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4 Practical Ways to Achieve Success with Change Management


For decades, Nokia had been the world’s largest mobile supplier – until Apple swept in with iPhones in 2010 and usurped the throne. While Nokia still remained profitable, the competition was far from worse. In years to follow, Nokia with its 150-year history knew it had little recourse but to reinvent itself.

Make New Changes:

Nokia was forced to hire a new CEO. Ultimately under the new management, it decided to sell its phone division to Microsoft.

It was neither the first time and certainly not the last when Nokia decided to adapt change in its operations.

“All companies deal with change somewhere or another.” -Frank Calderoni, CEO of Anaplan.

And he’s right.

Change in any organization is inevitable. To tackle change scenarios, a concept known as Change Management was introduced.

Change management refers to a structured approach to ensuring that organizational change is implemented and handled in a seamless manner.

According to McKinsey & Company, a well-organized change management process can reduce the time of a project development cycle by up to 33%.

Be it change management on an individual level, organizational level or at an enterprise level, if done in a negligent way, consequences could be severe and long-term.

This is why companies and project managers seek for the best, most practical methodologies to successfully adopt the impending changes headed their way.

Here are 4 Practical ways of implementing Change Management:

Understanding Change


The first step in successful change management begins by having a clear concept of the change at hand. Understanding what the change entails. As a project manager, it is vital you ask these questions:

  • Where are we?
  • Where do we see this change taking us?
  • What steps do we need to get started?

Tool/Model for Understanding Change Process:

Kurt Lewin’s 3-stage Model. It works on three simple steps:

  1. Unfreeze – Breaking the existing structure of the organization
  2. Change – building new management structures, goals, and methods of working
  3. Refreeze – institutionalize new values and new behavioral patterns

In 1999, when Nissan faced a harrowing bankruptcy, it had little choice but to implement a radical change to reinvent its operations.

Carlos Ghosn, Nissan’s newly appointed chief operating officer, made use of Lewin’s Model to do that.

He constructed a new strategy for the business (Unfreezing the existing state) for which he made sure all co-workers were involved and onboard.

He also issued performance-based bonuses and an open feedback system to help the employees adjust to the new patterns of work.


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Planning the Change


Changes that are voluntary and enforced by the management as initiatives, need to be planned before they can be implemented.

Planning the change is just as important as understanding the change.

Because in planning a change, the management is basically defining the process of the change management.

A project manager must sit and plan what type of change is necessary for the organization or the project at present.

Should it be a:

  • Policy change
  • System change
  • Process change, or
  • Speed change?

“Make sure there’s a vision”- says Frank Calderoni

The scope of the change should also be chalked out under planning. Describing what part of the business it includes:

  • Projects
  • Systems
  • Departments
  • Workers

Tool/Technique for Planning Change:

Impact Analysis. This technique is useful for identifying the impact (positive & negative) of the proposed plan for the change. It consists of three aspects:

  1. Understanding the ripple effect, a change might have on the functionality of the product or the system.
  2. Assess files and documentation that need to be modified in case the change is unanimously agreed upon.
  3. Identify and assess the resources needed to implement the change.


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Communicating Change


For change management to be truly successful, a project manager has to deliver in terms of great leadership. And great leadership is always cognizant of its employees’ votes.

Excellent communication plays an important role in change management. Employees must be informed of the change and their readiness must be catered to.

“Success calls for leaders to communicate more than might be expected”

Not everybody likes to change.

And not everybody adapts the same to changes.

Some employees will adapt fast (they are called runners). Some will exhibit resistance and won’t easily adapt to it unless persuaded by the management (these are known as non-walkers).

According to McKinsey, 70% of change management fails largely because of employee resistance.

To retain the level of productivity in a team, a good project manager will devote to them. S/he will showcase the new plan and share potential implications of the new plan with the rest of the team.

For struggling employees, expert coaches and training can also be endorsed for a smoother transition.

Tool/Technique for Communication Change:

Stakeholder Management. This is a set of techniques, that assists in communicating with stakeholders to get them onboard and turn them into advocates for imminent organizational change.

It functions on 4 basic steps:

  1. Identification of stakeholders
  2. Analysis of their influence and input
  3. Formulation of effective communication plans
  4. Engagement with stakeholders


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Sustaining Change


Make it stick!

There is hardly any point in creating a change plan and process if the change isn’t going to be sustained after it’s implemented.

New ways of working must carry on. This can only happen if the management nurtures a culture for the new change.

A positive and supportive culture is one that empowers employees to take risks and innovate under the new changes.

Employees should be given the ability to experiment and engage in the new fabric of the system, rather than simply following orders from higher management.

Change is sustained by:

  • Achieving immediate short-term results to build change credibility
  • Creating performance-based rewards to encourage employee motivation
  • Reinforcing change implementation to achieve desired outcomes
  • Demonstrating the benefits, the change has had on the organization

According to a study by Prosci Inc., respondents who allocated resources for sustaining organizational change exceeded their project objectives.

Tool/Model for Sustaining Change:

Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model. Kotter introduced this model in 1996 to help managers paddle through transformational change.

Built on the research of 100 organizations going through change, this model is the most comprehensive approach to implementing change and making it last.

Kotter’s Model can be used for all stages of a change management process.

But its main emphasis is on creating acceptability of change, so it can last.

Change Management is a vast field. Approaches used to implement change management vary from project to project and company to company.

The underlying principle, however, remains the same, and that is change does not take place in isolation. It affects the entire organization and every member of it.

So, whether you’re a startup or a well-established business, change management can best be applied using these 4 practical ways anywhere, anytime.

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