Charles Darwin described a system in nature where the species that best adapt to new surroundings have the highest probability of survival.
It turns out that the theory of evolution holds true for modern organizations, too. Where would Amazon be if it didn't evolve from selling books to selling, well, everything?
The difference is that organizational change doesn't just happen by natural selection. It takes an intentional plan to guide a team from one way of doing things to another.
That's where change management models come in.
Change management models are methodologies developed by business leaders and sociologists that help guide teams through organizational shifts and transformations. They’re like roadmaps with signposts and waypoints leaders can use to plan and check progress.
But organizational changes don’t all happen on the same scale. Some are complete paradigm transformations, and others are incremental improvements. So change models can’t be one-size-fits-all either.
In this guide, we’ve mapped six of the most popular types of change management models to three types of organizational change. With the right change management strategy, your organization will evolve in the most efficient way possible and become the fittest to survive.
Developmental change is an incremental improvement to a preexisting process or procedure. It’s sometimes called adaptive change and is the type of transition teams will see most frequently.
Amazon’s anticipatory shopping model is an excellent example of a developmental change initiative. The online marketplace giant built algorithms into their stock prediction model that guess when you’re likely to order a product. They then make sure to keep stock located as close to you as possible so that when you order it’s magically at your door in three hours.
Adding those algorithms did alter how Amazon managed stock. But it didn’t significantly disrupt the organization, cause large cultural shifts, or put any major systems at risk of failure. So it also didn’t meet with a lot of internal resistance—all characteristics of a developmental change.
Developmental change management models
Frequent, low-risk, low-resistance changes call for organizational change management models that focus on continuous improvement and tactical guidance. A common use case is implementing new technologies that improve, rather than disrupt, workflow.
Kotter 8-Step Process
This model, created by Harvard University Professor John Kotter, pairs well with developmental changes because it works by promoting short-term wins and following up to make sure a single change “sticks.”
The linear design of the framework moves users through eight intentional steps designed to get buy-in quickly and complete the change process.