Strategic Management: Formulation and Implementation

Change Strategists

CEOs, top management, and consultants typically are change strategists. They oversee the links between the organization and its environment. Change strategists are responsible for identifying the need for change, creating a vision of the desired outcome, deciding what change is feasible, and choosing who should sponsor and defend it.

A growing literature is devoted to providing guidelines for what is often called the "leadership" role (e.g., Allaire and Firsirotu, 1985; Tichy and Devanna, 1986; Nadler and Tushman, 1989, 1990; Hambrick and Cannella, 1989; Beer and Walton, 1990).

For example, David Nadler and Michael Tushman (1989) see a individual as having a special "feel" or "magic", and thus use the term "magic leader": someone who helps articulate the change and capture and mobilize the hearts and minds of the organization. This leader has several tasks: determining the ultimate extent of the change needed and its degree of urgency; assessing whether the change is shortor longterm; deciding if the change is cultural, structural, etc. These tasks, in turn, become represented in distinctive behaviors envisioning, energizing, and enabling.

The leaders are typically portrayed as the critical ingredient in instituting change; if the are missing, the change is not likely to occur (Collins, Ross, and Ross, 1989).

While change strategists can fairly easily impact organizational structures and resource allocation, it is more difficult for them to influence cultures and individuals (Allaire and Firsirotu, 1985).