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InPsych 2017 | Vol 39

APS Institute

Disruption or challenge? Managing change for organisations and individuals

There is little doubt that we are living in a constantly changing global business environment which is now typified by disruption and uncertainty. These changes can come from environmental factors such as regional weather conditions, the impact of new corporate entrants such as Aldi or Amazon into previously stable markets, the rising house prices brought about by population growth, or evolving consumer behaviours as we become more comfortable with online shopping.

On the horizon there is a gradual shift in global power and influence, a rise in nationalism as well as the spectre of artificial intelligence and driverless cars. In other words, there is more turbulence or disruption to come.

In response, organisations of all types are striving to understand these changes and their consequences and in turn are aligning their structures and services to cope and ideally to respond positively (Ackhoff, 2006). The challenge can be that many of the approaches and models used to manage the response or change are based on models that are at least 20 years old. The possible result is that the success rate for many of these changes is less than 30 per cent (Balogun & Hope-Hailey, 2004).

Perhaps another way to look at ‘change’ is to recognise that turbulence is now a constant, and hence an organisation's response to these changes also needs to be constant. With this mindset, leaders may need to adjust their strategy two or three times a year, job roles could become more fluid and less fixed as would job tenure and payment.

Contrary to our desire for certainty and predictability we might need to build individual and organisational competence and capacity to regularly adjust our approach to work and the market. Greater time, money and effort may need to be invested in scanning our environments to see what is coming and to have a range of responses up our sleeve. Maybe it is time to give real life to the somewhat hollow terms agile and flexible.

Scott Way will be presenting a series of webinars (see below) to assist psychologists to better understand organisational change.


  • Ackoff, R.L. (2006). Idealized design: How to dissolve tomorrow’s crisis… today. Philadelphia, PA: Wharton School Publishing.
  • Balogun, J., & Hope Hailey, V. (2004). Exploring strategic change (2nd ed.). London: Prentice Hall.

Disclaimer: Published in InPsych on August 2017. The APS aims to ensure that information published in InPsych is current and accurate at the time of publication. Changes after publication may affect the accuracy of this information. Readers are responsible for ascertaining the currency and completeness of information they rely on, which is particularly important for government initiatives, legislation or best-practice principles which are open to amendment. The information provided in InPsych does not replace obtaining appropriate professional and/or legal advice.