Change is inevitable in every aspect of our lives. In a business environment, change may not always be welcomed but it is expected. Changes in the business environment happen all the time. The economy fluctuates up or down on a daily basis, frequently causing businesses to alter the way they operate. New competitors enter the marketplace while others leave. Ever-shifting weather patterns and natural disasters can force a change in a business environment as can political events, wars and the adoption or rejection of laws and rules. Advanced technologies, products and innovation lead to change in a business environment as can population shifts. Businesses also are forced to change internally when a key employee leaves, gets sick or dies.
No matter whether change is abrupt or evolves over a period of time, business owners and leaders must revisit their companies’ strategic plans on a regular basis. Critical to business success, strategic planning involves vision and mission, and knowing how and when a business should adapt to change. Strategic planning is the blueprint of where a business is now and the action plan of where it is heading. Understanding the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats – also known as SWOT analysis – of a business can help determine a company’s goals and the strategies necessary to achieve those goals.
One of the most important objectives for any business is change management, the systematic approach of preparing an organization for growth and for creating processes that effectively deal with change in a business environment. Understanding the economic, technological and social challenges, as well as the marketing environment, of an organization and how those impact a business is pivotal to strategic planning. In order for an organization to grow and innovate, change must be managed, implemented and executed with constant communication between managers and staff so that everyone feels empowered and part of the change process. John P. Kotter, a Harvard Business School professor and authority on organizational change management, describes an eight-step model to successful change in his books Leading Change (1995) and The Heart of Change (2002). Kotter says people approach change by seeing, feeling and then changing.
Change management in an online MBA program
Creating, implementing and managing change in a business environment can come after years of experience. An experienced professional wanting to advance his or her career or a qualified professional looking to become a project manager, sales or marketing director or a human resources manager might consider pursuing a Master of Business Administration. A typical two-year online MBA program offers a solid foundation in business management. Core courses include the traditional business administration disciplines of accounting, finance, global economics, statistics, marketing, technology and information systems, human resources and business strategy. The business strategy course is a study of business operations practice, including operations strategies and action plans and their applications to managerial decision making.
Most online MBA programs focus in a particular specialization, or concentration, during the second year. Among the most popular concentrated classes are accounting and finance, economics and statistics, marketing, international business, entrepreneurship, human resources, and business strategy and operations. Additionally, an online MBA program will teach essential MBA skills and competencies, such as leadership, teamwork, communication, strategic thinking, problem-solving, evaluation, quantitative/research skills, time management, adaptability, and project management. Because an online MBA program is tailored for each student, these practical skills will be learned through actual situations on a current job and those students will likely face in the future.
A professional with a Master of Business Administration degree can be a valuable team member, helping an organization adapt to a fast-changing marketplace while keeping it ahead of the competition.