Fundamentals of Enabling Human Change


First off, you got to have clear communication from the bottom-up and top-down.

Organizations talk about having a dedicated change management team or at least a go-to person; a change agent. It’s a lot like having a quarterback who knows the play book and guides the team through the game. This person keeps everyone in the loop and makes sure the changes are hitting the right notes at the right time.

Then there is this whole idea of cascading communication. It’s like a waterfall of info flowing down the higher-ups (sponsors of change) to the rest of the organization (agents and targets of change). Nobody is left in the dark, and everybody’s got the info needed to navigate the change smoothly yet never without some disruption.


Relationships-Reporting Structure

Organizational changes

Achieved through disciplined project management. Organizational change deals with stakeholders, relationships, and strategy, project management is focused on achieving tasks through a logical process.

Linear Relationship


The simplest relationship is the liner relationship. In a linear relationship the target reports directly to the agent, who in turn reports directly to the sponsor. This reporting structure may not always be successful in implementing change based on the change of command.

Triangular Relationship

Agent and Target both report to the Sponsor

The triangular relationship, both the agent and target report to the sponsor of the change. Yet, the target doesn’t report to the agent. This depicts a classic triangular relationship. In a triangular relationship when the sponsor (the legitimizer of change) is in senior management, many times the agent is human resource, and the target is line management. Most triangular relationships are dysfunctional because sponsors attempt to pass their “legitimization power” to agents by telling them it is their job to get line management to comply with the new change. Are observations have shown conclusively that effective sponsorship within a triangular relationship will be ineffective as best. Instead, the sponsor of change in the triangular relationship must be willing to turn directly to the target and say that they are the ones that want this change to occur. Agents and advocates of change are not a legitimizing force. They receive all their marching orders from the sponsor of the change.

Square Relationships


Sponsor 2>Target

Another complex reporting structure is the square relationship. In this structure, not only doesn’t the target report to the agent of change, but the target also doesn’t report to sponsor1 either. If sponsor1 expects successful implementation, the agent must convince the target’s sponsor 2 that the change is essential. This type of persuasion is called an advocate of change. The advocate wants the change to occur but lacks the organizational lower to legitimize the change themselves.

Change Management and Project Management

Change management and project management are two disciplines that draw upon different theoretical frameworks but rely on each other to achieve an organizational goal. Organizational factors both influence and are influenced by project changes and may do so in a positive or a negative way.

Frame of Reference

FOR provides a framework for understanding people’s perception of the world around them. Frame of reference is a cognitive map of the world; used to interpret and react to their perceived reality. Existing frames of reference provide unconscious, psychological security and the fear of ambiguity or loss of control which can be so powerful that it immobilizes many individuals, preventing change from taking root.

Business Change Management (BCM)

Business change management is a systematic approach for managing the lifecycle of business changes to an organization. It is the process of assessing, planning, organizing, and implementing changes to an organization and its operating environment to achieve desired outcomes.  BCM involves a range of activities such as the identification of areas for improvement, the establishment of goals and objectives, the development of plans and strategies, the implementation of changes, and the monitoring and evaluation of results. It also requires effective communication and collaboration between stakeholders and leadership to ensure that the change process is successful.

Organization Change Management

Organizational change management (OCM) is a process that focuses on the human side of change, as opposed to the technical side. It involves planning and implementing changes initiatives within an organization to meet its goals and objectives. OCM involves both the process of managing the organizational change and the people that are affected by it. It includes activities such as identifying and assessing the need for change, developing the plan for change, implementing the plan, monitoring, and evaluating the outcomes, and ensuring that the objectives of the change are met.

Lean Change Management

Lean Change Management is an approach to organizational change that emphasizes process optimization and the active involvement of people at all levels of the organization. It focuses on eliminating waste and increasing the efficiency of operations. Lean Change Management seeks to create a culture of continuous improvement by identifying and eliminating non-value-adding activities, streamlining processes, and utilizing technology to automate and reduce manual steps. It seeks to make change efforts more effective by reducing the time, cost, and effort associated with transformation initiatives.

ITIL Change Management

ITIL Change Management is the process of managing changes to IT services and infrastructure. It involves identifying, planning, scheduling, implementing, and reviewing changes to IT systems to ensure that they remain secure, reliable, and efficient. It also includes monitoring the impact of the changes on the IT environment and responding to any issues that arise.


The following fundamentals define the roles performed in the change process and their interrelationships.


Individual or group who legitimizes the change. The Sponsor of change is a key stakeholder during the transition process. They provide strategic direction, guidance, and leadership in the planning, implementation, and execution of a project. They ensure the project is aligned with overall business objectives, prioritized, and is properly capitalized. They are responsible for the success of the project and provide the necessary resources and support to ensure project success.


Individual or group who is responsible for implementing the change. They are often tasked by the sponsor of the change initiative with helping to identify areas of improvement and SMART strategies to implement those improvements. Change agents may work in a variety of roles, including in the areas of training, consulting, coaching, project management, and research. Change agents can also be community activists or members of an organization’s workforce who are focused on bringing about positive change.


Individual or group effected by the change process and required to change. They are the recipients of the transition process required to implement and support the change. Targets fall into two categories; those who directly experience the problem or risk. And those who contribute to the problem through their actions or lack of actions.


Individual or group who wants to achieve a change yet have no legitimization power. Advocates promote and support the rhetoric, and champion the implementation process and its efforts. Successful advocacy teaches people how to confront the challenges they may struggle to overcome the resistance associated with change.

Speed of Change

Understanding how specific factors influence our capacity to rebound from the disruption associated with change implementation.


The ability to absorb high levels of disruption while displaying minimal dysfunctional behavior. Resilient individuals tend to side-step the dysfunctions of change because they have developed a more flexible mindset. Yet, resilient people are no less vulnerable than others to the disruption of change.

Resilient Characteristics

Resilient individuals are:

  • Positive. They view life as complex but full of opportunities.
  • Focused. They have a clear vision of what they want to achieve.
  • Flexible. They are pliable when responding to uncertainty.
  • Organized. They develop structured approaches to managing ambiguity.
  • Proactive. They engage change rather than defend against it.

Situational Resilience

Each specific change situation presents a particular set of demands. In any given situation, an individual will be more resilient if they can meet these demands by readily drawing on the appropriate resilience characteristics. Not all situations require a person to utilize every characteristic. Whatever a situation doesn’t provide, the individual must provide if change is to be addressed in a resilient fashion.

Frame of Reference (FOR)

FOR, provides a framework for understanding people’s perception of the world around them. Frame of reference is a way for our brains to simplify our thinking. FOR is like a cognitive map of the world. FOR is based on one’s perception and interpretation of reality.

Example: The saying, he sees the glass half full, and she sees the glass as half empty. People tend to believe what they see. Yet, they focus on what they expect to see, ignoring anything else. People will discount new information that is inconsistent with their frame of reference.

Type D – Type O Personalities

Ask yourself am I a D-Personality or O-Personality.

Type D – Tends to become immobilized and may react with fear, denial, or complacency.

Type O – Tends to recognize this discomfort as a signal to adapt and transition to the shifting circumstances.

Four Basic Frames of Reference

Individuals use four basic references to interpret change or communication styes.


> Feelers

> Intuitions

> Sensors

Black Holes

This expression comes from the world of Astrophysics. It applies to those areas in space that have a gravitational pull strong enough that all energy including light disappears inside of it. They may be in found in outer space, but you can find them within any corporation. Corporate black holes represent spots in the corporation that exert the same effect. These phenomena occur when change rhetoric doesn’t match what is communicated during the change transition process. The action steps don’t happen. For example, various levels of management withhold or distort information so that it doesn’t get to the rest of the organization. And without good information dissemination, the change will not succeed.

Change Readiness

Change readiness is the ability of an organization, to recognize, support, and commit resources to response to a need for change. It is the ability to recognize when a change is necessary, developing an action plan and strategy to make the change, and adjustment to the new environment. Change readiness is essential to an organizations progress. It prepares the organization for market integration, technological shifts, or customer response and demand.

Change Resistance

Barriers to the change process. Resistance is a natural part of the change process; it is the forces that opposes any significant shift in the status quo. Resistance refers to those overt and covert actions individuals take to obstruct the full implementation process. We always believe we resistance change based on logical thought and sound judgement. For example, we resist change anytime we sign a petition to fight a law, vote, stand in a picket line, to protect a new policy. We resist change every day to various degrees.

There are two sources of resistance:

. Individual Frame of Reference – Personal values, emotions, knowledge, and behavior

. Organizational Frame of Reference – Logistics, economic, and politics.

Tactical and Strategic Architecture

This refers to the building of implementation Architecture – The tactical aspects of building implementation architecture. Key factors to consider:

Tactical Risk                                         Strategic Risk Areas

Sponsors                                             Resilience

Resistance                                           Knowledge

Culture                                                Decisions

Agents                                                 Architecture

Rules for Managing Change

The process of organizational transformation is complex and can’t be applied to a set of regimented steps that are rigidly adhered to every time change is attempted. Just like an exercise routine specific for a sport, each change is a unique blend of environmental possibilities and restrictions, corporate culture, and individual capabilities. The number of variations these factors generate make it impossible to establish rules of change management, because the term dictates a sequence of events that should occur whenever change is initiated. Instead of rules, think of the principle of change. Learning principles instead of rules acknowledges the ambiguity and complexity inherent in the change process.

When the variables of change are few and control is possible, rules apply; yet when the variables are many and uncertainty is high, principles are a better guidepost.

The Nature of Change

Change occurs when capability > challenge or capability < challenge.  Individuals feel in control when their expectation match what they perceive to be occurring.


Control During the Transition Process

There are two types of control:

Direct and indirect control. Direct control is the ability to dictate outcomes. Indirect control is the ability to anticipate the outcome.

Assimilation of Change

As people transition through the change process, they must recover from the disruption of expectations. Assimilation is accomplished when new expectations are developed and implemented allowing change to take hold. The more assimilation capacity we have available, the swifter and more effective the transition process becomes. Assimilation resources are affected in three ways:

. Micro change is personal, affecting you, your friends and family.

. Organizational change is institutionalized, influencing our lives.

. Macro changes is global, constituencies that affect all humanity.

Each person assimilates change differently, based on their personal beliefs system. No two people think alike. Each of us has a unique capacity for change that is determined by exposure to Micro, Organizational, Macro change.  

Change Commitment Model

Commitment to change is the muscle that moves individuals through the change process. The Commitment model contains three phases:

Preparation, acceptance, and commitment. Sponsors, agents, targets, and advocates will have varying levels of commitment at any one point in the change project. The organization will either pay the price for achieving commitment or pay the price for not having it.

Synergistic Change

Synergistic relationships are characterized as individuals or groups working together producing a greater outcome than the sum of their individual efforts.

2 + 2 is great than 4

There are four phases to synergy:

. Interacting – This is where individuals surface diverse ideas and beliefs.

. Appreciative Understanding – This is when individuals find value in ideas of others.

. Integrating – This is when individual’s merge components of others’ thinking to enhance an idea that is better than yet different from the original idea.

. Implementing – This is when individuals initiate plans to undertake their ideas.

Stages of Change

Present State

The present state is how things are now. Today’s business as usual. The present state is predictable and comfortable. The present state lays the foundation and context for the change implementation process. The present state starts to shape and describe the outcomes. They create a vision with SMART goals for each change initiative.

Transition State

The transition state is the process of implementing change. This is where the rubber meets the road. Stress and anxiety within corporate culture is high. The transition state is where change management can minimize the barriers and resistance within the transition process. The implementation process is froth with uncertainty. Communication is key.

Future State

The future state is where we are going, how things will be. The future state describes the outcome change management is working to achieve. A desired future situation in which an organization has qualitatively or quantitatively improved its internal functionality according to a defined implementation plan of roles, activities with regard to its people, policies, processes, and technologies.

Organization Culture

Corporate culture is composed of long held beliefs, behaviors, and assumptions. Culture is the frame of reference that helps differentiate one group from another. Culture represents a unique blend of formal and informal basic rules for how one should think, operartes, and assume to be true. Substantive change cannot be achieved without cultural support. Corporate culture is an aggregate of its many subcultures, working together towards a common goal.

Burning Platform Decision

It comes from the true story on the Piper Alpha oil rig when it exploded in July of 1988. An oil worker woke in the middle of the night by an explosion on the oil rig. The man was hit with a decision, whether he should jump from a height into shark infested water, die of hypothermia, or burn to death if he didn’t jump. He choice to jump and talk about it, that the urgency of major change initiatives.


Awareness, desire, knowledge, ability, reinforcement.

Executive Coach

A relationship between a supervisor and their associates. A coach is that individual who helps direct reports transition through the change in most cases, this role is assumed by supervisors or managers who are directly involved with employee impacted by the change transition process.


The Act of enabling a group to collaborate through synergistic, inclusive, unbiased meetings. Most individuals need assistance to integrate information from multiple experts with the organization to decide how to proceed and what actions to take.


Self-efficacy refers to an individual’s belief in his or her capacity to execute behaviors necessary to produce specific performance attainments. Self-efficacy reflects confidence in the ability to control over one’s own motivation, behavior, and social environment.


Decisional Balance

An effective way to engage employees in the process of change, especially the cognitive process of change management is to get them to weigh the pros and cons of a particular change initiative. Cons and barriers challenge the implementation process creating resistance to the change initiative. It is important to get employees buy-in and understand their perspective. The organization need to get in front of the change and shape the assimilation capacity going forward. Cognitive processes are the key work for the sponsor-agent-target relationship early stages of change.

Nonviolent Communication and Motivational Interviewing

Nonviolent Communication

Represents a process for enhancing emphatic connection and honest understanding between individuals.

Motivational Interviewing (MI)

A client-centered, directive method for motivating change by exploring and resolving ambivalence. The goal of MI encourages change talk and discourages resistance talk.


A respectful understanding of another person’s experience, including their feelings, needs and wishes. Empathy is not about feeling sorry for someone; it’s about understanding and respecting where someone is coming from. “Meeting them where they are.”

Change Talk

Client statements, revealing consideration of, motivation for, or commitment to change. In Motivational Interviewing the coach seeks to guide the client to expressions of change talk as the pathway to change.

Implementation Plan

The sponsor – agent – target of change is given specific details about what their role will be during the transition process. Effect sponsoship is the number one contributor of success.

Cost of Change

Represents a quantitative measure, the ratio between the amount of money spent on achieving the change and the financial value of the improvement or financial gain. Using this method require leadership to consider both the positive value-benefits and the negative value of any disadvantageous result of the change process. The capacity to implement financial and non-financial measures give an organization and completer and more diverse look at the change value. The cost of change allows for learning and best practices to be retained.

Process Mapping

The process of visually mapping out the steps required by each person and department within an organization. This help determine “who does what, when, and to who.”

Project Management (Change Agent)

The process of planning, executing, and controlling a project to achieve specific goals an objective.

The Sequence for Managing Assimilation Resources During the Change Process

Protecting assimilation resources improves corporate culture and aligns the corporate values and expectations within the organization. By communicating these values and principles with employees, it promotes a sense of unity towards achieving the company’s missions and fulfilling its objectives. An example of assimilation can be found in anthropology and sociology, the process whereby individuals or groups of differing ethnic heritage are absorbed into the dominant culture of a society.

Phase 1 – Conduct an inventory of all change initiatives.

Phase 2 – Assess the value created and the assimilation demand each initiative will generate.

Phase 3 – Determine the organization’s remaining assimilation or ongoing assimilation capacity.

Phase 4 – Determine whether the organization’s assimilation demand exceeds its capacity (ability, readiness, and willingness) to absorb (Assimilate) change.

The Sequence for Building Change Implementation Architecture


Clarify Projects – Make clear the scope of the change initiative and the level of commitment required for success.


Announce Project – Develop a tailored change announcement that reflect the vision and its benefits for each area of the organization.


Conduct Diagnosis – Conduct a detailed assessment of the organizations capacity to accomplish a particular change. This is where the change becomes real. Who will sponsor the initiative, who makes the best agent to communicate and endorse the process, who will be affected by the change and how can we minimize their disruption.


Development of an Implementation Plan – Specify the specific action steps and behaviors required to achieve the corporate objective on time and within budget.


Implementation – Engage in the necessary actions to fully achieve the corporate objectives of the change initiative.


Monitor Progress and Barriers – Periodically report the implementation status of all the projects. Transparency allows leadership to tweak the implementation plan as small unforeseen glitches surface, and they will.



Evaluate a final report regarding the extent to which the change initiative achieved its stated objectives within the allotted time and budget constraints. This is a great moment for best practices and learnings to be discussed.

The Structure of Change

The structure of change can be seen with resilience at the center, surrounded by the required seven support patterns.

  • The nature of change – The capacity to manage change requires a thorough understanding of how humans respond to transition.
  • The process of change – Regardless of the method, people always go through a similar process, present state, transition state, and desired state.
  • The role of change – The systematic implementation of a method for accomplishing change and understanding key roles. When an organization, imitates change affecting its employees, systems, processes, or products; roles become a critical component allow individuals and teams understand “who does what, when, and to who.”
  • Resistance to change – Resistance always accompanies major change; regardless of whether the change is seen as positive or negative. Resistance signals change has begun.
  • Commitment to change – Successful change is based on commitment. Unless key players in the transition process are fully on board and committed to both attaining the goals and paying the price those goals necessitate, the project will falter or fail.

            There are three phases to the commitment stage:

            1 Preparation – awareness and contact varies according to the        role played in the change process. The realization that             modifications affecting your change have been initiated.

            2 Acceptance – Understanding the nature and intent of the            change            initiative. People affected by the implementation plan are           fully aware of and       comprehend the change plan.

            3 Commitment – The change initiative has been accepted by all     required          participants.

Commitment Threshold – Represents a test period. This action requires an investment of resources equaling consistency of purpose. During the initial process, problems are inevitable and varied degrees of resistance is unavoidable.

  • Culture – A corporate culture is the character or brand of an organization. It refers to how people interact, collaborate, and think in the workplace. Corporate culture is an ongoing blend of beliefs, behaviors, and assumption, held by the organization and its employees.
  • Synergy – The seeds of synergy require willingness and ability. Willingness stems from the appreciative understand of shared goals. Ability is the combination of empowerment and participative management skills. When willingness and ability to change are aligned 2 + 2 is greater than 4.