceptions of people towards the change, this also helps the leaders to mitigate resistance towards change thereby helping the organization through the process of change management (Domac et al. 2015; Senior et al. 2010; Myers et al. 2012)

Importance of Organizational Culture: I also learnt that organizational culture was very important factor that determines the readiness towards change. A positive culture can support change while a negative culture can increase resistance towards it. Thus it is important for organizations to be able to manage the culture towards positivity to encourage and foster change (Al-Ali et al. 2017; Alvesson and Sveningsson 2015).

Emotional Intelligence: This is an important skill that should be possessed by the leaders and management of the organization that can allow them to understand the views, beliefs, attitudes and behavior of employees towards change. Through effective emotional intelligence it is possible to understand others emotions which underlies the thoughts and behavior of people, which in turn influences the culture in the organization. Thus emotionally intelligent management and leadership are better able to analyze the readiness of employees towards the change (Sherry 2018; Sharma and Singh 2018).

Lean Management: Learning about lean management I was able to understand how the management can incorporate continuous improvement strategies to manage change in the organization through the long term approach of achieving small and incremental change, leading to the overall and large scale change in the organization. I learnt how this process can increase efficiency as well as quality of the organizational processes and overcome the resistance towards change due to the small and incremental nature of the change (Martínez-Jurado and Moyano-Fuentes 2014; Bhutta et al. 2017).

These ideas closely reflected on some of the other existing ideas that I was able to gather in my academic studies. Those ideas were:

The importance of motivating, orienting and understanding people: I was already aware that for the efficient operation in an organization and promote organizational development, it is vital that all the employees share a common goal or purpose that are motivated and oriented towards the organizational objectives. Also, it is vital for the management to understand the perceptions of people; such role can be played by an efficient leadership and management. This reinforced my understanding of the roles of leadership to facilitate change (Burnes 2009).

Significance of effective management strategies and communication strategies: I was also aware that effective communication and management is vital to foster employee satisfaction and orientation towards organizational objectives. Through the modules and activities I learnt that these factors also significantly influence the culture in the organization. Change management strategies such as lean management also reinforced my understanding of effective management to facilitate change (Siebert and Martin 2016).

The main ideas that I was able to learn can help me develop my leadership skills and capabilities which I can use to direct, guide, motivate and lead people. This will also help me to take initiatives, boost morale, support confidence and competence, develop positive culture, involve employees and support a coordinated effort in the management of the organization. Effective leadership can also help me to manage resistance, understand the perceptions of people and improve communication in the organization (Carnall 2018; Bolman and Deal 2017).

My career objective is to become a sales and marketing director, due to which I need significant leadership qualities that can help me to facilitate change in the organization. This skill is vital in the dynamic work environment of sales and marketing, where employees and management needs to be keenly attuned towards the perceptions of the customers, the trends in the market as well as analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the organization and its processes. Through effective leadership I believe I can support my role as an organizational leader and help in the development of the organization and manage organizational change (Grieves 2010).

The biggest challenges that I faced during my modules were time management, ability to accommodate time to learn about all the related concepts of change management and conduct research on the topic during the activities and assignments within a limited timeframe and measuring the progress of my learning through the course modules.

The factors that facilitated my learning process included the incredible support I got from the trainers and teachers, the group activities that helped me use the knowledge in discussions and in practical contexts, my strong communication and research skills as well as through patience and motivation to develop my knowledge and skills.

The main themes that I learnt during the course and which I would be able to utilize in my professional practice are the Strategy Theme, leadership Theme and Culture Theme. I was also able to learn about the Initiatives Management Theme as well Resource and Capabilities theme which I need to further develop my knowledge about through further studies and researches (Grieves 2010).

To develop my leadership and time management skills I plan to undergo additional training activities as a part of my long term goal. I intend to utilize continuous development strategies to keep developing my skills to become a more effective and efficient leader. On the short term goal, I plan to undergo more workshops where I can implement my knowledge hands on. Also, I plan to seek for internship programs (in the next 2-5 years) that can help me gain practical experience in the management of an organization.


Change management is an important aspect of management in the organization that helps the leadership and management to facilitate change in the organization. Change can be caused or triggered due to several factors, and can be either planned or unplanned. Factors such as leadership, organizational culture, challenges and threats can influence the process of implementing change. Through my module I was able to learn about these factors and how to effectively manage change in the organization. I learnt about three important themes such as strategy, leadership and culture which are important in change management. I also understood how communication, emotional intelligence, politics and power can help the leaders to effectively implement change in the organization. Strategies such as lean management can be used to implement change as incremental and discrete steps of small changes that can make the process of a larger change easier for both the management and the employees. I plan to further develop my skills and competencies to enable me to take leadership role as a Sales and Marketing Director, and use these strategies to develop a positive environment and motivate people towards organizational change when needed.


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