Change Management WalkMe TeamUpdated March 17, 2021

Must-Know Change Management Methods

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Must-Know Change Management Methods

If your organization is undergoing change, it’s critical that you understand change management methods.

Change management methods give you a framework to work from when designing your change initiative.

A change model like this is extremely helpful for a few reasons:

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  • You have a step-by-step action plan to follow
  • A change model is like a template, making your job much easier and less stressful
  • Each method is designed by industry experts, who understand how to succeed at organizational change
  • You are given a lens that can help you strategize and roadmap your change process

These are just a few benefits of using established change management methods.

Whether you are a small organization or a large corporation, methods like these give you a significant advantage.

Let’s look at three of the most popular change management methods in the industry.

3 Must-Know Change Management Methods

There are many models used to describe change management.

Each industry – such as healthcare, for instance – may have its own body of literature on the subject. And they may have their own specific change models.

However, the most successful change management frameworks derive from a few well-established classics.

Let’s look at those now.

The Lewin Model

The Lewin change model is very simple, yet powerful.

It involves three stages:

  • Unfreezing – This is the first stage of transformation, when the existing status quo “unfreezes” from its current state. It is necessary to “unfix” existing ideas, processes, and ways of operating before things can change.
  • Change – After unfreezing the current state of operations, the business can undergo transition. During this stage, new processes are introduced. Over time, they begin to accept the new methods and processes.
  • Refreeze – Finally, it is time to fix the new methods and processes. This requires reinforcement and training … otherwise the new changes may not stick.

The Lewin model was developed in the middle of the 1900s, but its insights are still valuable today.

Over time, his insights informed other change models, such as Kotter’s popular 8-step model for change.

Kotter’s 8-Step Model for Change

John Kotter is a well-known figure in change management.

In the 1990s, Kotter’s book, Leading Change, paved the way for this change model.

Its 8 steps follow a similar pattern to the Lewin model, but go into greater detail.

  • 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

These steps are designed more as an action plan than the Lewin model. This makes it more practical and less theoretical.

If you are looking for an action-oriented plan, then this is a good plan to follow.

Another practical, modern model is the ADKAR model, discussed next.


The ADKAR model is a change management method developed by Jeff Hiatt.

The acronym ADKAR stands for:

  • Awareness of the need for change
  • Desire to support the change
  • Knowledge of how to change
  • Ability to demonstrate skills and behaviors
  • Reinforcement to make the change stick

All of these steps are laid out in order of application.

First, change managers and leaders create awareness of the need for change. Then each following step is executed in order.

This model, like the two mentioned above, focuses on the people side of change. And, like the Kotter method, it is aimed at providing a practical roadmap.

However, not all change methods are focused on the human element.

Another method of managing change, also referred to as change management, focuses on IT services change management.

Let’s look at that now.

ITSM Change Management Methods

Information Technology Services Management (ITSM) focuses on maintaining and managing IT services and products.

Since IT services constantly undergo change, change is commonplace.

It’s necessary to develop a change management method that can handle incidents, change requests, and problems.

The most widely known and used ITSM change management process is ITIL.


ITIL is a set of guidelines for handling changes to IT services.

In short, it advises following a simple pipeline for handling requests:

  • Change Request Submission – First, a change request is submitted to the appropriate party. Requests should include a variety of details, such as the priority of the request, the reason for the request, and a proposed solution.
  • Review – Next, the request is evaluated. It may be approved, summarily rejected, or passed back for further revision.
  • Execution – If the request is approved, it is then moved to the next stage, execution. An individual or team becomes responsible for executing the change, usually within a given time frame.
  • Evaluation – After completion, the request is closed and evaluated. Information about the request and its results are documented for future use.

The process laid out here is a very simplified version of the ITIL request fulfillment process.

ITIL is, in fact, much more complex – it contains a wide range of other processes that can be used to facilitate ITSM.

However, the process outlined above is the method most closely related to change management.


A change management method is an essential tool for any organizational change process.

This is true whether the change is people-oriented or service-oriented.

The right change model will help you stay organized, handle changes effectively, and build a program that gets real results.

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