Most organizations continue to do whatever works, until it doesn’t. Unfortunately, waiting until things do not work is a recipe for disaster. Would you forego oil changes in your car until the engine fails?

Change management is the coordinated transition over a period of time that changes the character and performance of an organization.

The first part of the definition deals with a coordinated transition over a period of time. Basically, this portion of the definition deals with the requirement that organizational leaders have a plan that includes:

  1. Communication – Creating a sense of urgency and a vision of the future
  2. Change agents – Selecting and empowering team(s) of change agents who have the expertise, resources, and authority necessary to successfully support the change process
  3. Measurement – Setting goals and creating measures of success during various phases of the change process

The second portion of the definition is… changes the character [of the organization]. Changes in the character of the organization can ultimately change the culture. Changes in character include the design of the organization and organizational processes. Organizational design includes much more than the organization structure; it also includes decision – making processes, Human Resource and IT systems, dealing with conflict resolution, and much more.

The final portion of the definition is… performance of the organization. How will a planned change effort impact the performance of the organization? Change efforts can be costly, time consuming, and disruptive. Well-defined and documented performance targets enable leaders to determine the return on investment and maintain focus as the change effort progresses. It also allows leaders to determine the success of the change effort.

Change management is more important than ever due to rapid changes in technology, global turbulence, and instant communications. Organizations must continually adjust to changes that will impact the effectiveness of their respective organizations. Continuing to do what used to work will result in spiral of poor performance and reduce effectiveness.