Change Management: What Theory of Change Model Will Work Best?

Change Management: What Theory of Change Model Will Work Best?
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A Theory of change model captivates all the essential elements needed to achieve a long-term goal.

To be successful, your theory of change model should communicate what’s required from participants to reach business goals, utilizing measurable indicators of success. A theory of change model requires active involvement from stakeholders, testing assumptions which can be measured.

It should indicate a causal pathway to reach a clearly defined goal, indicating the progressive stages necessary for success. A great foundation for your theory of change model is to ensure it meets the following criteria:

Theory of Change Model Criteria

  • Plausible: Stakeholders need to believe in the logic behind the model, and that the objectives are realistic. If those who are actively involved in change have confidence in your model, they’ll be more capable of doing what’s necessary for the intended outcome. The people involved in the process are the most important determinants, because they’re the drivers of change.
  • Doable: Stakeholders must have the resources they need to implement the strategies outlined in the theory of change model. If staff have faith in what’s at their disposal, and believe in change, you’ll be moving in the right direction.
  • Testable: Stakeholders believe there are sufficient measures to test the results of the theory. This allows staff to monitor progress, and determine whether they’re progressing. If results aren’t as expected, your change model can be tweaked accordingly.
  • Meaningful: Stakeholders appreciate the importance of the change outcomes, and have observed their positive effects. When staff perceive change to be beneficial, they’ll realize a change of approach is worthwhile, be motivated to work in accordance with the model, and excited about a transition into the future. Meaningful changes occur on a cultural level, and eventually become the norm.

Change Management Models

ADKAR Model

This model focuses on the people behind change, which is refreshing when you consider they’re often neglected. When preference is given to systems, over the all-important drivers of change, staff can feel unappreciated and more reluctant to embrace change.

This model provides five necessary steps to bring about change, which are as follows:

  • Awareness – Ensuring your staff are aware change is needed for the greater good.
  • Desire – Encouraging employees to personally invest in the initiative, giving their full support.
  • Knowledge – Equipping your employees with the tools they need to be successful.
  • Ability Effectively acquiring the knowledge gained and using it to good effect.
  • ReinforcementImplement a regime employees are incentivized to stick too.

Lewin’s Change Management Model

This is designed to help with the execution of change. It helps organizations implement large scale change, which is necessary when companies are required to undergo serious transitions.

The model can be broken down into the three following steps:

Unfreeze – Before you can implement change, you should first address staff behaviors and attitudes. This involves understanding the difficulties of staff embracing the unknown, especially when they’ve grown accustomed to the security of their current situation.

This stage concerns efforts to break through the status quo, while creating an active dialogue which outlines the changes to come.

Make Changes – This is when you’ll start to observe progress. Staff are starting to get on board with change, adjusting their outlook to what’s best for the company.

When employees realize how change processes can benefit the organization, you’re one step closer to success. This stage involves employing new tools and processes, while experimenting with a willing approach to modify your plan in accordance with real-time data.

Refreeze – At this stage, change has taken full effect, and you’ve solved the problem you sought to fix. Everything will have been justified, and you can apply the principles of your change model organization-wide.

Patience is required to reach this point, but it will all have been worth it. Making the habits stick is the tough part, but when change is embedded at the core of your organization, it will become the new status quo.

Deming Cycle

This is a methodology for process improvement, which is also referred to as the Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA cycle). It is divided into four phases to help you analyze and improve single processes, using a continuous improvement philosophy.

You can keep reusing the model until your function is working as well as it could be.

The four phases are as follows:

  • Plan: Identify inefficiencies in your current processes, and work through potential improvements. When you’ve identified potential solutions to common problems, you can…
  • Do: Focus on implementing changes on a smaller scale. This mitigates some of the risk involved with testing the changes organization-wide, at a time when the efficacy of the approach is unknown.
  • Check: Benchmark improvements, focusing on whether they’re working. Do they seem likely to work in the long term, and do the new processes have greater potential than the old?
  • Act: If your proposed change didn’t work out as intended, you can go back to the beginning. Otherwise, you can scale it up and use it throughout multiple departments. This stresses the importance of change as a trial and error process.

Christopher Smith
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.
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