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What is Change Management?

What is Change Management?

Since "Change" is a universal phenomenon that occurs all the time, to everything, then change management is "the process of coping with the effects of altered circumstances".

These changes (altered circumstances) may be caused by three sets of causes:

  • Nature. (A hurricane may wreck your house)
  • Other people. (The government might bomb your house)
  • Yourself. (You might leave the gas on and blow up your own house)

Change can be both negative and positive change; things can get better or worse, as a result of the change. Change management is the process by which one manages variations in circumstances initiated by nature, other people or yourself, either for good or for ill: meaning:

  • How one manages the impact of a disaster.
  • How one manages the impact of an alteration in the law.
  • How one manages the impact of a new technology.

Change Management Models

There are five change management models that you need to know.

  1. The Locus of Control
  2. Four factors that cause change
  3. The five-part change management formula
  4. General Adaptation System (GAS)
  5. Difference between evolutionary change and revolutionary change

1. The Locus of Control

(Control. Influence.) (No Control No influence.) Venn Diagram

The fundamental question relating to change is: Who or what is driving the change?

  1. If the changes are being driven by forces that are outside your control, then the people affected by the change will feel disempowered.
  2. If the changes are being driven by forces WITHIN your control, then the people will feel empowered.

The task of the Change Manager is to focus the team's efforts onto those factors that they are able to control or influence, and to NOT waste too much energy dwelling on things over which they have NO control.

In addition, your aim is to always strive to extend your circle of influence and control. There are many factors that cause change to occur in your life. Which change factors can you control, and which can't you control?

2. Four factors that cause change

The four factors that cause change are:

  1. Yourself
  2. Other people
  3. Systems (political, social, information engineering, organisational, electronic systems)
  4. Mother nature (the weather, the environment, the climate, age etc)

Please note that you have direct control over the actions of only ONE item on the above list.

Can you guess which one it is?

As a Change Manager, your goals include:

  1. Control yourself. Keep your head.
  2. Influence others to adopt your ideas.
  3. Continually improve your systems, (political, social, information engineering, organisational, electronic systems).

In order to achieve the above four goals, use the success formula.

3. The five-part change management formula

This five-part change model lets you harness the power of change and make it work to your advantage.

All successful organisations reiterate a five-part process.

Purpose, plan, action, feedback, change.

Circle diagram. smart purpose> Plan > Action > Feedback > Change

  1. The goal is WHAT you want to achieve. Your desired state.
  2. The plan is the written document that is designed to get you to the desired state.
  3. The action is the implementation of the plan.
  4. The feedback are the results that your recent actions have created.
  5. The changes are the modifications, improvements and adaptations you need to make to your current plan, in order to achieve your goal.

Repeat the cycle until the goal is achieved.

4. The General Adaptation System (GAS)

As you can see from the above diagram, change is simple in theory but sometimes, not easy in practice.

Change is not easy because people find the process of change very stressful.

Change induces stress because it forces people to break their normal routines and habits; it throws them into a state of uncertainty. Most people don't like having their routines broken, and most hate uncertainty.

Therefore, you need to understand and to manage the emotional stress caused by change.

You need to know the General Adaptation System, which has four parts: Change. Alarm. Adaptation. Exhaustion.

General adaptation system

  1. The initiation of the change.
  2. The alarm phase: when productivity tends to drop as an initial response to the announcement of the change.
  3. The adaptation phase: the adaptive response to changing environment; productivity increases.
  4. The exhaustion phase: when people get tired of the constant changes, they suffer from "change fatigue".

Your task is to help people through the alarm stage, get them into the adaptation phase and keep them away from exhaustion.

You must avoid change fatigue.

5. Difference between, evolutionary change and revolutionary change

Change comes in two varieties, evolutionary change and revolutionary change.

  1. Evolutionary change is slow, gradual, taken by means of small individual steps, and it leads to feelings of continuous improvement.
  2. Revolutionary change is the opposite type. Revolutions are rapid, done in one step and they are often, bloody affairs.

If you make your change process feel like revolution, then that would NOT be desirable to most people. Revolutions have a reputation for being painful and disruptive.

It would be better, if you could make change a progressive evolution.

What is PDCA?

PDCA is an acronym for a change management and continuous improvement process. PDCA stands for: Plan, Do, Check, Act. PDCA is a common model and it is known by many people.

We believe, however, that the model is deficient, and that it is easy to improve it. PDCA misses out too much detail and is therefore not a good enough model for you or your delegates.

We want to present a more refined and improved version of the PDCA process.

What is wrong with PDCA?

Before you can plan to do something, you must first know what that "something" is. Meaning, the first step in a process of change management is not to ask, "What is the plan?" but rather: the first step is to ask, "What is the goal?".

If you start with planning, you have missed a vital step. Instead, start with setting a clearly defined, well worded and objectively measurable goal.

Step one: State the purpose

Purpose, (goal, SMART target) is the first step. Smart target means: "Write down a Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Realistic. And Time limited, target".

Step two: Plan

Now you have the goal, now you can ask the team to formulate a plan of action.

  • Identify all the steps that need to be taken.
  • Identify how long each step will take.
  • Identify what resources will be required.
  • Identify the correct sequence of tasks.
  • Figure out the critical path analysis.
  • Put it all in writing and distribute it for critical evaluation and improvement.

Step three: implement the plan

Obviously the plan won't work unless you do. The plan must be implemented with skill, precision, accuracy and with honest hard work.

Step four: Identify where the plan is working

Meaning, the results you are creating by the implementation of your actions are the results you wanted, or even better than what you wanted.

Step five: Identify where the plan is not working

Meaning, the results you are creating by the implementation of your actions are NOT the results you wanted, or even worse, damaging your prospects for the achievement of the goal.

Step six: Change in the light of negative feedback

On the areas that are not working, you must ask and answer the following question, "What adjustments or changes do we need to make to the plan, (step 2) in order to rectify the situation and get this project back on track?"

Summary of the comparison between standard PDCA and the more advanced form

PDCA = Plan. Do. Check. Act. (We suggest that there is a missing vital element: Agree the GOAL!)

Our more advanced Success Formula is:

Purpose. Plan. Action. Positive Feedback. Negative feedback. Change.

  1. Purpose: define the goal.
  2. Plan: formulate the best plan in writing.
  3. Action. Implement the plan.
  4. Positive Feedback. Find out what is working.
  5. Negative feedback. Find out what is not working.
  6. Change. In relation to what is not working, what changes need to be made to the plan.

What is Change Management Training?

We offer change management training, designed to help people effectively manage change, by improving performance in terms of four key themes: Motivation, planning, communication, and implementation of continuous improvement. Here are the themes in more detail:

1. Motivation

Emotionally, people don't like change because we are all creatures of habit.

Change disrupts habits, which we find frustrating, annoying and difficult to deal with. However, change is inevitable. The only choice people have is either to:

  1. Adapt and benefit from the change in circumstances.
  2. Not adapt and not benefit from the change in circumstances.

Change management starts by helping people become more adaptive and less resistant to change. Since change is inevitable, it is better to accept the inevitable and strive to find ways to use it to our advantage.

We want people to be more philosophical and optimistic about change; to begin to think about how to turn changes to their advantage. Instilling the adaptive mindset is the first and most important topic in training change management.

2. Change management planning

A plan is a set of written, systematic, purposeful steps that are intended to achieve a predetermined goal.

Therefore, before a change plan can be written, the desired goal must already have been decided. In other words, change management should never be a knee-jerk reaction, in response to a change of circumstances. Change management should always be goal directed.

Change management is a series of deliberate acts intended to move people from the current state, to the desired future state, or goal.

For any change management programme to be effective, it must be well planned, and goal directed.

3. Communication

It is the responsibility of the change management team to communicate that the change is inevitable. They must communicate the new goal, the new plan, and the first steps.

The change management team must then communicate a sense of optimism for a better future. Change brings uncertainty and uncertainty brings doubt, and doubt brings negative emotions. These negative emotions must be countered, by the communication of reassurance that the world can be made better.

4. Implementation

Implementation of the plan is the final aspect of the change management process. The plan gives the theory of the change response. The implementation is putting theory into practice.

No plan is perfect, so there will be elements of the change plan that will fail. So the change team must be observing and measuring the feedback results of the plan's implementation.

Where the plan is working, it can be implemented according to plan. But where the plan is not working, then the change plan itself must be changed, in accordance with logical analysis of the evidence available.

Life settles down to a regular cycle of; action, feedback reaction, rewrite and change of plan.

This cycle is called the continuous improvement cycle.

Action> Reaction > Change the plan


We are pleased to offer our change management training as an in-house course, which can be delivered face-to-face or online, if you prefer.

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Further Reading in Change Management

  • Measure the Feedback
    Once you have set your goal, don't forget to measure your progress and act on feedback. Feedback tells you how well you are doing, and whether you need to make any adjustments to achieving that goal.
    Read Article >
  • Why do people resist change?
    People are creatures of habit and resist change because it is too difficult, or unproven to be better than what they are currently doing. Better the devil you know, is a well-used phrase when it comes to change, but should you accept it?
    Read Article >
  • What is Change Management?
    Learn the definition of change management, the theory and methods behind it, and how to deliver change management training to your team.
    Read Article >
  • Leadership Training - The Universal Success Formula
    The Universal Success Formula We all want to be more successful. But how does one do that? Answer: Be guided by "success principles". What are success principles? Success principles are a set of generalised instructions that lay down the steps that you need to take, in order to achieve a certain...
    Read Article >
  • A New Vision for Britain
    Theresa May promised at the Conservative conference that "a change has got to come" as she outlined her vision for Britain. This new vision will require a radical change in thinking.
    Read Article >