5 Typical Phases of Organizational Change that Must Be Navigated

5 Typical Phases of Organizational Change that Must Be Navigated
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Navigating the Typical Phases of Organizational Change
Organizational leaders face a daunting task: keeping up with or staying ahead of the relentless pressure to change.  We know from change management simulation data that the typical phases of organizational change initiatives need to be expertly navigated to get from where you are to where you want to be in a way that makes sense.

Expectations for the Typical Phases of Change
First, employees know that most corporate change initiatives are doomed to fail.  Study after study has found that the majority of change programs fail to meet expectations.  They become “flavors of the month” that disgruntled employees can just wait out until the status quo reigns supreme.

Second, change management consulting experts know that change is messy.  Unlike today’s exact GPS-coordinated world, most organizational change initiatives are more akin to ancient travelers who set out on long journeys without comprehensive maps.  When starting out, they only had some rough, and often inaccurate, guidance.  To succeed, they had to adapt to ever-changing environments and what they learned along the way.

The same is true of navigating the typical phases of change.

5 Typical Phases of Organizational Change that Must Be Navigated
We recommend setting expectations for the typical phases of change management as a way to orient people to a desired direction while allowing for the inevitable exploration, learning, and adjustments that must be made along the way.

  1. Pioneering a Shared Vision for Change
    Every transformation begins with a vision for change — a clear and compelling narrative that captivates the collective imagination of those most affected by change. In this initial phase, leaders articulate the need for change, painting a vivid picture of the desired future state. Effective change visions are not mere slogans; they are co-created and shared declarations of a better future state that ignite passion and purpose.

    Is your vision for change clear and compelling enough to rally the troops?

  2. Mobilizing Change Commitment
    Once a shared vision for a better future has been created, the next phase of change requires the mobilization of commitment across the organization. To mobilize commitment for change, everyone affected by change must be ready, willing, and able enough to execute on the new ways of thinking, working, and behaving. Change leaders must foster a sense of ownership and empowerment, cultivating a fertile ground for collaboration, exploration, constructive debate, learning, and innovation.

    Are the people required to bring the desired changes to life fully committed to the new way of doing things?

  3. Navigating Change Resistance
    As organizational change gains initial momentum, various forms of change resistance inevitably emerge. Resistance to change often stems from deeply entrenched beliefs and patterns at the individual, team, and organizational levels. Addressing resistance to change requires empathy, patience, and a willingness to engage in dialogue that honors diverse perspectives.

    Have you created enough change urgency and reinforcement mechanisms to overcome resistance to the new ways of working?

  4. Implementing Change Strategies
    Implementation marks the phase where change vision transforms into action and results. Effective strategies are not static blueprints but dynamic roadmaps that adapt to evolving circumstances. Change leaders must cultivate a culture of experimentation and learning, embracing failures as valuable opportunities for growth.

    Is your change implementation plan up to the challenge that you face?

  5. Sustaining Change Momentum
    The sustainability of change hinges on the integration of new business practices into the strategic and cultural fabric of the organization. Amidst the ebb and flow of change, it is essential to pause and celebrate desired behaviors and achievements to fuel motivation and resilience for the journey ahead. Leaders must champion behaviors that align with the desired culture, embodying the change they wish to see.

    Do you have a strong enough culture of accountability, experimentation, and continuous learning to sustain change momentum?

The Bottom Line
To survive and thrive, companies must continuously adapt their attitudes and ways of working.  If you are embarking on organizational change, anticipate and have a plan for the inevitable roadblocks that will appear at each of the five organizational phases of change.

To learn more about how to navigate the phases of organizational change, download 5 Science-Backed Lenses of Successful Change Leadership

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