Planning deep change through a series of small wins

Hans Vermaak - Best Paper Academy of Management, 2013

Complex issues require continuous change that is planned incrementally. This paper focuses on how such emergent change can be shaped through a process of small wins and explains how this may even use adversity to fuel the change. The research shows how planning is anything but an innocuous support activity for change efforts and describes how it can either frustrate or enable deep change. The paper discusses how deep change seems to be at odds with large-scale change and how this tension may be resolved.

The persistence of tough issues calls for change that is not ‘more of the same’ while the complexity of such issues calls for more than standardized recipes. It requires deep change where new ideas and new repertoire are actively sought and change processes are made to measure for each unique case. The planning of such change is not straightforward as clarity on what works comes from addressing them individually, not by studying their generalities beforehand.

The paper was awarded as the best action research paper at the Academy of Management Annual Conference in 2013 by the Organization Development & Change Division. (An abbreviated version of the paper that has been included in the Best Paper Proceedings  2013 of the Academy of Management can be downloaded too: click here)