How to Use Change Management to Transform your Business 

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Updated: Jun 28, 2022
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In order for a business to prosper, it can’t become stagnant—but you also have to ensure that new growth strategies are not disruptive to your business environment. This tension occurs when your change initiatives are met with pushback from employees. The purpose of change management is to prevent this pushback. While every business case is different, maximizing the odds of a successful change management process requires a strategic roadmap and dedicated change efforts.

A change management plan is an organizational structure that guides how a business prepares and supports its employees as it transitions from its current state to an improved future state. Following a change management model not only ensures that changes are executed seamlessly, it also maximizes the advantages gained from those changes.

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It can seem difficult to initiate in an organization change process, but luckily there are several established change programs you can follow which guidelines to make the process as easy as possible. Four change management tools are particularly useful for ensuring smooth change in your business or organization: John Kotter’s eight-step model, the ADKAR model, the Kubler-Ross five-stage model, and Kurt Lewin’s three-stage model.

Organizational change management skills are important because the better equipped you are to manage change in your business, the lower the risk that your change system is rejected. While change management tools on their own won’t directly increase profits, they will enhance the ability of your organization to work together as a cohesive unit in order to fully accept changes in the most efficient manner.

John Kotter’s 8-Step Model for Managing Change

John P. Kotter, a leadership and change management professor at Harvard Business School, introduced this innovative change model in his 1995 book Leading Change. His eight steps are:

  1. Create a sense of urgency. Before a change request is made, it’s important to make everyone in your organization aware that there’s an existing problem and a universal need for change.
  2. Establish a powerful coalition. You should create a change management team made up of a diverse group of change leaders from all areas of the business. This will enable all team members to push each other towards success.
  3. Select a strategic vision and initiatives. You must form new initiatives that are not only easy for everyone to understand—from entry-level employees all the way through upper management—but you must also strive to make your vision as inspirational as possible.
  4. Communicate your vision. Use the powerful coalition you’ve built up to spread your vision throughout your organization.
  5. Enable action by removing barriers. Identify obstacles that could decrease your success, and use a structured approach to remove those barriers so that your project plan can progress full steam ahead.
  6. Generate short-term victories. Motivate employees by giving them short-term targets to hit so that they immediately see a real-time return on their investment.
  7. Build on positive change. Even after the change has been fully implemented, it’s imperative to keep examining and improving the project so that complacency doesn’t creep into your business unit.
  8. Ensure that changes stick. Lastly, you must ensure the new changes are cemented in stone throughout the lifecycle of your business. To do this you should continue teaching the updated process to new employees, retain your organization’s key stakeholders, and praise those who have worked diligently to adopt the new changes.

ADKAR Model for Change Management

The ADKAR model is a change management process developed by Jeff Hiatt, the founder of the Prosci Change Management Certification Program. ADKAR is an acronym that stands for:

  • Awareness of the need for change.
  • Desire to support the change.
  • Knowledge of how to change.
  • Ability to demonstrate skills and behaviors.
  • Reinforcement to make the changes stick.

If you’re able to incorporate each of these stages into your change management process, you’ll be able to enact change on an organizational level.

The Kubler-Ross 5-Stage Model

Developed by Swiss-American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in her 1969 book On Death and Dying, the Kubler-Ross five-stage model is more generally known as the five stages of grief. As a change management tool for businesses, this model focuses on acknowledging the human side of change and says employees go through the following stages of emotions when confronted with change:

  • Denial: “We’d be much better off not changing anything at all.”
  • Anger: “This is so stupid. I’m upset the company is doing this.”
  • Bargaining: “If I agree to make this specific change, then how about we don’t change this other thing?”
  • Depression: “I feel hopeless and dejected that everything is changing and I can’t do anything about it.”
  • Acceptance: “I will welcome this change and try my hardest to make sure it’s a success.”

Lewin’s 3 Stage Change Management Model

Lewin’s change management model was developed by German-American psychologist Kurt Lewin, who tackles managing change in three stages:

  • Unfreeze: It’s human nature for employees to be set in their old ways, and it can be scary to suddenly change. Before someone can buy in on the idea of doing things differently, you must break down their preexisting status quo to make them open to trying a new process.
  • Change: During the actual change process, make sure to give everyone enough time to understand the changes. Provide individual employees enough personal attention so that they still feel connected to your organization during the transition. Any change—whether it’s a digital transformation due to new technology or a new organizational culture at the company—will require both time and effective communication from a change manager.
  • Refreeze: Now that everyone has accepted the new business process, it’s time to refreeze their mindsets so the new process becomes the norm. This consists of ensuring the changes are adhered to at all times. A fun and essential part of this phase is to celebrate your success so that people feel closure and are more open to unfreezing again in the event that additional change is needed in the future. 
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How to Use Change Management to Transform Your Business . (2022, Jun 28). Retrieved from