Build Change Management into Corporate DNA

Time for Change - Pixabay

If you are reading this on your computer or mobile device, chances are you and your colleagues will soon be discussing a change needed in your organization. Not only that, you may be asked to help successfully implement this change. Unless you are an expert, change management is difficult to get your arms around. If you are unsure how to help your company successfully implement the change, the right framework makes it easier. The right framework provides a methodical way to handle this intangible, dynamic topic. Once you and your colleagues become proficient applying the framework, you increase the success rate for change.

There are a variety of change frameworks available to you. Just Google “change management” and you will have plenty of choices from experts and thought leaders. Your challenge is to figure out which framework will be the most helpful for the changes you face. You will notice the frameworks have some differences, but you will also find some common elements among them. For example, some form of determining the result you want and motivating others to support the change shows up in most frameworks. Whether you are looking at a change framework by John Kotter, Daryl Conner, William Bridges, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Jeff Hiatt or someone else, it is worth keeping some things in mind.

  • There is no perfect framework. Every framework has its strengths and limitations which become apparent as you explore and apply it. Even if you start with a framework that you think is ideal, don’t be surprised if you end up augmenting it in some way with other tools and frameworks.
  • Change is not linear. Change management is really a process as opposed to an event. Frameworks formalize this process in the form of methodologies. Unfortunately, many methodologies are laid out in steps that give the impression that change is linear. From my experience, change is not linear…it is iterative in nature. Although frameworks can provide sequential steps to implement, the reality is you may have to revisit some steps. For example, you may need to go back to certain parts of your company and reemphasize the reason for the change, the end state you are shooting for and the strategy you are using to get there.

As you evaluate different change frameworks, it will be easier to identify the right framework by focusing on the target audience. If you believe that change (especially large-scale change) occurs most effectively in organizations when it is top down, bottom up and side-to-side as opposed to just one of these ways, the target audience for the framework is more than just you and specific colleagues. The target audience is the collection of people in the organization. If you and your company want to get change management capabilities into corporate DNA, this collection of people needs to be able to apply the framework in addition to understanding it.

Having used a variety of frameworks, I found that the right one is the framework that will best resonate with employees in your organization. In other words, it makes sense to them, and they see the value of it. As you decide on the one that resonates the best, try to balance comprehensiveness with user-friendliness. Since change management is hard for many people to get their arms around, why make it even harder by selecting a framework that is overly complicated due to its comprehensiveness? A comprehensive change framework is of little value if people cannot easily explain it and use it.

For many companies, change is a constant. This is why they want to instill change management into the DNA of the organization by teaching a framework that employees and leaders can use. When it’s in the DNA, everyone naturally approaches daily work with a change management lens that helps them identify the desired outcome, the stakeholders, the obstacles and the way to get commitment to the change. This becomes especially critical when the change becomes broader in scope, affects more stakeholders and substantially shifts what many people do on a daily basis.

Change management frameworks are enablers to ensure you and your company successfully deal with organizational transitions. As you sort through the variety of frameworks on the market, remember that the right one resonates with employees which makes it easier for employees to deal with change. By using this one as a foundation, change management soon becomes part of corporate DNA.


Ryan Lahti is the founder and managing principal of OrgLeader, LLC. Stay up to date on Ryan’s STEM-based organization tweets here: @ryanlahti

(Photo: Time for Change, Pixabay)