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Guide

A guide to choosing the right change management model

Change is an inevitable part of life, both personally and professionally. Yet, every individual and organization experiences and reacts to change differently. Whether it’s adapting to new market realities, shifting organizational structures, or implementing new technologies, change can be daunting and complex. Reflecting on past experiences of change can reveal not just the challenges faced but also the strategies that led to success or failure. As we consider these varied responses to change, it becomes clear that having a structured approach can greatly assist in managing these transitions more effectively.

A vast array of change management models, ranging from simple and flexible to sophisticated and complex, prescribes processes to guide you through the people aspects of your change.

But, even with an abundance of models, change within an organization remains hard. Why? Because it isn’t as easy as selecting a tool and hitting the “go” button. No single change model can apply to every situation you will face. Understanding the different models and knowing when and how they can be best used will help you select the model that best aligns with your organization—increasing your chance for success. If none of them fit, which is often the case, consider using their concepts and tools to develop your own custom model.

When selecting or developing a change model, consider the following:

Organizational culture

Does your organization have a classic hierarchy where winning support from a powerful executive can make or break your project? Or is it more participative? Understanding the role of authority and decision-making dynamics will influence how you communicate and leverage executives and sponsors.

Type of change

What type of change are you looking to implement? Organizational, culture, process, or technology? How transformative will the change be within your organization?

Motivation for change

Think about your organization’s motivation for change. Are you initiating the change to keep the organization alive, or are you making a change to achieve an organizational goal? How motivated are your team members to change their behavior, and what do they perceive to be the risks?

Scale of change

How broadly does the change touch your organization? Is managing the change at the individual stakeholder level feasible, or does your approach need to scale across a large, complex organization? Large-scale technology changes typically require large-scale change management efforts, whereas the same model may be overkill for a smaller change.

ADKAR®

What is it?

Five milestones an individual must achieve for successful change -Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, Reinforcement®

Use this model when:

  • Diagnosing employee resistance
  • Helping individual employees transition through change
  • Creating action plans for personal and professional advancement
  • Beneficial at any stage of a project

Types of change

Organization, Culture, Process, Technology

Pros

  • Helpful for managing individuals through change
  • Allows for a unique change plan at the individual level

Cons

  • Focuses on individuals instead of the organization
  • Difficult to scale for a large organization or a change with broad stakeholder impacts

Kotter’s 8-Step Model®

What is it?

Eight steps to engage employees in a change – Create, Build, Form, Enlist, Enable, Generate, Sustain, and Institute

Use this model when:

  • Considering a high-impact change that broadly touches an org 
  • Engaging in a culture with classical hierarchies 
  • Mostly only useful at the beginning of a project 

Types of change

Process, Technology

Pros

  • Focuses on obtaining buy-in of employees 
  • Provides a robust checklist for the change process 

Cons

  • Top-down model results in limited flexibility 
  • Strong model for initiating change, but not for sustaining change 

McKinsey’s 7-S Model®

What is it?

Seven organizational elements that must be aligned and reinforce one another – Structure, Strategy, Systems, Style, Staff, and Skill 

Use this model when:

  • Identifying what needs to be realigned to improve performance or to maintain alignment (and performance) during change 
  • Understanding how organizational elements are interrelated and impacted by a change 
  • Mostly only useful at the beginning or middle of a project 

Types of change

Organization, Process, Technology

Pros

  • Takes a holistic approach to change and ensures that change activities are integrated 
  • Supports effective change diagnostic and understanding of the org 

Cons

  • Complexity of the model does not allow for flexibility 

Lewin’s Change Management Model®

What is it?

Framework for unfreezing old activities, introducing the new concept, and freezing new activities

Use this model when:

  • Making a change that requires flexibility and a lightweight structure  
  • Striving to ensure that the change is adopted permanently 
  • Beneficial at any stage of a project 

Types of change

Organization, Culture, Process, Technology 

Pros

  • Encourages reinforcement and ongoing monitoring of change  
  • Allows for flexibility in the planning and implementation of change 

Cons

  • Simplistic model that requires interpretation to be actionable 
  • The refreeze component of the model can be challenging with the pace of change 

Kubler-Ross Change Curve®

What is it?

A way of analyzing the seven emotions that individuals experience during change

Use this model when:

  • Assessing where your stakeholders are and where they need to be to adopt a change 
  • Predicting how performance will be affected by the announcement and implementation of significant change 
  • Beneficial at any stage of a project 

Types of change

Organization, Culture

Pros

  • Captures an individual’s reaction to change  
  • Forms a foundation for developing individual action plans 

Cons

  • Assumes all individuals will progress through an adverse reaction to change at the same pace 
  • Difficult to identify the transition between stages 

Lean Change Management

What is it?

Lean framework that applies change management practices to reduce waste 

Use this model when:

  • Implementing a transformation plan with minimal resources 
  • Implementing change in an org that adheres to lean methodology 
  • Mostly only useful at the beginning or middle of a project 

Types of change

Organization, Culture, Process, Technology

Pros

  •  Supports efficient use of resources 
  • Defined change program allows for consistency in the approach 

Cons

  • Works best in a culture with a traditional top-down model 
  • Structured change plans are not pliable as you progress through the project 

Summary

Pariveda has practical experience leading our clients through change

By Lauren Malik
Principal
Dallas Office
Lauren has over 11 years of experience working in the consulting industry at both large and mid-sized companies. In her previous roles, Lauren focused on process effectiveness, operational change management, internal IT infrastructure assessments, as well as vendor selections and management.

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Guide

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Navigating organizational change can be complex, but selecting the right model simplifies the process. Our comprehensive guide breaks down popular change management models and helps…
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