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Change Management

What #ChangeManagement Approach should I choose?

graphChange Management is critical to successfully delivering the value of your projects and initiatives. Hopefully you are reading this article because you recognise the need for a structured approach to change, that’s a great start! But which approach should you choose?

If you have stumbled into this article by accident then here’s a reminder as to why you need a structured change approach:

  • 70% of projects fail to deliver the expected value
  • The causes of this are nearly all Change Management related
  • Adopting a structured change approach (as opposed to an adhoc one) means that you are twice as likely to be successful

What are the options?

Well there are many, but probably the two most well known are listed below:

  • Kotter’s Leading change, also called Kotter’s 8 Steps
  • Prosci ADKAR® model

Kotter’s Leading Change

John Kotter - Heart of Change

For a summary of this approach see this great article by Martin Webster on his blog Leadership Thoughts – The Heart of Change by John Kotter.

Kotter’s Leading Change approach, from the book of the same name (and follow-on book “The Heart of Change”, dates back to 1996 and is probably one of the most widely used. It is straight forward and provides an excellent high level framework, however it does not provide much in the way of prescriptive details or tools. Due to its popularity though, as well as Kotter’s books, you will find a lot of references and related content on the web.

Kotter’s approach does not talk much about change readiness or taking the pulse of change during the project, so the revised version detailed here provides an extended version that adds these elements: A Practical Approach to Change Management (Kotter’s 8-steps and beyond).

Overall a very strong approach that is widely used.

Prosci ADKAR model


Details of the Prosci® ADKAR® model can be found on their site.

The ADKAR model (Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, Reinforcement) is an approach built from a number of years of research in a large number of companies. They continue to gather this data every 2 years and this forms the basis of a very strong approach. The focus here is more around getting the people from awareness to desire and then through the other stages to being able to sustain the new processes.

This model has a number of very powerful tools, especially in the early critical stages of the process. These tools focus heavily on justifying the need for Change Management and evaluating your change environment / stakeholders, planning for resistance etc. Personally I would like to see more focus from Prosci on tools for the later stages.

However, unlike Kotter’s more open source model, this is a commercial approach and you need to be certified to get access to the tools and use them. It is however very powerful and used widely. I especially like the data provided from their research that gives you strong backup for justifications.

I have found that utilizing Kotter as a high level framework plus ADKAR at the lower level for the more detailed approach is a very powerful combination.

In addition to the two well known approaches listed above:

LaMarsh Global’s Managed Change

LaMarshSee there site for more details, LaMarsh Global’s Managed Change.

It’s also worth mentioning LaMarsh Global’s Managed Change approach. I had the pleasure of working with Jeanenne LaMarsh about 15 years ago and I was impressed by the approach then. It was a well structured end to end approach which included useful tools and templates. Whilst I have not seen it recently I am sure that the approach has developed and is still a very strong contender.

There are of course many other approaches, including proprietary offerings from all the big consultancy companies (e.g. Deloitte, KPMG etc), but this article is not trying to list them all.

Which one should I choose?

At the end of the day, which approach you choose, be it one of the above or another one, is not the most important point, and is down to your personal experiences and circumstances. What is most important is that you are approaching the change in a structured manner, you have the right level of change leadership, are creating a change management culture and that you are committing to change.

Choosing any of the approaches is a step forward!

Tell me about your experiences with the above approaches or others, by email or by leaving a comment below.


Related articles:

Change Management (Part 1) – Cracking the Code of Change
Change Management (Part 2) – Step Models 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”
Beer & Nohria – “Cracking the Code of Change
Lewin’s (1951) original 3-step model of “Unfreeze-Move-Refreeze”
John Kotter – “Leading Change”
Martin Webster’s blog
Change Management Blog
The five motivators of successful change by Barbara Kivowitz

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