Understanding Change Management within an Organisation

Shalane Williams, 29 November 2017

Stephen R Covey said that “Priority is a function of context.”

When implementing change within an organisation, it’s unlikely that you’ll get priority until the context of the change is explained. Something that often gets neglected is the understanding of what change is, the impact it’ll have and whether or not it should be managed. To answer the last part of that statement: should change be managed? The answer is a resounding, emphatic YES!

The reason for this is simple: change tends to focus on the organisational level. However, what’s not understood is that organisations don’t change, individuals do. Each organisational change impacts how specific employees do their jobs and includes, but not limited to:

•    Location
•    Processes
•    Systems
•    Reporting structure
•    Mindset/attitudes/beliefs

So what is change?

According to Prosci (www.prosci.com), change is the movement out of a current state, through a transition state, to ultimately reach a future state. The future state is ultimately better than the current and examples include:

•    Costs are lower than they were.
•    Revenues are higher than they were.
•    Errors are fewer than they were.
•    Efficiencies are larger than they were.

Because of the focus on change at the organisational level, reasons for a change tend to be poorly articulated. Consider this: How clearly are the individual changes required by projects and initiatives defined in your organisation?

I recently watched a webinar and in a poll that asked that exact question of participants, the results were:


The results weren’t that surprising but alarming nonetheless! How can the ROI of change be high if there’s no understanding of what the requirements/impacts of it will be at an individual level? Individuals drive organisations and achievement of the reason for the change is dependent on if individuals understand and are able to make the transitions required?

Jeff Hiatt, developer of the ADKAR model and founder of PROSCI, defined 5 tenets of change management:

  1. We change for a reason.
  2. Organisational change requires individual change.
  3. Organisational outcomes are the collective result of individual change.
  4. Change management is an enabling framework for managing the people side of change.
  5. We apply change management to realise the benefit and desired outcomes of change.

There is a myriad of change management approaches but I believe that when implementing change, you need to start with why. “Why would you do that?” “What is your desired outcome?” and most importantly, for the individual, “What’s in it for me?”

I look forward to discussing the remaining tenets with you soon!