Change Management

By Julie Collett

What is Change Management?
Managing change is a continuous process of aligning an organization with its marketplace, by being more efficient and effective than competitors, and continuously collecting feedback from within the organization (L. A. Berger, Sikora & D. R. Berger, 1994). Specifically, change management examines external and internal conditions affecting an organization and uses skills, knowledge and strategies to effectively plan and implement change as well as support continuous improvement following change ("Managing Change," 2003). Change management is an effective tool for reducing motivational, incentive and environmental barriers while defining and improving the structure of an organization.

What triggers a need for Change Management?
Managing change is a matter of transforming states within an organization, specifically, from a problem or opportunity state to the solution state. Below are common triggers that prompt organizations with the task of managing change.

  1. An organization chooses to implement a new method or system in a planned and managed or systematic fashion (Nickols, 2000). This is an "anticipative or proactive response" change. Either internal events within the organization or the external environment triggers the shift in change.
  2. An organization is forced to make changes or implement a new system based on the external factors such as laws, societal issues or competitors. This is known as a "knee-jerk or reactive response" change (Nickols, 2000). The organization has little or no control and must change in order to stay competitive and in business.

How does Change Management work?
Change management is a procedural based process. It starts with the detections of a change trigger and ends with the implementation of a new strategy within the organization (see Figure 1). Below is the complete lifecycle of change management.

Figure 1: The Change Management Model (L. A. Berger et al., 1994)

Value of Change Management
Motivational, incentive, and environmental barriers can be reduced by managing change within an organization. The key to implementation is recognizing a need for change and applying appropriate measures to turn the problem into a solvable opportunity. Table 1 below illustrates some examples in which change management is an appropriate intervention for motivational, incentive and environmental problems.

Table 1 - Examples of Change Management
Motivation - lack of value or confidence; don't care or understand the benefits

Motivation = Value x Confidence

Problem/Opportunity: Grandparents resist using email to communication with family and friends.

Solutions: Change your strategy from begging them to get a computer and just learn to use it to explaining the benefits of email. Such benefits may include immediate delivery of messages, quicker response time, more frequent communication and instant access to family pictures. Demonstrating the value of something is a motivating factor.

Incentives - performance goes unrecognized, doing it is painful and not doing it is ignored Problem: "Supervisors who rate employees as other than stellar expected to fill out forms and attend meetings to justify these ratings" (Rossett & Sheldon, 2001, p. 41).

Solution: Mange change by creating an incentive program in which supervisors want to honestly rate their employees. It's important that the appropriate performance or actions are rewarded.

Environment - processes or jobs are poorly designed, necessary tools are unavailable, a continuously changing world Problem: Documents and tools are placed randomly throughout the office. Employees waste time searching for documents and office supplies.

Solution: Create a work environment which minimize the amount of time waste looking for supplies and maximizes the amount of productive work. Change management could develop a strategy for accomplishing such a task.

Managing Change in an Organization
The following are real-world examples of change management in action. (Cases were adapted from The Change Management Handbook)

Case 1: Shake-up at the GTE Corporation

Situation A deregulation in the telephone industry that was capped by the antitrust settlement broke up the Bell system and triggered the great shake-up at the GTE Corporation.

Trigger External environmental change triggered by government laws.

Driver/Barrier Environmental

Actions Taken The company was forced to refocus its telecommunications business and discontinue its other unrelated industrial businesses.

Results GTE is attempting to integrate local phone service with cellular business to create a streamline network. This would allow customers to easily call almost anywhere.

Case 2: Need for quicker product deliveries at Black Box

Situation Black box wants to improve the efficiency of the organization by delivering their products quicker to the customers.
Trigger Internal organization problem in which the change was triggered by slow employees.

Driver/Barrier Incentive

Actions Taken A change agent at Black Box used action in the form of a reward system to incentivize employees. He dramatized the need for faster deliveries by implementing a new bonus plan for the employees.

Results Warehouse fulfillment teams worked overtime taking extra orders and sending out same-day shipments. Employees earned 140% of their bonuses and nothing else suffered.




More Information:
Managing at the Speed of Change by Daryl Conner

Change Management 101

A Performance Technology Glossary

Managing Changing

APA References:

Berger, L. A., Sikora, M. J., & Berger, D. R. (1994). The change management handbook: A road map to corporate transformation. Burr Ridge, IL & New York, NY: Irwin Professional Publishing.

MIT Human Resources Department. (2003). Managing Change by Organization and Employee Development. Retrieved February 3, 2004, from

Nickols, F. (2000). Change management 101: A primer. Retrieved February 1, 2004 from

Rossett, A. & Sheldon, K. (2001). Beyond the podium. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-BassPfeiffer

Author Note

Julie Collett


Back to top | Back to Menu