Strategic Change: 7 Steps of Strategic Change Process

What is Strategic Change: 7 Steps of Strategic Change ProcessStrategic change is the movement of a company away from its present state toward some desired future state to increase its competitive advantage. It is an approach to bringing about congruence among the organization’s strategy structure and human resource systems and the larger environment.

Strategic change requires the attention of the management to an organization’s technical, cultural and political aspects.

They have discussed three major types of strategic change;

  1. Restructuring.
  2. Reengineering.
  3. Innovation.

1.  Restructuring

Managers often choose ‘restructuring’ of the organization for the implementation of strategic change. This they do for improving performance.

Researches imply that environment is an- important determinant of organization structure which is also subject to the ‘by-plays of interpersonal power and politics‘. In practice, the appropriateness of organizational structure is determined by situations.

In today’s turbulent environment that demands total customer satisfaction to be achieved through continuous quality improvement, the need for a new organizational structure can hardly be overemphasized.

Implementing strategic change requires a complete deviation from the traditional structure and a switchover to a dynamic design capable of dealing with the requirements of a constantly changing the environment.

Changing organization structure alone, however, may not yield the desired results; changes need to be made in many other aspects of the organization such as information system, human resource policies, and corporate culture.

These changes should be made in such a way a that they support the transition from the old to the new paradigm.

And, the overall efficacy of the changes depends on how far senior managers of the organization lend their active support and participation.

In order to restructure an organization, managers;

  1. reorganize the departments and make changes in the hierarchy, and
  2. resort to downsizing. In restructuring programs, it is common among the companies to bring in changes in the relationship between departments or divisions in order to cut costs and to develop speed in cooperation among various functions.

When companies undertake to downsize, they reduce the number of employees In a planned way to reduce costs and eventually to be competitive in the marketplace.

2. Reengineering

In reengineering, the focus of the managers is on the ‘business processes’ rather than on ‘business functions.’ What is done in reengineering is that managers radically redesign the business processes.

The objective is to reduce costs, improve quality, bring in superiority In service, and achieve dramatic improvements in speed (of doing things throughout the organization).

A business process, such as product designing or inventory control, requires cross-functional coordination for success.

For example, you can think of a firm that produces cards – birthday cards, marriage cards, greetings cards, and valentines cards.

The company originally established the card-design process in such a way that all workers (artists, writers, and editors) worked in different functions to produce all types of cards as mentioned above. After reengineering, the workers are now working in cross-functional teams.

Each of them now works on a specific type of card. As a result, the firm can now introduce new cards in the market within a few weeks, compared with a few months prior to reengineering.

3. Innovation

innovation is primarily an improvement over existing products or services.

Thus, innovation requires extensive research and development efforts. Innovation implies that organizations are using their existing skills, competencies, and resources to create new goods or services or even new technology. This the organizations do to be able to better respond to the customers’ needs.

Innovation may be wonderful in achieving spectacular success, while it may lead to disaster if the research and development efforts fail to bring desired results. Although innovation involves high risks, it has the greatest prospects for long-term success.

7 Steps of Strategic Change Process

Organizations’ must follow 7 steps process is followed for the implementation of strategic change programs:

  • Step-1: Diagnosing the Need for Change.
  • Step-2: Stakeholder Analysis.
  • Step-3: Igniting Change.
  • Step-4: Creating Change Network and Building Teams.
  • Step-5: Preparing and Executing Change Management Plan.
  • Step-6: Identifying and Managing Resistances to Change.
  • Step-7: Institutionalizing Successful Change Programs.
  • Step-8: Evaluating the Effects of Changes.

Step-1: Diagnosing the Need for Change

This section will help you understand the major issues related to the diagnosis of a need for change.

  1. Determining the Value of Diagnosis

Although some organizations are good at anticipating the need for change, many organizations fail to do it. Even some never recognize the problem or opportunity at all.

Organization’s long­term survival is threatened due to such failures.

When organizations suffer from complacency for success, it: may sometimes set the stage for failure. This happens because managers of successful companies become locked into patterns of behavior that produced success, and these patterns are not usually questioned.

Such ‘trap of success’ may become ‘death spiral’, as remarked by Nadler and Shaw.

In order to protect an organization from a death spiral, managers need to recognize the need for change, look to the outside world, since what is happening, anticipate implications of the signals for change, and formulate change agenda.

Here begins the initial step in the entire change management process.

Initial preparation and planning for change management require a diagnosis for change in the organization. In diagnosis for change, usually, an analysis is made of;

(i) organizational members’ readiness for change and
(ii) organizational members’ competency for change.

  1. Organizational members’ readiness for change

The intervention success depends heavily oh the organization being ready for planned change. Organization members’ readiness for change depends op creating a felt need for change.

This involves making members so dissatisfied with the status quo that they are motivated to try new things and ways of behaving, indicators of readiness for change include sensitivity to, pressure for change, dissatisfaction with the status quo, availability of resources to support change, and commitment of significant management time.

When these conditions are present, interventions can be designed to address the organizational issues uncovered during diagnosis. When readiness for change is low, however, interventions need to focus oh increasing the organization’s willingness to change.,

  1. Organizational members’ competency for change

Managing planned change requires particular knowledge and skills. These include the ability to motivate change, to lead change, to develop political support, to manage the transition, and to sustain momentum.

If organization members do not have these capabilities, then a preliminary training intervention may be needed before members can meaningfully engage in intervention design.

The results of the diagnosis are used as basic information to develop a change management plan. For diagnosis of the need for change, the tool that is widely used is known as the RWA Scale (see Annex at the end of the book).

Here R stands for readiness, N stands for will, and A stands for ability. It is a 5-point Likert-type scale. You will find in the RWA Scale that item numbers 1-4 represent preparation for change, item numbers 5, 9 and 10 indicate a willingness to change, and item numbers 6-8 indicate change-ability/capacity.

Diagnosis of the need for change is primarily essential for the basic reason that unless you know clearly the change situations, you will feel shattered while dealing with changes in your organization. When you understand the need for change management, you will be able to successfully exploit the change situation.

And successful exploitation of change situation requires

  1. knowledge of the circumstances surrounding a situation,
  2. understanding of the interactions, and
  3. awareness of the potential impact of associated variables.

Diagnosis helps predict the future.

However, predictions produce at best a blurred picture of what might be, not a blueprint of future events or circumstances. The effective and progressive management of change can assist in shaping a future which may better serve the organization’s survival prospects.

  1. Diagnosing the Organization (Organizational Diagnosis)

Diagnosing organization is a major phase in the model of planned change.

In general terms, diagnosis is the process of understanding how the organization is currently functioning. It provides the information necessary to design change interventions.

Diagnosis can focus on understanding organizational problems, including their causes and consequences or in identifying the organization’s positive attributes.

It includes choosing an appropriate model for understanding the organization and gathering, analyzing and feeding back, information to managers and organization members about the problems or opportunities. Thus, diagnosis can be either problem-oriented or development-oriented.

Diagnosis is problem-oriented where organizations do have specific problems. It seeks reasons for the problems. Diagnosis is development-oriented when organizational leaders/managers are interested in improving the overall effectiveness of their organization.

It assesses the current functioning of the organization to discover areas for future development.

Whatever the orientation, diagnosis provides a systematic understanding of organizations so that appropriate interventions may be developed for solving problems and enhancing effectiveness.

The milieu of any organization is the world in which it exists.

Changes in this world discipline the organization. The organization is either rewarded for adapting well or penalized for adapting poorly or not at all. The purpose of the organizational analysis is to steer the organization toward tomorrow’s opportunities and welfare.

Sometimes it so happens that the opportunities and threats in the external environment as well as the weaknesses within the organization go unnoticed or are inadequately assessed.

Although eminently important, the managerial processes and methods and techniques are for naught if the world around the organization changes and organization is not poised to adapt to the changes.

As Peter Drucker arid others have astutely observed, it is far more important to do the right things than to do things right.

An organization’s ability to achieve the desired levels of performance can be enhanced or diminished by its environment. In order to be on track, the organization needs to have the ability to minimize threats and capitalize on opportunities.

However, this ability depends on the actions that the organization can take in the face of environmental trends.

It is impossible to consider an organization’s fitness for the future without enumerating tie an organization’s strengths and evaluating the significance of those strengths. It is also necessary to determine areas of vulnerability.

The methods for analyzing organization such as PESTLED and SWOT have been discussed in the earlier chapters.

  1. Collecting and Analyzing Diagnostic Information

When you are involved with the process of diagnosing a need for change, you need to collect, analyze/interpret information and finally, feedback the information to those concerned.

The quality of information gathered plays an important role in developing appropriate interventions to deal with changes.

Data collection involves gathering information on specific organizational features such as the inputs, design components, and outputs.

The process begins by establishing an effective relationship between the data collector/change agent and those from whom data will be collected and then choosing data collection techniques. You can use four methods to collect data: questionnaires, interviews, observations, and unobtrusive measures (e.g., data from an organization’s records and archives).

Data analysis organizes and examines the information to make clear the underlying causes of an organizational problem or to identify areas for future development.

For data analysis, you can use several methods – quantitative techniques such as mean, standard deviation, correlation coefficient, and difference tests, or qualitative techniques.

However, of the several methods for summarizing diagnostic data in qualitative terms, you can use ‘Content Analysis’ and ‘Force- Field Analysis’.

The content analysis attempts to summarize contents into meaningful categories; force field analysis organizes information pertaining to organizational change into two major categories; forces for change and forces for maintaining the status- quo or resisting change.

Because diagnosis is an important step that occurs frequently in the planned change process, a working familiarity with these techniques is essential.

  1. Feeding Back Diagnostic Information

In the diagnostic process, feedback of diagnostic information is a crucially important element. After the information has been collected and analyzed, this must be fed back to the management of the organization.

The information or data can have an impact on organizational change only if organization members can use the information to devise appropriate action plans.

A key objective of the feedback process is to be sure that the organization’s management has ownership of the data. If organizational members own the data, they will be motivated to solve the organizational problems.

The success of data feedback depends largely on its ability to mouse organizational action and to direct energy toward organizational problem-solving.

Whether feedback helps to energize the organization depends on the content of the feedback data and on the process by which they are fed back to organization members.

Step-2: Stakeholder Analysis

An organization’s challenge is to balance the needs of the different persons, groups of people and organizations that have some kind of stake or interest in the organization. They are called stakeholders.

They each have a stake in the success and actions of the organization.

While each organization will have its own cast of specific stakeholders, the generic stakeholder groups Or categories remain fairly similar within industries. An organization needs to attempt to create a desirable outcome for each stakeholder.

This is what stakeholder analysis s.

Since different groups have different agendas, an organization must strive to understand the various stakeholder desires and expectations. Management’s job is to balance the ways in which the organization creates value for its stakeholders.

Step-3: Igniting Change

Igniting change is stimulating organizational people and other stakeholders for change to happen. Stimulation is done through empowerment, education, and motivation of the stakeholders.

You can do all these through various initiatives. You can hold various workshops, seminars or ‘symposiums. You can also organize different types of awareness and empowerment events as well as skill training programs.

For igniting change in your organization, you need to:

  1. Establish a sense of urgency,
  2. Form a powerful change-coalition, and
  3. Communicate changes.
  1. Establishing a Sense of Urgency

Organizations may fail to recognize the need for change because the people of the organizations do not pay enough attention to what is happening in the wider environment.

Sometimes, they feel what is happening outside their organization, but they fail to recognize its implications, in the future.

Organizational people generally feel safe to live in a ‘comfort, zone’. This feeling makes it difficult for the change agents to convince the people about the need for change in their domain of activities – in John Kotter’s language, ‘hard to drive people out of their comfort zones.’

People don’t like to opt for change mainly because of the history of past success and the lack of an immediate crisis.

That’s why Kotter has suggested for unfreezing’ that involves alerting organizational members to the need for change and motivating them to let go of the status quo.

In order to establish urgency, it is essential to critically examine the service quality, client satisfaction and the like. To establish a sense of urgency, you may follow the following steps:

  • Identify the forces driving the need for change.
  • Link the driving forces to customers and broader organizational challenges.
  • Highlight that the price of staying the same is higher than the price of change.
  • Compel action.
  1. Forming a Powerful Change-Coalition

Organizational people may form coalitions for varied reasons. The most common, the purpose is to combat a common threat or to take – an advantage of a certain opportunity. The common threat or existence of opportunity is what gives rise to the coalition and allows it to exist.

Such collaborative processes can gain political influence and potentially initiate social movements. Four elements are necessary to maintain a coalition:

  1. Members must frame the issue that brings them together with a common interest.
  2. Members’ trust in each other and believe that their peers have a credible commitment to the common issue(s) and/or goal(s).
  3. The coalition must have a mechanism(s) to manage differences in language, orientation, tactics, culture, ideology, etc. between and among the members.
  4. The shared incentive to participate and, consequently, benefit.

Forming a change-coalition important, tor such coalition plays a role of the change management team. A change initiative will never take off the ground unless the organization can put together a strong team to direct the change process.

Change-coalition should behave like one body with the CEO.

It should share the CEO’s willingness to change and vision. You may follow the criteria mentioned below for the selection of people in the change- coalition:

  • a person of reputation in the organization.
  • a person who knows change and innovation well.
  • a person who knows how to motivate others.
  • a person who can challenge a stereotyped way of thinking, culture, and customs.
  • a person who is sympathetic and an articulate communicator.
  • a person who has spiritual strength with flexibility.
  • a person who can secure sponsorship from stakeholders both inside and outside the organization.
  • a person who is a hard worker and wants to succeed.
  1. Communicating Changes

Change-coalition needs to create a vision for change and develop tools of communication for change.

For vision communication it would be wise to use easy words, avoid jargon, avoid specialized term, utilize metaphor/analogy/case, use multiple channels and methods (such as hard copy, email, telephone, video-conferencing, audio-conferencing, face-to-face communication on a one-to-one or one-to-group or group-to-group basis), provide logical description, and listen first god explain.

  1. Explaining and Asking

    Be direct in stating the change and explaining the rationale for the change in relation to the overall goals you wish to achieve. Ask people for their opinion before you implement change. In addition to encouraging them to participate in the implementation of the change, listen to what they have to say.

  2. Spraying arid Praying

    Shower employees with all kinds of information in the hope that they will feel informed and have access to all the information they require.

  3. Telling and Selling

    Tell the employees/organization members about the key issues related to the proposed change. Then sell them the wisdom of your approach. For this to be successful, plan your presentations well in advance and encourage meaningful dialogue and also provide the people with the opportunity to discuss their concerns.

  4. Underscoring and Exploring

    Tell the people about a limited set of fundamental issues linked to the change. Then give them the freedom to explore the implications of these issues. Listen attentively to them for avoiding potential misunderstandings.

  5. Familiarity and Language

    Be thoroughly familiar with what you are communicating. Explain the change in language people understand to avoid any kind of semantic barriers.

  6. Identifying and replying

    Involve yourself in lots of listening in order to identify concerns of employees and then respond to these concerns.

  7. Withholding and updating

    If you are a believer of information is power and if you are also assuming that most employees are not sophisticated enough to grasp the ‘big picture’, then you may follow the strategy of withholding information until necessary. When confronted by rumors, your strategy may be to uphold the ‘party line’.

  8. Anticipating

    Anticipate how people will react, the questions they will raise and the issues that may result. Design your communication to answer those concerns immediately.

  9. Updating

    Keep your personal key communicators up-to-date regularly.

  10. Appreciation and Solicitation

    Expect the change to generate a corps of resisters and appreciate them. Solicit ideas that will strengthen what you want to do.

  11. Continuing Process

    Keep communicating about the change after it has been made. Recognize and celebrate its successful implementation.

Step-4: Creating Change Network and Building Teams

It is important to build change network through the identification of change-sponsors, advocates, change management team, change- agents and targets. The members in the change network perform a number of activities for bringing in change in the organization:

Creating Change Network

  1. Change-sponsors

    As ‘change effort champions’ within an organization, they initiate/sponsor the change, provide adequate resources, develop management supports, and support the goals with words and deed. They take up responsibility for change management actions.

    The sponsors of change, along with the change management team leaders, are willing to give visible and active commitment and support to the change management project. They have the ability to direct resources to the project and they are willing to institute leadership by example.

    Change-sponsors can be ‘initiating sponsors’ or ‘sustaining sponsors’. The initiating-sponsors are key decision-makers and have power and resources to penalize those who resist initiative and have the power to maintain focus.

    Their responsibilities include;

    1. championing importance and value of the transition to the initiative with stakeholders and
    2. providing feedback, committing time to stay in touch with status & communicating. The sustaining-sponsors are influential individuals and they have the power to help sustain transition and enforce consequences.- Their responsibilities include championing importance and value of transition across leadership.
  2. Advocates

    They want the change-efforts to, succeed but lack the power and/or resources to implement the change.

    Their responsibilities include;

    1. maintaining a consistent understanding of the initiative, status and issues, and
    2. advising on ways to address issues and Champion the initiative to sponsors and stakeholders.
  3. Change management team

    The change management team comprises organizational members who carry out the change-efforts.

    Their responsibilities include;

    • maintaining liaison with the sponsors,
    • change-agents,
    • advocates, and
    • other stakeholders.
  4. Change-agents

    They implement the change and remain accountable for their success. Their responsibilities include;

    1. maintaining an understanding of project plan & status, and
    2. providing content expertise, work with the project team to help effectiveness & assist in meetings.
  5. Targets

    They are directly impacted by the initiative. Their responsibilities include;

    1. understanding the objectives of the project,
    2. maintaining open communication,’ and
    3. providing feedback.

Building Teams

Implementation of change program requires team building in the organization. Team building refers to a broad range of planned activities. It helps groups Improve the way they accomplish tasks and helps group members enhance their interpersonal and problem-solving skills.

Team building is an effective approach to improving teamwork and task accomplishment.

A team can facilitate various organization-development interventions such as organizational restructuring, work design and. strategic change. These change programs are typically designed by change- management team and implemented through various committees and workgroups.

Indeed, most technostructure, human resource management, and strategic interventions depend on some form of team building for effective implementation.

Management of the organization forms teams composed of key organizational members. Support of outside consultants can be solicited in the process. The cross-sectional tasks have to be reviewed by change management teams. It is essential to bind the members together to work on the task.

Team-building Activities

Team-building activities may take any or all of the following forms:

  1. Activities relevant to one or more individuals,
  2. Activities specific to the group’s operation and behavior, and
  3. Activities affecting the group’s, relationship with the rest of the organization.

Usually, a specific team-building activity will overlap these three categories. On occasion, a change in one area may have negative results in other areas

Step-5: Preparing and Executing Change Management Plan

Once you have finished the job of diagnosing the need for change management, completed the stakeholder analysis, undertaken the initiatives for igniting Change, built up to change network, and determined the team activities related to change, you are now ready to develop a change management plan for your organization.

This plan will provide you and others involved with change management the directions for implementing the change with necessary resources and assistance.

Organizational change management encompasses alt activities aimed at helping an organization successfully accept and adopt new technologies and new ways to serve its customers.

Effective change management enables the transformation of strategy, processes, technology, and people to enhance performance and ensure continuous improvement in an ever-changing environment.

A comprehensive and structured approach to organizational change management is critical to the success of any project that will bring about significant change.

Characteristics of Effective Change Management Plan

  • Purposeful: The planned activities are clearly linked to the change goals and priorities.
  • Task-specific: The types of activities involved are clearly identified rather than broadly generalized.
  • Integrated: discrete activities are linked.
  • Temporal: Events and activities are timetabled;
  • Adaptable: There are Contingency plans for adapting to unanticipated opportunities and problems.
  • Agreed: Senior managers and other stakeholders support the plan.
  • Cost-effective: Unnecessary waste is avoided.

Key Elements of Change Management Plan

Most organizations Include the following elements in the change management plan. These are broad; usually, each element contains more specific sub-elements.

  • The goal of the change.
  • Scope and schedule.
  • Strategy and methods.
  • Design of change management system.
  • Institutionalization.

Step-6: Identifying and Managing Resistances to Change

Ample evidence indicates that people and organizations seek to preserve the status-quo and thus create resistance to any kind of change in normal functions.

Also, people are willing to change only when there are compelling reasons to do so. This warrants the necessity to find out the resistances created by people in organizations. You can adopt several ways to find resistances in your organization.

  1. Identifying Resistances

  1. Try to understand first the major sources of resistance. In practice, you will find two sources of resistance to change – personal-level sources and opganizationaHevel sources. Personal level resistances emanate from:
    1. anxiety about letting go of the known and moving to the uncertain future;
    2. being unsure whether their existing skills and contributions will be valued in the .future; and
    3. the felt tension regarding whether they can leam to function effectively and to achieve benefits in the new situation. At the organizational level, resistances to change may come from 3 sources;
      1. the habit of following common procedures and the sunk cost of resources invested in the status quo – called technical resistance;
      2. the potential threat of calling into question the past decisions of the top-level leaders/officials— called political resistance; and
      3. systems and procedures of the organization that reinforce the status quo, promoting conformity to existing values, norms, and assumptions about how things should operate – called cultural resistance.
  2. Carefully evaluate the negative and positive factors related to employees’ desire for change. These include;
    • fear of losing something of value (fear of job loss, fear of losing control over one’s situation which contributes heavily to the human motivation to avoid significant system change),
    • threats to power and influence,
    • misunderstanding about the implications of the change,
    • lack of trust between the persons initiating the change and the stakeholders,
    • stakeholders’ assessment of the situation differently,
    • imminent negative consequences,
    • enhanced job security,
    • affiliation and sense of belonging,
    • career advancement,
    • acquisition of power or position,
    • ownership for the future state,
    • incentive or compensation,
    • trust and respect for leadership,
    • hope in a future state, and more.
  3. Assess the resisters’ (employees’) personal and family situation (health, financial position, stability, mobility, relationships, etc.)
  4. Explore the resisters’ professional career history and plans (successes, failures, promotions, aspirations, years left before retirement, 2nd Career potential, etc).
  5. Identify the degree that this change will affect them personally (in some cases even large changes can have only a minimal impact on some employees).
  6. Evaluate your organization’s history with change (past change success or failure, the likelihood that this change will really happen, consequences for employees that have resisted change in the past).
  7. Assess your organization’s values and culture (how the organization treats employees and how employees treat one another).
  1. Overcoming Resistance to Change

It is important to remember that resistance to change may not be resistance to the change itself.

Rather it may be a reaction to the way in which change is introduced and the levels of consultation and information provided related to that change.

Keeping this in view, you need to think about the ways resistance can be overcome. The possible strategies for overcoming resistances are:

  1. When you will find that the resisters have no adequate skills or knowledge to cope with the changing scenarios, and as a result, they are resisting the change, you can overcome this problem through providing training and positive reinforcement.
  2. When you will find that misunderstandings might arise about the processes and procedures that will apply in the changed situation, you can educate and persuade them through helping them understand the consequences that these new processes and procedures may have for their ability to deliver a performance. Also, you can involve them in the planning of the change.
  3. When you will find that the resisters have a lacking in motivation to apply skills whatever they have and consequently they are resisting the change, you can deal with such situation by providing negative consequences, stalling with hassles and remedies.
  4. When you will find that people tend to resist change because they are uncertain about the consequences due to lack of information that fuels rumors and gossips, you should undertake effective communication programs to inform the employees about the possible change programs. Such a step can help employees realistically prepare for change.
  5. You can also follow one of the most effective but oldest strategies for overcoming resistance to change. It is about involving employees directly in planning and implementing change. Participation can lead both of you and the employees to designing high-quality changes and to overcome resistance to implementing them.

Step-7: Institutionalizing Successful Change Programs

This is the last stage in the process of change management.

At this stage, the managers or consultants appointed for the purpose conduct an evaluation of the effects of the change program. They carry out the evaluation to understand the effects of changes made in the strategy and structure on organizational performance.

They compare the present way of doing things (that is, alter the change has been implemented) with the way of doing things before implementation. They use the information of evaluation for undertaking another change program if needed. Information is also used % decide on institutionalizing the change program, if successful.

Step-8: Evaluating the Effects of Changes

Once it is determined that a change program (intervention) has been implemented and is effective, attention is directed at institutionalizing the successful change program.

Successful change programs are made a permanent part of the organization’s normal functioning through institutionalization. Just recall that change occurs in three stages – unfreezing, moving and refreezing. Institutionalization of change programs concerns refreezing.

It involves the long-term persistence of organizational changes. To the extent that changes persist, they can be said to be institutionalized.

Such changes exist as a part of the culture of the organization.


The elaborate discussions on implementing strategic change indicate that change-implementation is not an easy task.

It requires the careful articulation of the changes that the organization wants to implement and at the same time it makes it mandatory for the managers to prepare a sound change implementation plan and develop strategies to overcome the possible obstacles to implementing strategic changes.

Read Related Posts /