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The tricky business of change management

BY: SGI|16 July 2019
BLOG| Business leadership and strategy

Continued innovation is a key aspect of any organisation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). While some companies, such as Coca-Cola, can find a niche and be successful for decades, most great companies need to change with the times to ensure they prosper continuously. Before it became known for its telephone products, Nokia used to sell rubber boots, while oil giant Shell traded in actual sea shells. These companies realised that change was inevitable and moved into industries that were more aligned to the business landscape at the time.


However, adapting to change is often not as simple as changing your product offering. Sometimes, change is forced upon an organisation through circumstances – for example, shifting technologies in the digital age. Other times, the change is planned and implemented to encourage the growth of a company. Prosci believes that, although an organisation may change its processes, structure, job roles and technology, it is ultimately the employees that need to undergo the biggest change. And that’s where change management plays a critical role.


Change management is essentially the process of dealing with the transition of an organisation’s goals, outcomes or strategies; specifically helping people adapt to the changes that may occur. Here, we outline the four types of change management that are most often used and how they can help you when your organisation is undergoing change. Note that the chosen change process must always align with a business’s overarching strategy and goals.



This seven-step approach is based on the analysis of the key aspects of an organisation, which include strategy, structure, systems, shared values, skills, style and staff. The McKinsey 7-S Model asks “why” an organisation needs to change instead of “how” to change it and emphasises a culture where failure is accepted as part of the road to success.


Why use the McKinsey 7-S model?

Time-consuming and intensive, this model will create an overview of the effectiveness of your organisation’s current structure and highlight the areas that require attention.



Adopting the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance), this approach to change management looks at how organisations can anticipate the reactions of employees, helping them prepare better for the changes to come.


Why use the Kübler-Ross Change Curve model?

Kübler-Ross is best when paired with another model as it does not specifically look at change at an organisational level. However, according to Process Street, it’s useful when you are trying to connect with employees and their productivity – which, ultimately, will form the crux of your change management strategy.



Another model that focuses predominantly on the people experiencing the changes rather than the changes taking place within the organisation, Kotter’s Theory is an eight-step model that looks at:

  1. Creating a sense of urgency;
  2. Building a strong coalition;
  3. Forming a strategic vision;
  4. Getting everyone’s buy-in;
  5. Enabling action by removing barriers;
  6. Generating short-term wins;
  7. Sustaining acceleration; and
  8. Instituting change.


Why use the Kotter's Theory model?

Through teamwork, trust and transparency, Kotter’s Theory is able to skillfully involve everyone in the organisation in its change process through a vision of one end goal benefitting all. Additionally, if your employees are especially resistant to change, this method may possibly help get reluctant staff on your side.



ADKAR stands for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement, and uses these five goals to effectively help individuals bring about change within an organisation. As it uses a bottom-up approach – by focusing on employees before organisational change – changes occur much more quickly and reliably.


Why use the Adkar model?

The benefits of ADKAR far outweigh its downside: Macro management. As the approach is flexible and encourages small changes, the success of your implementation is far more likely. Keep in mind that in a large organisation, you’ll need to push for and monitor change as the changes will be small, incremental and frequent.


SGI offers a short online course focusing on change process called Dancing With Elephants (Change Process). The course will help managers understand the need for change, analyse areas that require a change process, select a model for change and formulate recommendations for implementing this.


Dancing with elephants, change process

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