How to Implement Change Management: A 5-Step Checklist

If you are wondering how to implement change management in 2019, you aren’t alone.

Today’s change managers face a daunting task – implementing change programs that are fast-paced, agile, and innovative.

On top of that, you need to generate results in a marketplace that’s full of creative, tech-driven competitors.

Because today’s most successful businesses are founded upon innovation, change managers need a new approach.

Below, we’ll show you how to implement change management in 2019, with a simple step-by-step blueprint.

How to Implement Change Management: A 5-Step Checklist

Naturally, change management is a complex, involved process.

Following these steps, though, will help you create change that gets results in today’s digital environment.

1. Analyze the problem from a strategic, business-wide perspective

Start from the top down.

That is, design your plan from a bird’s-eye perspective.

Thinking strategically offers a number of advantages:

  • You can create a vision that tackles the root of the problem
  • You will develop a solution that is competitive
  • Business leaders will be more open to change programs that are strategically sound

By focusing on strategy first – instead of just tactics – you’ll develop a more competitive program.

Because it helps the business succeed in the marketplace, it will also be easier to gain executive sponsorship.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when developing a program at this level:

  • What problem does it solve?
  • How does your solution help the business evolve?
  • Why your solution, versus alternatives?

With answers to these questions, you can begin articulating your vision for change.

2. Develop an innovative vision that exploits technology

Innovation is key to success in today’s economy.

In 2019, tech-driven innovation often sets the winners apart from the losers.

Companies that exploit technology succeed. Those that don’t get left behind.

This point is worth emphasizing because many companies just try to “get by” with technology – and, unfortunately, “getting by” is all that those companies do.

The truly successful businesses employ state-of-the-art technology to gain a competitive edge, stand out from the crowd, and move faster than their competitors.

Keith Krach, DocuSign board chairman, said that power isn’t defined by size in today’s economy, it’s speed:

“It is not the big that eat the small. It is the fast that eat the slow.”

3. Put employees and customers at the center of your program

Another important facet of today’s digital business is human-centrism.

Today’s digital businesses recognize that customers and their employees drive change. In other words, that people drive change.

Building programs around your employees and customers helps you create programs that:

  • Meet the needs of everyone involved
  • Are relevant to the needs of the marketplace, the customers, and the business
  • Gain support at all levels

As you design your program, collect feedback.

Learn what employees want, what customers need, and what the business needs.

This information will help you create messaging that motivates employees to push your program forward and help it succeed.

4. Combine classic frameworks with new approaches

Classic frameworks include the Kotter 8-Step Change Model, the Lewin Change Model, and even Prosci’s more recent ADKAR model.

These change frameworks are tried-and-true models for organizational change.

Though you will certainly tweak and adjust them to fit your needs, they provide much-needed structure for implementation.

For instance, the 8-step Kotter model follows these 8 steps:

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

These 8 steps form an excellent step-by-step approach for change implementation.

Explore change models such as this one, then design your own stage-based program that loosely follows your chosen framework.

5. Follow your plan, but be adaptable

Whether you stick closely to a classic framework or create your own, remember that adaptability is key.

In 2019 and beyond, change programs are expected to move faster, while being more responsive.

If change is thrown at your change program, you should be able to react flexibly.

As mentioned above, speed is crucial to survival. The digital era rewards adaptable, innovative organizations that can maneuver quickly. Those that can’t risk stagnation.

A few ways to stay agile include:

  • Keep your programs as short as possible
  • Break big goals into incremental milestones
  • Use feedback to inform your program, and change as needed
  • Employ the latest change management tools and digital technology to gain insight
  • Meet frequently with stakeholders and adjust course frequently

This last point is similar to the agile approach to software development. Regular communication and course adjustment gives teams the ability to be more reactive and proactive, rather than following a static plan.

Final Thoughts

For many change managers, implementing change management simply means following a change framework.

And, as mentioned, classic change frameworks are vital for every change program.

However, in 2019, change management implementation needs more. It needs flexibility, adaptability, and tech-driven innovation.

Change managers that draw inspiration from the marketplace, their customers, and digital technology will stand greater chances of success.

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.