KVP Group Blog

A Simple Guide to Change vs. Change Management

Change and change management can seem interchangeable in organizations. While this comes as no surprise, there are significant and important differences between the two. 

Over the past 12 months, we have witnessed various business models’ changes due to the unforeseen circumstances of the ongoing pandemic. For example, shifts from a regular office to a home office, organizational changes, and digitalization, to name a few.

As a result, change and change management is inevitable in these situations. And when there is no clear delineation, people can lack clarity about what is needed to move a change initiative forward.

The better we understand and properly define these two terms, the clearer our scope, shared direction, and purpose. Hence, a well-coordinated organization.

Differences Between Change and Change Management

Change is about moving to a future state. Meanwhile, change management is about supporting employees impacted by the change during their individual transitions from their current state to future state.

Let’s look more closely at the differences.

What is Change?

Change is a movement out of a current state (how things are today), through a transition state, and to a future state (how to do things). 

Change happens all around us: at home, in our community, and at work. Similarly, changes can be internally motivated or externally motivated.

The change can be a dramatic departure from what we know, or it can be minor. Contrarily, change can be anticipated or unexpected.

Typically, we take an organizational perspective when talking about change:

  • Moving to documented and managed processes from ad hoc processes
  • Moving to an integrated system from numerous legacy systems
  • Merging two organizations
  • Introducing a new product to the market
  • Introducing new equipment into the manufacturing processes
  • Moving to call center specialists from a generalist model

These examples have a clear current state and a clear future state. When we undertake a project or initiative in the organization, we provide structure to design the future state and develop a solution for the transition state.

However, every organizational change has individual impacts on the tens, hundreds, or thousands of employees who have to do their jobs differently when they adopt the solution.

This is where change management comes in. 

What is Change Management?

Change management is about supporting people through their individual transitions.

This approach is necessary because organizational change—moving from an organizational current state to an organizational future state—ultimately impacts how people do their jobs (likely many people).

  • Someone executes the newly documented and managed processes
  • Individuals access the new integrated database
  • Employees in the newly merged organization must work differently
  • The new product impacts how someone does their job

Although change is about moving to a future state, change management goes further by supporting employees impacted by the change through their transitions, equipping and enabling them to move from their current state to their future state. 

A Guide to Change Management

Some employees will rapidly engage with the change. Others will be reluctant. Some will be happy with the change, and others will be upset by it.

Moreover, some employees will change quickly, others may take some time, and a group will not adopt the change at all.

Change management provides the process, tools, and principles to support the individual transitions precipitated from an organizational future state.

Connection Between Change and Change Management

The connection between change and change management can be characterized as follows:

  1. The changes in our organization create new future states for how we operate. To reach those future states, individual employees have to do their jobs differently.
  2. Achieving the desired organizational future state depends on individuals’ success in reaching their personal future states.
  3. Change management is the structured and intentional approach to enabling individual employees to adopt the changes required by projects and initiatives.

The point here is that when results and outcomes of a project or initiative depend on employees adopting the change and doing their jobs differently, change management is essential for delivering those results and outcomes.

How to Easily Differentiate Change vs. Change Management

Follow the steps below to point out the differences between change and change management:

1. Identify the confusion

Are you experiencing this confusion with anyone you are supporting? While you’re working, have you noticed a lack of clarity between change and change management?

If so, who do you think is having difficulty in this matter?

  • Project leaders and teams
  • Solution designers and developers
  • Executives and senior leaders
  • Other change management practitioners
  • Other stakeholders

2. Describe the states of change

Introduce and position change management by describing the states of change at both the organizational and individual levels.

Start the conversation about the current state, transition state, and future state. Afterwards, continue the conversation to focus on individual current states, transition states, and future states.

To illustrate this clearly for others, ask them to do a basic exercise.

  1. Make two columns on a sheet of paper or whiteboard.
  2. On the left column, have your audience (project team, senior leader, etc.) define the organizational change’s future state.
  3. On the right column, have them define five specific individual future states that the change will cause. 

3. Ask a simple question

Introduce the notion of change management by asking a simple yet compelling question: who will have to do their jobs differently due to this project or initiative?

This is the beginning of the process of segmenting out the impacted groups so that you can address them specifically from a change management perspective.

By asking and helping to answer the question, you establish a working relationship with the project team. As a result, you can provide a solid start for your strategy to work.

Change Management Is Not Change

When people and teams can’t distinguish the two terms above, your efforts to move your initiative forward can stall.

Taking simple steps to clarify your organization’s differences highlights the benefits of change management, enables greater buy-in and support, and sets you up for greater success with change.

KVP-Solution is a well-rounded team of experienced Change Managers, Coaches, and Consultants. We will guide you through your change by getting your project on time, on budget, and your people on board.

Contact us to book a consultation.