Managing organisational change through the application of strategic thinking.
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The frequency of organisational change is accelerating to a level where change is becoming a norm of organisational life today. This change comes in different forms, whether planned or emergent. Regardless of whether it comes as planned or as emergent, organisations must respond to change by adopting and applying dynamic and responsive management approaches in order to manage the transition successfully. The overall aim of this study is to view organisational change through the application of strategic thinking. A framework of strategic thinking is therefore developed. In terms of this framework, successful management of organisational change is attributed to the following key elements: • Vision-building • Systems thinking • Complex adaptive systems • Organisational learning • Scenario planning Following the framework of strategic thinking developed, an assessment of two organisations that are currently undergoing a process of organisational change is undertaken. The two organisations are the Lesotho Electricity Corporation and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. The key motivation for this study was to determine whether or not the two aforementioned organisations apply the key elements of strategic thinking in managing their change-related endeavours. With regard to vision-building, the findings of the research reveal that in the case of the Lesotho Electricity Corporation, a comprehensive process of vision-building or vision development of the desired future of the Corporation was carried out. This process was designed to facilitate a better understanding of the Corporation's major strategic purpose with the key focus on defining and creating a desired future state of the restructuring programme. In contrast, the findings reveal that the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare does not have a vision for its restructuring programme. In relation to systems thinking, the findings suggest that the Lesotho Electricity Corporation has partly applied the principles of systems thinking. However, in the case of the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, systems thinking is not applied at all. With regard to the concept of complex adaptive systems, the findings reveal that in managing its restructuring programme, the Lesotho Electricity Corporation is behaving like a complex adaptive system, since it applies adaptive strategic approaches, which are determined by the circumstances at hand. On the other hand, the findings suggest that the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare is not behaving like a complex adaptive system in managing its restructuring programme, as it relies only on predetermined strategic approaches, which inhibit the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances. In terms of organisational learning, it is evident from the findings that the learning culture is encouraged and facilitated in the case of the Lesotho Electricity Corporation. Conversely, the findings indicate that the restructuring programme of the health sector is restricted by inadequate organisational learning efforts undertaken by the management of the Ministry. In relation to scenario planning, the findings reveal that the Lesotho Electricity Corporation does not apply scenario planning in its restructuring programme as a strategic tool that explores alternative futures in uncertain environments. On the other hand, the findings indicate that although the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare suggests that it applies scenario planning as a strategic approach, it is evident that its application is done at a very superficial level. The above findings indicate the diverse strategic approaches applied by the two organisations. Following the framework of strategic thinking, the Lesotho Electricity Corporation is in a better position than the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare in many respects. However, even though the Corporation is in a better position in this case, there still remain other areas of strategic thinking that are not applicable or not fully explored by management when addressing the problem situation of the Corporation. In particular, systems thinking is one key element of strategic thinking that has been found partly evident in addressing the problem situation of the Corporation, while scenario planning was found to be not applicable at all. It is in this respect that the study concludes that, in order to achieve successful and sustainable organisational change, the two organisations that are currently undergoing organisational change have to apply the integrated elements of strategic thinking.