Change management methodologies and tools are an essential part of implementing effective change. These methodologies provide the framework in which to build an effective change management strategy to enact organizational change. In addition to serving as a framework, change management methodologies are useful since they outline ways in which to decrease resistance and better change initiative outcomes.
It should be noted that while project management focuses on processes, change management usually focuses on the individuals impacted by the change. Thus, most change management methodologies focus on practical steps and roadmaps to enacting and implementing change. These include the following:
- Coming up with a plan and communication strategy
- Defining a vision
- Creating teams and ensuring training and guidance
- Allocating resources
- Implementing and reinforcing changes
Evaluating Change Management Methodologies: Benefits and Selection
Choosing between the different change management methodologies and tools can be challenging. In doing so, every organization must consider its specific needs and then ensure they’re addressing both individual and organizational aspects of change.
Using a structured change management methodology ensures that organizations address all the key components they need to address, avoid missing important steps, take precautions to avoid mistakes others have made, and allow for repeatability. If organizations fail to do this, they may miss the context and key steps, stray away from the focus, involve the wrong people, or waste valuable time and resources.
Instead of viewing change management methodologies as “boxes to check off,” organizations should use them as guides or change management tools. Evaluating the following may help when trying to select the best change management methodology for your organization:
- Ease of use
- Prior experience
- Comparability (to company, culture, project, or industry)
- Certification and training
Change Management Methodologies and Models
While there are numerous change management methodologies we can discuss, some are more popular than others. The following change management methodologies are some of the most highly regarded and well-known ones used by organizations all over the world.
Lewin’s 3-Step Model of Change
Lewin (1951) posited that there is no state of no change, but rather, a “stable quasi-stationary equilibrium.” He argued that there are forces pushing for change and those resisting change, and organizations can either add forces for change or reduce resisting forces to implement change. To ensure minimal tension, Lewin advocated for managing change via reducing resistance. His 3-step process includes the following:
- Unfreezing the existing behavior
- Moving to another level and making the transition
- Refreezing the behavior at the new level
As per the steps, an organization must unfreeze its current processes to prepare for the change initiative. It must then implement changes without old processes getting in the way. Lastly, it must refreeze the processes and stay in the new state, i.e., sustain the changes made. While this is the simplest approach to change management, it is effective and leaves room for personalization and tailoring.
Kotter’s 8-Step Model
Kotter’s 8-step model consists of a guideline that change managers and organizations can follow when trying to implement change initiatives. The steps are as follows:
- Create urgency
- Build a guiding coalition or change team
- Form a strategic vision and initiatives
- Communicate the vision
- Remove barriers and obstacles to enable action
- Focus on short-term wins
- Sustain momentum
- Institute change
Kotter’s change management methodology is straightforward and easy to enact since it is a top-down model. However, it’s important to note that it does not include two-way feedback like other methodologies mentioned.
The McKinsey 7-S Model
McKinsey’s 7-S Model was introduced in the late 1970s but remains an essential change management tool to this day. The framework focuses on alignment within an organization and identifies seven interrelated elements that change managers must focus on. Instead of focusing on structure, this framework prioritizes the role of coordination and emphasizes its role in effective change management. These include the following:
- Shared Values
The seven elements must be aligned, and a thorough investigation will reveal the necessary improvements that are needed. While the first three (strategy, system, and structure) are hard elements and easier to control, the other four are soft elements and may be more challenging to control. Because all the elements are interconnected, it’s important to ensure all aspects are in harmony.
Also read: 4 Types Of Organizational Change Management
The Prosci Methodology
While most change management methodologies focus on either organizational change or individual change, Prosci’s methodology takes both into account. The holistic methodology includes tools, assessments, and a process to guide any organization through change.
Prosci Change Triangle (PCT) Model
This framework outlines four essential aspects of organizational change and consists of the following:
- Success (a project or initiative’s purpose)
- Leadership or sponsorship (strategy and direction)
- Project management (technical side of the change initiative)
- Change management (people side of the change initiative)
It is known as the change triangle because success is at the center of the model and the three aspects make up the corners of the triangle.
Prosci ADKAR® Model
Prosci’s ADKAR® model focuses on individual change because no matter the size of the project, it is up to the individuals involved to make it a success. The ADKAR® model is an acronym for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement. These are all the elements needed for individuals to successfully transition through change:
- Awareness (of the need for change)
- Desire (to support the change and participate)
- Knowledge (on how to change)
- Ability (to implement the change through skills and behaviors)
- Reinforcement (to sustain the change)
Since the framework outlines the goals required for organizational change success, it can be used to diagnose gaps, make corrections, plan change management activities, and support leaders and managers.
Prosci 3-Phase Process
Prosci takes pride in emphasizing both individual and organizational change. Their 3-phase process links the two aspects of change management together, and consists of the following stages and sub-stages:
- Prepare Approach
- Define success
- Define impact
- Define approach
- Manage Change
- Plan and act
- Track performance
- Adapt actions
- Sustain Outcomes
- Review performance
- Activate sustainment
- Transfer ownership
Summary and Conclusion
There are a number of change management methodologies and tools available for organizations to utilize. Some of the most popular approaches to change management include Lewin’s 3-step model, Kotter’s 8-step model, the McKinsey 7-S framework, and the Prosci ADKAR® model. All these models have their advantages and disadvantages, and the right choice of change management methodology depends on every organization’s individual needs. Once an organization chooses a methodology, it can use it as a framework to guide change management and implementation.