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Making Change in Organizations:


People in organizations use tools to carry out processes which create products or deliver services. Organizational change requires that the change agent take into account all three of these elements. Changing one of the three without concern about the other two is counter-productive.

PPT as a Change Framework

Effective change plans take advantage of the relationship among these three elements.

  • People often accept that they need to change their personal competencies when this is related to a change in tools or processes. They view this type of change as an opportunity, rather than a reflection on their lack of ability or competence.
  • A change in process may be best achieved by introducing a new tool. The need for the new tool can often be explained by referring to external events and pressures (e.g. competition, change in the industry), allowing people to come together to move forward in a productive (and acceptable) way.
  • Introducing new people, do not have the history of familiarity with or commitment to an established process, often eliminates the resistance that established folks have to change.

An effective change agent consciously plans the appropriate balance among these three elements to get the best return on the change investment.

Change plans which explicitly consider the impact of each element on the other two, and take steps to address this impact, have the greatest chance of success.

The remaining parts of this web page consider each element in greater detail:


People have information, values, motivations, and skills that will impact any change effort. Each must be considered when implementing a process or tool change.

  1. People must be given the information they need to understand the how, the why and the when of the change.
  2. Change that violates people's values will be hard to implement. It may be easier to find new people than change deeply held personal values.
  3. People must be motivated to change, otherwise they will resist. They must be better off in some way (e.g. work is easier, more interesting, has more value, leads to better opportunities ... ... )
  4. People must have the skills they need to execute the processes and to use the tools required by the change. Training and coaching must be part of every process or tool change. Established folks often resist change because they know, explicitly or implicitly, that they do not have, and cannot acquire, the personal competencies required. Change projects must be prepared to deal with this dynamic ifS training does not overcome it.




Processes in organizations are really interlocked patterns of repetitive behavior that groups of people use to create products or to deliver services. These processes are supported by tools (phones, desks, computers, information systems, machinery, rooms, vehicles, and so on). Over time, and with with training, people develop smart habits that allow them to carry out their personal part of such processes in an efficient manner.

  1. The first step in changing a process is to define the new sequence of activities that make it up.
  2. The second step is to clarify the impact of the change on the processes that link into it and on those that come after it.
  3. The third step is to clearly determine if the current tools can support the change, or if there are any needed changes in the tooling that will support the new process. A tooling deficit must lead to new tools or required changes in the existing tools if the new process is to be implemented effectively.
  4. The fourth step is to understand whether the people currently executing the process have the information, values, motivations, and skills required to execute the new process. A lack in any area must be addressed in the change plan. Depending on the lack, the need can be as straight forward as skills training or as complex as turning over the individuals who handling the process.




A tool is any physical or informational asset that a person uses to execute a process. A tool can be as simple as a pencil or a piece of paper. It can be as complex as a building housing a complex manufacturing production line or a computer hosting a complex set of computer applications.

Processes and tools are linked. Often what appears to be a simple process is only simple because the complexity has been moved inside the tooling. Human beings are very good at increasing their personal productivity by creating complex tools that do complicated patterns of repetitive work.

  1. Changing the tooling is often the single most effective way to implement organizational change. People tend to accept the need to change their habits and to upgrade their skills when tools change because they can see how the new tool will make their work easier, more interesting or more rewarding.
  2. Tooling changes which threaten people's livelihoods or deeply held personal values are often fiercely resisted.
  3. Properly implemented tooling enforces process discipline in knowledge work (e.g. building computer applications, designing new products or buildings, making complex decisions in social settings). People discipline their personal behavior because the tooling structures their work into understood patterns which facilitate their interaction with others. At the same time, the tooling does not negate their ability to be personally creative about the content of their tasks.





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