Leadership on Point

Who Is Harold Leavitt … And Why Should You Care?

October 3, 2011 Meghan Vincent

Harold J. Leavitt's Diamond Model for Analyzing Management Change

The late Harold J. Leavitt was a pioneer in the development of the academic field of organizational behavior, a management expert with degrees from Harvard, Brown and MIT (undergrad, graduate, and doctorate, respectively) and a highly respected college professor (University of Chicago, Carnegie-Mellon University, and Stanford).  And, in 1965, he gave to the world his model for analyzing the impacts organizational change.

Through this model (known as Leavitt’s Diamond), Leavitt demonstrates that each element of an organization’s system – people, goals/tasks, structure and technology/processes – are interdependent.  In other words, changes made to any one of these four elements cannot and will not occur in isolation.  Rather, a change made in any one area of your organization will impact the entire system.

In a time marked by countless workplace change initiatives, it is critical for corporate leadership to understand the connection between these four key components within the organization before building an effective change strategy.  For example, a change in the organization’s structure will result in an alteration in communication patterns between levels/departments/employees (affecting the people component) while the introduction of new technology could require an entirely new set of goals(tasks) to be formulated.

Furthermore, studies have shown that, when one component undergoes change without the other three components also changing (intentionally by management) in response to it, the remaining three components will actually respond in a way to minimize the newly implemented initiatives.  This highlights the importance of developing a thorough and well thought-out change strategy for your organization.

For those facing an overhauling of one (or more) components of their organization, be prepared to not only understand the impact/extensiveness of that change but also be equipped to lead others within the organization through it.  Changing the way you view change is the first step to helping you, as a leader, adapt to and (eventually) accept change within your organization.



Written by RLA Associate Meghan Vincent. For more information, Meghan can be contacted at: mvincent@richardlevinassociates.com