The Definitive Guide to Organizational Change Management.

Last Updated on March 1, 2024 by Owen McGab Enaohwo

The Definitive Guide to Organizational Change Management.

Featured Bonus Content: Download the FREE 6-Step Organizational Change Management Checklist to Get Started with Your Change Initiative! Click Here To Download It.

Plans are useless, but planning is essential.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

The former US army general and statesman had very succinctly voiced the age-old maxim that change is the only constant of life, particularly so in war. As modern businesses operate in a landscape that is always evolving, they need well-thought-out organizational change management strategies to never be caught off-guard.

More often than not, success is the product of agility, rather than forethought. In other words, instead of focusing all resources on having a good plan in place, it would be best for organizations to create a framework within which they can make sure change is accounted for and people are prepared for it.

This is where organizational change management (OCM) can help you out. As globalization and rapidly evolving technological capabilities have made modern marketplaces exceedingly fluid, businesses run the risk of staying in a constantly reactive state, which may or may not go as per their desires. Said changes also present new opportunities to make their processes more efficient and thereby reduce operating costs, which also needs to be explored.

To work in such a dynamic environment, companies can weave tried-and-tested change management best practices right into their operating framework to account for surprises well before they actually happen and add new capabilities to the organization with the least amount of disruption. However, defining and implementing change is easier said than done, mostly because it’s such a nebulous concept. Lack of consensus, failure to communicate, fatal assumptions, and employee resistance are all major challenges you are likely to face as you tread new waters.

And so, we thought of putting together the most exhaustive resource for change management. We cover every area of OCM and how you can tailor it to your company’s unique circumstances.


  1. What Is Organizational Change Management?
  2. Why Organizational Change Management Is Just So Hard!
  3. The OCM Life Cycle
  4. Three Models of Organizational Change
  5. Organizational Change Strategies
  6. Creating an Organizational Change Plan
  7. Four Tools for Implementing Organizational Change
  8. Change Management Best Practices
  9. Change in Itself Isn’t Hard

Chapter 1: What Is Organizational Change Management?

What Is Organizational Change Management?

When you’re confronted with the prospects of taking your organization in another direction, how should you handle it? The future is nebulous at best and failure can mean being sent home packing, not to mention a serious dent in your reputation. Fortunately, organizational change is one of the most minutely studied concepts. It refers to all the methods, tools and techniques that can help you prepare your workers, teams, and indeed the entire organization for structural, strategic, technological or cultural change. It also includes strategies to help you manage the after-effects of what follows a change initiative.

Organizational change has three main components:

  • People: By far the most important part of the change management puzzle. Communication is crucial to make sure all the affected stakeholders and people are aware of the change initiative and agree with it.
  • Process: How change will be effected and finding the best roadmap to making it happen. Understanding the present state of affairs, what’s desired, and then creating an efficient process to bridge the two is essentially what organizational change management is all about. Also, keep track of all organizational process assets for easy management of your organization.
  • Technology: Refers to the tools you need in place to support the people and processes. Technology can be used to help improve results, strengthen internal and external supply chains, or help the company scale.

How successfully all three pillars are set up dictates whether you come out the other side victorious or fail miserably.

Fundamentally, your company may experience four types of change:

  • Organization-Wide Change: Large-scale changes that are best implemented slowly over a long period of time. They help a company evolve to a different level in its life cycle, for example, turning a young, volatile startup into a more stable, grounded company.
  • Transformational/Reactive Change: Made to a company’s structure(s) to obtain a certain goal. For instance, it may involve moving from a hierarchical, top-down structure to a more horizontal leadership pattern wherein each team is allowed more self-determination.

  • Remedial Change: Not all change needs to be at scale. Many times, your company will need to make small adjustments to the way it works to get the most out of its existing systems.

  • Unplanned Change: Sudden, disruptive changes that put the company in a highly reactive state. Examples include a company’s CEO leaving, a product recall, new competing technologies that challenge a company’s product, etc.

Here’s an insightful presentation on organizational change by Dr. Holger Sommerfeldt of IUBH:

Next, let’s take a look at how you can create change management best practices that take everything into account and get it right the first time.

Chapter 2: Why Organizational Change Management Is Just So Hard!

Why Organizational Change Management Is Just So Hard!

In this article on the principles of change management, the authors pinpoints why change is so elusive:

In major transformations of large enterprises, they and their advisors conventionally focus their attention on devising the best strategic and tactical plans. But to succeed, they also must have an intimate understanding of the human side of change management — the alignment of the company’s culture, values, people, and behaviors — to encourage the desired results.

Even as every organization tries to adapt to changing conditions, studies show that 70% of all change initiatives still fail a figure that has stayed virtually the same since the 1970s. The predominant reasons cited include employee cynicism and counterproductive management behavior, all resulting from either a lack of vision, poor understanding of the need to change, or both. Most business leaders are quick to compare organizational change to walking a tightrope.

For the most part, problems in change are the product of:

  • Fear of the unknown: People are naturally afraid of what they do not understand. If the benefits of change (and a plan to achieve it) are not conveyed properly, fear and paranoia may result.

  • People’s natural preference for inertia: Regardless of inspirational self-help memes, nobody likes to step out of their comfort zones. Doubly so if said change will affect their livelihood.

  • Vested interests: People join (and stick with) companies mostly likely to help them accomplish their own goals. If an organizational change may possibly go against an employee’s own ambitions, they may refrain from committing or even try to sabotage the effort.

  • Threatened job security: If a proposed change carries the risk of layoffs or firings, employees will naturally resist. The current debate surrounding AI is a perfect example of how technological evolution can threaten job security.

  • Lack of preparation: If a change is hurriedly implemented, important details might be overlooked. As a result, either the goal may not be attained, or employees may lose confidence in their leaders.

  • Lack of communication: As changes to organization is a system-wide affair, communicating key benefits to all people involved is crucial to ensuring they are committed to the change. Lack of a good messaging strategy is often cited as the main reason why organizational change is hard to implement.

Did you know the success rate of organizational change initiatives was only 54 percent? In this video on how to lead organizational change, DeAnne Aguirre, senior partner at Strategy& discusses what organizations need to look out for when implementing change:

Now that you know what challenges to expect, let’s take a look at how to avoid them. In the following chapter, we discuss the four stages in which you can implement OCM.

Chapter 3: The Organizational Change Management (OCM) Life Cycle.

The Organizational Change Management (OCM) Life Cycle.

Image credit: Pieter Van Zyl

As organizational change isn’t an exact science, there is no one model that may work for every company. That being said, the underlying principles of change itself always remain the same and are important to understand so that managers remain in control of each step of the process. Indeed, change is a cyclical process that always repeats itself. Key phases are:

Current state:

In the context of organizational change, the current state of a company is defined as a problem which needs a solution.

Phase 1: Identify the Need for Change

At this stage, a problem within or without the company (that affects it) is identified and defined. Typically, this is done by a senior executive who voices the need to change a certain process. Example: A company sees a new AI-driven marketing solution that can potentially help them save on marketing expenses.

While seemingly obvious, this phase is make or break as substandard identification can invariably snowball into wasted resources and time as the desired stage is never realized.

Phase 2: Engage the People

Now that the problem has taken a concrete definition, at this point, it’s time to let in all employees who will be affected on the requirements. It is best to allow them to express themselves and draw up any plans with their input.

Going back to the aforementioned AI example, the marketing team would be introduced to the technology and its potential benefits, both to the company and the team members. The latter is asked to provide feedback and suggestions, which are used for a final “go/no go.”

Many times, companies hire outside consultants to create detailed plans without the feedback of the people involved, which results in hostility to the strategy and a lack of implementation.

Phase 3: Implement the Change

Where it all falls together. In the implementation phase, your strategies are turned into practical workable tactics handed down to assigned teams. Because the people “down in the trenches” will have more knowhow on the operations being changed, it is best to leverage their expertise, instead of dictating a method.

Many organizational change initiatives fail because companies spend less time in the first two stages and more time here. If more people are brought onboard in phase 2, leaders will simply need to monitor the change, rather than control it. This is also the phase when you find out whether your strategies were realistic or not. If the desired stage is not achieved, then you need to revisit phase 1 to revise your plans.

Going back to the example, the marketing team is ecstatic about the new technology as they are well aware it will make their job easier. However, some team members suggest a different product that offers all benefits at a reduced lifetime cost. They may even go for a trial version to see if it fit their needs.

Desired state:

Company’s goals are met and methods of working have changed for the better. It’s advisable to continue monitoring the change for unforeseen consequences.

While you will find quite a number of OCM definitions, they usually present the same information under different labels. Here’s an in-depth presentation on OCM, it’s different stages, and important factors:

Did you know that OCM has been studied academically as well? In the following chapter, we take a look at three models suggested by experts that companies use to power change within their organization.

Chapter 4: Three Models of Organizational Change.

Three Models of Organizational Change.

Image Credit: Jessica Behling

Beyond theories, change management has well-defined models that can be used to power positive change at any level within an organization. While quite a few models are out there, we decided to discuss the three most prominent and tested ones in no particular order.

John Kotter’s 8-Step Process for Change Management:

In his 1996 book “Leading Change,” the famed Harvard Business School Professor John Kotter shares an eight-step process for powering change within a company.

  1. Create a sense of urgency: Make other people in your company see the need for change as soon as possible.
  2. Build a guiding coalition: Recruit people most motivated by the need to change and delegate different roles to help enact the change.
  3. Form a strategic vision and initiatives: Tell your team members about the desired state and how it will benefit them as well as the company.
  4. Enlist a volunteer army: To get things moving, you need to mobilize a large number of people who agree with your vision.
  5. Enable actions by removing barriers: Identify all the things that can stop you from realizing your vision, then eradicate them.
  6. Generate short-term wins: Each step should be a goal in itself. And as they are realized, reward your team for doing a good job.
  7. Sustain acceleration: Don’t lose steam after the first few successes. Use your team’s new-found confidence from short-term wins to take the change to a higher level.
  8. Institute change: Once you have your desired state, make it a part of your organizational culture.

Check out this video presentation of Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model.

Lewin’s Change Management Model:

A pioneer in the field of organizational psychology, Kurt Lewin developed his own three-step change management process that still applies to companies today.

  1. Unfreeze: The first step is to convey the need for change. The key to doing so is creating a compelling messaging strategy that points out obvious flaws within a company, such as poor sales revenues or bad customer feedback. In doing so, you will effectively dismantle the inertia that holds people back from changing. To make the change stick, consider revising your organization’s beliefs, best practices, values, and attitudes.
  2. Change: As your company tries to find a new way of doing things, some confusion and resentment may arise. This is to be expected. However, if the organization persists, better methods of working will result, and your team member’s confidence will start returning to normal. You can mitigate some of the undesirable effects with a good messaging strategy to keep your employee’s hopes high.
  3. Refreeze: Once a concrete strategy has been formulated, it’s time to turn it into (corporate) muscle memory. Change is institutionalized at this stage, and the company once again starts to function normally.

Check out this video presentation of Lewin’s Change Management Model:

Deming Cycle of Plan-Do-Check-Act:

William Edward Deming was an American engineer, statistician and professor whose main interest in organizational change was improving industrial production techniques. His methods have been widely studied and offer a lot of benefits to shaping strategic change as well.

  1. Plan: The first step is to identify a process and figure out how it can be improved upon. Ascertaining the desired output is a good strategy to creating a plan.
  2. Do: Once a strategy is realized, it is put into action. Implement the plan in small steps so you can continuous improve upon it.
  3. Check: As you go along, you will begin to gain invaluable insights into the change and its effects. Use those insights to tweak your actions.
  4. Act: If in the check phase, you realize an action that results in an improvement to the baseline, then it becomes the new baseline for the organization to beat. If the new action does not offer any improvements, then the previous baseline remains.

Check out this video presentation of Deming’s Cycle of Plan-Do-Check-Act Model:

While academic theories can help you understand the foundational idea, you need concrete strategies to turn them into something real. In the following chapter, we discuss four ways you can do just that.

Chapter 5: Organizational Change Management Strategies.

Organizational Change Management Strategies.

Image Credit: Jeffrey Kimball

Before going further, it is important to understand the strategies given below are best thought of as guidelines, rather than concrete rulesets as it is not possible to envision all circumstances surrounding the need for change. Now, let’s help you find a method to manage that change!

Empirical-Rational Change Strategy:

Empirical-Rational Change Strategy:

Image Credit: Incentive Solutions

The suggested change is presented as an idea in line with what the people want. The strategy follows the assumption that people are for the most part rational creatures who will commit to an action so long as it yields rewards. They can be reasoned with to go along with the change, and if morality is not an issue, then they may even be bought off.

Change here is based on communicating the need to act and the rewards that go with it. To make this strategy work, the upsides to the change have to greatly outweigh the downsides. Change here depends on the management of risks and rewards.

To convey the need to change, leaders may try and highlight the lack of viability of the present course of actions or methods of doing things. Therefore, as long as the message actually addresses a real problem the employees themselves are facing, you can expect them to sign on.

Normative Re-Educative Strategy:

Normative Re-Educative Strategy:

Image Credit: Maritz

The underlying culture of the organization is morphed to accommodate the suggested changes. This strategy is a product of the belief that people are social beings and follow cultural norms within the organization to belong and evade conflict or strife.

A long-term strategy, normative re-education requires time to come to fruition as it targets an organization’s culture, which never changes overnight. As a company’s culture is the product of both its informal and formal organization, you can expect rewards only if the two work together.

You can try to identify the “thought leaders” and “influencers” in your company and try to get them onboard. They may not necessarily be any of the C-suite executives, the popular ones, or the ones people turn to for answers.

Power-Coercive Strategy

Power-Coercive Organizational Change Management Strategy

Change is forced down a bureaucratic system. The underlying assumption is that people are compliant and want to be led. While frowned upon, power-coercive strategy might (surprisingly) be effective in certain situations wherein people are threatened or don’t know what to do. As such situations often create an atmosphere of panic, an iron-handed approach might be the only way to restore order.

The two major factors that influence the success of this strategy is the amount of time you have and the seriousness of the threat faced. When organizations are in a highly reactive state, then a firm-handed approach can help steer them away from danger.

Environmental Adaptive Strategy

Environmental Adaptive Organizational Change Management Strategy

Instead of changing an organization, another is built around the desired result, and people are slowly shifted there. The strategy assumes people are averse to loss and instead prefer to adapt to new circumstances.

Also known as the “die on the vine” strategy, it follows the observation that while people quickly oppose change imposed on them, they are far quicker to adapt to new environments and circumstances. As a result, instead of spending time and resources to change an existing structure, a new (desired) one may be created and people are gradually moved into from the old one.

The strategy suits radical changes, and while it can work in either short or long time frames, managers need to be careful if they don’t have a lot of time. If the new organization is not seeded with new folk as more people from the old organization keep coming in, they face the risk of reverting back to the old ways.

While the strategies given above are well-tested methods, every organization needs to come up with their own methods based on their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The following chapter is all about how you can create a plan best suited to your organization.

Chapter 6: Creating an Organizational Change Management Plan.

Creating an Organizational Change Management Plan.

While there is a lot of advice floating around on how to implement organization-wide change, every company must figure out the best way to go about doing so based on their goals, working methods and team structures. The aforementioned models and strategies can serve as a starting point to creating a change management plan.

Moreover, you can utilize this 5-step change management plan from Prosci to make sure your company easily transitions to a new, desired change. Below, we dialed down the jargon and tech-speak to make it more understandable. Each section also features important questions you should consider.

1. Communication Plan: The most important part of any change-management strategy is getting all stakeholders onboard right from the get-go, which is why communicating the need for change takes precedence. A good communication plan presents the right information to the right person at the right time. Questions to ask include:

  1. What part of your organization needs change and why?
  2. Who will the change affect?
  3. Why is the change happening?
  4. What is the risk of not changing?
  5. What’s in it for me?
  6. Who should communicate the change?
  7. What are the key messages?
  8. What is the most effective way to reach the employees?

2. Sponsorship Roadmap: A tad misleading as the word sponsors can give the impression of just financial backers. In fact, a sponsor in the context of change management means anyone in your company who is a proponent for the suggested change or is interested in implementing it. Senior executives, thought leaders and people who command respect within your company are the ones to include here. Questions to ask here are:

  1. Who are the people most likely to benefit immediately from the suggested plan?
  2. What position do they command within the organization?
  3. What resources and competencies do my sponsors offer?
  4. What effects will the change have and how likely are my sponsors to approve them?
  5. How can I help my sponsors convey the need for change to their subordinates?

3. Coaching Plan: This is where you turn your sponsors into powerful proponents of change who help steer the company in the direction you want. It is crucial to not use proxies to convey the need for change. In other words, do not substitute the role of a coach with anyone other than the person who commands respect from their peers. Key questions to ask oneself here are:

  1. What information will each of my coaches need to help their peers understand their roles?
  2. What do my coaches already know that can help them illustrate the change?
  3. What information will my coaches need during the change process?
  4. How can I help my coaches reinforce positive actions and punish negative ones?

4. Training Plan

Training will be required to help your change managers and employees gain the skills and mindset needed to see the change through. To this effect, it is used in conjunction with coaching and sponsorship activities. It is best not to just send employees over to a training seminar and force the change down their throats. Instead, a holistic strategy that takes into account their feedback and opens a dialogue between change managers and the training groups will yield better results. Important questions to consider include:

  1. How will the proposed change affect each and every employee?
  2. What training will each of my teams need to function under the proposed change?
  3. How can we leverage our employee’s existing knowledge to gain the best out of our efforts?
  4. How can we win the minds and hearts of all the people involved?

5. Resistance Management Plan

Any kind of change will sooner or later be met with resistance. Do not expect everyone to jump on board and agree with the managers as that assumption can create friction between leadership and employees.

To mitigate resistance, make sure managers take proactive steps outlined in the communication plan by anticipating questions people may ask later on. The better the change is understood, the less resistance the company will face when it is implemented. Some questions to consider are:

  1. How will the suggested change impact the employee’s work?
  2. How much do I trust the change coaches? Can I rely on them to convey the need for change properly?
  3. Who is at risk of losing their job or being laid-off?
  4. How has my organization handled change historically?
  5. Does the suggested change align with the employees’ belief and value systems?

To get the best out of your plans, it is imperative to document each and every step. Doing so helps you keep a close eye on how well the new changes are being implemented and also ensures you have a plan ready for the next set of alterations your company may require.

Now that you have the foundation for your change initiative, let’s get to work. In the following section, we suggest some tools to help you map out, implement and track your change efforts.

Chapter 7: Four Tools for Implementing Organizational Change.

Four Tools for Implementing Organizational Change.

Obviously, change management is a long and tedious process that can go wrong at any stage. To make sure you achieve your company’s desired state as effortlessly as possibly, consider investing in some tools to help you visualize and track the change every step of the way. Below, we list our top four picks.

1. SweetProcess

Price: Free Trial, starting at $99/month for a team of 20 and $5/additional member. (Pay supplement charges only when additional members are actively using the software. More info here)


  • Easy to document standard operating procedures
  • Tasks displayed as checklists and can include pictures or videos as needed
  • Can be used to train new and existing workers on established processes
  • Makes it easy to streamline processes

Ideal for: Documenting your change processes

The biggest deterrent to change is going into the unknown without much of a plan. While the first few attempts will no doubt be scary as you experiment with different methods, you should record your processes, what worked, what didn’t, and the results you get right from the get-go. Doing so helps you get your bearings straight, not to mention, make your next attempt at change a lot easier.

SweetProcess offers the perfect process documenting features to help you turn your change processes into a standard operating procedure. Divided into processes, procedures, and steps, the software is easy to navigate and can help you educate your employees on every step of the change journey. Each procedure is essentially a checklist of steps users can check off as they complete them, thereby making mistakes almost impossible.

Sign up for a 14-day free trial here!

2. Gensuite Change Management

Pricing: Free trial, available upon request


  • Fantastic management of change interface
  • Each action item can be assigned and managed through closure
  • Compatibility with other Gensuite applications
  • Advanced charting for reporting

Ideal for: Overall change management implementation and documentation

Part of the challenge of implementing any change initiative is understanding whether it complies with external factors as well. No company will want to find out the hard way that their new processes are not in good standing with environmental, health or safety standards.

This is where Gensuite can really help you out. An exhaustive cloud-based compliance and risk management solution, it offers environmental, health and safety (EHS), sustainability, quality and responsible sourcing solutions under one header. The most notable feature is compliance assurance software with which users can conduct audits using both internal and external data. An Action Tracking System allows users to review all actions to determine whether they are compliant or not.

Find out more about Gensuite and its features here.

3. Sunview ChangeGear

Pricing: Free demo, $41/staff/year


  • Simplified change documentation
  • Efficient approval routing
  • Makes change processing faster with the help of automation
  • Very easy to setup and follow change calendar

Geared towards DevOps, IT and business requirements, ChangeGear is an exhaustive suite with an easy to understand GUI. Sunview has created an extremely easy to follow step-by-step process that allows for an easy ticketing process, request resolution and change automation.

You can centralize your entire change initiative into one platform so that all your documents are well-organized and nothing gets lost. The Change Advisory Board (CAB) can also maintain complete control over all aspects of the change, thanks to high transparency standards made available by configurable dashboards and ad-hoc exportable reports.

Given the number of moving parts that modern change initiatives typically have, it becomes imperative to formulate strong policies that can help you stay on top of things. Do some low-tier changes require an automated release? Are some high-tier changes needing the approval of a C-suite executive? All these issues can be fleshed out into requisite policies to speed up organizational change. Lastly, the software comes with powerful automation features that uses machine learning to help developers stay on target throughout the change process.

4. BMC Remedy Change Management

Pricing: Free demo, full pricing available upon request


  • Dynamic risk assessment, data-driven approval and impact simulation for risk-free transformation
  • Powerful analytics that come with drag-and-drop functionality
  • Easy-to-organize asset knowledge with full visibility into ownership, deployment, state, context and cost of ownership

One of the more powerful change management products out there, Remedy is essentially an ITSM solution that provides many features to administrators and users to help them implement changes. One of its most impressive features is collision detection, which automatically issues a warning if two or more changes are conflicting with one another. Furthermore, it comes with insights that allow managers to analyze the impact of each change across services, people and assets. Moreover, BMC provides an exhaustive Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) that provides a list of best practices to help IT professionals roll out change while keeping service agreements in perspective.

Chapter 8: Change Management Best Practices.

Now that we have laid out the theory, it’s time to get to work. You will need to keep in mind quite a number of things if you want to see the change through. Here are a few key considerations when implementing change in your organization:

Find the best change agents:

Your efforts will only be as successful as the people who help you with it. A change agent is any person who helps you out with your change initiative. They might be someone with the required experience, skill-set and desire to drive change within the organization. James Dallas, in his book “Mastering the Challenges of Leading Change,” says that change leaders should:

  • Choose someone who has something to prove
  • Know who isn’t a good fit
  • Look for black-and-white thinkers
  • Not let data take over
  • Forget widespread replacements
  • Tap into diversity
  • Make sure everyone has skin in the game

Here’s a video presentation on how to find the best change agents within your ranks:

Make the change desirable:

Your organization is probably not likely to embrace the suggested changes until everyone agrees with it. To make sure you face the least amount of resistance possible, the need for change is best addressed as one of or both of the following…

  • The current system is so dysfunctional that its negative effects are all too visible.
  • The alternative state offers so many benefits that it’s only logical to opt for it over the present system.

People’s desire to change can only be tapped into if there is some intrinsic reason. Prosci’s ADKAR model suggests that this is by far the biggest hurdle in organizational change. To this effect, the company suggests not falling into the trap of thinking that awareness alone helps people sympathize with the need for change. A better strategy is to translate the reasons to change into more personal and organizational ones. Some motivators you can use here are:

  • Incentives to be gained through proposed changes
  • Fear of consequences, like poor performance or loss of job
  • The need to be part of something bigger and/or better
  • Trust in a leader
  • A far worse alternative

Here’s a seven-step process to help you overcome resistance to change:

Communicating the change:

While you may have thought out your change plan thoroughly, how you present it to your team has a large say in its reception, whether positive, lukewarm or negative. A proper communication strategy also triggers desire in employees. Follow these tips for better communication:

  • Be honest about the need for change. Change in itself is never a good idea. If the problem you are trying to address is so severe, then chances are most people in your organization would have noticed it too. Even if you are aware of the issue, open up a dialogue with employees and look for possible solutions, instead of just telling them what to do.
  • Consider the emotional impact. Don’t expect everyone to just rationalize the need for change. If there is a threat to someone’s position or perks, acknowledge them and address it directly.
  • Tell employees how they can benefit. Even if no one admits it, they will only go with something new if they stand to benefit from it. Answer your employee’s “what’s in it for me” and chances are they will be more than happy to cooperate.
  • Lay out the strategy in front of your team. Every step of the change process should be clearly illustrated such that no stone is left unturned. Your employees should not have any doubt in their minds that the suggested change will have the desired outcome.
  • Get people involved in the change process. Once a plan has been proposed, your team members need to know what to do. Every person should have a well-defined role in your change plan.

Reach out through the right channels. As change strategies are delivered from the top-down, figure out what type of media to use to disseminate the knowledge, including social media, email, and blog posts.

Take a look at this beautiful video presentation on how to communicate change to your employees:

Time the change properly:

As with many other things in life, timing is crucial when implementing organizational change. You need to ask whether your organization is capable of handling the change at the time or if the change is needed at all. Business leaders often “feel the pulse” of their organization to note inconsistencies, opportunities and threats. Doing so can tell you whether the company is ready for change or not. If there is widespread dissatisfaction with the way things are, then your organization is ripe for change.

Alternatively, if everything is proceeding smoothly and the reason to change is not so urgent, then employees might seem confused if new methods are hurriedly implemented. Knowing when to go slow and when to speed things up is a crucial skill that change managers need to possess.

Timing is probably the most important dimension of change. Check out this video on how to time your change properly:

Keep a close eye on how the change is progressing:

As organizational change is a highly involved process, using fire and forget methods are probably not the best here. Every step of the process needs to be carefully evaluated, whether it serves the greater good and if it needs to be modified. recommends asking the following questions to evaluate progress:

  • Are your goals and objectives being achieved?
  • Will they be achieved within the timeline imagined? If not, then why?
  • Should the deadlines be modified?
  • Do the people involved in the change initiative have adequate resources to see it through?
  • Are your goals realistic?
  • Should the goals themselves be modified?
  • What can you learn from your present efforts that will make future ones better?

A change initiative isn’t all that different from a regular project if you think about it. In other words, some of the best methods for project tracking can work here too. Check out this video on how to stay on top of your projects effectively:

Change in Itself Isn’t Hard

Fundamentally, the challenge of implementing change is one of managing resistance, which in turn occurs due to multiple, potentially conflicting goals trying to co-exist. The solution, therefore, lies in understanding how everyone’s desires and wishes interact and are fulfilled within the organization’s own goals.

Susanne Madsen in her article titled “why change is so hard says that whenever organizational change goes wrong, it is usually because managers look at it as a logical process. They ignore the emotional side of the story and spend little time or resources preparing their team for the change. Consequently, fear and uncertainty starts to take hold over the imagination of people, which can wreak havoc on the change initiative if allowed to go unchecked.

It’s always a good idea to try and get as many people involved so that you not only face less resistance, but also have more creativity at your disposal. The solutions and methods described above will help you set up structures to manage expectations and power organization-wide change efficiently.

Here’s a quick recap of what we covered…

  1. OCM refers to a collection of processes, tools, and techniques to prepare individuals, teams, and organizations to adopt new technological, structural or cultural states.

  2. The biggest stumbling blocks to OCM are fear of the unknown, inertia, vested interests and lack of communication.

  3. The OCM life cycle consists of –
    1. Current state
    2. Identifying the need for change
    3. Engaging people
    4. Implementing the change
    5. Achieving the desired state

  4. Three predominant models of change are:
    1. John Kotter’s Eight Step Process for Change Management
    2. Lewin’s Change Management Process
    3. Deming’s Cycle of Plan-Do-Check-Act

  5. Four organizational change strategies you can use are:
    1. Empirical-rational change strategy
    2. Normative re-educative change strategy
    3. Power-coercive change strategy
    4. Environmental adaptive change strategy

  6. Your change initiative can be broken down into:
    1. Communication plan
    2. Sponsorship roadmap
    3. Coaching plan
    4. Training plan
    5. Resistance management plan

  7. Four tools you can use to implement organizational change:
    1. SweetProcess
    2. Gensuite Change Management
    3. Sunview ChangeGear
    4. BMC Remedy

  8. Some change management best practices that you should include:
    1. Put the right people in charge
    2. Show that the suggested changes are in everyone’s best interest
    3. Make sure all aspects of your plan are communicated to everyone involved
    4. Time your moves right
    5. Oversee the implementation like a hawk!

Lastly, are you ready to take your organization to new heights? Any kind of change, whether it is big or small should not be underestimated. Suffice to say, the more organized you are, the better your chances of a first hit homerun.

To help you out, we put together a Change Management Checklist to help you keep your efforts on track from start to finish. Download your FREE 6-Step checklist here.

Download your Change Management Checklist.

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2 responses to “The Definitive Guide to Organizational Change Management.”

  1. Jason Sterling says:

    Hey, thanks, Owen. I’ve been reading a lot on change management in the past couple of weeks and found this extremely informative. Not sure if you’ve looked at an option of putting together an Organizational Change Management Plan using a template of some sort? I’ve ended up using two of them, however, I had to change them around a fair bit to make them work for me. In case you do have any templates you use yourself instead of using tools you’ve listed, could you please reply and let me know? Thanks again for the great article.

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