Understanding the dimensions of change management can improve the implementation of new organizational change programs.
A thorough understanding of how change occurs at different levels of an organization can drastically improve the outcomes and performance of change projects.
Below, we’ll explore these dimensions in detail and look at a few models that can offer a well-rounded view of organizational change projects.
What Are the Dimensions of Change Management?
According to the well-known change management consultancy Prosci, there are three dimensions of change management:
- The enterprise level. The enterprise level represents the highest dimension of change management. This level emphasizes the need to institutionalize change competencies, principles, and best practices across the organization. This is also called enterprise change management, the development of a dedicated change management function within the organization.
- The project level. This dimension of change management focuses on the performance of individual projects and change initiatives. Project managers design projects in order to mitigate risks and maximize program performance, which requires change management capabilities both at the organizational and the individual level.
- The individual level. Change programs are driven by individual employees. Many change models prioritize this dimension of change management, and for good reason. Employee engagement is needed to actually enact a change program – without their support, change projects can easily suffer setbacks, if not fail completely.
This is a very useful perspective to have when analyzing change management.
However, it is important to note that “dimension” is not a well-defined term within the field of change management. Different professionals may use the term differently, so certain sources may offer models or frameworks that differ from this one.
Other models may emphasize different areas of change management, such as people, processes, and tools.
Even Prosci has an article dedicated to the five dimensions of integration for change management and project management, for example.
This is common within the discipline of change management, however, since many professionals have established proprietary frameworks and models, all of which can be beneficial to the change practitioner.
Below, we’ll look at another perspective on change management offered by Prosci, which can help change managers tackle organizational change from the top down as well as the bottom up.
2 Useful Change Models: Organizational Change vs. Individual Change
Prosci presents three dimensions of change management, as we saw above. For two of those dimensions, they have developed systematic frameworks that can help managers streamline and improve the outcomes of their change projects.
These frameworks are:
The ADKAR Framework
The ADKAR framework is a change model that outlines steps needed to support and enable change at the level of the individual.
This model is an acronym, and each letter stands for a step in that process:
- Awareness. First and foremost, employees must understand why a change is occurring, what that change entails, how it will impact them, and so forth. That is, they must become aware of the change.
- Desire. Next, it is necessary to cultivate the desire for change, rather than mandating or compelling employees to change. When employees voluntarily support change, they will be more engaged and productive.
- Knowledge. Without the right skills and knowledge, employees will not actually be able to drive a project forward. This stage focuses on areas such as employee onboarding, employee training, digital adoption, and the implementation of necessary processes and tools.
- Ability. Another key to the successful implementation of change projects is giving employees the opportunity to demonstrate their abilities. After all, it is one thing to know something intellectually, and it is another thing to actually put that knowledge into practice.
- Reinforcement. Finally, changed procedures must be institutionalized in order for them to stick. Through measures such as rewards, recognition, and accountability systems, managers can ensure that employees don’t revert to old habits.
This framework is extremely useful for earning employee support during a change project. However, it is equally important to take a top-down perspective and design change programs at the organizational level.
The Prosci 3-Phase Process for Organizational Change
While the ADKAR framework approaches change at the level of the individual employee, they also have a complementary model that takes a top-down perspective of change.
Their three-phase process for organizational change focuses on:
- Preparing for change. When preparing for change programs, managers will create an overarching strategy, analyze risks, conduct change readiness assessments, prepare change teams, and perform other prerequisites before actually implementing the program.
- Managing change. During this stage, managers will codify their strategies into actual roadmaps and plans, such as communication strategies, training plans, resistance management plans, and so on. Once these steps are complete, it is time to actually implement and oversee the change project.
- Reinforcing change. Finally, as in the ADKAR model, it is necessary to complete a project by reinforcing the new processes and behaviors. This can include obtaining feedback, identifying remaining weaknesses or gaps, and, ultimately, returning to normal business operations.
This model of organizational change can help business leaders and managers maintain a strategic focus and improve the logistics and execution of a program.
However, as mentioned earlier, for best results, change managers should maintain a well-balanced view that embraces all the dimensions of change management, including the organizational, the individual, and the project levels.
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