Online store now open! visit store

Define Change Management

Can we define change management in a way that helps to understand how to manage change? We hope to try and do so with this article. At the outset though it is worth remembering a key point. Whilst a whole industry has developed to promote ever more complex models for change management, we could think of change as Charles Handy put it:

“Change, after all, is only another word for growth, another synonym for learning, we can all do it, if we want to.”

Change may seem complex but often there is much that is natural about change too. After all, nothing stays the same!

So, what is change management? For a better understanding it helps to first think about change itself. It has been said that whilst change might be constant it is not necessarily the same.

Change may be here to stay but there are different types of change that may well require different approaches to managing them.

So take a minute to read this article and then think about how the way you define change management might help you to improve how you manage change.

With that in mind, UK Academic Andrew Pettigrew argues that to understand change you need to understand “the process of change in context.” He proposes that change is perhaps best thought of in terms of three aspects:

  • Context – the environment in which it is happening.
  • Content – what the change is.
  • Process – the way the change is being implemented.

It is also useful to add two other factors:

  • Change is difficult and complex and can often be uncertain so there is a real need to bring people with you. It’s important to make sense of the context together, whilst developing clarity in terms of the need for change (its purpose).People and
  • Purpose

How to define change management

So, to help define change management in a way that helps determine how you can manage change, it’s important to understand:

Define Change Management

  • Context – the environment in which change is taking place
  • Content – what the change actually is
  • Process – the activities and approaches being applied to manage change relevant to the context and content
  • People – their view on change, their ideas and commitment
  • Purpose – clear reason of why the change is taking place, to help realise the benefits of change management.

Therefore we suggest defining change management as:

Adopting processes for managing change that are appropriate to the nature, characteristics and context of the change being managed, that take people with you and are focused on achieving successful outcomes.

Making change management easier!

This is one of the articles and tips in our managing change series. For some practical tips on how to manage change, look at our great-value guides (below). These include some excellent tools to help you change yourself, and manage change at work.

The best way to use these is to buy our Managing Change bundle, available from the store. We’ve bundled together five e-guides, available at half the normal price!

Read the guides in this order and use the tools in each. Then change it – on time, in budget!

5 guides, 136 pages, 25 tools, for half price!


Where to go from here:


Read more like this:

Change Management Definition

The Cosmetic Approach! If you’re looking for a straightforward change management definition, have a look at our series of change management articles. These contain traditional ways to define... read more

Change Management Model

A Strength-Based Approach to Change Imagine a change management model which starts by affirming what is right in an organisation. Intuitively we sense that, as with individuals, organisational... read more

Read previous post:
Fun at work matters!

Encouraging fun at work can yield real benefits in the workplace, according to Adrian Gostick and Scott Christopher. They write...