How good is your Business at Adapting to an Ever Changing Environment?

Organisational sustainability and change go hand-in-hand. Many organisations introduce change, or initiate and plan for change, in response to a wide range of internal and external triggers. For some it could be the result of key staff departures providing the opportunity to review and potentially refresh the organisational structure. For others it could be the result of difficulties with the external environment necessitating changes to long standing business models that have not been previously challenged.

Such changes can be viewed in many different ways by the staff within the organisation. Some will view these potential changes as opportunities by virtue of embracing the unknown, whilst improving whatever the shortcomings of the existing position may have been.  Others will view them as threats by virtue of being uncomfortable with the unknown, and the sense of possible loss of position, control, influence or power.

Research in this field of change management and specifically in the area of “organisational readiness for change” has been extensive over the years. Some have contended that the lack of change readiness may be a key reason for Australian organisations failing in their attempts to manage the changes that are introduced. Others have suggested that organisations that display high levels of internal flexibility and a change ready culture are far better able to adapt and absorb changes as they come up.

A further approach has been to suggest that the management of change may in fact be more successful if continuous change is the norm within the organisation, rather than focusing on specific changes at particular moments in time. This implies a more fluid approach to change rather than an ‘episodic’ approach characterised by piecemeal changes as and when they are perceived as being needed.

Alongside this recognition regarding the readiness for change, is the associated research regarding change resistance, which in many ways represents the two sides of the one coin, in that the readier the organisation is to actively and positively work with change, the less change resistance and therefore the more likelihood of successful change outcomes.

Key Elements for Effective Change



My own PhD research which was undertaken within the Australian nonprofit health and disability sector reinforces this duality of change readiness and change resistance, and highlights a broad range of characteristics which shape change readiness. Whilst skill and care may be applied to change management via effective project management, this latter activity does not recognise the emotional aspects of change, as felt by those that are experiencing the change.  As such, good project management does not equate to good change outcomes. Understanding your staff responses to change must represent the other side of the ‘mechanistic’ aspects of change.

My research identified a number of additional considerations for inclusion in existing change management models that should be considered when applying these to the Australian nonprofit sector. This is important to consider as many of the models currently in use, have been derived from the for-profit sector, with little understanding of the many unique attributes of Australian nonprofit organisations and their people, which should be considered when introducing change in this sector.


  • Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations
  • Carers Australia Qld
  • Hunters Hill Ryde Community Centre
  • Meat and Livestock Australia
  • Nepean Area Disability Organisation
  • The Housing Connection
  • World Vision Australia

To discuss how best to implement successful organisational change in your Australian nonprofit organisation, contact us today. 

Alternatively, Optimum NFP holds regular Masterclasses in Change Management. Click here to find out more


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