Changing Corporate Culture at Vodafone

French (1982, p. 640) defines Organizational Development (in the following abbreviated OD) as “long-range effort to improve an organization’s problem-solving capabilities … to cope with changes in its external environment with the help of…change agents”. Different from other change approaches, OD focuses not only on parts of a system but rather on relationships and the system as an interconnected whole (Cummings and Worley 2005). OD deals with planned, episodic change but is an adaptive process for planning and implementing change in the same time. Focused on a core set of humanistic, democratic and developmental values (Palmer et al 2009), OD interventions may target changes in the organizational structure, mission, strategy, leadership or culture of a firm and wish to improve organizational effectiveness (Burke and Bradford 2005). All this is the reason why Palmer et al. (2009) use the image of a coach when referring to OD and managing change. The coach, used as a metaphor, understands managing and thus implementing change as shaping capabilities inside a system. Possible actions might include the introduction of self-managed teams, quality circles and various methods for implementing and diagnosing change in connection with action research.

Change processes in accordance with the image of coach are often pictured using Kurt Lewin’s change process model (Palmer et al. 2009). This model contains the following steps:
(1) Unfreezing the context
(2) Moving the situation
(3) Refreezing the new state.  
In the following I will use this model to describe implications of the above introduced coach image when managing change. As a company of reference I chose Vodafone, a multinational telecommunications company, which was undergoing a larger change in organizational culture in the mid-1990’s (Eaton and Brown 2002).

As explained earlier, the first phase of managing change is meant to unfreeze the status quo and establish the prerequisites for change (Palmer et...