Let's Talk About Change Management!

September 15, 2016   |  Tags: Blog   |  Tags: Leadership , Communication , QI
Jennifer Hendrickson

You have probably heard the term change management used in many different contexts, both specific and broad.  The good news is the term relates to a wide spectrum of work. The bad news is that a shared meaning around this term can be very difficult to flush out.  What do people really mean when they talk about Change Management?  If you search “change management,” you will come up with as many as 70,700,000 results, which is a lot to sort through! Let’s start by broadly defining Organizational and Individual Change Management. 

Organizational Change Management focuses on broad, large-scale organizational change implementations.  It identifies groups impacted by the change and investigates adoption strategies needed to make the change successful.  Organizational change needs can vary from low impact changes that require simple understanding by the broad organization; cadenced communication, and tangible “start” times and processes, to more complex changes.  The more complex changes may require robust sensing sessions in multiple organizational areas, development of different timelines, development of departmental specific feedback channels, complex, multi-faceted communication plans, structures for training, actionable leadership, coaching and other resources. 

Additionally, in all change management processes, there needs to be a robust plan to understand and mitigate negative impacts and develop systems and structures that support normalizing the change after initial ‘go live.  This requires a great deal of thoughtful planning, assessing impacts to the organization -- both broadly and in specific, high impact areas -- and having a plan beyond the start date to sustain and monitor the change. When an organization becomes fleet at successful organizational change management and encourages team and individual change management, the outcome is an adaptive culture that can rally, shift and achieve important objectives in a rapidly changing landscape.  This is the dream scenario for most organizations –hence why focusing on and developing change management capability is a vital piece of long-term success, adaptability and transformation.

Change management principles and practices are also used in more tactical, individual ways.  Supporting change adoption is vital for any changes to specific divisions, departments or teams. Moving from the current state to the future state requires change from the people doing the work and an understanding of how they experience the change.  This goes well beyond giving teams a new tool or process, providing training and assuming you are good to go.  Consider the impacts of the change to the formal and informal culture and hierarchy.  What does the team value? How does this change support or undermine both the formal and informal culture? Identifying a communication and stakeholder strategy, identifying influencers, developing coaching structures for both introducing the new skill and supporting the change in behavior, and flushing out how a change in the procedure or process in a specific area may have unforeseen consequences or ripple effects in other areas are vital.  If people regress to the mean (go back to the old way, or a hybrid of the old and “new” way) your change is not successful and your team will struggle with the next transformation hurdle.  A robust change management plan is vital for moving beyond temporary adoption and into sustained, successful change.

Next month we’ll take a look at the roles of Change Management practitioners.


Jennifer Hendrickson joined the Q Corp team in March 2016 is a Program Director with the Patient-Centered Primary Care Institute.  She brings a passion for strategy, innovation, public health, and change management to her role focusing on the Extension Program. Jennifer has held a variety of roles in her health care career, including Providence Health and Services and, most recently, at Health Share of Oregon.  Her career spans work in change management, project management and health care transformation and she is a Communications Management graduate of the University of Portland.  In her free time, you can find her spending time with family and friends, hanging out at Powell’s (or any available book store), walking her two loveable mutts, reading, eating or drinking chocolate, and cheering on the Portland Trail Blazers.