Change Management Fundamentals

Businesses must constantly adapt and evolve to meet anticipated and unexpected challenges. These challenges may come from technological changes, competition, laws and regulations, or economic trends.

For changes to be successful, organizations must prepare for change, coordinate and equip their teams to handle that change, and then support the individuals moving through change. Change management requires many essential project management skills, including flexibility, communication, time management, organization, and team-building.

Organizational change may include aspects of:

  • Company culture.
  • Corporate organization or hierarchy.
  • Policies, procedures, and processes used daily.
  • Underlying infrastructure and technology.

Change comes in two forms: adaptive and transformational

Adaptive changes are small and iterative. Organizations may gradually undertake such changes to evolve their strategies, processes, or products. Examples of adaptive change include increased hiring to meet demands and changing policies around the work-from-home and hybrid working environments, as necessitated by the pandemic.  

In contrast, transformational changes are typically more significant in scale and may be dramatic in their radical departure from long-established policies or situations. Splitting a company into multiple divisions, or moving manufacturing off-site is a transformational change.

The steps of Change Management

1. Prepare the organization for change

Management must prepare the organization culturally before addressing logistics, realizing that initial employee buy-in will be critical to successful change and removing resistance. This includes:

  • Helping all employees understand the need for change and how it will affect them.
  • Raising awareness of the issues driving the need for change.
  • Highlighting potential challenges that may occur as part of the change and the organization’s plans to address them.

2. Create a plan for the change, and craft a vision of the future

After ensuring the organization is prepared to embrace the proposed change, management must develop a detailed implementation plan, including answers to the following questions:

  • What organizational goals are addressed by this change?
  • How will success be measured?
  • What current performance baseline will help measure the effectiveness of change?
  • Which stakeholders are affected by this change?
  • Who will be in charge of implementing the change?
  • Who will be responsible for each execution step?
  • Who needs to review, approve, and sign off at each point in the process?
  • What is included in the change project, and which related tasks are out of scope?
  • How will we account for and mitigate any unknowns or potential roadblocks?

3. Implement the change according to the plan

Once the plan is ready, the project is one of following the articulated steps while simultaneously empowering employees to take those steps and celebrating short-term gains and accomplishments.

Those steps may include changes to the following:

  • Company structure or organization.
  • Employee expectations.
  • Systems, policies, procedures, and processes.

With change comes fear and unease, so the plan must include repeated communication to remind all participants why change is necessary.

4. Incorporate the change into the company culture

After implementation, change managers must incorporate the new way of life into daily practice to prevent sliding back to the prior state or situation. This is key, especially when the change affects workflows, strategy, or decision-making.

Without documentation and reinforcement, employees may return to the old way of getting work done, which seems “easier” than following new protocols. Another key to successful change is encouraging and rewarding employees for following the new process.

5. Analyze results and review progress

A successful change initiative needs post-implementation review and analysis to evaluate whether the project was a success, failure, or mixed bag of questionable results. This post-change analysis also provides lessons on how well the change process worked.

Review questions include:

  • Was the change initiative successful, and how can we substantiate that with data?
  • Was the change management process successful, such that we could replicate it on future projects?
  • Are there options to mitigate issues and repurpose the work if the change was unsuccessful?


At Thurman Co., we embrace the PMI certification principles. Core processes such as Change Management are part of the foundational framework driving how we operate and interact with clients, suppliers, and partners.

We help businesses manage projects to significantly impact their success and growth. When you’re ready to put your project in the hands of a trusted professional organization, contact us to learn more about working together.

1 thought on “Change Management Fundamentals”

  1. Pingback: Best Practices in Change Management - Thurman Co

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *