Change Management WalkMe TeamUpdated July 9, 2019

A Framework for Holistic Change Management

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A Framework for Holistic Change Management

How is holistic change management different from other, more narrow change frameworks?

Many change frameworks focus on specific areas, such as people or processes.

ITIL, for instance, focuses exclusively on IT services management.

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ADKAR focuses on people.

However, a holistic change management approach incorporates every aspect of change.

Below, we will look at how you can start thinking about change management holistically.

Holistic Change Management: Towards A Framework

Clearly, designing a holistic framework for change management is no easy task.

However, if you are involved with change management in your organization, then you are involved with change every day.

And you probably have your own change management methodology.

Below we’ll look at some key components you can incorporate into your framework.

Ideally, this will help you create a change management framework that is more holistic, more successful, and more profitable.


The human element should lie at the heart of any change management framework.

Human-centrism lies at the heart of many people-focused change models, such as the ADKAR framework.

And for good reason…

Human cooperation and support is a prerequisite of successful change.

Here are some components to focus on in your change framework:

  • Motivation – Building awareness, interest, desire, and motivation are necessary to gain people’s support. Otherwise, they won’t support your change efforts.
  • Knowledge – Teaching people how to change is necessary for them to actually enact change.
  • Skills – Without skills people cannot succeed in their new roles, use new software, or be productive.
  • Training – An effective training program is a crucial component for any change program. This can involve skills training, software training, and so on.

Any change program you build should be fueled by feedback.

This data can help you design and develop projects that are relevant to employees, while still meeting your objectives.

Business Systems and Processes

Another aspect of holistic change management is the business itself.

Almost every significant change project involves changes to business systems.

When building a holistic change management strategy, design processes that are:

  • Agile, flexible, and lean. Agile business processes are able to react and adjust quickly, necessary skills in today’s volatile marketplace.
  • Able to achieve project aims efficiently and effectively. Every change project should naturally aim to improve upon existing business processes and make them more efficient, cost-effective, and profitable.
  • Relevant, digital, and innovative. Feedback-driven business processes are more useful, both for individuals and for businesses. 

This pillar of your change management framework can be viewed as the “technical” side. 

It is necessary to create mechanisms that are innovative, efficient, and agile – if you don’t, your change project won’t be accomplishing anything useful.

Organizational Strategy

Organizational strategy takes the widest possible perspective of change.

It asks and answers why a change project exists. 

And, usually, these projects exist in order to help an organization achieve its strategic goals – such as:

  • Market dominance
  • Increased profitability
  • Enhanced competitiveness

And so on.

A holistic change management strategy accounts for and manages:

  • Change Management Strategy – The strategy you use to effectively and efficiently execute your change objectives.
  • Stakeholders – How you deal with all stakeholders, including communications, negotiations, obstacles, and so on.
  • RiskRisk must be managed and assessed regularly, from the outset of the program.
  • Impacts to Culture, People, and Processes – Every project impacts different areas of a business to different degrees. Understanding and managing those impacts is crucial.

This strategic perspective ensures that your change initiative helps the organization achieve its aims.

If you only focus on one piece of the change management puzzle – such as building effective processes – but ignore organizational strategy, what is your program really accomplishing?

Putting It All Together

Define a holistic aim – a mission statement – concisely and clearly.

This aim should encapsulate, in words, your main change goals.

To make it simple, incorporate the three elements above into a single sentence.

For instance: “Our aim is to improve sales productivity and results by employing a new digital adoption platform.”

This aim has a specific goal for each of the three areas mentioned above:

  • Productivity – a goal for employees
  • Results – a strategic goal
  • Implementing a new digital adoption platform – a process goal

Creating a mission statement like this offers a few big benefits:

  • Your mission statement embraces your three aims holistically, so you always have a guiding beacon 
  • A mission statement is easier to communicate to stakeholders 
  • It defines your project scope in no uncertain terms

Because it acts as a reference point, you can extrapolate all of your project goals from it. 

That is, whenever you create a project goal, ask if it supports your mission scope.

If it doesn’t then, you can ask if your statement needs refining or if the goal needs refining.

Final Thoughts

Holistic change management incorporates every aspect of change – from the people to processes to strategy.

Change management that is too narrow risks over-focusing on a particular area, function, or process.

This can result in unforeseen impacts, higher risk, and poorer results.

Following the steps here can help you create a change management approach that doesn’t overspecialize – and, ideally, produces better results in every target objective.

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