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Explore these 4 key inter-connected components of successful change implementation in organizations. Successful change implementation cannot happen without these 4 key components. Miss any of these 4 components from the onset of a significant change, and the change efforts will fail.

4 Components of Successful Change in Organization

Successful change implementation in organizations? These are the 4 components to hold it up.

*Infographic designed by Catherine Adenle is inspired by Braden Kelley's 
Five Keys to Successful Change and reproduced with permission

By Catherine Adenle

Explore these 4 key inter-connected components of successful change implementation in organizations. In all organizations, change only happens if and when it is initiated. Successful change implementation happens with these 4 key components. If you miss any of these 4 components from the onset of a major organizational change the change efforts will fail spectacularly.

Recently I came across Braden Kelley’s Five Keys to Successful Change as part of a sneak preview of his upcoming new book, Charting Change (Feb 2016). I found it compelling and wanted to share it with you and expand upon it further with some of my thoughts.

For successful change implementation in organizations, there are 4 main components serving as pillars holding up the change.  These pillars are various distinct phases of evolution – planning, leadership, management, and maintenance of change.

Treating change as a process should be a central factor of change and its management in all organizations. By breaking change down into these distinct phases (planning, leadership, management, and maintenance), organizations can create roles and responsibilities, and customize and tailor the approach to change to ensure that employees successfully adopt change.

Change-Ready Organizations Survive

Today’s business landscape is Darwinian! In these times of economic volatility, competitors are moving at lightning speed.  They are agile and highly innovative. Their products and services get quickly upgraded, changed or even eliminated through constant continuous improvement initiatives.

Those organizations that identify new opportunities and take quick actions to capture them survive. Those who learn to make successful change implementation happen are doing it over and over and they are thriving. In other words, organizations must learn how to change and treat these 4 key change components as their number one mission-critical discipline for change. The winners and losers of today’s global competition are determined by one common factor and that factor is Change.

The most successful organizations and leaders are not fearful of making changes because they are always change-ready.  They have the skills as well as the main components required to drive and execute any successful change. It’s known that successful change implementation only happens through possessing change management skills and the rudimentary know-how of change implementation. These two things in organizations increase the likelihood of quick innovation and transition success rate by up to 49%.

A change-ready organization embraces these cultural norms and displays these characteristics:

  • Have a team of change agents, champions and cheerleaders
  • Supports employees’ involvement at all levels
  • Engages in constant incremental changes
  • Rewards creativity and risk-taking
  • Allows failure and learns from it
  • Promotes collaborations, partnering, and teamwork
  • Links the present to the future
  • Embraces change
  • Celebrate change

See Survival of the Most Adaptable: Becoming a Change e-Ready Culture

These 4 main components of change, as highlighted in the Infographic above, are critical to organizations given that a poorly executed change initiative can significantly damage organizations’ good intentions. A failed change effort will make employees confused, unhappy and doubtful of future change initiatives. Most of all, change initiatives that are poorly executed can drive stress, which can decrease employees’ performance by about 12%.

4 Components of Successful Change Implementation in Organizations

Having a plan for change in organizations should mean realigning some employees’ job roles and responsibilities to make change initiatives successful.

For a significant change initiative, individuals responsible for change execution must not keep doing everything they were doing before and then expected to simply add or pile on the new change initiative work and responsibilities on top of their already overwhelming list of things to do daily at work.

One of the reasons why so many change initiatives fail is that leaders keep adding more work to the plates of employees in charge of change. They also add more work to their plates but forget to focus more on the change at hand. However, for successful change implementation, organizations need to create the space, roles, responsibilities, resources, and capacity for change to occur and stick.

For successful change implementation in organizations, these are 4 vital interrelated components:

  1. Change Planning
  2. Change Leadership
  3. Change Management
  4. Change Maintenance

Identifying and indicating ‘who will do what,’ ‘how,’ and ‘by when’ before embarking on change will ensure that change is successfully implemented.

Successful Change Implementation in Organizations: Roles and Responsibilities

To embark on any successful change implementation, the change should not just begin with projects and initiatives. Change may happen due to continuous improvement projects or initiatives, but change implementation must not start via a scheme. Otherwise, change messages will be lost, and people will forget that change does not happen instantaneously.

Change is a process and should be treated so. The most straightforward and rudimentary approach to understanding change is to break it down into different, understandable elements following three states of change. These are the current state, the transition state, and the future state.

Successful Change Implementation 3

1. Change Planning

This is where the roadmap of change is put together. The individuals here don’t live in the future state; they plough the way to get there. For successful change implementation, whoever is in charge of this phase of change plans creates and explains the roadmap of change, its objectives, goals and success measurement.

As most change management challenges are tied to the current state, for this phase, knowledge of what is currently happening is required. There will be a collection of processes, behaviours, tools, technologies, organizational structures, responsibilities and job roles that establish how work is currently done. The current state defines what an organization does and how. Things may not be working well for now for the organization, but things are familiar and comfortable for its employees because they know what to expect daily. Anyone responsible for change planning does not jump into the future state without painting pictures of how to get there through change. They aim to move everyone to the future shape and they work closely with leaders to craft the roadmap for successful change implementation.

2. Change Leadership

In most organizations, change starts from the top. Because change is inherently unsettling for people at all levels of these organizations, when change is on the horizon, all eyes will turn to the leadership team for direction, support, and strength.

For successful change implementation, from the onset, leaders consciously build an organizational architecture that integrates all elements of organizational change. They know why change is necessary, they have the supporting data, and they know the competitive advantage that change will bring. They vet change and all the plans associated with it. They are present and visible, and they provide sponsorship and support. They also walk the talk, and they are in tune with the overall change initiative and activities. They have critical information and excellent knowledge of the current state, transition state, and future state. They always join in to celebrate change milestones and successes.

See Change Management: Critical Skill for Leaders

Leadership effectiveness in driving successful change implementation and innovation, along with the precursory skills needed to do so, is vital. According to a study by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, research shows that nearly 75 per cent of all organizational change programs fail because leaders don’t create the necessary groundswell of support among employees. This point to change leadership skill deficiencies as a cause, precisely, the ability to communicate appropriately and motivate others, significantly influences a leader’s ability to implement change and drive innovation effectively. When organizational leadership employs a three-phase Organizational Change Management Life Cycle methodology (Processes, technology, people) and techniques to address the stages of change, change management initiatives stand a much greater chance for success.

See 12 Significant Things to Communicate Before Change in Organizations

See 6 characteristics of a “change capable” leader

3. Change Management

Change is both an institutional journey and a very personal one for employees. For successful change implementation in organizations, change management is the core phase of overseeing the people involved, systems, resources, and other moving parts or activities that change needs to achieve its end goals. This phase manages and drives change transition relentlessly to ensure change remains on track, sustainable and prosperous. In this phase, much time is spent in the transition state because of the people’s side of change.

See 12 Reasons Why Employees Resist Change in the Workplace


The Transition State is often emotionally charged with emotions ranging from despair to anxiety to anger to fear to relief. During the transition, productivity may decline if the change is not managed correctly. The transition state requires employees to accept new perspectives and learn new ways of behaving while keeping up with their day-to-day work.


Successful Change implementation 2

The change curve, as illustrated by Michael Erickson

No change program goes completely according to plan. For this reason, change management is a must. Employees will react in unexpected ways. There will be areas of anticipated resistance and questions that require answers. Effectively managing change requires continual reassessment of its impact and the organization’s willingness and ability to adapt to the next wave of transformation. Armed with the support of leaders, the involvement and inclusion of employees, and real data from the field to support the change, whoever is managing change can make the adjustments necessary to maintain momentum and drive results.

See How Not to Implement Change in Organizations: 20 Ways

The Future State is where this phase is trying to get to and can often shift while employees are trudging through the transition state. The main focus here is reiterating that the future is far better than the current state.

See 5 Characteristics of a Change Agent

4. Change Maintenance

This phase ensures that change remains a priority. This is where the reinforcement and maintenance of change happen until it is measured, declared successful, transferred and embedded. Once an organization sees that change is happening as planned, this phase ensures its maintenance.

Here, change is evaluated through the following questions:

  • What went well in initiating, managing and transferring the change initiative to the owners of change?
  • What could have been done better and why?
  • What else should have been done so that future change initiatives are quicker and far more successful?
  • How do we maintain momentum until the change is fully embedded in the organization?

This phase is where lessons learned are captured to understand what might be done on future change initiatives to ensure they are more successful. When change initiatives are successful, people are more apt to adapt to change more quickly in the future. They are confident in the change process in the organization overall.

Via the answers to the questions above, an organization then develops a plan to maintain the change. They also plan to evaluate the change regularly; they monitor and continue to strengthen change. This might be on a 3 or 6-month basis. However, as with any process within an organization, regular evaluation is essential to ensure the process still meets the organisation’s needs.

See How to Sustain Change in a Large Organization

Now that you have explored the 4 critical components of successful change implementation in organizations, what else can you add? Leave your comments below.


Catherine Adenle
Founder, Catherine's Career Corner. The career site empowering and inspiring ambitious candidates of all ages and professions to thrive and work smarter on their careers. Gladly helping all career-minded people worldwide to explore their career, manage change and understand how new technologies are changing and enhancing the future of work.
Catherine Adenle
Catherine Adenle

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9 thoughts on “Successful Change Implementation in Organizations: 4 Components

  1. This is a great article on the components of change. I like how each component is explained. Indeed, no organization can successfully execute change without these components.

  2. This is a well-rendered Infographic! I love the article too. In fact, I’ve read all your change articles for my MBA program. They are great. Keep up the great work.

  3. This post was really informative and insightful. It touched upon real organisational issues encountered while executing change, resistance to change,

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