Change Management is critical to the success of any business alteration, particularly IT projects, and must be carefully planned to achieve the desired results. This is the second article in a series of three which takes a look at the circumstances for success and compares step models for implementing change.
The first article in this series, Change Management (Part 1) – Cracking the Code of Change focused on some key theories and concluded that a change that tries to involve employees and alleviate their fears and concerns is far more likely to be successful. One that goes further and starts with a Top-down change then follows that with a Bottom-up approach to embed the change in the culture has a very real chance of delivering lasting results.
Building on those conclusions, it is important to ensure that a structured and coherent programme is implemented that includes strong leadership, appropriate actions to ensure staff are properly involved and attention to changing internal policies to align with the new reality.
Pettigrew & Whipp (1991) summarise this in their “Receptive Contexts for Change”:
- Coherent change program
- Clear environment assessment and definition of the needed change
- Consistent, coherent, committed approach to leading change across the whole organisation
- Linked strategic and operational change
- Close attention to the HR side of change
Step Models of Change
Any successful change needs to undertake a variety of key steps in order to change the organisation, what Lewin (1951) termed Unfreeze-Move-Refreeze.
Unfreeze – convince the organisation that it needs to change.
Move – move the organisation toward the new vision.
Refreeze – embed the new reality into the organisation and its culture.
There has been considerable literature written around what are often referred to as step models of change, some of the key models are shown below. At a high level the models all follow Lewin’s three phases. Which model you choose to follow will depend on circumstances and personal preference. The important thing is that a structured and coherent change architecture is in place.
Kotter’s 8 Step Model of Change
Probably one of the most well known and respected change models is from the Harvard Business School article and later book by John Kotter – “Leading Change”. He later followed this with “The Heart of Change” and lastly his modern fable “Our Iceberg is Melting” which uses a group of penguins to illustrate the change process.
To summarise the key aspects of Kotter’s model:
Creating a Climate for Change – helping the organisation to see the reasons for change, painting the picture of the “burning platform”, developing a sense of urgency, gaining commitment from senior leadership and key players, and finally developing a shared vision for the future.
Engaging and Enabling the Whole Organisation – moving the whole organisation towards the new reality, communicating the vision and empowering action. Creating opportunities for short term wins along the way will help the organisation to visualize progress and maintain momentum.
Implementing and Sustaining Change – keep pushing the change forward, not letting up and finally anchoring the change into the organisation, including changing HR policies.
Critical to change management success is a structured and coherent programme that includes strong leadership from senior management, painting a clear picture of the reason for change and creating a sense of urgency. This then enables you to lead the impacted staff towards a new vision and then work towards anchoring that new reality in the organisational culture. As discussed in the first article of this series, key to this success is involving the impacted people throughout and helping them to understand how they are impacted, in order to remove the fear of the unknown.
This is especially true for IT projects where staff may not understand a new technology and working practices, which leads to increased anxiety and fear. Therefore it is imperative to help them make the transition and to feel they are part of the decision process, not just a victim of the end result.
The third article in this series, “Change Management (Part 3a) – Change Capability” takes a look at an improved model for implementing organisational change management that builds on Kotter’s model.
What are your views on Change Management, especially related to IT projects?
Change Management (Part 1) – Cracking the Code of Change
Change Management (Part 3a) – Change Capability
Change Management (Part 3b) – Success with IT Change
Change Management – What’s in a Name?
Why are IT projects Change Management time bombs?
The Importance of Change Leadership – Beyond “Step Models of Change”