A Project Management Model for Handling Change

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Leading organizational change and pulling it off smoothly and successfully is a formidable challenge. Besides the problem of disruption to the status quo processes embedded in an organization’s culture, people are naturally resistant to change.

Although many employees welcome change and the new opportunities it offers, others do not handle it well. Ancient parts of the human brain are wired to regard change as a possible source of risk and discomfort, and change is a leading cause of human stress. Therefore, some people seek to avoid change, even if that means continuing to struggle with outdated systems and tools.

Strategic Change Management

Successful change leaders anticipate resistance, identify potential roadblocks, and work to resolve employees’ issues with the proposed changes. These leaders look for an organized, methodical approach to creating change.

Among the many theories regarding effective approaches to accomplishing change with minimum disruption and maximum efficiency, one that stands out is the 8-Step Change Model developed by Harvard professor Dr. John Kotter.

Dr. Kotter is a thought leader on change management, and the 8-Step Model was first introduced in his 1995 book Leading Change. His model was formulated over decades spent observing executives overseeing major change programs in their enterprises. The 8-Step Model has been adopted by organizations around the world as the go-to strategy for effective change management.

Lead Trouble-Free Change Via Project Management Processes

An attractive aspect of Kotter’s model is its organization into discrete, sequential steps. Experienced project planners will immediately see that change is posed as having the characteristics of a project, and has been broken down into a series of interdependent tasks. This is a practical approach to accomplishing the work at hand, and it also provides clear organization and a “bite-sized chunk” feel that is reassuring to change resisters.

Naturally, the same project and resource management software tools that are so useful in any project work can be used to plan and monitor change processes. Leaders can employ task breakdowns, planning boards, Gantt charting, calendar system integrations, and other typical project and team management tools to carry out each step in Kotter’s model. The precision scheduling, monitoring, and analytic capabilities of project planning software empower leaders to minimize disruption to work processes and productivity. The final deliverable is a successfully completed change process.

Change is not such a daunting proposition from both leaders’ and employees’ viewpoints when it is presented and carried out as simply another project.

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