How does change happen in Palo Alto?
Original post made by Change Agent, Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Apr 23, 2007
Seems to me that Palo Alto has some change management issues.
From Change Management 101:
In thinking about what is meant by "change management," at least four basic definitions come to mind:
1. The task of managing change.
2. An area of professional practice.
3. A body of knowledge.
4. A control mechanism.
One meaning of "managing change" refers to the making of changes in a planned and managed or systematic fashion. The aim is to more effectively implement new methods and systems in an ongoing organization. The changes to be managed lie within and are controlled by the organization.
The second meaning of managing change, namely, the response to changes over which the organization exercises little or no control (e.g., legislation, social and political upheaval, the actions of competitors, shifting economic tides and currents, and so on). Researchers and practitioners alike typically distinguish between a knee-jerk or reactive response and an anticipative or proactive response.
Stemming from the view of change management as an area of professional practice there arises yet a third definition of change management: the content or subject matter of change management. This consists chiefly of the models, methods and techniques, tools, skills and other forms of knowledge that go into making up any practice.
The content or subject matter of change management is drawn from psychology, sociology, business administration, economics, industrial engineering, systems engineering and the study of human and organizational behavior.
For many years now, Information Systems groups have tried to rein in and otherwise ride herd on changes to systems and the applications that run on them. For the most part, this is referred to as "version control" and most people in the workplace are familiar with it. In recent years, systems people have begun to refer to this control mechanism as "change management" and "configuration management." Moreover, similar control mechanisms exist in other areas. Chemical processing plants, for example, are required by OSHA to satisfy some exacting requirements in the course of making changes. These fall under the heading of Management of Change or MOC.
To recapitulate, there are at least four basic definitions of change management:
1. The task of managing change (from a reactive or a proactive posture)
2. An area of professional practice (with considerable variation in competency and skill levels among practitioners)
3. A body of knowledge (consisting of models, methods, techniques, and other tools)
4. A control mechanism (consisting of requirements, standards, processes and procedures).
So, assuming that change happens, and there is no way to stop it, the question begs, "How does Palo Alto manage change?"
From the Merc article about Grace Mah:
"It doesn't speak well for the Palo Alto community," said Henry Der, former state deputy superintendent of schools. "If there's an underlying tone of resentment against the changing face of Palo Alto, these individuals who fear change need to get on with it and deal with reality."
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