How the change agent connects with the organization

A Structured Process for Managing Change

The diagram below illustrates how a change agent can initiate a formal process to accomplish organizational change. This individual first has to size up the situation in order to identify major barriers and to avoid taking on 'mission impossible'. He or she must then begin to engage the leadership, starting with any issues that would seriously undermine the change process. For example:

  • Leadership groups are often unclear or at odds over some fundamental decisions such as 'what business are we in' and 'where are we heading'. This situation cripples a leadership team -- and the rest of the organization -- even when dealing with relatively simple, day-to-day issues. There is no chance of pulling off any major change successfully when the leaders cannot all agree on the destination.
  • Leadership groups are often unable to work together cohesively, and may also lack some of the knowledge and skills that they need to lead a major transition. If this is the case, then the change agent must help the team to develop its own capabilities. This development usually has to be done 'on the job' -- i.e. in parallel with getting the formal change process started.

The Change Agent's Process

The Organization's Formal Process


Size up the situation
(do the
for success?)

Clarify the mission, vision,
and reasons for change

Ensure that at least the leaders all agree on the destination and the reasons for the journey

Establish self in new role, and agree the overall
process for change

Establish the roles, responsibilities, and structure to support change

Educate the leaders on their responsibilities during change, establish a forum for planning and supporting the process, and agree on the overall process

Develop the required
leadership team capability

Help the leadership team to develop the cohesiveness and skills  required to support the process

Facilitate and support the
process as required

Assess the current situation

Conduct an objective, factual appraisal of the status quo -- including all aspects relevant to achievement of the vision

Determine the key strategies for achieving the change

Once the assessment has been completed and the findings accepted, it is easy to agree on priorities for action

Develop implementation plans, including support mechanisms:

  • Communication system
  • Education and Training
  • Measurements
  • Monitoring system

Now progressively involve the entire organization in validating these strategies and figuring out how they can be accomplished. Include in the plan all of the necessary the support activities.

and monitor progress

The groundwork is all done --   implementation can begin.

Determine causes of
under- and over-performance

Use all of the support mechanisms to gather information about progress, and figure as early as possible out what's working and what is not.

Apply learnings

Adjust the plans and the process

Celebrate, reflect, look for
next challenge

Celebrate, reflect, document

On completion, celebrate reflect on the entire experience, and document learnings for the next time around

Additional Resources