Change Management WalkMe TeamUpdated December 7, 2021

Must-Know Change Management Terminology and Concepts

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Must-Know Change Management Terminology and Concepts

In this article, we’ll offer a quick survey of change management by exploring some core change management terminology and concepts.

The terms and ideas below can serve as a quick refresher for change professionals.

This list can also offer some insight into terms you may be unfamiliar with.

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Let’s get started.

Change Management Terminology

This list includes many of the most important words and ideas you’ll come across in change management.

Below each term is an expanded definition, with other related terms if necessary.

Change Management

Change management is the art and science of managing and implementing organizational change.

All business changes begin with a problem, then transform the organization to a desired end state.

Such changes are often complex and fraught with challenges.

For this reason, change management it necessary.

Effective management helps such transitions run smoothly, cost-effectively, and on time.

Organizational Change

Organizational change refers to large-scale business changes, such as:

  • Hierarchical restructuring
  • Culture changes
  • Digital transformation

And any other organizational shifts that affect business processes and people.

Barriers to Change

Change management has its obstacles, or barriers.

Though every organizational change is unique, many of the same challenges affect different change programs.

A few common ones include:

When people resist change, effective communication and leadership are usually the antidotes.

Change Leadership

Change leadership is distinct from change management.

While the change manager manages and supervises change, the leader drives it forward.

The change leader is often the one with the original vision for change.

As a result, he or she must embody that change, inspire others, and push it forward to the end.

The best leaders lead from the ground – they are visible, engaged, and proactive.

The more that employees feel connected to the change and its leader, the more they will support change.

Change Model or Change Framework

Change models, or change frameworks, are abstract models that describe change.

The simplest – and perhaps the most powerful – is Lewin’s change model.

It describe change in three steps: unfreezing, changing, and refreezing.

At each stage, certain objectives must be accomplished to move the program forward.

There are several other change models. Each of them can help change managers analyze, plan, and execute change.

Change Capacity and Change Management Maturity

An organization’s change capacity is its ability to change. It can also be called organizational change capability.

Both terms refer to the formal ability of an organization to manage and execute change.

This concept is closely related to the concept of change management maturity. This model describes how developed change capacity is in a company.

At the bottom end of the scale is an organization with no formal change capability.

In such organizations, change is usually dictated. Changes are then expected to take place regardless.

At the top end of the scale is an organization that has a formal change capacity, dedicated personnel, and established processes for change.

It should go without saying that the more mature an organization’s change management capacity, the more successful their changes are.

Change Champion or Change Advocate

Change champions, or advocates, are employees who believe in and foster change.

They work on behalf of the core change team to promote, enact, and lead change at the local level.

Such facilitators can be vitally important for the success of a program.

This is especially true as the size of an organization grows – the larger a company is, the less connected employees can feel from the leadership.

Change champions bridge that gap.

Executive Sponsorship

Executives sponsorship is a term that applies to different business areas, including change management.

This concept is important in change management because it can make or break a program.

With executive support, change programs are much more likely to succeed.

Without it, obstacles will be harder to overcome. And change managers won’t have the credibility they need when that need arises.

Digital Transformation

Digital is an important component in today’s business world.

This is especially true in change management.

Many, if not most, of today’s organizational changes are fueled by digital technology, either directly or indirectly.

Technology, as most of us know, has spurred evolution in many industries, pushing organizations to adapt and transform.

Digital transformation refers to embracing, adopting, and fully implementing digital technology and ideas.

Such changes can include technology adoption, business process changes, and more.

Change Management Metrics

As with any other discipline, change management should use metrics to evaluate progress.

And, similar to other applications, these metrics should be relevant and actionable.

Change management metrics are designed to measure the success of a program.

Because change management is people-centered, many of the metrics focus on engagement, productivity, and employee interaction.

Other metrics focus on the actual results of the program – its output and ROI, for example.


These are some of the most important terms and concepts related to change management.

This list provides an excellent overview of the topic. And it should offer many starting points for you to continue your research.

For more information on a topic, simply Google a given term.

You can also visit our main blog for more in-depth articles on these topics.

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