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Organizational Change Management in 2023 and Beyond: Types of Change and How to Manage Them

How many different types of organizational change are there? Like the viral phenomenon, “the dress,” where people around the globe reported seeing a blue and black or white and gold dress — it depends on who you ask. 

In fact, according to our most recent LinkedIn poll, members of the change management community are divided on how many types of organizational change exist:  

  • 50% of respondents voted that there are more than seven 
  • 24% voted for four 
  • 16% voted for five 
  • 11% voted for six 

ChatGPT typically lands on seven, with other blogs reporting anywhere from five to 12.  

By employing an organizational change strategy, you can catalyze your organization’s evolution while minimizing disruption. It’s important to note that these types of organizational change are not mutually exclusive, and different organizations may employ a combination of approaches based on their specific needs and circumstances.  That said, in our opinion, there really are three categories of change:  People, Process and Technology.  

Types of Organizational Change 

Regardless of where you stand on the total number of organizational change management (OCM) types, here are a few of the common examples of organizational change and how to manage them.  

Organization-wide change 

Organization-wide change is any change that impacts an entire organization. It ranges from things like restructuring leadership and implementing new policies to introducing cutting-edge enterprise technology.   

To achieve a successful organization-wide change, it’s crucial to make a comprehensive plan and communicate effectively across all levels. The outcome, whether positive or negative, hinges on the strategies and execution of the change initiatives.  

Transformational change 

Transformational change is a type of organizational change that completely reshapes your organization, reshapes a company’s way of working, or reshapes how people view the way they work. According to most experts, transformational change occurs in response to, or anticipation of, significant changes in an organization’s environment or technology. Moving to “digital” is a great example of transformation.   

Transformational change is generally a large investment. When crafting strategies to drive transformational change, leaders must consider both the current culture and the culture an organization is trying to create. Additionally, leaders must carefully consider various factors, including cultural trends, social climate, and technological advancements. 

Personnel change  

Personnel changes occur when a company undergoes rapid expansion or downsizing; both of which can have a profound impact on employee engagement and retention.  

Layoffs pose a threat that naturally triggers fear and anxiety among staff members, resulting in a potential decline in employee morale. It is essential for leaders to demonstrate authentic compassion and inspire employees to persevere even during tough times. By showing genuine care and motivating their workforce, leaders can encourage employees to stay committed and maintain their dedication amidst adversity. 

Unplanned change  

Unplanned change usually refers to the management strategies implemented in response to unforeseen events. Although unforeseen changes cannot be predicted, organizations can still handle them in an organized and systematic way. 

COVID-19 is an extremely relevant example of such change. Companies that made plans, shifted to remote work, communicated, and showed integrity during times of uncertainty had a positive influence on employees’ perception of company culture.  

Remedial change 

When leaders recognize deficiencies or underperformance within their company, they implement curative changes. These corrective actions can involve re-evaluating long-standing strategies that are no longer profitable. They may also address problems arising from leadership, such as a newly appointed CEO who proves to be incompatible with the organization.  

Each situation requires a tailored approach to effectively address the issue at hand. But even remedial changes demand effective organizational change strategies to achieve the desired outcomes. It’s crucial to approach these changes with a thoughtful and well-executed plan. 

Again, each of the change examples above are related to one or more of these categories:  People, Process, and/or Technology. Even with the best intentions, attempting to enact any change within an organization without effective change management may be impossible.  

Regardless of how many types of OCM you believe there are or what labels you may choose to use to describe your organization’s changes, Judge can help you navigate your specific change needs. We call ourselves methodologically flexible because we tailor our approach to fit your needs, whether they are approaching large-scale transformational change, lowering costs, meeting company objectives, or simply staying on schedule.  

Learn more about our organizational change management capabilities, or connect with our team to discuss your needs.