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The Effective Change Manager's Handbook - Book Review

1 March 2021
Dr. Moria Levy
book cover

The book, titled "The Effective Change Manager's Handbook: Essential Guidance to the Change Management Body of Knowledge," is an invaluable guide, comparable to an encyclopedia, for professionals engaged in organizational change management. It has been collaboratively edited by four primary authors: Richard Smith, David King, Ranjit Sidhu, and Dan Skelsey, and was published in 2015.


Written with an academic orientation, the book delves into various theories and concepts while providing numerous practical tips and real-world examples. It covers all the essential knowledge a change manager needs and goes beyond by exploring management chapters, risk management, accounting in project contexts, and more. However, this summary will primarily focus on aspects directly related to change management, offering practical recommendations and key takeaways.


The book addresses the following essential topics:


1. Introduction - Change Management: Essence and Importance

2. Defining the Change

3. Partners in Change Management

4. Planning for Change

5. The Change Process: Application

6. Project Management

7. Change Project Management

8. Termination and Sustainability of Change


With comprehensive content spanning approximately 600 pages, this summary only scratches the surface of the complete book. While it provides a glimpse into the main points, it cannot fully replace the in-depth insights found in the original text.


Enjoy your reading and exploration of this valuable resource!


Introduction - Change Management: Essence and Importance

Organizations often strive to implement various ideas, concepts, organizational structures, computer systems, projects, or work habits. Change is indispensable for the survival and growth of any organization, making it a crucial initiative. However, the assimilation of change can be complicated. Organizations only embrace change with external impetus or significant internal pressure. This is where change management comes into play - effectively managing the adoption of change within an organization. And why is it so vital? Studies from reputable sources such as IBM and Prosci have demonstrated a clear correlation between successful change management programs and projects that achieve their intended goals. Change management is necessary because individuals and organizations find it challenging to implement changes, and their reactions can range from shock and denial to anger, embarrassment, and finally acceptance, with problem-solving coming at a later stage.


Organizations can be described in different ways - as machines, organisms, minds, cultures, political systems, prisons, mobility, tools of control, or even architecture. Each approach influences the perception of leadership and the perception of change. However, regardless of the perspective, promoting change is possible in all these organizational paradigms.


Several models for change processes are available, with three main ones being widely recognized:


1. LEWIN's thaw-change-freeze model: Focuses on perceptual change.

2. KOTTER's 8 Steps: A roadmap to implementation based on common organizational errors.

3. SENGE model of systems thinking: Facilitating change through learning and understanding systems.


Each model offers valuable insights and strategies for effectively managing organizational change.


Advance Preparation: Defining the Change

A correct and precise definition of the change, aligned with the corporate strategy, constitutes a fundamental aspect of effective change management. To achieve this, several essential steps should be taken:


1. Link the Change to the Corporate Strategy: Establishing a clear connection between the proposed change and the overall corporate strategy is crucial. Understanding how the change supports the organization's long-term goals is vital for successful implementation.


2. Identify the Drivers of Change: Determine why the change is necessary and is being pursued at this particular time. Identifying the driving forces behind the shift provides insights into its urgency and relevance.


3. Analyze the Change: Conduct a comprehensive analysis of the current state of affairs, the desired future state, and the roadmap to reach the intended destination. Understanding the current situation and the desired outcome is essential for effectively planning and executing the change.


4. Develop a Vision: Create a compelling and inspiring future vision. A shared vision that resonates with stakeholders is a critical factor in ensuring that the change endures over time.


5. Define the Organizational Impact: Define how the organization will look after implementing the change. This includes understanding its effects on stakeholders, business areas, and the organization's overall structure.


6. Define Knowledge, Information, and Processes: Identify the knowledge and information required to support the change, design the appropriate organizational structure, streamline processes and procedures, and consider the impact on the environment and infrastructure.


7. Assess Change Effects: Conduct a thorough assessment of the potential effects of the change, including identifying potential challenges, problems, and concerns that must be addressed and mitigated.


By following these steps and engaging in meticulous preparation, organizations can establish a solid foundation for successful change management, leading to positive and sustainable outcomes.


Partners in Change Management

In the realm of change management, various key partners play crucial roles in successfully executing the change process. Let's explore these key partners and their respective roles in the change:


1. Initiator of the Idea: This partner is responsible for initiating the change idea and proposing the concept to the organization.


2. Sponsor: The sponsor is responsible for envisioning how the change aligns with the organizational strategy and overall environment. They are tasked with obtaining commitment and involvement from senior management and middle managers. The sponsor supports the change by instilling a sense of urgency, prioritizing the subject, removing obstacles, setting a personal example, and actively participating in implementation through channeling, training, mentoring, and providing required resources.


3. Middle Management Level (Field): This group provides local support for the change and sets a personal example to encourage successful implementation.


4. Target Audience: These are the individuals whose work habits will be impacted by the change.


5. Change Manager: The change manager oversees the change management process and coordinates efforts and communication among different stakeholders.


6. Agents of Change: These individuals build strong networks within the organization, involve middle managers in the field, and promote effective two-way communication. They play a pivotal role in disseminating ideas, information, and initiatives and facilitating the use of resources.


7. Human Resources: The Human Resources department works with the change manager to address all people-related matters during the change process.


To ensure a successful change, it is essential to identify specific partners and stakeholders, categorize them into groups, and prioritize collaboration with them. This prioritization is based on the change's potential impact, each partner's influence (managerial, professional, etc.), and their current stance toward the change (readiness, resistance, perceptions). A persona map is then created for each group, forming the basis of a strategy tailored to address the pioneers, the central majority, and the procrastinators within each group.


The ultimate goal is to manage the relationship with these partners and guide them in the desired direction as defined by the change. It's important to note that this process is not a one-time event but should be continually updated as the change management progresses. This summary includes officials, interested parties, and partners combined into one group (M.L.).


Planning for Change

Before embarking on any change initiative, assessing an organization's readiness for change is crucial. Several main factors influence this readiness, including:


1. Organizational Culture: Past experiences with successful or unsuccessful changes can impact how receptive the organization is to new initiatives.

2. Organizational Values: The organization's core values can influence its openness to change.

3. Management Styles: The leadership approach within the organization can affect the acceptance and implementation of change.


Mapping and evaluating the existing situation are essential steps significantly influence the planning process.


The stages involved in building a robust infrastructure for change are as follows:


1. Building Awareness: Create an understanding of the need for change across the organization.

2. Engaging Participation and Support: Ensure people are actively involved and supportive of the change.

3. Assessing and Developing Stakeholder Skills: Identify the necessary skills for stakeholders to adapt to the change and offer support for skill development.

4. Building a Change Team: Form a team dedicated to leading and driving the change process.

5. Developing a Change Management Plan: Include strategies for addressing objections and managing potential challenges during the change.


Key Proposals related to planning are as follows:


- Benefits Realization Management: Pay careful attention to managing the desired benefits and ensuring that the change delivers added value. This involves identifying, quantifying, analyzing, planning, monitoring, realizing, and optimizing the benefits, focusing on results and organizational alignment.


- Addressing Change Effects and Risks: Consider the effects of the change and associated risks, managing business continuity during the transition. This aspect extends to the executive business aspect, partners, and their influence. Studying the organization's history of changes can be a valuable tool for better assessment.


- Choosing the Right Strategy: Decide on the most appropriate change strategy, such as gradual implementation or a big bang approach.


- Fostering Motivation and Meaning: Design change management to encourage independence, personal specialization, and a sense of meaning, as this is more likely to motivate and engage people.


- Promoting Inclusion: When planning, consider how to foster a sense of integration among employees, as this increases the likelihood of successful change.


- Understanding Individual Differences: Recognize that individuals have different personalities and will react differently to change. Integrating personal behavioral theories in change management can address objections and difficulties more effectively. Understanding individual needs and aligning them with the change can lead to a more successful outcome.


In conclusion, effective planning is critical to ensuring the successful implementation of change, considering various factors that influence an organization's readiness and crafting strategies that resonate with individuals, fostering support and motivation.


The Change Process: Application

The ultimate goal of this stage is to motivate employees or target recipients to adopt new habits and embrace the change. The implementation process comprises several fundamental elements that apply across various changes:


1. Communication:

   - Communication should be clear, easily understandable, and unambiguous, tailored to the audience's style and tone. Utilize both small and large face-to-face channels, digital platforms, and social networks.

   - Emphasize multi-directional communication, including active listening and soliciting and receiving feedback.


2. Learning:

   - Learning plays a central role in leading changes, encompassing skills, behaviors, perceptions, and knowledge.

   - Utilize various methods such as training sessions (lectures, workshops, one-on-one, e-learning, simulations), practical experiences, coaching, and group facilitation.

   - Several models are available for analyzing learning needs, planning, and implementation.


Suggestions for Effective Communication:

- Follow the AIDA model for the stages of discourse: Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. Building awareness, understanding, involvement, and commitment.

- Cultivate trust as it significantly contributes to the success of the change.

- Employ demonstrations, illustrations, visuals, symbols, storytelling, and narratives to enhance communication.

- Appeal to emotions, as emotional engagement can lead to more successful outcomes.

- Explain why the change is necessary, its scope, how it will impact individuals, and their role in the process.

- Identify and address biases that may hinder change, such as clinging to previous beliefs, maintaining the status quo, or relying on readily available information and trends.

- Anticipate and address objections that may arise from the loss of control, uncertainty, surprise, managing multiple changes simultaneously, potential damage to reputation, increased workload due to the change, long-term effects, unresolved past issues, and perceived threats. Acknowledge that change can be difficult and uncomfortable.


The book contains comprehensive suggestions for effectively managing these challenges during the change process. Understanding and addressing these factors is crucial for successfully implementing change and ensuring the organization embraces it.


Change Project Management

A good understanding of project management methods is essential for effectively managing change, as the change process can be seen as a project in itself. Managing the change project requires careful attention to several dimensions:


1. Leadership and Influence: Effective change management necessitates strong leadership and the ability to influence stakeholders throughout the organization.


2. Partnership and Teamwork: Collaborating with partners and working closely with the team are vital to successful change management.


3. Resource Management: Efficiently managing resources, including work plans and budget allocation, is crucial for the smooth execution of the change project.


4. Risk Management: Identifying and addressing potential risks is essential for mitigating challenges and ensuring a successful outcome.


It's important to remember that managing the entire change process requires considerable time and patience.


Proposals for Effective Project Management:

- If the change coincides with an ongoing project, the change manager should collaborate closely with the project manager to ensure both activities are conducted simultaneously and synchronized effectively.


- The change manager must balance ensuring the organization's operational continuity and effectively managing the change process at any moment.


The book covers various models for leadership and influence, offering valuable insights for change managers.


Additionally, the book includes introductions to project management, safety and security measures, performance optimization, and financial management. All these tools are essential for change managers to familiarize themselves with and consider in their roles.


By understanding and applying these project management principles, change managers can better navigate the complexities of the change process and drive successful outcomes for their organizations.



Measurement serves a dual purpose: it allows us to evaluate the achievement of our goals, outputs, and desired benefits, and it helps us assess the progress of change management and make necessary adjustments. Measurements can be conducted at various levels, including:


- Readiness for change

- Inputs: Tracking the progress of change activities

- Cooperation and involvement

- Emotions and attitudes related to the change

- Activity levels aligned with the desired scale

- Benefit realization

- Objectives


The measurement process involves several steps:


1. Deciding what to measure and determining the appropriate channels for measurement.

2. Collecting relevant data.

3. Analyzing the data and making assessments.

4. Reporting the results.

5. Making informed decisions based on the insights gained from the measurements.


Measurement Channels can be diverse and may include the following:


- Mechanized channels, leveraging computer systems and hardware for data collection.

- Human channels, such as surveys (temperature surveys and situation surveys), focus groups, and interviews.


Measurements can be conducted concurrently with activities (e.g., at the end of a training session) or periodically to track progress over time.


Accurate and comprehensive measurement is vital in understanding the effectiveness of change management efforts and determining if adjustments are needed to ensure successful outcomes. By employing the right measurement strategies, organizations can make data-driven decisions that support their change initiatives and lead to positive results.


Termination and Sustainability of Change

The conclusion of a change initiative involves several essential components:


1. Closing project activities and transferring responsibility to business managers.

2. Acknowledging and appreciating the efforts of all involved.

3. Capturing lessons learned for future improvements.


Ensuring the sustainability of the change is the responsibility of the change manager. It involves implementing measures that allow the change to become firmly embedded. The extent to which the change is embraced may vary based on its specific nature: compliance, identification, and internalization. To preserve the change successfully, various tools and levers can be utilized:


- Emotional factors, such as fostering respect and pride in the new working methods.

- Procedural aspects, including establishing and adhering to fixed work processes.

- Structural elements, such as aligning the organizational structure to support the change.

- Leadership involvement, influencing managers and leaders to endorse and champion the new situation.

- Organizational factors, such as updating job definitions and investing in employee development.


Different strategies, including positive reinforcement (carrot), enforcement of new practices (stick), and rendering previous approaches unfeasible (burning bridges), can be combined to enhance sustainability. Proper risk management should also be integrated into the process to prevent and address potential challenges.


On a personal note, I favor standalone chapters in edited books that form cohesive units. Sometimes, books with integrated chapters, like this one, tend to expand each section extensively, covering topics such as organizational culture and leadership in separate sub-units. Additionally, there can be overlaps between the chapters. In this summary, I aimed to provide a concise and well-organized reference to the core concepts while avoiding redundancy. I hope this captures the essence of the source without compromising its spirit.


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