Managing change related to a transformation

Arnaud Rioche
4 min readSep 5, 2022

Most of the projects carried out by companies, especially when dealing with operational efficiency, IS or digital transformation, or HR or business evolution, aim at some point to transform all or part of the organization in place.

Transforming means disturbing habits. The employees affected did not necessarily want the project at the outset and it is human nature to start by rejecting an unwanted change. The resistance expressed by employees will be a risk for the project to fail.

Change management consists of putting in place actions that will remove this resistance and increase the engagement rate of its employees. A good organization is above all an organization that works thanks to its human capital.

What are the 3 benefits to expect from a Change Management approach?

· Overcoming resistance to the project by supporting the stakeholders affected by the transformation

· Helping to implement a culture of continuous improvement and thus to scale up the transformed organization

· Increasing the engagement rate of employees

What is Change Management?

We can define change as the transition from one way of doing things to another. Many projects in a company aim at a given moment, at a transformation of the working habits. This transformation can be more or less brutal depending on the scope of the project.

It is often the case that operational staff are the victims of change and that they did not initiate the transformation project. However, it is human nature to start by rejecting unwanted change.

Change management is an iterative process that allows us to accompany employees through the change and aims to obtain their total support for the new organization by removing all their reluctance.

What is the reticence, or resistance, regularly observed?

Reluctance to change can have three origins:

1. Individual: change is synonymous with rupture, questioning, and the loss of previous reference points and favors introspection

2. Conjunctural or structural: change can modify working conditions, the functioning of the organization or the company, and even its climate

3. Collective: the change can modify the culture of a company, and its system of values, behaviors, habits, and customs (reflexes, mechanisms…)

Many transformation projects limit change management to training and communication, which only allows for the removal of individual resistance. This individual resistance most often manifests itself as a wait-and-see attitude or a form of negotiation on work methods.

Neglecting resistance that has a cyclical, structural or collective source constitutes a significant risk of project failure. Because of the deeper nature of these causes of resistance, poor management could manifest itself through behaviors that are more delicate to manage: contestation, or in the worst case, sabotage.

It is therefore essential to identify as soon as possible all these forms of obstacles to the project, and to anticipate them or implement actions that will allow to manage them.

How to anticipate all these obstacles?

The two essential phases of an iterative change management process are the diagnosis and the lessons learned.

The diagnosis will first make it possible to define the degree of transformation, which will make it possible to adjust the tools and the scope of the support system to be put in place. It will also allow us to isolate the stakeholders by type of commitment or reluctance, and to prepare a specific action plan for each type of population.

The lessons learned will allow us to measure the impact of the change management project, to identify remaining resistance, and to prepare a second iteration if necessary. It will also be an opportunity to carry out adoption studies, which will be the best indicator of the success or not of the transformation among employees.

Although some obstacles seem natural depending on the project, these two phases of study will make it possible to control the completeness of the inventory of reticence and will make it possible to identify those which have a collective, structural or cyclical origin.

What media should be used to manage change?

Conventional communication plans and training are rarely sufficient, as they usually only remove individual barriers.

Addressing the root causes of reluctance requires appropriate tools and materials. Removing collective reluctance can be done with role-playing or theater workshops, for example. This allows to create a group dynamic, and to de-dramatize the changes.

For resistance with a structural or conjunctural cause, there are interesting tools such as mnemonics (method of associating ideas from a visual), or Serious Games (video game of simulation of a real work situation). These tools make it possible to approach change in a playful way and can have a very strong pedagogical impact as a complement to training.

However, the most important support remains the participation and sponsorship of the Management.

How does a Change Management initiative work?

Managing change requires 4 steps:


· Stakeholder Analysis

· Inventory of obstacles and resistances

· Analysis of the as-is organization

· Analysis of the to-be organization

· Assessment of the readiness for change


· Gaps between as-is and to-be

· Identification of the different populations

· Change plan for each population

· Prioritization of resistances to be overcome

· Key messages to pass on


· Actions for each population

· Global communication actions

· Leadership by example

· Daily monitoring of progress

· Sharing good practices


· Lessons learned

· Implementation of KPIs

· Adoption survey

· Analysis of the remaining resistances

· Launch of the iterative process

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