Change management

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Change management is an approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and organizations to a desired future state.[1] In a project management context, change management may refer to the change control process wherein changes to the scope of a project are formally introduced and approved.[2][3]



Many change management models and processes are based with their roots in grief studies. As consultants saw a correlation between grieving from health-related issues and grieving among employees in an organization due to loss of jobs and departments, many early change models captured the full range of human emotions as employees mourned job-related transitions.[4]

In his work on Diffusion of Innovations, Everett Rogers posited that change must be understood in the context of time, communication channels, and its impact on all affected participants. Placing people at the core of change thinking was a fundamental contribution to developing the concept of change management. He proposed the descriptive Adopter groups of how people respond to change: Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority and Laggards.[5]


McKinsey consultant Julien Phillips published a change management model in 1982 in the journal Human Resource Management, though it took a decade for his change management peers to catch up with him.[6]

Robert Marshak has since credited the big 6 accounting and consulting firms with adopting the work of early organizational change pioneers, such as Daryl Conner and Don Harrison, thereby contributing to the legitimization of a whole change management industry when they branded their reengineering services as change management in the 1980s.[7]


In his 1993 book, Managing at the Speed of Change, Daryl Conner coined the term 'burning platform' based on the 1988 North Sea Piper Alpha oil rig fire. He went on to found Conner Partners in 1994, focusing on the human performance and adoption techniques that would help ensure technology innovations were absorbed and adopted as best as possible.[8]


Linda Ackerman Anderson states in Beyond Change Management that in the late 1980s and early 1990s, top leaders, growing dissatisfied with the failures of creating and implementing changes in a top-down fashion, created the role of the change leader to take responsibility for the human side of the change.[9] The first State of the Change Management Industry report was published in the Consultants News in February 1995.[10]


In 2010, based on her book RIMER Managing Successful Change, Christina Dean [11] established Change Management as a formal vocation in Australia by writing the Australian National Competency Standards in Organizational and Community Change Management, which led to the development of the first Australian Diploma of Organizational Change Management, and which is an internationally recognized qualification.

The Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP) has announced that in 2016, to enhance the profession, a new certification will be introduced: Certified Change Management Professional.[12]


Organizational change management employs a structured approach to ensuring that changes are implemented smoothly and succesfully to achieve lasting benefits.

Reasons for Change[edit]

Globalization and constant innovation of technology result in a constantly evolving business environment. Phenomena such as social media and mobile adaptability have revolutionized business and the effect of this is an ever increasing need for change, and therefore change management. The growth in technology also has a secondary effect of increasing the availability and therefore accountability of knowledge. Easily-accessible information has resulted in unprecedented scrutiny from stockholders and the media and pressure on management.

With the business environment experiencing so much change, organizations must then learn to become comfortable with change as well. Therefore, the ability to manage and adapt to organizational change is an essential ability required in the workplace today. Yet, major and rapid organizational change is profoundly difficult because the structure, culture, and routines of organizations often reflect a persistent and difficult-to-remove "imprint" of past periods, which are resistant to radical change even as the current environment of the organization changes rapidly.[13]

Due to the growth of technology, modern organizational change is largely motivated by exterior innovations rather than internal factors. When these developments occur, the organizations that adapt quickest create a competitive advantage for themselves, while the companies that refuse to change get left behind.[14] This can result in drastic profit and/or market share losses.

Organizational change directly affects all departments and employees. The entire company must learn how to handle changes to the organization.

Change Models[edit]

Among the many methods of change management exist several key models:

John Kotter's 8-Step Process for Leading Change

Dr. John P. Kotter, the Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership, Emeritus, at the Harvard Business School, invented the 8-Step Process for Leading Change. It consists of eight stages:

  1. Establish a Sense of Urgency
  2. Create the Guiding Coalition
  3. Develop a Vision and Strategy
  4. Communicate the Change Vision
  5. Empower Employees for Broad-Based Action
  6. Generate Short-Term Wins
  7. Consolidate Gains and Produce More Change
  8. Anchor New Approaches in the Culture

Change Management Foundation and Model

The Change Management Foundation is shaped like a pyramid with project management managing technical aspects and people implementing change at the base and leadership setting the direction at the top. The Change Management Model consists of four stages:

  1. Determine Need for Change
  2. Prepare & Plan for Change
  3. Implement the Change
  4. Sustain the Change

Deming Cycle of Plan-Do-Check-Act

The Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle, created by W. Edwards Deming, is a management method to improve business method for control and continuous improvement of processes and products. It consists of four stages:

  1. Plan - establish objectives and processes
  2. Do - implement the plan, execute the process, make the product
  3. Check - study actual results and compare against the expected results
  4. Act - enact new standards[15]

Choosing What Changes to Implement[edit]

When determining which of the latest techniques or innovations to adopt, there are four major factors to be considered:

  1. Levels, goals, and strategies
  2. Measurement system
  3. Sequence of steps
  4. Implementation and organizational changes

Managing the Change Process[edit]

Although there are many types of organizational change, the critical aspect is a company’s ability to win the buy-in of their organization’s employees on the change. Effectively managing organizational change is a four-step process:[citation needed]

  1. Recognizing the changes in the broader business environment
  2. Developing the necessary adjustments for their company’s needs
  3. Training their employees on the appropriate changes
  4. Winning the support of the employees with the persuasiveness of the appropriate adjustments

As a multi-disciplinary practice that has evolved as a result of scholarly research, organizational change management should begin with a systematic diagnosis of the current situation in order to determine both the need for change and the capability to change. The objectives, content, and process of change should all be specified as part of a change management plan.

Change management processes should include creative marketing to enable communication between changing audiences, as well as deep social understanding about leadership styles and group dynamics. As a visible track on transformation projects, organizational change management aligns groups’ expectations, integrates teams, and manages employee-training. It makes use of performance metrics, such as financial results, operational efficiency, leadership commitment, communication effectiveness, and the perceived need for change in order to design appropriate strategies, resolve troubled change projects, and avoid change failures.

Factors of Successful Change Management[edit]

Successful change management is more likely to occur if the following are included:[citation needed]

  1. Define measurable stakeholder aims and create a business case for their achievement (which should be continuously updated)
  2. Monitor assumptions, risks, dependencies, costs, return on investment, dis-benefits and cultural issues
  3. Effective communication that informs various stakeholders of the reasons for the change (why?), the benefits of successful implementation (what is in it for us, and you) as well as the details of the change (when? where? who is involved? how much will it cost? etc.)
  4. Devise an effective education, training and/or skills upgrading scheme for the organization
  5. Counter resistance from the employees of companies and align them to overall strategic direction of the organization
  6. Provide personal counseling (if required) to alleviate any change-related fears
  7. Monitoring of the implementation and fine-tuning as required

Challenges of Change Management[edit]

Change management is faced with the fundamental difficulties of integration and navigation, and human factors.

Integration & Navigation[edit]

  • Integration

Traditionally, Organizational Development (OD) departments overlooked the role of infrastructure and the possibility of carrying out change through technology. Now, managers almost exclusively focus on the structural and technical components of change. Alignment and integration between strategic, social, and technical components requires collaboration between people with different skill-sets.

Managing change over time, referred to as navigation, requires continuous adaptation. It requires managing projects over time against a changing context, from inter-organizational factors to marketplace volatility. It also requires a balance in bureaucratic organizations between top-down management and employee empowerment and flexibility.

Human Factors[edit]

Change management consultants operate in teams consisting of people with complementary skills in areas such as strategy formulation, IT orrtmt6 business process analysis, and organization design and development. Consultants must find strategies to overcome communication barriers between each other and when working with the employees of the organization. They need to find ways to overcome resistance to change within the organization. They also need to find ways to empower the managers and employees through forms of involvement. Another issue consultants face is understanding organizational culture. By overcoming this barrier and tapping into the organization's culture, they can get along better with the managers and employees to ensure the change process runs smoothly.[17]

Change Management as an Academic Discipline[edit]

As change management becomes more necessary in the business cycle of organizations, it is beginning to be taught as its own academic disciple at universities. There is a growing number of universities with with research units dedicated to the study of organizational change.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kotter, J. (July 12, 2011). "Change Management vs. Change Leadership -- What's the Difference?". Forbes online. Retrieved December 21, 2011. 
  2. ^ Filicetti, John (August 20, 2007). "Project Management Dictionary". PM Hut. Retrieved November 16, 2009. 
  3. ^ Levin, GInger (2012). "Embrace and Exploit Change as a Program Manager: Guidelines for Success". Project Management Institute. Retrieved August 10, 2013. 
  4. ^ Welbourne, Theresa M. "Change Management Needs a Change". 
  5. ^ Rogers, Everett (16 August 2003). Diffusion of Innovations, 5th Edition. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7432-5823-4. 
  6. ^ Phillips, Julien R. (1983). "Enhancing the effectiveness of organizational change management". Human Resource Management 22 (1–2): 183–99. doi:10.1002/hrm.3930220125. 
  7. ^ Marshak, Robert J. (2005). "Contemporary Challenges to the Philosophy and Practice of Organization Development". In Bradford, David L.; Burke, W. Warner. Reinventing Organization Development: New Approaches to Change in Organizations. pp. 19–42. ISBN 978-0-7879-8159-4. 
  8. ^ Conner, Daryl (August 15, 2012). "The Real Story of the Burning Platform". 
  9. ^ Anderson, D. & Anderson, L.A. (2001). Beyond Change Management: Advanced Strategies for Today’s Transformational Leaders. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer. Retrieved 12/21/11 from
  10. ^ Whelehan, S. (1995). Capturing a Moving Target: Change Management. Consultants News.
  11. ^ Dean, Christina (2009). RIMER Managing Successful Change. Australia: Uniforte Pty Ltd. 
  12. ^ The Association of Change Management Professionals Retrieved 20 November 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. ^ Marquis, Christopher; Tilcsik, András (2013). "Imprinting: Toward A Multilevel Theory". Academy of Management Annals: 193–243. 
  14. ^ Skelsey, Dan (29 July 2013). "Why Do People In Business Resist Change?". Project Laneway. Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  15. ^ Vora, Manu K. "Business Excellence Through Sustainable Change Management". 
  16. ^ 664, w eru r
  17. ^ Worren, Nicolay A. M. "From Organizational Change to Change Management: The Emergence of a New Profession".