Change Management 5 Layers


These layers don’t stack, they are not a hierarchy, they are horizontals of focus that should be happening within change initiatives. I personally address all of these early on with clients. Change will suffer without those conversations.


Not the kind of  “ownership” that is marketed with most approaches. That kind of ownership is more about getting people to lead when they will likely choose otherwise. The kind of ownership I am talking about is at the top- the person who can spend the money. This layer takes a lot of explanation. Ideally that starts with the true owner. Often though it begins with implementary or organic leaders.

Those dialogues are just as powerful.

Helping people to understand the significance of the owner, of the owners visibility, of the way the owner will empower and honor expertise can make a big difference in how the change process plays out. In a way, this understanding helps stakeholders to push some of the buttons that need pushing to get both the change reeled in and to have regular operations move smoother.


Change Management Horizontals addressed the need for translation. Translation is taking ideas and turning them into work. Translation is converting vision to objective to goal to task/work. Organizations should be doing this already with their strategy to implementation process, but they aren’t.

So a layer within change is teaching how to make these translations so they make sense at the level of translation (that may mean type or spot in the organizational hierarchy).


This may be THE area that causes change to fail.

Organizations are terrible at prioritization. And executives are typically late with the decisions needed to prioritize (they react to “scale-up” urgency).

This HAS to be addressed. I can look back at some of my own as a junior consultant engagements and see how tackling this layer would have made a difference.

When you ask this stakeholder to do something are you taking something else off their plate? Do they see where this effort lies compared to other projects, programs and initiatives floating around the company? Are the executives (especially the owner) able to white board prioritization (in something more definitive than pillars or “focuses for the year” or some measure of the things that bring in quick revenue)?

Work has to be prioritized at multiple levels. Change is adding work. Change causes a need for re-prioritization.


Is a layer that is everywhere.

There is the project process. There may be a change process. There are processes for work effort. There is a process for communicating in every organization. There are hidden processes (like internal politics, permission-getting and silent bargaining).

Some time has to be set aside to decide process, to question current process and to create new processes that fit the end state and the path to get there.


Why is it so hard to put work in context with a whole?

Why does the explanation always come out as business speak that has little to do with the individual?

How come there are never clear, clean pictures of everything going on at a high level in the organization with a way to dig into the detail?

I spend a lot of time explaining, teaching (and likely harping about) context. Work has to have meaning. When work is part of change the stakeholders deserve an explanation of the context of that asked for effort.

Five layers that weave and dodge and layer onto and over change: ownership, translation, prioritization, process and context. Make sure you address and dialogue over these layers early, often and throughout the change process.

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