Knowing organizational change management definition is essential for fostering a culture of adaptability, improving change success rates, and ensuring the long-term success and sustainability of an organization in a dynamic business environment.

Organizational Change Management Definition

Organizational Change Management (OCM) refers to a structured approach used by organizations to plan, implement, and manage the process of transitioning individuals, teams, and the entire organization from a current state to a desired future state.

It involves systematic strategies, methods, and tools to help individuals and groups within the organization accept and adapt to changes in their working environment, processes, culture, or technology.

Change can be a transition or transformation of an organization’s goal, process or technologies.

Therefore, the organizational change management definition helps us to understand that OCM guides smooth transition or transformation towards change and help human resource to adapt to change.

Why do organizations need Change?

The need for change in an organization is usually created by external and internal factors. Organizations has to respond to external factors such as economic situation, business environment, labour laws and markets condition etc.

Sometimes internal factors are the drivers of change such as performance of human resources, improvement in profitability, responding to customer demands.

Four Models of Change Management

Academia and practitioners usually refer to following four models of change management.

Kotter’s 8 Steps Change Model

Kotter’s introduced 08 steps in order to implement effective change management. His model is more people’s centric and deals with how to manage employees to have a successful change.  


Jeffrey Hiatt created this model. ADKAR is acronym of Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement. This model also helps employees guide through the process of change management.

Kubler-Ross Change Curve

Kubler-Ross presented 05 stages change curve. Its focus is on how people react to change. The stages include: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Lewin’s Change Management Model

Kurt Lewin gave his model of change management from organizational perspective. It divides process of change management into 03 stages: unfreeze, change and refreeze.

Key Principles of Organizational Change Management

Communicate rationale of change

The first step to change management is to communicate reason of change and make entire team on the same page. It is always better to demonstrate your case with facts and data. Good leaders are capable of making their team visualize change and what actually it will take to implement change.

Start at the top

Change comes from the top. If leaders are convinced and accept the change and agree to take new direction. Then it is easy for team to follow the leaders. If leaders speak about the change with passion and with clarity of thoughts and vision, then every one will follow the path.

Involve everyone

When leaders are convinced about change, it is then duty of leaders to make sure that everyone knows the broader change that is happening and his/her role in that process. Organizations usually prepare structured plans for each member of team to have clear understanding on purpose of change and role and responsibilities of everyone.


Transition is never an easy job so its ownership should be assigned to someone. Organizations might have one overall owner of change management and also have many individuals who are responsible to take care of their concerned steps or actions in the process of change.  

Analyze minor changes

The intended change takes time to achieve. However, minor changes at every step start happening in the beginning and these are like stepping stones for bigger change. All these minor changes are important and can’t be ignored; as these provide the basis for improvement and track the progress on transition.

Preparation for unexpected

It is not necessary that all the plans and efforts toward change produce favourable results. In the process of change, organizations should be prepared for unexpected changes. Nothing is perfect in this process so organizations must have flexibility to manage these unexpected changes and analyse reasons for these unexpected results.

Examples of Change Management


Coca-Cola as a company has a history of successfully embracing change rather than resisting it. Consumers’ preferences and tastes change every day. Some decades ago, company faced situation when competitors were introducing new beverages. The sales of Coke went down and company faced loss.

In response to this situation, Diet Coke and other products were introduced as people were becoming health conscious and willing to invest on health based products. Coca-Cola regained its market and it happened because change management strategy was effective and successfully responded to varying consumer tastes and expectations.

British Airways

British Airways is one of classic example in the literature of change management. The airline was failing on many counts in early 80s. It had bad reputation in terms of services and was generally considered as white elephant in the UK.

British Airways brought on board a new chairperson. He made drastic changes in the human resource structures and managed the losses by making entire structure more efficient. Within a few years, British Airways established itself as one of finest and profitable airlines of the world.

Challenges to Organizational Change Management

There is always opposition to change because it shakes the comfort zone of everyone from top leader to junior in an organization. Following are the four challenges and obstacles along the way of change management.


Teams naturally resist change. They feel threatened from acquiring new skills, taking up new roles and responsibilities. This resistance is major obstacle in the way of change management. This can be managed by offering more trainings and communicating assurance and advantages of change.


Conflicts are bound to be happened in the course of change. When things are not working right, then team usually throw frustrations and get into conflicts with each other. This is the real test of leadership to manage those conflicts during the journey of change. 


Setbacks are also inevitable. Things can go in different directions and unintended problems may surface at different steps of change. The possibility of having setbacks can be reduced by preparing for unexpected and back-up plans to address these setbacks. 

Lack of Communication

One of most common challenge for team members is lack of clarity and understanding about the intended change. Rumors and uncertainty can spoil and disrupt the whole process of change. A specific communication strategy for change management should be in place to address this challenge. 

Final Thoughts

Organizational Change Management is modern concept within the realm of organizational management. The simple definition of change management is that it deals with explaining why change happen, how change is managed, what are the push factors behind the change. Many of theorists and practitioners came up with their models, theories and explanations and hence it has become a specialized discipline of management sciences. Change is bound to be happened and if it not properly and timely managed, it leads to disastrous consequences for organizations. And that is why change management is highly relevant and important than ever before as it provides specialized knowledge to go through the process of change.