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Finding the Right Change Management Model for Your Organization

Posted in: Blog

Planning a big technology change at your nonprofit organization? There are many important factors to consider at each stage of the process: before, during and after the change. Unfortunately, knowing where to begin and the best way to approach the process can be difficult and that’s where finding the right change management models for your organization comes in. The management of organization-wide change is critical as it affects everyone internally and is a significant factor in team effectiveness, employee morale, technology utilization, and achieving both long and short-term goals.

Like many processes in the realm of organizational behavior, there are countless ways to go about it. Specifically, there are a number of well-established different change management models that offer structured approaches to help ensure success. Finding the change management model that works for your particular organization and project will go a long way in helping you through the process of effectively creating lasting, impactful change.    

Here are just three (of many) different change management models. Take inspiration from some of these approaches and see how you can apply similar principles to your change management project.

ADKAR Model:

This model focuses on the individual impact of organization-wide change and is considered a people-first approach. ADKAR is an acronym for:

  • Awareness of the need for change
  • Desire to support or participate in the process of change
  • Knowledge of how to change or what steps are needed
  • Ability to implement the change
  • Reinforcement of the change on an ongoing basis

Organizational change is ultimately down to the individuals who are impacted. The ADKAR model, by focusing on individuals, helps those impacted by the change to process and understand it through clearly defined stages. The goal is ultimately to get to a state of acceptance. Learn more about the ADKAR change management model here.  

Lewin’s Change Management Model:

First developed around 80 years ago, this model remains popular today because of its simple yet effective structure. Kurt Lewin, this change model’s namesake, envisioned change management being broken down into three manageable stages, known as:

  • Unfreeze
  • Change
  • Refreeze

Kurt Lewin was a physicist and aligned his thinking about change management to the cycle of water (ie: turning a cube of ice into a cone of ice). The unfreeze stage focuses on being honest and transparent about current perceptions and processes as a way to prepare for upcoming changes. The idea focuses on being able to let go of bias or bad habits. (Sounds good, right?) The next step is actually implementing changes (this is a change model after all), and requires clear and constant communication during and after the change taking place. Finally, the refreeze stage focuses on locking the new, changed process into place. 

Some may feel the three step process is too simplistic, but others find it provides the ability to uncover bad patterns or overlooked problems to approach a new way of thinking with a clean slate. Learn more about Lewin’s model here.  

PDCA Model 

This model is slightly younger than the Lewin’s model as it was originally developed in the 1950s by William Denning. PDCA stands for Plan, Do, Check, Act. This model takes a cyclical or iterative approach and focuses on ongoing improvement and changes. In theory, it follows the old parable that ‘the only constant is change’ and reinforces that change should be embraced on an ongoing basis. 

By following this change management model, organizations follow a simple process: devise a plan, test the plan, implement the changes and evaluate the plan’s success. This is both a versatile and powerful cycle of continuous improvement and can be effectively used to develop new processes, uncover inefficiencies, and conduct controlled trials. The fact that it’s cyclical in nature may cause frustration in that the change “never ends”, but that is the reality of the world in which we live. Having a process that embraces that concept can be very effective in promoting the concept of continuous improvement and change.

These three are just a few of the many change management models that have been used across industries for decades. Exploring what model might work best with your internal team and resources can be an important first step on your change management journey.

Speaking of change management journeys, we have recently published a white paper that dives into more detail on how effective change management can be like rocket fuel to organization-wide implementation of new technologies. Get your copy here.