Planned Change Management: The Definitive Guide (2023)12 min read

Planned Change Management: The Definitive Guide (2023)

Planning for change is a crucial skill that all organizations should master, whether to drive innovation or maintain steady progress toward goals and business growth.

But how exactly do you go on about it? And what can you do to execute it properly?

In this article, we will discuss what planned change management is and identify why it is important for your business. We will also discuss the steps that you can follow to implement it well within your organization.

Let’s start.

What is planned change management for innovation?

In today’s dynamic business landscape, change is not only constant. It is also critical for growth and success.

Planned change management is a strategic approach that enables organizations to align their vision, goals, and resources to achieve new heights of performance.

Whether it’s a culture shift, process overhaul, or metric optimization, the change process is a holistic development that involves the entire organization.

Why is planned change management important?

There are three primary reasons why planned change is vital:

  • The implementation process alters existing organizational behavior.Planned change brings clarity and purpose to the process. By anticipating future challenges and opportunities, organizations can proactively design and implement innovative solutions.
  • The entire process of planning and executing this organizational change ensures that the business remains agile, adaptable, and resilient regardless of the internal or external forces that may come to disrupt it.
  • As a change agent, the planned change process has the potential to drive significant growth and create new opportunities for the organization. By challenging the status quo, thinking creatively, and exploring new ideas and approaches, organizational members manage to uncover untapped potential and unlock new avenues for growth.

Of course, innovation isn’t just about generating big ideas – it’s about putting those ideas into action.

That’s why it’s essential to have a clear plan in place that outlines your goals, resources, and timeline. By taking a methodical and deliberate approach, you can ensure that your innovation efforts are aligned with your overall business strategy and are set up for success.

Examples of planned change models

Here are some of the most well-known planned change models in history:

1. Participatory action research model

The action research model is a proven and widely embraced approach to organizational change that has gained traction across industries.

Known also as action science, participatory action research, and a self-design framework, the action research model focuses on a cyclical and iterative process that involves ongoing research and action.

This model’s key characteristics include:

  • Being initiated from the top down by the change management team from different organizational units
  • Requiring robust collaboration between staff and external stakeholders
  • The ability to integrate theory and practice into a direct and forceful feedback loop
  • Being adopted at various organizational levels, in departments, and as a whole
  • Promoting social change and innovation

Through comprehensive feedback and data gathering, organizations can make data-driven decisions, learn from their experiences, and continually refine their approach over time.

2. Psychological disconfirmation, shift, and stabilization

This three-step model is a fundamental framework that highlights the imbalance between an organization’s driving forces, with a view to achieving greater corporate effectiveness.

More popularly known as Lewin’s three-step model, this framework has three basic steps, including unfreezing, moving, and refreezing.


Revitalizing an organization by breaking down the barriers that hinder progress and other desired future states is known as unfreezing.

  • According to Lewin’s model, this can be achieved through the process of “psychological disconfirmation”, which involves conducting a comprehensive innovation survey across the entire organization and examining the outcomes.
  • By reducing the forces that maintain the status quo, unfreezing can pave the way for positive transformation and change within an organization.


Moving involves bringing about a meaningful change in an organization’s conduct, practices, or culture, which requires some form of intervention.

This process is known as shifting an organization’s behavior. Such a shift could be prompted by a variety of factors, such as changes in the external environment, or the need to improve productivity, efficiency, or morale.

  • To initiate a behavior shift and ensure that organizational equilibrium occurs, an intervention must be designed, implemented, and monitored.
  • This intervention may include anything from training programs and workshops to policy changes, communication strategies, and team-building activities.


Refreezing is the critical step in stabilizing an organization in a new state of equilibrium.

  • However, this step cannot be achieved without the right implementation method, innovation capability, strong support system, strategic management, and change agents brought by business leaders.
  • Therefore, it is crucial to develop a comprehensive strategy that fosters innovation and allows for the seamless integration of new ideas into existing processes. By doing so, businesses can refreeze and establish a strong foundation for long-term success.

3. Positivity

The third planned change management model is the positive model, which represents a significant difference from the previous models mentioned above.

  • Unlike the aforementioned structures which focus on identifying problems and scarcity, the positive model is a change management approach that focuses on an organization’s existing strengths and capabilities, rather than its problems and shortcomings.
  • The positive model is characterized by several key features, including the use of positive expectations that create a sense of anticipation, driving behavior toward making things happen.
  • This approach involves applying a process called appreciative inquiry, which involves a positive analysis of the organization and its members, identifying areas of strength and potential for growth.

By focusing on what the organization is doing right, this form of organizational development helps to create positive momentum for change, building on existing capabilities and promoting member involvement in the process.

How to implement planned change?

Once executives take full leadership responsibility in planned change management, they make the commitment to undertake a planned change in their organization’s development.

This makes it essential for them to create a logical and systematic approach to achieve the desired objectives.

To ensure a successful implementation of planned change, managers must follow a proven five-step process, which is discussed in detail below.

Step #1: Choose change agents

As the name suggests, the change agent is the individual who takes on the leadership role of overseeing and implementing planned change in organizational development.

This person may be selected from within the management team or recruited externally, depending on the specific needs of the organization.

The change agent plays a critical role in driving the success of the planned change initiative and must possess a range of essential qualities.

These include:

  • A clear understanding of the need for organizational development and change
  • A willingness to embrace new ideas, and
  • A creative and innovative mindset
  • A commitment to executing and managing change within the present system
  • Providing supporting mechanisms to implement significant change

Step #2: Identify the problem you want to address

The process of identifying or recognizing the need for change typically occurs at the top management level or in peripheral parts of the organization such as existing employees and other internal structures.

This recognition may arise due to various factors, and it is the responsibility of the senior management team to assess the situation, determine an empowering broad-based action plan, and develop goals that will help them maintain momentum and achieve their desired outcome.

As such, organizations must remain adaptable and responsive to change. Hence, it is crucial to have a leadership team that is skilled in identifying and addressing areas that require improvement.

By proactively recognizing the need for change, businesses can stay ahead of the curve and successfully navigate the challenges of the ever-changing marketplace.

Step #3: Brainstorm with your team and gather relevant ideas

The brainstorming part falls into two segments — data analysis and action planning.

Data analysis

Conduct a thorough data analysis to evaluate the current state of the organization.

The primary objectives of this data gathering are:

  • To figure out which areas need change, and
  • To equip existing employees with the necessary insights, skillsets, and knowledge for the upcoming organizational change and development

Action planning

Once you’ve identified the problem and the specific events or areas you want to change, meet with the rest of your employees and think about how you can put the entire transformative process into actual practice.

Take all the queries and suggestions you get seriously and study the criteria you want to use in choosing the best ideas for solving the issues you’ve encountered in the first step.

Step #4: Execute your action plan

Throughout the process, various plays and innovative strategies may arise. And while some may be rejected, others may be deemed suitable for implementation. Following rigorous analysis and comprehensive questioning, put the selected plan into action.

Note that during the change implementation phase, employees may encounter day-to-day challenges that can potentially dampen their enthusiasm for carrying out the company’s planned change.

As such, it falls upon you and other business leaders to sustain the excitement by providing adequate resources and support to employees.

This can be achieved by encouraging employees to develop new skill sets, as well as fostering a strong support system for those driving the change within their respective teams.

Step #5: Evaluate and follow up on the results

Conduct a thorough evaluation to compare the results with your established goals in step two. Assess whether those goals were met. And, if necessary, perform a complete follow-up to determine the completion status.

Don’t forget to take a sincere approach in evaluating the results, as a positive outcome is expected from the implementation of the planned change in organizational development.

By conducting a thorough follow-up, organizations can ensure that the change is fully integrated and its benefits are sustained over the long term. This approach enables companies to fine-tune their strategies and ensure that they are achieving their desired outcomes.

Use Accept Mission to implement planned change for innovation

The entire process of planning and implementing change isn’t easy. Aside from the fact that it takes effort, resources, and time, it also requires enough preparation to execute properly.

Before you can even begin, you need to establish the meaning of innovation in your company, cultivate the skills needed to sustain it, and prepare alternative implementing strategies in case problems arise.

Begin implementing planned change for innovation today. Download the ultimate guide to idea management to get started.

Published On: February 24th, 2023Categories: Innovation management

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