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4 Strategies of Change Management

Editor's Note: If you are interested in becoming an expert on Change Management, take a look at Flevy's Change Management Frameworks offering here. This is a curated collection of best practice frameworks based on the thought leadership of leading consulting firms, academics, and recognized subject matter experts. By learning and applying these concepts, you can you stay ahead of the curve. Full details here.

Featured Best Practice on Change Management

3-page PDF document
Change Management is the process of preparing and supporting individuals, teams, and organizations to make significant changes that will ultimately improve business performance. The Change Management process comprises four main phases: analyzing the current situation, planning and launching the [read more]

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Almost every organization has to go through the process of radical change at some point in its lifetime to survive and to remain relevant, because the business environment is constantly changing and evolving.

Change Management, also referred to as Organizational Change or Organizational Change Management, is the process of implementing new policies, processes, or structures within an organization.

Organizational Change Management is the process of keeping this Change under control so as to achieve the desired business objectives.  Change Management is often needed as a consequence of changes in the business environment, such as movements in market demand, new technologies, changes in leadership or management, shifts in customer preferences, alterations in regulations, and a host of other factors.

Managing Change is crucial, since it assists the organizations in adapting to varying conditions.  Thus, it enables organizations to remain competitive as well as responsive to the requirements of their customers, key stakeholders, and the market environment in general.

The study of Change Management has an extensive history, dating back to the 1960s.  Along the way, several experts have presented their Change Management Strategies.  These Strategies vary based on different underlying assumptions and selection factors.

Change Management Strategies can be categorized into 4 general buckets as follows:

  1. Empirical-Rational.
  2. Normative-Re educative.
  3. Power-Coercive.
  4. Environmental-Adaptive.

Of these 4 Change Strategies, the first 3 are abridged versions of standard approaches used in Change Management, from the work of Kenneth Benne and Robert Chin.  The last Change Strategy—i.e., Environmental-Adaptive—is pioneered by Fred Nickols.

Let us delve a little more deeply into some details of these strategies. 


The basic supposition for this Strategy is that people are logical creatures and will look after their own interests when they are shown to them.  Effective Change, in this approach, relies on effective communication of information and the offering of incentives.


The basic supposition for this Strategy is that people are social individuals and will follow social customs and values.  Effective Change, in this Strategy, hinges on defining and decoding prevailing customs and values anew and developing commitments to them.


The basic supposition for this Change Strategy is that people are fundamentally acquiescent and will usually act on what is asked of them or can be made to do so.  As per this strategy, successful Change is based on the exertion of authority and the application of sanctions. 


The basic supposition for this Strategy is that although people reject loss and interruption, they adapt to changing conditions.  The approach to Change here is to build a fresh organization and progressively relocate employees from the old to the new.

Interested in learning more about 4 Strategies of Change Management?  You can download an editable PowerPoint presentation on 4 Strategies of Change Management here on the Flevy documents marketplace.

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586-slide PowerPoint presentation
This "new and improved" A Comprehensive Guide to Change Management,, which replaces my previous "best seller" of the same name, contains everything (well nearly everything) you would ever want to know about Change Management. This slide-deck now contains over 580 slides [read more]

Want to Achieve Excellence in Change Management?

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"The only constant in life is change." – Heraclitus

Such is true for life, as it is for business. The entire ecosystem our organization operates in—our customers, competitors, suppliers, partners, the company itself, etc.—is constantly changing and evolving. Change can be driven by emerging technology, regulation, leadership change, crisis, changing consumer behavior, new business entrants, M&A activity, organizational restructuring, and so forth.

Thus, the understanding of, dealing with, and mastery of the Change Management process is one of the most critical capabilities for our organization to develop. Excellence in Change Management should be viewed as a source of Competitive Advantage.

Learn about our Change Management Best Practice Frameworks here.

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Change is the only constant in the work environment today. However, a McKinsey study revealed that 70% of change programs fail, most often due to resistance from employees. For change to be successful, it has to be effectively managed. To achieve this, it is essential that the human side of change [read more]

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About Mark Bridges

Mark Bridges is a Senior Director of Strategy at Flevy. Flevy is your go-to resource for best practices in business management, covering management topics from Strategic Planning to Operational Excellence to Digital Transformation (view full list here). Learn how the Fortune 100 and global consulting firms do it. Improve the growth and efficiency of your organization by leveraging Flevy's library of best practice methodologies and templates. Prior to Flevy, Mark worked as an Associate at McKinsey & Co. and holds an MBA from the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago. You can connect with Mark on LinkedIn here.

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