Is Change Management Obsolete? What You Need To Know



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We have recently emerged on the other side of a pandemic that caused a seismic shift in the business world. Companies found themselves reeling from the impact. Those that survived and even thrived during the period owe a debt of gratitude to their change managers. 

Change management isn’t obsolete. Its demand in a post-pandemic world is higher as the corporate landscape is more competitive. With a huge digital shift across industries, firms need change managers to help them overcome the challenges of developmental, transitional, and transformational changes.

If you need more convincing that change management is in more demand than ever and is nowhere near obsolete, then this article might be what you’re looking for. To find out how change management helps companies navigate the times, keep reading. 

What Is Change Management?

Change management is a structured and calibrated approach to ensuring the successful implementation of changes in any business model. It focuses on making the benefits of those changes lasting or permanent. 

A critical part of change management is enabling the smooth transition of teams and individuals to the new situation without a loss in productivity. 

In a nutshell, the overall goal of change management is to:

  • Develop a specific plan that everyone understands
  • Get everybody, or at least the majority, to share in the vision
  • Get on board with the plan for change
  • Make the transition in steps

There are different change management models, but the underlying principle is the same.

Types of Organizational Changes Needing Change Management

There are different types of organizational changes across industries, with varying degrees of difficulty to implement. During the pandemic, most companies experienced at least one, if not all, of the most common types of organizational change mentioned below:

  • Developmental change
  • Transitional change
  • Transformational change

Developmental Change

These changes seek to improve or upgrade existing company operations and processes. Sometimes the changes are minimal, affecting only one or two departments. Other times, they can be on a scale affecting the company at large.

Transitional Change

This type of change aims to move a company from its current state of operations to overcome a problem that could lead to a loss in productivity or profits. 

An excellent example of this was seen during the pandemic, whereby companies made unprecedented transitions to enable business continuity while ensuring worker safety. Some companies opted for a skeletal workforce, requiring only the most essential personnel to report to the workplace while assigning remote work to the rest. 

The transition to reduced operations while trying to mitigate the loss of productivity and profits was a significant change management hurdle that only a few companies managed to clear. 

The same can be said of the situation when Covid restrictions were lifted; companies had to transition back to normal operations while implementing safety protocols. The re-emergence of remote workers back to the office would have been a scheduling challenge. Once company doors were reopened for business, there was also the challenge of reconnecting with their client or consumer base. 

Transformational Change

Transformational change is the most drastic in the sense that it fundamentally alters the company’s operations and even its goals. An example of this is when a company decides to pursue an entirely different market by offering a product that is a departure from its previous products or brand. 

One company that successfully achieved transformational change is Lego. Yes, Lego the toy company. The firm enjoyed peak popularity in the 1990s, but by 2004, it was on the brink of bankruptcy. Lego was saved by the decision to make a digital transformation by dipping its toes in virtual augmented reality or AR. 

The rest is corporate history. Lego left Ferrari choking on its dust in the world’s ranking for the world’s most powerful brand in 2015. The bold transformational change expanded Lego’s market from young children to teenagers and adults. The company’s revival was so iconic there was even a book written about it: Brick by Brick: How Lego Rewrote the Rules of Innovation.

The Change Management Process

Change management is far from obsolete. In fact, it is still relatively young. One of its most popular models, the ADKAR model, was established in1994 but only became formalized in the 2000s. The great minds of the change management discipline developed the change management process to meet the need for a structured and repeatable process. 

As previously mentioned, there are several change management models, but in this article, we will focus on the ADKAR model. 

This model was created by Jeff Hiatt, the founder of Prosci, Inc. The ADKAR model consists of five sequential steps. ADKAR is an acronym, with each letter representing a step in the model. 

The five steps of the ADKAR model are:

  • Awareness of the need for change
  • Desire to participate and support the change
  • Knowledge on how to change
  • Ability to implement desired skills and behaviors 
  • Reinforcement to sustain the change

Now, here is a further breakdown of each step in the ADKAR model:

  • Awareness of the need for change: The first step in change management is to communicate the need for change and how the planned changes could benefit the company in terms of productivity and profits. 
  • Desire to participate and support the change: This is where change managers showcase leadership by motivating and mobilizing individuals and teams to share in the vision for change. This is often challenging as many people can be resistant to change.
  • Knowledge on how to change: Workers need to see that the change is realistic and achievable. The change manager’s role is to examine the problems and break them down, then map out solutions and steps toward the desired change. 
  • Ability to implement desired skills and behaviors: As mentioned earlier, change managers should not only be able to motivate teams but also mobilize them towards the common goal. This entails organizing people according to their skills and expertise. 
  • Reinforcement to sustain the change. There is always a chance of “backsliding”. This is when individuals, teams, or departments revert to the old ways of operating, either out of habit or a lack of motivation to continue in the company’s new direction. 

Benefits of Change Management

Change management is essential to the success of companies, whether big or small. Companies that have no strategies for implementing changes are often left in the dust of the competition. As I have alluded to earlier in the article, the pandemic caught the corporate world unawares. Those that survived were companies that were able to think on their feet and adapt to the times. 

Regardless of the crisis, change management can help companies tread water. This could mean the difference between a company staying afloat or going under. 

Change management isn’t an exact science, but its benefits are undeniable. Here they are:

  • Effective communication
  • Increased productivity and profits
  • Reduced stress and improved employee morale
  • Improved risk assessment and decision making

Final Thoughts

Change management not only continues to be relevant but essential. Its value to the corporate world has only increased in recent years as companies got back on their feet in the aftermath of a global pandemic- catching up to the times via change management strategies. 


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