The distinction between episodic and continuous change helps clarify thinking about an organisation’s future development and evolution in relation to its long-term goals. Few organisations are in a position to decide unilaterally that they will adopt an exclusively continuous change approach. They can, however, capitalise upon many of the principles of continuous change by engendering the flexibility to accommodate and experiment with everyday contingencies, breakdowns, exceptions, opportunities and unintended consequences that punctuate organisational life (Orlikowski, 1996).
Using these characteristics proposed changes can be placed along two scales: radical – incremental and core – peripheral (Pennington 2003) Plotting the character of a proposed change along these scales can provide a sense of how difficult the introduction of any particular initiative might be and how much disturbance to the status quo it might generate. Radical changes to an institution’s or department’s core business will normally generate high levels of disturbance; incremental changes to peripheral activities are often considered to be unexceptional and can be accommodated as a matter of course, especially if the group involved has a successful past record of continuous improvement.