Change Happens – For People and Organizations

Change Happens – For People and Organizations

We all know that organizations are made up of people. Well sometimes in the throes of a major change we get drawn into “Big Think” or “Systems Orientation” modes.

Here are some thoughts on maintaining the right perspective.


Change Happens in Stages

Any major change in an organization has a beginning and end with several distinct stages along the way. Here is simple way to illustrate this…

Organizations are entities unto themselves with their own needs, fears, values and personalities (culture). They adapt to the environment (and changes to it) and they experience the six stages of change.

Individuals experience the same six stages. But they do so at their own pace not necessarily at the same pace of the rest of the organization.

Key Things to Keep in Mind

  • Change does not just “happen” – It must be embedded, intentional, organized and led.
  • Change is a choice – A change and its benefits happen only when employees adopt the change for themselves – not because someone told them it was a good idea.
  • Leaders are critical – Leaders are the bridge between the organizational level change and the individual change. Employees look to their leaders during times of change.

When organizations and individuals progress through the stages of change at different rates projects can get stalled, run over budget and can even fail.

So how do we avoid this and help individuals and organizations progress together?

Keeping Everyone in Sync

1. Measure and compare – Use an assessment of where the organization and each person is on the curve. Measuring factors like the morale, how people are perceiving the change, what activities are going on and what messages are being sent and received are key to getting a complete picture.

2. Treat individuals as individuals – Everyone has unique behavioural needs based on their experiences and individual make up. Use behavioural or “style” assessment tools to get a valid picture of these and address them each in their own way.

3. Track your progress – Create a dashboard of where everyone is and where the organization is. Make it simple, visual and update it often. Here are two that are simple and effective…


Individual/ Team Level

*Each colour represents a different personal style.


Organizational Level

*Each icon represents the number of people at that stage.

4. Take action in the moment – Leaders are the key to helping people through the curve. Leaders need to take action in the moment. Give them the skills and tools to coach their teams when members need it.

5. Make course corrections – This is a process not a quick or one-time fix. What worked for a team member during the “long slide” may not be effective when they are at “rock bottom”. Leaders need to adapt their techniques for each individual at each stage of the curve.


Make sure you are managing both the individual and organizational progress through the six stages of change. The success of your project depends on it!

Change Management and E-Learning

Change Management and E-Learning

Head, Hands and Heart

Let’s talk about learning and change management. As Change Professionals,  we often are asked to educate and provide skills as part of a change mandate. I want to dive into this as it can be a bit daunting.

There is a model of change that uses the metaphor of the head, hands and the heart.

This means appealing to the logical, tactical or physical and emotional sides of a change for people to embrace the change effectively and fully. This metaphor can be used in the learning realm.

Today’s world offers a lot of technology based or e-learning options. Leveraging e-learning can be very efficient and effective as part of your change learning responsibilities.

When choosing methods for increasing personal capabilities remember to choose the right kind of training for the right kind of learning. There are learning situations for the head, others for the hands and still others for the heart. What do I mean by head, hands and heart learning? Here are some examples to give you the basic idea:

How Does This Apply to E-Learning?

E-learning has many definitions but usually involves self-directed learning delivered via some sort of technology. By it’s very nature self-directed learning will be best suited for procedural, fact based, task based types of material which are hand and sometimes even head types of content.

To appeal to “heart” types of learning requires personal contact with either a team, a leader or a facilitator.

Here are 4 practical questions to determine if you need a “heart” learning delivery method…

  1. Will the learning be most effective using role playing?
  2. Are participants learning about how they feel or react to change or a situation?
  3. Does the learning involve reaching group consensus around issues/ topics?
  4. Is it important for an intact team to experience the learning together?

If you answered yes or most likely to any of the above then you should be considering a facilitated instructor led learning approach. Minimize the temptation to use an e-learning approach.


Don’t be wowed or lured by the “coolness” of e-learning solutions if you have a “heart” learning situation. Choose what will be best for the learners and the situation.

Change Management Portfolio

Change Management Portfolio

Most organizations are experiencing multiple changes at the same time and this trend will continue if not intensify.

Many organizations are experiencing “change overload” and have been in overload for almost a decade. In a recent survey of over 1700 organizations nearly 75% of employees stated that they are at or near change saturation… and this stat has been consistent for nearly 8 years![1]

Here 3 things to consider to manage a portfolio of multiple projects…

1. Change is both individual and organizational

Change happens as part of a process. There are many models that describe this but here is the six-stage model we use.

People experience each stage in their own way with their own needs, fears and motivations. We can never forget that the “program level” or portfolio is made up of individuals going through this journey.

2. Ripple effects

The stage and impact of one change will influence the stage and impact of other changes that are happening simultaneously.

A person’s perspective of their change journey is a combination of all of the changes they are experiencing at once.

The diagram above illustrates this cumulative overlap effect for Jamal. He is at Jumping In for the Blue Change project but he is at Rock Bottom for the Yellow Change project. The result is that he may be exhibiting the emotions and behaviours of being at the Long Slide.

When designing readiness surveys, focus group sessions and other change activities design them to allow for this cumulative effect. For example is when surveying, allow people to express how multiple changes are influencing their change readiness.

“When you think about all the changes happening in the organization, which one impacts you the most?”

3. Keep it Simple

We have all heard the acronym KISS…Keep it Simple Silly. Juggling multiple projects can get complicated so set up a dashboard that tracks the people side of change in a simple visual way and one that can be rolled up or drilled into as needed. Here examples of dashboards that we use…

The first shows a snapshot of a team of individuals going through a particular change.

The second shows the impact of each project. Each coloured icon represents a different project. The number in each icon is the number of people for that project at that stage.

This shows the cumulative effect of multiple changes across an organization.


Managing a portfolio of change initiatives is a challenge. Remember change is experienced by individuals, one change influences another and measuring in a simple way will help you stay on top of everything.

[1]. Prosci, 2018, Best Practices in Change Management – 2018 Edition