Organizational Change, Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC)- Knotters 8 Stage model.
Organizational change remains one of the inevitable elements of business growth
and sustainability (Biedenbacha and Soumlderholma,2008). Rapid technological
development and global competition (Armenakis and Harris,2009) make a need for
change in the future even more urgent. This paper discusses three change drivers
TMC has undergone and three desired outcomes. This document uses Kotter's 8
stages model to discuss how the desired outcomes of these changes can be
implemented from an HRM perspective. However, this model does not apply to all
types of changes (Burnes,1996) because of its 'rigid approach' and some steps are
not relevant in some contexts (Steven et al., 2012).
One of the change drivers TMC thrives on is technological knowledge and
aptitude (Toyota,2020). TMC has applied an acceleration suppression function
system (Toyota,2020) that uses big data collected from connected cars to help
identify the abnormal operation of the accelerator. Also, an advanced automatic
collision notification system and a new retrofit accelerator control system will be
installed in all new cars by June 2020. However, technological changes reflect
strongly on the objectives and expectations of management and weakly on the
characteristics of technology (Preece and Harrison,1988) which implies that not
every customer can adapt to these changes due to income inequality and strategic
choices (Mudambi,1994). So, for TMC to remain innovative, sustain its competitive
advantage, and ensure the health and safety of its car users it must make these
Another change driver has been an overhaul of the corporate structure aimed at
taking a lead in COVID -19 recovery(Toyota,2020).TMC support measures have
been put in place to help frontline and medical workers.TMC will use the Teiho Plant
in Japan to produce about 600 injection mold and 3D printed face shields a week
(Toyota,2020) using its Toyota production systems to fight the global pandemic.
Also, changes have been made in working hours from home and how to improve
productivity, and to reduce the cost further, they train workers with extra time gained
from suspended production due to decreased demand to improve its corporate
structure and competitiveness (Toyota,2020). These changes are in line with the UN
sustainability goals which stem from poverty reduction and safety and health well-
Changes in customer demands have been another driver for change. The global
financial crisis and globalization (Mehri,2012) have affected customer buying
behaviors. So, TMC is working closely with its suppliers to maintain its supply chain
by making alternative production arrangements and carrying out cost differentiation
strategies to keep all customers satisfied. Therefore, TMC promotes human resource
development by supporting its suppliers and to remain competitive and build more
integration through business and communication.
The above notwithstanding, this article uses the knotters 8 stages model to
analyze 3 desired outcomes at TMC. The first outcome of TMC's technological
change hinges on customer safety and economic growth. Knotter (1996) in his model
posits that the urgency for change when it is needed, creating a guiding coalition,
developing a vision and strategy, and communicating it effectively (Knotter,1996) are
In TMC, the new acceleration suppression function and the retrofit accelerator
control system are triggered by customer safety. This is very urgent and developing
a clear strategy and vision using clear communication strategies to reduce
uncertainty and ambiguity (Bordia et al.,2004) are crucial elements of the
organizational change process. The guiding coalition is not a single-handed matter
and needs people in power who are credible and good leaders (Lines,2007). TMC
demonstrates this with its high revenue turnover of $10 billion in the last two years
(Forbes,2020) due to good leadership management. However, knotter's claim of
urgency in organizational change is counteracted by the fact that when change is
delayed the benefits are slim and when it is rushed there is not enough time for
adaptation causing it to fail (Buchanan et al., 2005). Therefore, the desired outcomes
of customer safety and well-being and the need for economic growth can be linked to
the knotters model.
Another desired outcome is innovation due to changing customer behaviors.
The urgency of this thrives on customer satisfaction and the need to remain
competitive. TMC uses a unique approach in its Toyota production systems which is
inimitable and clearly understood by managers who think less of failure (Washington
and Hacker,2005). For this thrive, employees have to be empowered and participate
in the change outcomes through training and shadowing (Klidas et al., 2007).
However, not all employees can be receptive to change visions (Frahm and
Brown,2007). So, for TMC to remain innovative it must use a support structure with
change agents to sustain its competitive advantage (Massey and Williams,2006),
develop and communicate a clear vision and strategy and involve its employees in
the decision-making process.
To summarize, the knotter model does not apply to all types of changes (Steven
et al., 2012) and the overlapping steps may compromise success. An application of
the knotters model in TMC will largely succeed due to TMC's clarity of strategic
vision, globalization, and its prompt responses to the changing market environment.
However, commitment to change can make change succeed (Steven et al., 2017)
and resistance to change (Jaros,2010) is an obstacle any organization will face. So,
further research is need on this outside knotter's model.
Appendix 2 – Review of Change framework
Fig 1. Knotters 8 stages model
As seen in Fig .1, Knotters model has eight steps of change. In step 1, the change
will not occur if there is no need for it to be done (Smith,2005) and the urgency of the
change must be attractive to employees showing that it can be done and creating a
positive mindset (Kobi,1996)
In step 2 it is argued that one person cannot carry out change in an organization so,
putting the right group of people is important for success (Kobi,1996). Knotter (1996)
argues that this guiding coalition needs enough key players on board with expertise,
who are credible and have good leadership skills. But, a coalition made up of bad
leaders and good managers will not succeed. Self et al. (2007) intimates that change
guided by a leader is more likely to be accepted by workgroup members and
implementation is easier.
In step 3, Knotter (1996) argues after a guiding coalition we must formulate a 'clear
and sensible vision' for the transformation effort. An effective vision changes the
dynamics and looks beyond the immediate goals of the firm (Knotter,1996).
Therefore, teamwork and coaching are needed to carry out change at this level.
In Step 4, no change can occur effectively without good communication. High quality
of management communication has a positive impact on organizational change
(Nelissen and van Selm,2008). Knotter (1996) argues that two-way communication is
always better than one-way communication and face to face communication has the
greatest impact (D'Aprix,1982). A study by Frahm and Brown (2007) examines the
link between communication and employees' receptivity to change. They found that
weekly team meetings made employees more trusting and open to change.
In step 5, the employees must be empowered to try new approaches to change by
communicating the vision of the organization. Knotter (1996) intimates empowering
employees means addressing obstacles in structure, skills, systems, and
supervisors. The role of training is vital to employee empowerment. Critics have
argued firmly that communication, training, and coaching are mediums through
which companies develop empowered employees (Ellinger et al.,2010). So,
employee empowerment and a shift in the paradigm of the organizational culture
(Pinheiro,2010) are valuable ingredients for organizational change.
In step 6, celebrating short- term wins boosts self -confidence and belief that bigger
gains are possible, and this helps to build momentum for long term goals
(Pieterson,2002). It also reassures employees and management that their efforts are
on the right track (Marks,2007). However, striking a balance between short term
gains and long-term effects of change on employee perception can be complicated
for organizational leadership (Boga and Ensari,2009).
In step 7 and 8 consolidates gains and produce more change using new approaches
in the corporate future (Steven et al., 2012). However, Knotters 8 step model has the
following limitations: The approach is rigid because knotter (1996) argues that the 8
steps should be followed in a sequence and extended overlapping of the steps will
compromise success. So, failure to implement the first step invalidates the
subsequent steps (Burnes,1996). As mentioned before, some steps are not relevant
in some context, and dealing with difficulties during change management (Steven et
al., 2012) are some of the limitations of Knotter's model.
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