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The Underlying Structure of Continuous Change

The conventional models of organizational change present an unrealistic image of change as an episodic phenomenon in which corporate leaders develop and implement elaborate change programs on an occasional basis in response to specific, isolated environmental shocks. This type of change does occur, but more often the corporate environment is characterized by change that is open-ended, fluid and less closely tied to specific shocks. In fact, continuous change is a cycle with four phases, each with its own dynamics and specific type of champion. "Evangelists" promote the value of innovation and creativity, influencing those around them so that new ideas spread and take root. "Autocrats" choose which ideas are translated into practice, using their authority to alter behaviors. "Architects" design and implement systems that embed change into the organizational infrastructure. Finally, "educators" create work experiences that increase employees' expertise and sense of mastery, leading to the generation of new ideas that extend and potentially transform the organization's direction, thereby keeping the cycle going around. An understanding of these four phases can help managers transform their companies into organizations that experience change, not as a tumultuous, anxiety-inducing event, but as part of an everyday routine.
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