In human history, there has been competition to outdo the traditional or present way of doing things and bring new ideas. Due to this, there has always been quest to bring change. Constant evolution has been experienced in all sectors; from automotive industry to fashion and design, education system, politics, technology among other examples. Change in organisations has also been constant in order to give the best products or services and above all remain competitive and relevant in the ever changing world. Managing organisational change involves the process of planning and implementing adjustment in order to achieve the objectives aimed by that change (Paduano, 2017). This study focuses on how the transport sector has been changed through online app services provided by Uber Technologies Inc.
Uber is an international transport network organisation that is based in California and headquartered in San Francisco, United States. The company specialises in development, marketing and operating the Uber app that enables its customers worldwide to request transport services through a smart phone (Alballaa & Al-Mudimigh, 2011). Although the company does not own cars, it connects car owners and customers through the online platform. This has revolutionized the old transport system where customers had to locate the service providers and agree on the service fee. Unlike the former method, this one calculates the distance a customer needs to travel and provides details of charges even before requesting for the service. Drivers on the other hand can get potential customers even when they are in a remote place unlike the traditional way where they were always relying on their visibility to the customers to offer a ride.
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The revolution has impacted the world’s transport sector due to ‘uberisation’, a term referring to the transition to a system in which agents maximise under-utilised capacity of assets or human resources through a software programme of a website to create a win-win situation between clients and service providers while charging a small fee. The model is usually more efficient, reliable and cheaper compared to the conventional ways of doing business. In most cases, this has eliminated the role of middle men in the sector by connecting clients to customers. Besides, through the application, a customer can be able to view all the available vehicles within a certain area and therefore make judgement on which one to order based on the distance between the customer and the service provider. This avoids unnecessary time wastage where a phone call would alert a driver far away from town and leave the one who could be within town.
For an organisation, change is always a necessity either due to internal or external circumstances. Internal circumstances may include underperformance or lack of competence among staff, economic loss by an organisation or even pressure from the senior leadership. External changes that can bring change in an organisation include competition in the market, change by customer preference, and change in technology among others. Change should be well managed for it to minimize resistance and maximize its effectiveness (McKinsey Global Survey, 2010). In most cases, organisations do not realise overnight success in change plan, implementation and adoption hence there are challenges that are associated with change.
A change could be of help to the organization but may not be fully implemented. Although there have been cases of gross misconduct and sexual harassment to employees by managers, sometimes there have been delays in taking action against the person responsible or even compensating the victims. For example, failure to take action against the senior vice president of engineering Amit Singhal at Uber downgraded the reputation of Uber. This affected the company by making it lose potential clients to its competitors such as GrabCar, Bike-sharing and Blablacar. Besides, criticism to the company by the public together with the negative rating has discouraged new users from making Uber their choice in the priority list. Normally, loss of confidence by the public has always been associated with a decrease in profit margin. Uber finally fired Singhal to avoid condemnation and improve their image in eyes of the and hence safeguarding the customers.
Change implementation is also hindered if there are unqualified change managers. This is brought about due to various reasons like lack of willingness by an organisation to replace the senior manager(s) who might be lacking vision to take the organisation to another level for it to become more competitive globally and yield to its full potential. The transition of changing management and instead task of the ones who are vision oriented becomes hindrance of change especially if the manager’s term has not expired. A manager may not have an organisation’s long term goals in mind and therefore fail to lay strategies that will yield the long term benefits or deliberately refuse to implement proposed changes. Some view change as a threat to remove them from office as a result of failure to cope with technology advancement in a dynamic world (Jorgensen et al., 2008). Traditional taxi drivers found it hard to compete with Uber since they could not easily embrace losing their jobs. There were reported cases of violence against Uber drivers by their conventional taxi counterparts.
At times, there might be lack of competent trainers to endure the responsibility of training staff through the transition strategy. An organization can also decline to change due to the common norm and assumption that change will slow down projects. Human beings enjoy doing what they do and like exercising what they already know. Employees in a company may therefore find it hard to deviate from their daily routine and embrace actions that are strange to them irrespective of how promising the results might appear. Lack of proper communication has also been known to hinder changes where the mission is not made clear hence some employees miss the concept ‘why’ they should embrace change. Financial constrains can also slow down exerting and implementation of changes in an organisation. An example could be lack of necessary finances set up regional offices in different parts of the world. Uber could be planning to set up offices in three different parts like South America, Asia and sub-Saharan Africa but take time before they implement their plans as they gather capital.
The advantages associated with organisational changes are several. The move could be an aim to create more revenue. As expected, organizations adopt change strategies that will result in increasing profits (Smith, 2002). Uber for example made their app available for free so that more customers can have access to their services. More customers have been positively correlate with increased profits. Another aim of change could be reduction of operational costs. Most companies often adjust their operations in order to minimise their expenditure which is linked to higher profits. Uber opted not to own cars but just own the online platform. In conventional transport systems, taxi companies bought cars and serviced them to serve their clients which increased their expenses and reducing profits. On the contrary, Uber avoided that approach and left the costly activity to car owners. Change is also meant to improve products or services offered (Andrade et al., 2016). The traditional taxi system and online platform are not comparable. The latter has more advanced and friendly services to the service buyer and seller. Considering an example is safety, use of the online platform ensures the driver and rider are safe even though they could be strangers. Online booking ensures customer details are recorded hence that customer may not turn to be a criminal to the driver. The driver is also careful on the road in order to be rated well by the customer.
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For an organisation to fully adopt and implement change, there are three phases are proposed which can facilitate the process (Prosci 2017).
Phase 1: Preparing for change. At this stage, the organisation determines the change management strategy. The quantity and quality of change is weighed to realize the intense it will require. ‘Who’ is impacted in the proposed initiative is also evaluated and in ‘what’ ways. The question of ‘where’ finances needed to back up the initiative are answered at this stage since change will be associated with an expenditure.
Phase 2: Change management strategy. Managing change in an organisation will require development of change management plans. These are the plans that will be used to integrate project plan. They include the steps taken to support the people being impacted by the project. The common plans considered at this stage are communication plan – messages that will be delivered to intended audience, who will send and when it is appropriate. Sponsor plan – to indicate how finances will flow from the source and how to reach the intended recipient, who will be responsible to allocate what amount to which activity. Training plan – this is needed as most changes will involve training at some stage. This determines who is having the required skills, how and when to pass knowledge to the intended audience. This also determines who will be a beneficially of the proposed skills in order to make it effective depending on whether it is intended for managers or employees. Resistance management plan – as usual, change is not always easily adopted (LaClair & Rao, 2002). Some feel that it is not useful to them or it’s threatening their jobs and therefore turn against the proposed change. A plan to address rejection should always be in place. Uber was rejected by traditional taxi operators but they overpowered them by winning customers support.
Phase 3: Reinforcing change. This is a crucial stage to follow-up the implemented changes. It ensures that change has been adopted and sustained. Measures are taken to determine how well change has taken effect and what needs to be reminded if any. It can be achieved through measuring changes in behaviours to see if the change is affecting employees positively or negatively, what can be done to improve certain areas, what can be substituted and still retain the impact of change and collecting feedback of change impacts (Prosci, 2017). Continued reinforcement mechanisms are helpful at this stage since people are used to the old habits and might forget to implement some changes.
It can therefore be concluded that when planning change in an organization, it is important to weigh all the possibilities and choose the most effective strategy that can be used to without affecting the quality of services employees give to the customers. It is important to include the relevant stake holders (employees and employers) in a discussion to enable each side give their opinions that can be applied in the proposed changes. There is need to value the suggestions of workers while implementing change to ensure good quality changes that can improve employer-employee-customer relationship to have a win-win consequence. 7
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