Wednesday, March 24, 2010

“Chanakya and Change Management” – Prof.M.S.Rao

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” - Charles Darwin

What is Change Management?

As individuals undergo change, the organizations also undergo change. For human beings, there are three stages such as birth, growth and death. However, for organizations there are five stages such as birth, growth, transformation, decline and death. Organizations are not meant for decline and death. Therefore, when the decline is anticipated, it is essential for managers and leaders to turnaround their organizations through various strategies to ensure that the organizational graph goes towards northwards.

Change management can be defined as the process of effecting changes in a systematic, structured and sequential manner for transforming the organizations from uncertainty to certainty when faced with competition, complexity and uncertainty arising out of changing times and technologies. It calls for effective leadership, value-based leadership and principle-centered leadership to ensure organizational changes smoothly and successfully.

How to Manage Change Effectively?

Usually we find three categories of people while handling organizational change. The first category of the people are known as ‘actors’ who are ready to say ‘yes’ and get into the bandwagon of change and we can calculate them approximately in the percentage of ten percent. The second category of the people is known as ‘spectators’ who are undecided whether to agree or disagree for the change. We can calculate them roughly in the percentage of 80 percent. Finally, the third category of the people is known as ‘speed brakers’ who are against change and strongly say ‘no’. The tough task here for the leaders is to persuade the spectators about the benefits of effecting change. At times the speed brakers may pull spectators backward by highlighting about the negative side of change.

There are various methods through which people can be encouraged to change effectively. For instance, leaders have to set example and have to be part of the team throughout the change process to take the team forward aggressively. Communication is the key to managing change. At times, people may have apprehensions about change. Therefore, the onus lies with leaders to clear any doubts or misconceptions or fears about change. People may have fears like loss of job or loss of facilities or incentives or fear of coming out of the comfort zone. It takes lot of efforts and energies on the part of leaders to persuade people for ensuring change smoothly and successfully. The leaders have to facilitate and coordinate the efforts continuously and constantly during the transformation process.

Chanakya and Change Management:

Chanakya states four styles in handling people viz ‘Sama’ which means persuasion, ’Daana’ which means provide incentives, ‘Bedha’ which means differentiate between the people and finally ‘Dandopaya’ which means punish people who don’t fall in line. Similarly when the change has to be effected people have to be persuaded by all means about the pros and cons of the change. There has to be effective communication and coordination between the leaders and followers. For this, leaders must build trust with their people by involving themselves actively in the change process.

According to Chanakya if the persuasion does not work, then leaders must offer incentives to motivate people to accept the change. Tell them the benefits of effecting change. The third strategy he said was to differentiate people. For instance, compare and contrast the people between who fall in line and those who don’t fall in line. Tell those who don’t accept change must be asked to emulate from others who obeys and executes change. It creates a kind of competitive spirit among anti-changers to accept the change along with pro-changers. Finally if all the three strategies don’t work out, the ultimate weapon is to use force or coercion for anti-changers about the consequences of not falling in line as it may either allow them to fall in line with pro-changers or exit. These are the four strategies to be adopted according to Chanakya theory.

However his theory has several criticisms. His theory worked well in those ancient days. Now times have changed and people cannot be controlled. They have to be persuaded as the days of ‘command and control’ concept have gone. It is the time to partner and share roles and responsibilities. It is the time to collaborate through team working. If we keep this criticism aside, overall the concept of Chanakya is fairly good enough to turnaround organizations into economic viability and feasibility.


Change is inevitable. The only thing constant in the world is change. Change is the mantra for survival and success. The times and technologies are changing rapidly and the organizations need to keep pace with the same and reinvent and evolve accordingly for ensuring organizational excellence and effectiveness.

To conclude, change can be stressful, painful and helpful. It all depends on how you view change. If you accept change with optimism it can be helpful. In contrast, if you view change with cynicism it will be painful as well as stressful. Hence, welcome change wholeheartedly for achieving survival and success in all walks of your life.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this useful info. Keep updating same way.
Regards, AshishChange Management