The case for applied change management

Have you ever been in a room (virtual or otherwise) with someone from your impacted group telling you this is “a waste of time and just another management gimmick to sell the change”? Or perhaps you have been challenged by line managers or supervisors at the time you are spending with people which takes them away from their “real jobs”? 

If you have experienced the above, applied change management is a way to support you and your change management project. 

Change management is a subject we change leads are very passionate about. Often, this means we create amazing meetings and workshops around the subject. Discussing change management methodology, strategy and approach is important with some project stakeholders such as executive sponsors, although for some of the impacted groups this can feel like a subject too far removed from their daily work. They can’t make the link between our wonderful change management workshop and the changes happening in their daily work. 

We work in ever more complex environments where changes in one area impact changes in others. Therefore we often have several change projects impacting the same groups, albeit to varying timeframes. The applied change management approach can easily be part of a portfolio of changes as we work across projects and identify which activities can be combined to have an even greater impact on reducing the overwhelm of many changes.

We all know that although the outcomes and goals of the projects have been decided at a higher level in the organisation, it is the impacted group who bring the project to fruition. Without the impacted group adopting change (well, and as comfortably as possible), we fail. These groups are often time-poor and under pressure to bring a service to our customers and external stakeholders.

What is Applied Change Management?

It is often not feasible to take these colleagues away from their routine for any length of time due to the customer impact this would have and so the following (applied) change management could be considered.

Applied change management (here) is an approach which is interwoven in our impacted groups’ daily routine. It greatly reduces the time spent discussing change as a whole, it strengthens the link between any change management discussion and the new way of working which is being introduced and gives space for early resistance management. 

From a project and change management perspective this approach also forces us to truly consider the personas of the people we are supporting. Through working across Project & Change Management we identify the target audience in a more concise way and identify the behaviour change that will have the strongest impact on the project's success. 

By increasing the practical hands-on approach and reducing the academic discussion it puts the change and project team in more contact with the impacted group for activities and discussions specifically around the important topics to drive behavioural change. 

Example of Applied approach:

In addition to our usual approach to change management strategy, the first step to applied change management is to invest time understanding the impacted group and their current challenges; How do they like to receive information? Are there any specific challenges they face e.g, do they spend a lot of time travelling? What information from the project would they be interested in? Are they open to giving feedback along the way? 

Working with our project lead we need to define the main behavioural changes that are vital for the project success. Even projects which are rolled out “no matter what” such as new software can fail if our impacted group decides to use the new system in the old way… So, what changes do we need to see in the way they work- and how do we measure these changes?  Once this is clear to us we can focus on identifying activities specific to the impacted group which will support and increase our adoption rate. 

Examples of change management activities which are applied and thereby integrated into their routine can be found below:


Example Change management activity

Example Applied change management activity

Information sharing & communications around the change:

Email Information sharing across group with change & project updates

Newsletter Information on specific changes through the project to individually impacted group

Change management activities

Workshops about change and change management the impacted group

Change leads join standing meetings and discuss the new way of working alongside what that would look like specific to the individually impacted groups

Ways of ensuring awareness and readiness for change

Email, town hall etc. sessions sharing information on the project and changes affecting impacted group

Specific tools for information sharing such

as SMS text blasts or podcasts for colleagues spending time on the road

There are many more examples of Applied change management activities depending on your impacted group, area of business and style of working to name a few. 

Change management is always there to support our people in the transition from the current way of working to the future way of working. 

Applied change management is an additional way of carrying out this service to better support these individuals, to reduce overwhelm and increase the rate of confident adoption in project sizes ranging from small to large, and in portfolios of change impacting the same groups. 

Best wishes in your change management efforts :)




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