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5 methods for successful change management

Frank Schirmer
Frank Schirmer
The business environment is constantly changing, and companies must continuously adapt to new conditions in order to remain competitive. Change management is the decisive key to successfully implementing change and ensuring employee acceptance. In this blog post, we present five proven methods for successful change management. With these methods, you can effectively plan, implement, and control change to steer your organization on the path to success. Explore the many approaches and find out which method best suits your individual needs. Learn how to approach change with confidence and strategic direction to achieve positive results. Let's dive into the world of change management and discover the five methods that can lead your company to success.

What is change management?

Change management is a critical process that helps organizations effectively plan, implement and control change. It refers to the systematic approach to change in an organization to ensure that it is successful and smooth.

Change management encompasses several aspects, including identifying the need for change, developing a clear vision, communicating and engaging employees, training and developing skills, implementing actions, and evaluating change.

The purpose of change management is to minimize the impact of change on the organization, employees, and other stakeholders and to promote acceptance of and commitment to change. It’s not just about considering the technical or structural aspect of change, but also the human and organizational aspects that come with change.

Successful change management enables companies to manage change efficiently and achieve the desired goals. It includes the analysis and planning of the change, the development of strategies and measures to overcome resistance, the support and training of employees, and the ongoing evaluation and adaptation of the change process.

Change management is not a one-time process, but a continuous approach that adapts to changing requirements and conditions. It requires clear leadership, open communication, employee involvement and a willingness to respond to challenges and feedback.

By using change management in a targeted way, companies can successfully manage change, increase employee motivation, improve innovation and maintain their competitiveness. It enables them to adapt to ever-changing circumstances and seize opportunities to achieve long-term success.

Method 1. Kotter’s 8-step model

Kotter’s 8-step model is a proven change management method developed by Professor John P. Kotter. It is used to successfully plan and implement changes in companies. The model includes eight sequential steps designed to structure the change process and ensure that change is long-term and sustainable. Here are the main contents of the model:

  • Create urgency:

This first stage is about creating an awareness among employees of the urgency of change. Reasons and challenges that make the change necessary should be clearly communicated.

  • Form leadership coalition:

A group of leaders and key individuals will be assembled to drive and support the change. This coalition is responsible for implementing the change and serves as a role model for other employees.

  • Develop vision and strategy:

In this phase, a clear vision and strategy for change is developed. The vision describes the desired goal and the strategy defines the way in which this goal is to be achieved. Clear communication of the vision is critical to motivating employees and gaining their commitment.

  • Communication of the vision:

The vision and strategy are now widely communicated throughout the organization. It is important to involve employees, answer their questions, and gain their understanding and buy-in to the change. Communication should be continuous and through various channels.

  • Remove obstacles:

This phase identifies obstacles and barriers that may impede the progress of the change. These obstacles must be actively addressed and removed to drive the change process.

  • Achieve short-term success:

It is important to achieve some quick wins early on to maintain employee confidence and motivation. By achieving interim goals, the positive effects of the change become visible and employee acceptance is strengthened.

  • Continue to drive change that has been won:

After achieving initial successes, there must be no slackness. The changes gained must be further expanded and consolidated. It is about establishing the change as part of the corporate culture and ensuring that the new practices are also lived in the long term.

  • Anchoring change in the corporate culture:

In the final stage, the change is anchored in the corporate culture. It is about integrating the new approaches, values and behaviors into daily work. Change becomes part of the company’s everyday life and the basis for future developments.

Kotter’s 8-stage model provides a structured and comprehensive approach to change management. By consistently moving through each stage, successful organizational change can be achieved.

The model emphasizes the importance of a clear vision and strategy, a strong leadership coalition, and open communication. It also recognizes the need to remove barriers and achieve early successes to maintain employee engagement and support.

In addition, the model emphasizes the importance of anchoring change in the corporate culture over the long term. This is crucial to ensure that the changes are sustainable and also guide future developments in the desired direction.

Kotter’s 8-step model provides organizations with a proven and structured method to successfully implement change. By breaking down the change process into clearly defined steps, they can better meet the challenges of change management and maximize the opportunities for successful change.

However, it is important to note that every business and every change is unique. Therefore, the model should be adapted to the specific needs and circumstances. The flexibility and adaptability of the model allows companies to tailor it to their individual challenges and goals.

By using Kotter’s 8-step model to guide their change management, companies can structure the change process, gain employee support, and maximize their chances of success. It provides a comprehensive method for effectively planning, implementing and embedding change for the long term.

Method 2. the ADKAR model:

The ADKAR model is a change management method developed to understand and guide the individual change process of employees. ADKAR stands for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement. The model focuses on the personal aspects of change and how people can accept and successfully implement change.

Each letter in the ADKAR model represents an important step in the individual change process:


This phase is about making employees aware that change is coming and why it is necessary. To create an understanding of the reason for the change so that the need and importance can be recognized.


After creating awareness of the change, employees must develop a desire to support the change. You must recognize the benefits and opportunities of change and be personally motivated to embrace it.


This phase is about providing employees with the knowledge they need to implement the change. It involves providing information, training, and resources to ensure that employees have the skills and knowledge to successfully implement the change.


Once employees have the knowledge of the change, they must be able to put what they have learned into practice. It’s about providing the necessary skills, resources and support to ensure employees can successfully implement the change.


This final phase of the ADKAR model is about reinforcing the change and making sure it sticks around for the long term. It involves recognizing and rewarding progress, creating a supportive environment, and sustaining change as part of the company culture.

The ADKAR model helps companies to understand and manage the individual change process of employees. By focusing on the personal aspects of change, it enables targeted employee support and development to achieve successful change.

It is important to note that the ADKAR model should be viewed not only as a linear sequence, but also as an iterative loop. Employees may go through different stages during the change process and it may be necessary to provide ongoing support and reinforcement.

The ADKAR model offers a structured approach to promote and accompany the individual change process of employees. By taking into account individual motivation, knowledge and skills, the ADKAR model can help to increase the success of change projects.

The model focuses on the personal level of change and supports employees in overcoming their resistance and actively participating in the implementation of change. It allows for targeted communication and training to build the understanding, desire and skills for change.

By applying the ADKAR model, companies can develop an individual roadmap for each employee and take targeted actions to successfully support the change. It enables challenges to be addressed on a personal level and employees to be guided through the change process.

The ADKAR model can be used in large change projects as well as in smaller changes or individual development processes. It provides a structured approach to overcome individual resistance, promote acceptance, and increase the chances of change success.

By integrating the ADKAR model into their change management, companies can ensure that employees understand, support, and actively participate in the change. It creates a solid foundation for a successful change process and helps to achieve the desired results.

Method 3. Lewin’s 3-step model

Lewin’s 3-Stage Model is a fundamental concept of change management developed by psychologist Kurt Lewin. It describes the process of change and breaks it down into three successive phases: Unfreeze, Change, and Refreeze.


This phase is about challenging the status quo and creating readiness for change. It is about breaking down existing thought patterns, habits and structures and motivating employees to embrace change. This can be achieved by creating a sense of urgency, demonstrating reasons for change, and breaking down resistance.


After the “frozen” state has been thawed, the actual change phase follows. In this phase, new ideas, behaviors, processes or structures are introduced and implemented. It is about implementing the desired changes and involving employees in the change process. Communication, training, support and clear goals are important elements of this phase.


This final phase of the model is about stabilizing the changes and integrating them into the company’s day-to-day operations. The new behaviors, processes or structures become the norm and part of the corporate culture. Care is taken to ensure that the changes are sustainable and do not revert to the old state. This can be done by adapting policies, incentive systems and establishing new routines and habits.

Lewin’s 3-stage model emphasizes the importance of change as a process and places emphasis on the psychological aspects of change. It takes into account the need to overcome old thought patterns and habits, to establish new behaviors, and to anchor change permanently in the organization.

The model is often used as a simple and descriptive concept to understand and plan change processes. It provides a clear structure and supports companies in effectively managing change, overcoming resistance and ensuring the success of the change.

Method 4. agile change management

Agile change management is a modern method of change management based on the principles of agile working methods. It combines the flexibility and adaptability of agile methods with the proven principles of change management to effectively implement change processes.

In agile change management, the focus is on continuous adaptation and collaboration. Instead of viewing the change process as a rigid and predefined sequence of steps, it is understood as an iterative and learning process.

The core principles of agile change management include:

Iterative approach: The change process is divided into small, manageable steps that are completed in short iterations. This means that adjustments can be made quickly and feedback can be reacted to.

Stakeholder involvement: Employees and other stakeholders are involved in the change process at an early stage and are actively involved in shaping it. Your perspectives, ideas and feedback are taken into account to promote a high level of acceptance and collaboration.

Open communication and transparency: transparent and open communication is critical to share information about the change process, answer questions, and address concerns. Regular meetings and feedback loops allow information to be shared and misunderstandings to be clarified.

Responding flexibly to change: Agile change management recognizes that requirements and conditions may change during the change process. It enables flexible adjustment of goals, strategies and measures to respond to new insights or circumstances.

Learning and improving: Continuous learning and improvement of the change process is the focus. Through regular reflection and evaluation, insights are gained to continuously optimize the change process and achieve the best possible results.

Agile change management is particularly suitable for complex and dynamic changes that require a high level of adaptability and collaboration. It enables companies to implement change processes faster and more efficiently while addressing the needs and challenges of stakeholders.

By integrating agile principles into their change management, companies can manage change more flexibly and effectively. It creates a culture of change and promotes organizational innovation and resilience.

Method 5. Appreciative Inquiry

Appreciative Inquiry is a change management method that focuses on the strengths and positive aspects of an organization. Instead of analyzing problems and deficits, Appreciative Inquiry focuses on identifying and strengthening positive experiences, resources and potential.

This method is based on the assumption that an organization can achieve positive change by building on existing strengths and successes. Appreciative Inquiry assumes that a constructive and solution-oriented approach to change leads to sustainable results.

The Appreciative Inquiry process typically includes the following steps:

Definition of the topic: The topic or problem to be worked on is clearly defined. It may be an area where positive change is sought.

Discovery: In this phase, positive experiences, strengths, and successes are identified and explored. It is about identifying the resources, competencies and potentials that can contribute to solving the issue.

Dream: In this phase, visions and goals for the desired change are developed. It’s about creating an inspiring and motivating vision of the future and sharing it together.

Design (shaping): Here, concrete measures and strategies are developed to implement the visions and goals. Ways and steps are defined on how to use the positive aspects to achieve the desired change.

Destiny: In this final phase, the change is implemented and continuously monitored and evaluated. It is about reflecting, recognizing and further developing the achieved results in order to establish a sustainable and positive change in the organization.

Appreciative Inquiry is characterized by a collaborative and participatory approach. It is often used in teams or groups to develop common goals and visions and to strengthen collaboration.

This method can help create a positive and solution-oriented culture of change in an organization. It promotes employee engagement and motivation by valuing and incorporating their strengths and contributions. Appreciative Inquiry enables organizations to approach change in a positive and constructive way and to realize the full potential of their organization.

Tips for a smooth transformation

No matter which method you use, the success of a change stands and falls with effective change management. The following tips will help ensure a smooth transformation in your organization.

Develop a clear plan:

A structured plan is the key to successful change management. Define clear goals, timeframe, and resources needed to implement the change. Also consider potential risks and obstacles and develop strategies to address them.

Use communication as a central factor:

Open and transparent communication is essential to involve employees in the change process and gain their acceptance. Inform your team about the upcoming change early on, explain the reasons and benefits, and answer questions and concerns. Regular updates throughout the process keep employees informed and engaged.

Emphasize the role of leaders:

Leaders play a critical role in change management. They must communicate the vision and purpose of the change and act as role models. Actively support your employees, provide training and resources, and take feedback seriously. By actively driving the change process, you can increase employee motivation and ensure the success of the transformation.

Addressing resistance to change:

It is normal to encounter resistance during a change process. Identify the reasons for resistance and take them seriously. Take time to listen and respond to concerns and look for solutions that address employee needs and fears. Through clear communication, training and support, you can minimize resistance and get employees ready for change.


In this blog post, five proven methods for successful change management were presented: Kotter’s 8-step model, the ADKAR model, Lewin’s 3-step model, agile change management, and Appreciative Inquiry. Each of these methods provides a structured approach to effectively plan, implement, and control change in organizations.

Kotter’s 8-step model emphasizes the importance of a clear vision, a strong leadership coalition, and open communication to successfully implement and sustain change.

The ADKAR model focuses on the individual employee’s change process and provides targeted support to build awareness, desire, knowledge, skills and reinforcement for change.

Lewin’s 3-step model provides a simple and clear method to analyze, plan and implement change in organizations. It includes the Unfreeze, Change, and Refreeze steps to ensure a successful change process.

Agile change management is based on the principles of agile methods and enables a flexible and iterative approach to change. It emphasizes collaboration, adaptability and continuous improvement to respond quickly to change and achieve positive results.

Appreciative Inquiry focuses on identifying and reinforcing the positive aspects of an organization in order to initiate change. It emphasizes appreciation, understanding, and the collective search for solutions to foster a positive culture of change.

Each of these methods has its own advantages and can be applied depending on the individual needs and challenges of the company. It is important to adapt the methods to the specific circumstances and to be flexible.

Successful change management is critical to successfully implementing change in organizations. It requires careful planning, clear communication, employee involvement and a willingness to address challenges.

By adopting and adapting proven change management practices, organizations can effectively manage change, increase employee motivation, and set their company on the path to success. Change management is a continuous process that enables companies to adapt to new circumstances and achieve long-term success.


Passende Kurse von AcadaMe

Empathy in the change process

In this online course by AcadaMe, participants learn how to act professionally in change management and how to deal with agitated emotions. Although change management is no longer a foreign word these days, heated discussions often arise in which emotions boil up. In such situations, it is important to appear professional, empathize with others and listen actively. These are just a few of the essential building blocks of empathy to put minds at ease and move forward productively with a positive attitude.

This course will provide participants with the knowledge and skills necessary to use empathy in change management. They learn how to react calmly and professionally in emotionally charged situations. In addition, they are provided with techniques to actively listen and take the perspective of others.

The course includes practical exercises and case studies to directly apply what has been learned. Participants are empowered to resolve conflicts, smooth the waters and create a positive working atmosphere in change management.

Upon completion of the course, participants will be able to perform with empathy in change management, deal productively with emotions, and move forward constructively with a positive attitude.

Successful Mindset

In this online course from AcadaMe, participants learn how to act under ever-increasing pressure in leadership positions and as employees. It is increasingly important that all participants take “personal responsibility” and act as role models for Visionary Leadership. This creates a trusting cooperation of all to achieve the set goals.

This course will provide participants with the skills and strategies necessary to take personal responsibility and act as role models for Visionary Leadership. They learn how to strengthen their own sense of responsibility, set clear goals and motivate others to do their best.

The course offers practical exercises and case studies to directly apply what has been learned. Participants will be empowered to build trusting collaborations and work with their team to effectively achieve the goals they set.

Upon completion of the course, participants will be able to take personal responsibility, act as role models for Visionary Leadership, and foster trusting collaboration to successfully achieve set goals.

Appreciative communication in the change process

In this online course from AcadaMe, participants learn how to make change processes more efficient and effective by using recognition and constructive feedback. Studies show that employees who are treated appreciatively are willing to take on more responsibility and complete complex tasks to a high standard of quality.

This course will provide participants with the knowledge and skills necessary to foster a culture of recognition and provide constructive feedback. They learn how to recognize, appreciate and appropriately reward the performance of their employees. They are also provided with techniques to provide feedback in a constructive and supportive manner to increase employee motivation and engagement.

The course includes practical exercises and case studies to directly apply what has been learned. After completing the course, participants will be able to successfully accompany change processes by making targeted use of recognition and constructive feedback. This enables them to increase the performance and commitment of their employees and achieve the goals they have set more efficiently.

Change Management 2: Successfully Shaping Change

In this online course from AcadaMe, participants learn how to respond to rapidly changing market and customer demands within organizations. Change and constant transformation are the answer to these challenges. If it is possible to deal appropriately with the emerging emotions at an early stage, changes can be perceived positively by navigators and used as an opportunity.

This course will provide participants with strategies to proactively plan and manage change. A particular focus is on achieving acceptance among employees and colleagues.

Participants learn how to communicate change professionally and sensitively to promote understanding and readiness for change within the team. They are also given methods and tools to recognize and manage the emotional side of change.

This course includes hands-on exercises and case studies that allow participants to directly apply what they have learned. After completing the course, participants will be able to actively shape change, gain acceptance from their employees and colleagues, and use change as an opportunity.

Change Management 3: Coaching in the change process

In this online course from AcadaMe, participants learn how to continuously develop and challenge their employees to meet rising expectations and changing objectives. To achieve optimized results, it is crucial to offer employees coaching based on trust, especially in change situations.

This course will provide participants with the skills necessary to conduct targeted coaching and develop the strengths of their employees. They learn how to create individual development plans, use effective communication techniques, and support employees in challenging situations.

The course offers practical exercises and case studies to directly apply what has been learned. Participants are empowered to create a nurturing and supportive work environment in which employees’ potential can be optimally leveraged.

Upon completion of the course, participants will be able to coach their employees in a targeted manner, develop their strengths and achieve improved results.

Change Management 1: Change as an opportunity

In this online course from AcadaMe, participants learn how to manage change in their everyday work. Change is an integral part of professional life. While some people long for change and are open to new things, others feel resistance, fear or anger.

The challenge in change management is to deal with these emotions and to shape change as an opportunity for everyone. In this course, participants will learn techniques and strategies to develop a positive approach to change.

They learn how to recognize and regulate their own emotions in relation to change. They are also provided with methods to support and motivate their colleagues in change processes.

This course provides hands-on exercises and case studies to directly apply what you learn. Upon completion of the course, participants will be able to recognize change as an opportunity, deal with it effectively, and work with their team to bring about positive change.

Über den Autor

Frank Schirmer ist nicht nur Geschäftsführer von AcadaMe sondern auch Trainer und Berater mit dem Fokus auf Führungskräfteentwicklung, Teamentwicklung, Vertrieb, Service und Qualitätsmanagement. Seit über 25 Jahren unterstützt er Fortune 500 Unternehmen bei der Konzeption, Implementierung und Evaluation von Schulungsmaßnahmen. Frank Schirmer ist Autor des Buches “Return on Investment in der Personalentwicklung” und hat verschiedene Artikel in “managerSeminare” und “Wirtschaft und Weiterbildung” veröffentlicht.