A Crash Course in Change Management Methodologies

Change management methodologies provide a framework that allows change managers to efficiently and effectively implement organizational change.

Used properly, these methods can deliver a number of bottom-line benefits, from better project outcomes to decreased resistance from employees to shortened project timelines.

Below, we’ll learn what change management methodologies are, why they are important, and then we’ll compare three of the most popular methodologies.

What Are Change Management Methodologies?

Change management is the management discipline dedicated to designing, managing, and leading organizational change.

Most change management is built upon the idea that change happens at the level of the individual, so most methodologies focus on the people side of change.

Today, most methodologies are built around practical frameworks, or roadmaps, which outline a step-by-step series of actions to follow.

The goals of these frameworks are often very similar:

  • Define a vision, strategy, and plan
  • Develop a communication strategy
  • Allocate resources and create change teams
  • Ensure that employees have the necessary knowledge and training
  • Implement, manage, and lead the change program
  • Reinforce change to ensure that the changes remain permanent

To better understand how these steps are actually implemented within a change management methodology, let’s look at a few in detail.

A Comparison of 3 Change Management Methodologies

Here are three of the most popular approaches to change management:

Prosci’s Methodology

Prosci’s change method takes two approaches: individual change and organizational change.

The ADKAR framework, their roadmap for implementing change at the individual level, consists of five stages:

  • Create awareness of the need for change
  • Cultivate a desire to support the change
  • Provide teams with the knowledge of how to change
  • Ensure employees can demonstrate the ability to implement required skills and behaviors
  • Reinforce the change to ensure that it sticks

This model is used in conjunction with a three-phase process for organizational change:

  • Prepare for change by defining the change management strategy, preparing the change management team, and developing the sponsorship model
  • Manage change by developing change management plans, then taking action and implementing those plans
  • Reinforce change by collecting and analyzing feedback, identifying gaps, managing resistance, implementing corrective actions, and celebrating successes

Linking individual and organizational change management, says Prosci, is what distinguishes their method from other methodologies, which tend to focus only on one or the other.

Kotter’s 8-Step Model

Dr. John Kotter’s 8-step model for change presents a straightforward process that change managers and business leaders can follow when pursuing a new change initiative.

These steps include:

  • Create a sense of urgency
  • Build a guiding coalition
  • Form a strategic vision and initiatives
  • Enlist a volunteer army
  • Enable action by removing barriers
  • Generate short-term wins
  • Sustain acceleration
  • Institute change

In many respects, this model aligns with Prosci’s ADKAR model, since it emphasizes the need for guiding and engaging employees.

However, it also includes elements that focus on the organizational side of change, such as forming a strategy.

ACMP’s Standard for Change Management

ACMP’s Standard for Change Management is a comprehensive and detailed methodology developed by the Association of Change Management Professionals.

Their process includes five steps:

  • Evaluate change impact and organizational readiness
  • Formulate the change management strategy
  • Develop the change management plan
  • Execute the change management plan
  • Complete the change management effort

These five steps, in turn, consist of many other smaller steps and activities that overlap with many of the activities covered in the two methods outlined above.

Professionals who wish to learn and apply this system can obtain training through qualified providers or obtain certification from the ACMP directly.

Choosing the Right Change Management Methodology

When evaluating change management methodologies, it is important to ensure that a methodology incorporates both the individual and organizational sides of change, as Prosci has pointed out.

All of the methods listed above, for instance, incorporate both sides, though the styles may differ.

Aside from this consideration, there are other factors that can weigh in on a decision, such as:

  • Who will be managing the change, what those managers’ preferences are, and how much experience they have in change management
  • The costs of hiring or training change managers in a particular method
  • The preferences and predilections of business leaders
  • How well a method aligns with the organization’s culture

Since most of the popular change models have a track record of success, the choice may often come down to personal preference.

A change practitioner who has experience in a certain method, for instance, will be predisposed to using that method. That predisposition, in turn, may influence the way that their organization chooses to implement change.

A company or individual who has yet to implement a new change methodology, however, should dig deeper into the various methodologies before building an enterprise change management function.

Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.